New and innovative ways to better use the iPad in teaching!

Use Instant Alpha to Remove the Backgrounds of Images on iPad

A recent new and relatively little-known feature was added to the Keynote and Pages apps that makes removing the background of any image an easy task.

The other day I showed one of my classes a picture of me jumping in front leaning tower of Pisa from a few years ago. Since this was a group that I had introduced green screening (in video editing) to, some of them thought that I had just superimposed myself onto a “fake” background.


The photo is real, but using this tool, called Instant Alpha, you could essentially recreate anyone jumping in front of any famous landmark.

How to use Instant Alpha:

  • Open Keynote or Pages. In Keynote, use a non-white background at first to practice
  • Insert any image from your albums. Tap an that image to highlight it.
  • Tap the Paintbrush at the top right, and choose “Image”
  • The Instant Alpha feature will appear: tap it
  • Now go to your image and slowly tap and drag areas around the it to make the background transparent. You can do this several times. If you make a mistake and remove some of the original image, you can press Undo (multiple times even)
  • Once you are satisfied with the image, you can resize, and even flip and place it over other existing photos/images

That's it! Give it a try and it will become second nature.

This will also work very well for text over images as well.

Obviously the results will not be perfect and not comparable to what you can do on more robust programs like Photoshop, but for the average person, it will be just fine. You may be able to notice in my video below that the images still have a tiny bit of white around them. After spending a little more time afterwards, I was able to remove more of it.

Here is a short video I created showing the process:

Instant Alpha will work great especially if you want to place your cropped image on top of another.

One thing we are not able to do is save the cropped image as an actual image. You can copy it onto your clipboard and paste it onto another app though. I was able to successfully crop an image in Pages, copy it, and paste it into a Keynote presentation.

I completed the steps in Pages (on the left), and directly copied it to Keynote on the right:

I think this can be a powerful presentation tool to easily make great graphics, both for Keynote presentations, Pages documents and other apps as well. Students, once taught this, will be able to create both digital and physical presentations. The ideas for posters for projects are limitless. Remember, once you create a good “slide”, you can take a screenshot of it and proceed to crop it afterwards.

Special thanks to my good friend and colleague Matt Przybylski (@iphysed) for introducing me to this feature and encouraging me to share it on teachingwithipad.org.

Have you tried this feature yet? Can you think of how this will be useful for you?

Like this post? Share it!

Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook (new!)


3 comments on “Use Instant Alpha to Remove the Backgrounds of Images on iPad

  1. Pingback: Use Instant Alpha to Remove the Backgrounds of Images on iPad – teachingwithipad.org | Katharinas skolblogg

  2. hopy
    March 27, 2014

    it’s a great thing about Alpha, I prefer the application of Alpha:
    great graphics and many powerful new features launched.

  3. buy youtube likes
    May 16, 2014

    I enjoy what you guys are up too. This type of clever work and exposure!
    Keep up the very good works guys I’ve incorporated you guys
    to my own blogroll.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on March 7, 2014 by in apps, how-to, iOS 7, Tips and tagged , , , , .
Steve Lai

Steve Lai

Father. Teacher. Blogger. iPad and iPhone aficionado. Musician.

French teacher by day, father and blogger by night. I love to blog and read tech blogs. I write an iPad blog as it relates to education. I teach young kids the French language and love my job. I play the guitar and piano. I have a beautiful wife and two awesome daughters and a maltese-poodle dog. I love playing roller hockey and taking walks at English Bay in Vancouver. I enjoy traveling and can't wait to bring my daughters to Paris. Canucks are my team, along with the Seahawks.

Blog Stats

  • 949,300 hits

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 347 other followers


Follow me on Twitter


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 347 other followers

%d bloggers like this: