Sometimes the background in photos can be distracting or unwanted. Maybe you just want the subject of the photo and nothing else. Here’s how to remove the background using a free web app.
It can be difficult to take photos at popular places because of all the people in the shot and you might wish you could erase them. That is a different task to the one here. Let’s focus on how to erase the background from a photo, not just erasing something you don’t want to see in the photo. Basically, we want to lift the subject from a photo and use it elsewhere.
Unless you are taking a photo of a landscape or something similar, it usually has a subject of some sort. You may take photos of products for work, an online store or blog, photograph your family, pets, people and so on. For various reasons, you might not want the background in the frame or you might want to replace the background with a completely different one.
There are tools that can automatically identify the subject in a photo, from an object to a person to an animal, and remove everything else. The result is the subject of the photo and a transparent background. This enables you to place the subject on a different background or simply a plain color.
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Let’s see how to remove the background to a photo using the free Adobe Express online web app. It runs in a web browser and this makes it compatible with Windows PC, Apple Mac, Linux and Chromebook computers.
1: Adobe background remover
There are two ways to remove the background in Adobe Express. You could go to the Adobe Express web app in a web browser and use the menus and tools, but an even better way is to go to the Free Image Background Remover. This simplifies the process a little and all you need to do to get started is to click Upload your photo.
You need to sign in or sign up for an Adobe account to use all the features and it is required for downloading images you remove the background from. A free Adobe account is all that is needed and it is what I used for this guide.
2: Drag and drop
A new page appears in the browser and there is a target area to drop an image. Open a Finder (Mac) or Explorer (PC) window, find the photo you want to remove the background from and drag it to the target in the browser.
3: View the result
The image you upload is automatically processed and the background is removed. The result is displayed on the page. This is not the full-size image and it is just a preview of the result sized to fit the web page.
You have two options here and the image can be downloaded and saved to disk on your computer or you can customize it. It downloads as a PNG file because that file format supports transparency.
You can see the uploaded image and downloaded image here. It takes no effort to do this and it is all automatic. An expert could do this with a photo editor, but novices may struggle and even an expert cannot do it as fast. This was finished faster than you could load Photoshop, never mind select and erase the background.
Let’s take a look at the Customize options and replace the original background with a different one.
4: Edit in Adobe Express
The image is opened in the free web app version of Adobe Express. If it looks a bit cramped, it is because I have shrunk the window to make screenshots fit this web page. It is a lot bigger in practice.
Your image is displayed in the center of the canvas and there is a default background color. There are toolbars on the left, top and right of the window. Let’s use some of them.
5: Browse and add a background
Click Backgrounds in the left toolbar and browse some of the backgrounds that are available in the app. They are organized into categories and a More > button on the right enables you to explore a category. Go ahead and click a background thumbnail.
6: Resize the image to fit
The photo minus background could be cropped or enlarged. Either way, you want to fill the canvas. Click and drag the corner handles of your image to grow it to fill the canvas.
Don’t worry if you don’t like the background, use the Undo button in the toolbar at the top to go back and try and different background.
7: Download the finished image
When you are happy with the image, click the Download button in the toolbar on the right. There are three file types available, PNG, JPG and PDF. Choose PNG if you want the best quality image and do not care about how big the file size is. JPG produces smaller images, but uses lossy compression to do so. I prefer to save the PNG and then, if I need to, create a smaller JPG file from it.
Examples of background removal
How good is Adobe Background Removal tool? I tried a much harder image, an old black and white photo that was grainy and in poor condition. It did a pretty good job of identifying and cutting out the subject.
Hair and fur present problems when trying to cut out the subject from the background and it is hard to do a good job manually. Here you can see that Adobe Background Removal tool did a reasonably good job with a difficult image. It is not quite perfect and the cat’s paws are missing, but it’s not bad.
This is a great tool and many people would find it hard to beat the results if they had to do it manually. Maybe an expert with Photoshop could do better, but not me. It takes seconds to erase the background and replace it with a different one, so it is a great time saver too.