Is there a simple one click solution in Photoshop (Elements) to remove a coloured background?

I have previously zoomed and cut around the image, but the detail and rough nature of this leaves it a bit fuzzy around the edges.

What is the procedure for removing backgrounds properly in Photoshop or even a website/tool on the web?

  • What other tools have you tried? What have you searched for? There's a lot of different possible solutions
    – Luciano
    Feb 15, 2016 at 9:25
  • There is no "one click" solution. Harder edges (industrial objects, tree trunks, leaf edges, human limbs and torso, facial edges) are usually easier to cleaned up with vector tools (such as vector masks, magnetic laso, pen, etc) while softer edges (hair, fur, tree canopies, grass) are easier to cleanup with raster tools (such as magic wand, colour selection, grayscale masks drawn with brushes of various hardness, etc). Sometimes several passes and combinations of tools are necessary in order to arrive to the cleanest image.
    – cockypup
    Feb 15, 2016 at 17:41

2 Answers 2


There isn't really any "one click" solution and there are very many techniques for removing backgrounds, depending on your image. Here are a few solutions listed by difficulty + results from easiest/worst to hardest/best

Magic Wand Tool

The magic wand tool can be used to select chunks of color in an image. This is probably the closest you will get to a one click solution. Just select the color or multiple colors by using shift+click then mask or delete the unwanted pixels

The lasso tool

The lasso and polygonal lasso tools can be used to select a particular section of an image. This produces rough selections and is difficult to get very detailed with your selections. For the lasso tool just click and then draw around the areas you want to remove/mask. For the polygonal lasso tool click and move your mouse to create a line segment click again for another line segment, repeat this until you have outlined the entire section you want to remove then mask/delete.

The pen tool

This is my go to when I need to mask out an image. The pen tool has quite a high learning curve by produces the most accurate selections. It is a vector based tool so it can be used for vector masks, which are nice because you can go back and edit the mask as needed. Use the pen tool to draw a vector around your selection, right click and "make selection" or "Create vector Mask"

Levels, Curves and Channels For masking finer pixel data such as hair and shadows there is another technique that involves using channels and levels to darken a part of an image in order to remove that darker area. A full write up is too long for this answer but you can read more about it in this detailed article

In conclusion There are many different ways to mask an image in photoshop none are inherently better than another it just depends on how complex your background and foreground are and the result you are trying to achieve. If you just google "masking in photoshop" there are hundreds of thousands of good resources to get you started. Best of Luck

extra credit:

Refine Mask You can combine one of the techniques above with the refine mask tool in PS to get better results for things like masking hair. See the write up here

P.S I tried to post some links for resources but stackexchange wouldn't let me. I'll post 2 here (the max) and the rest in the comments.

https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/using/selecting-lasso-tools.html http://planetphotoshop.com/select-hair-by-using-channels.html


If your background is clean and does not have a lot of variations in it you can try the Magic Eraser. It is usually hidden in the Eraser tool expanded tools.

  1. Long-click on the Eraser tool in the toolbox, and click on the Magic Eraser tool.

enter image description here

  1. Click anywhere on the background and most of it should disappear. You will have some bits left over here and there, so just click on them to delete them.

  2. If you are not satisfied with the results you can undo by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+Z and try to adjust the eraser's settings on the toolbar on the top of Photoshop.

enter image description here

  • The Tolerance shows the level of similar colors to the pixel you clicked on with the eraser, will be detected as background as well. Lower the number to detect less and add to detect more.
  • Anti-alias makes the edges smoother.
  • Contagious checked, will only remove pixels near the point where you clicked.
  • Sample All Layers will delete background from all the layers in your document.
  • Opacity is the amount of color to remove. A percent lower than 100% will leave the background but make it transparent.

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