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This question explains how to create a new document in Photoshop CC with a transparent background.

What if you have already created a document (say with a white background) and now you want to change it?

NOTE: I'm not asking how to select a color with the magic wand and delete it from a layer.

Instead, I'm asking why the background itself used to be a layer in Photoshop (prior to CC) and you could delete it, leaving nothing behind the other layers.

You could also add a fill layer behind, of any color you wanted. I am still able to add a fill layer, but I can't figure out how to get rid of that white background.

Edit: When working with an image from the clipboard, the behavior I described works fine, just like it did in previous versions of Photoshop (select Background Layer in the Layers panel and delete it).

However, working with artboards (like what happens when you choose Web Large from the presets) seems to be different, and no Background Layer is apparent (yet the image itself still has a solid background):

Screen shot

  • Hi Eric. Welcome to GDSE. It's still the same. You can delete the background layer in Photoshop CC. Just select it and hit the trash icon in the layers panel. – Billy Kerr Sep 20 '18 at 8:00
  • Thanks for the welcome @BillyKerr; I've refined my question and added a screen shot. – Eric Lindsey Sep 20 '18 at 15:41
  • After the edit, it'a a much better question. I don't see any apparent method to remove a background from an Artboard if there is one - Other than creating a new document and moving layers (not artboards) to the new document. Seems to be some setting in the "Artboard group" which is inaccessible to the user. – Scott Sep 20 '18 at 16:03
  • Eric, when working with artboards the background colour is actually not there. It's only a white background for display purposes, not a real white background - there is no actual white layer. Just pretend it's not there. I don't think there is any way to turn it off, unless someone can prove me wrong. – Billy Kerr Sep 20 '18 at 18:40
  • I'm very confused. All of a sudden Photoshop is showing my artboard with a transparent background. I followed the same steps as I did in my original question (New -> Web -> Web Large), and the Layers panel looks identical to my original screen shot, but the white background is gone: i.imgur.com/yh4wtm6.png – Eric Lindsey Sep 21 '18 at 17:38
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You can change the display color for an Artboard by clicking on it in the hierarchy and choosing its "Artboard background color" in the properties pane.

steps

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Select your background in the layers panel and hit delete in the same panel.

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Drag the Background Layer in the Layers Panel to the little trash icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel.

Or...

Highlight the Background layer in the Layers Panel and then merely tap the Delete key on the keyboard.

Additional:

For artboards this is largely controlled by the "New Document" window.If you create a new document with artboards and set the background color there, it will be present on artboards. And, best I can tell, there's no direct way to remove that set color for the artboards.

If you drag the (transparent) layer out of the Artboard, then it's transparent. It would seem the "New Document" window sets some sort of inaccessible background setting based upon the chosen New Document background color.

The simplest solution is to ensure all new documents with artboards are set to use a transparent background. Otherwise, for the life of me, I can not find a way to remove that background artboard setting.

The color is, as Billy pointed out in comments, merely there as a visual aide. It doesn't actually get exported/printed. Similar to how Illustrator or Acrobat always have a white background, which does not reproduce.

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