Skip to content

Three ways to crop a picture with an Office shape

Here are three options for putting a photo inside any Microsoft Office Shape or Icon (Word, Powerpoint etc.). Photographers call it cropping a photo to a shape or graphic.

There are three different ways to get the same or similar result. Two are quick and easy. The third option is a little cumbersome but lets you choose exactly what part of the photo appears in the shape.

We’ve now added the hidden feature that gives a lot more flexibility to what part of the image is visible in the shape.

Icons & SVG too!

All the tricks we’ll describe are also available with Icons and SVG graphics too (In Office 365/2019) Here’s the pie chart icon with a picture as the fill.

To do that, insert the Icon or SVG graphic then choose Graphics Format | Convert to Shape. That converts the SVG into an Office Shape object which allows the feature we’ll explain below.

Crop to Shape

One simple choice is ‘Crop to Shape’ at Picture Tools | Size | Crop | Crop to Shape.

Use Picture as Shape Fill

Another, very similar option is using a picture as a fill to the shape.  The main advantage of this option is adding outlines to the shape.

Go to Shape Format | Shape Styles| Shape Fill | Picture … then select any image, online pictures or an Office Icon.


One advantage of Shape Fill with Picture is the option to change the shape outline.  Use Shape Format | Shape Styles | Shape Outline. Here we’re added a thick outline so you can see what we mean.

Positioning problem

The problem with either Crop to Shape or Shape Fill with picture what appears to be a lack of control over the position of the photo within the shape.  Office does let you reposition the image and shape though you’d be forgiven for not knowing.

Fit, Fill and Positioning

We’re very grateful to Tiffany D from California who pointed out that positioning a cropped shape is possible.

After applying ‘Crop to Shape’ or ‘Shape Fill with Picture’ go to Picture Format | Size | Crop | Fill or Fit.

Fill – resizes the image to the picture area, cropping where necessary.

Fit – resizes the image to the picture area with no cropping.

Hidden positioning feature

The important and unstated point about these choices is that you can move either the shape or the picture around.  Either can be moved or resized to get exactly what you want.

Transparent Shape as Picture

For more control, you need Transparency. It’s a bit convoluted but the result is a lot more flexible

All the steps and tips are in a separate article Make a transparent shape to mask a photo in Word, PowerPoint and more

Transparency Color problem and fix for Microsoft Office

Set your own Shape default settings in Office

Put text around a shape, square or circle in Microsoft Word



About this author

Office Watch is the independent source of Microsoft Office news, tips and help since 1996. Don't miss our famous free newsletter.