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How to Edit an Image without Photoshop, GIMP, or Paint

Want to crop the background off a new car photo, resize your headshot, or see what your dealership logo would look like in different colors? No need to hire out for a graphic designer or invest in some pricey software. Everything you need is already in your Microsoft Word program. We’re not talking about Picasso or Banksy here. But I’m going to show you how to do a bit of image editing on some of Word’s secret graphic tools.

Insert Your Image

Open a blank Word document (you can always do this on an existing one, too, like a sales sheet or product brochure). Click the Insert tab, click the Picture button (if you’re on Word 2013, this says Pictures), browse to the image you want to edit and double-click it.

Click the picture to open Word’s “secret” Picture Tools tab. It’s pink and it opens above the ribbon, but it only appears if you click and enable the image. Click off the image and the tab – and its associated ribbon – disappears. I’m going to assume from this point on you have the tab open. Hint: If you ever can’t find a button or menu I’m referring to, try clicking the picture and re-opening the tab.

Try to move the picture. Note that Word sort of hangs onto it. This isn’t going to work very long. Click the Position button on the ribbon and choose the Position in Center option. Your picture moves – don’t worry, it’s only slightly – but now you can drag it wherever you want. You can actually choose any of the position buttons, because it just means you get to drag and move the image as you like.

Resize Your Image

Anyone who’s spent any time around a computer knows the old click the corner, drag it in or out to resize technique. I hope, at least, you’re holding down the Shift key if you do this, to maintain your size ratios (unless you want customers expecting you to look like a fun house clown). But you can resize more accurately from the tab.

Click the image to open the Picture Tools tab if you haven’t yet. Note the size boxes on the right side of the ribbon. Type into ONE of the two (either Height or Width). Note that Word automatically resizes the other, to keep your size constraints (no fun house clown). This is really helpful when you know exactly what you need, like your internet manager tells you your website headshot must be 2 inches by 2 inches, for example.

The Crop tool can be your friend, especially if you have excess stuff on the top or sides of a picture. It’s right next to the resize buttons. Click the tool. Check out your image – there’s some weird stuff framing it now. Click and drag in on either side, from the top down, or from the bottom up. For example, if you’ve got a far-off picture of a car length-wise, with too much background on either side, this lets you narrow the focus on just what you want to show.

A note about resizing: It’s always better to reduce rather than enlarge. So, start with a bigger picture than you need and shrink it, rather than taking a small image and trying to make it bigger. When you stretch an image, you put the picture at risk of a process called pixilation. The picture gets fuzzy, blurred, or worse, starts to actually appear as if there are holes in it. Avoid at all costs.

Color Your World

And now for the artistic stuff. First, let’s do a background check. As in, removing it. Click the picture and once the ribbon and tab appear, click the Recolor button. Click the Set Transparent Color tool. Once your cursor changes view, click the background and it magically disappears! You might use this, for example, if your headshot is on a black background and you want to put yourself on a sales flier with a green background. Click around – you’ll probably have to do it multiple times to get as much background off as you can. Remember, this is Word, not Photoshop, so it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darn cool to see background go away in a click. Hint: The more solid your background is (think a wall, rather than multi-colored flowers), the easier it’ll be to remove.

View your image in an entirely new color scheme by clicking the Recolor button. Then just glide your cursor – without clicking – over the different colors. Watch your picture scroll through the different options, such as drenched purple, saturated red, black and white, washout/watermark. Create an old-timey look in sepia for an ad, for example, in a single click. It’s incredible what you can do with almost no effort at all.

Check out the Brightness and Contrast options in the same area of the ribbon. These can be great to experiment with for quick fixes like if you notice you got a little too much light in your headshot, took a car picture in the dusk, etc. Again, this is Word, but it’s sure better than just leaving things as they are.

Get Framed

And now for a little fun. What better way to bring the eye to your image, especially if you’re placing it on a text-heavy document like a model-release flier, than to frame it?

Click the image, then glide the cursor over the Picture Styles section of the ribbon. Same as above – don’t click. Instead, you can see your picture take on the frame style you’re hovering over. Don’t forget to scroll that section of the ribbon, there are more frame options than you can see. And of course, click if you like the frame. If you like it almost but not entirely, enjoy some DIY courtesy of the Picture Border, Picture Effects, and Picture Shape menus directly to the right of the Picture Styles section.

* A note on versioning. These instructions are written for Word 2007 and Word 2010 users, so if you’re on 2013, 2003, or gasp, something from the 1990s, you may see a bit of differences. I’ve tried to make this pretty much one-size-fits-all, but Microsoft does like to shuffle its menus around. (You know, the whole ribbon vs toolbar, menus vs tabs thing.)

I’m a frustrated technical writer in a marketing girl’s body. Please let me know if there are other tips and tricks you’d like explained. I live for this stuff. Feel free to check out my profile wall for free downloads of eBooks I’ve created for the auto industry. Now go get “in the picture!”

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