How to Crop a Circle in Photoshop

You’ve all seen great images that are cropped to the perfect circle – but how is this done? After some googling a while back I learned a few quick tricks in Photoshop to make this whole process extremely easy. You’ll be amazed at how simple this actually is once you learn. Here’s a step-by-step tutorial for how to crop a circle in Photoshop. Let’s get started!

Step 1: Open your image in Photoshop

At this point you should have the image and no other layers.

photoshop lesson, photoshop circle cropping, crop circle image

Step 2: Double click on the Background layer and make it a Normal layer – just click OK.

You can name it if you want, but it really doesn’t matter. You just want ‘Background’ to go away and the lock to disappear.

photoshop lesson, photoshop circle cropping, crop circle image

Step 3: Select the Elliptical Marquee Tool

If you see a square when you first look at the toolbar, click and hold down so that the window appears to the right like below. Then select Elliptical Marquee. The default setting is Rectangular marquee.

photoshop lesson, photoshop circle cropping, crop circle image

Step 4: Create the circle

Drag your mouse and create a circle – Photoshop has numeric guidelines so you can see how big it is. Hint: If you hold SHIFT while you move it will retain a perfect circle.

photoshop lesson, photoshop circle cropping, crop circle image

Step 5: Inverse the layer

Once your circle is created, go to the toolbar and hit Select > Inverse.

photoshop lesson, photoshop circle cropping, crop circle image

Step 6: Delete the outer layers

Once you’ve hit inverse, a dashed box will appear around the rest of the image. Hit delete. Poof! It all goes away.

photoshop lesson, photoshop circle cropping, crop circle image

Just like this:

photoshop lesson, photoshop circle cropping, crop circle image

Step 7: Crop your image to save

Go back to your marquee tool and switch to Rectangular – select the area right around your image. Then to go Toolbar > Image > Crop. This will remove all excess space around your image.

photoshop lesson, photoshop circle cropping, crop circle image

Step 8: Save as .png

Save the image as a .png format using the dropdown. This will save the image with no background (unlike JPEG and the others) so that whatever color or pattern is behind this image when you upload it or use it, the border will start with your perfect circle.

photoshop lesson, photoshop circle cropping, crop circle image


I hope you found this tutorial helpful! Let me know if you have any questions, I’m happy to help!

By: Christine, The View From 5 ft. 2

If you liked this Photoshop tutorial check out our other top tutorials!

  • Kimberly Gomez

    This is awesome. Thank you so much for the instructions. I try and try to use Photoshop but it’s so complicated and not user friendly that I always give up. This gives me hope. Thanks so much!

  • Shabneez Manji

    Hi Christine – Thanks for the tutorial. Do you offer photoshop tutorials/lessons in person? Please let me know.

  • Shabneez Manji

    hi christine. thanks for the post. do you offer in person photoshop tutorials/lessons? I am new to it but need to learn for work. You can email me at if that is easier. thanks!

  • Thank you so much for this. I tried three other instructionals without success before trying yours. Simple, clear and I got exactly what I needed. Thank you.

  • Simô Abkal


    welcom on free photoshpp online

  • Jenny

    This just helped me out a ton with work project. Thanks for saving the day!!

  • Kristin M.

    Thank you so much for this super easy, quick tutorial! Lifesaver!

  • Ranya Williams

    Awesome, clear, concise! Thank so much!

  • Lovely and very clear and well explained Tutorial, i just started my Photography career, And learning Photoshop Skill, As i cannot afford photoshop right now i am using browser based Photoshop Online which s is same like pixlr, if you have heard, if you can throw some tuts on toolpic then that will be great help to me thanks

  • Lybron

    Thanks for positing this! Simple, fast and accurate.


    Thank you!! This was exactly what I was looking for.

  • Judy Ulrick

    Hi Christine. Your instructions are very clear and easy to follow but I am still getting the white box around my circle when I upload to Flickr. I saved as a PNG but it’s stil not transparent. Have you any suggestions as to what I am doing wrong. Apreciate your ideas. Thanks Judy.

  • Susie Bee Fontana

    Thanks, Christine! Clear and easy to follow! I appreciate the refresher!

  • Patrícia Contreiras

    Amazing! Thank you very much.

  • This was VERY helpful! Thank you!!

  • Tom

    Thanks, this was very helpful for my site icon!

  • Taye Nicole

    This was extremely helpful! Thanks so much!

  • alice

    super helpful, so easy to follow! thanks so much 🙂

  • So useful, thank you!

  • Del Villarreal

    THANKS. You hepled me out tremendously with an important project for my 1st grade class. YOU ROCK!

  • Madlen

    super useful, thank you! 🙂

  • ccsr

    Silly question! I just start using Photoshop a few days ago and I don’t know how to delete outer layer. Could you please help me? cheers!

  • Oh my god! I love you! I have been manually erasing crap in PS for almost a year now. You just seriously saved me hours worth of work and so much frustration! I nominate you for Most Awesomest Person of the Year Award!

  • Its just the most easiest task may be in Photoshop.Cropping circle in Photoshop is just a few click away!

  • Joy Lawson

    Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Wiehahn van staden

    Hi thank you, what do i have to do to only export the round crop part i have selected i don’t want the exported file still to be a square??

  • Hey, Thank you very much for such a great help. you have written very simply steps. I used the tips and set my author bio in my blog. , it looks great. thanks again

  • Adela

    When I hit “delete,” I get another menu. If I use the default settings, the image outside of the circle does not delete. What should I do?

    • Use backspace.

      • Adela

        Instead of delete?

        • Yup.. that would be the same. I think your Del button already have another shortcut..

          If back space still not work, u can go to edit > clear

          • Adela

            OMG! It worked! Prior to trying this time. I also reset all my PS preferences to default, thinking maybe I had messed something up. I cannot begin to thank you enough! I’ve been trying and getting frustrated for months. You have made this really easy with your photo based instructions.
            I have a follow up question. I did this to remove the corners of a round logo. I saved it as a png but also as a PS file. If I wanted to place this logo onto other pictures in PS, which version would I use?

          • Adela

            Ignore my last question. I figured it out. I duplicated the layer from the cropped logo and sent it to the file I needed it in. It worked. Again, thank you!!!

          • Adela

            I replied too soon. Although this did work with another logo I needed, I am getting the exact same problem with the logo I wrote about above. If I try delete, I get the same pop-up menu. If I try clear, I get a grey background, rather than a transparent one. Any idea of what might be the problem? I am starting with a jpeg.

          • Adela

            Again, please ignore my last post. I stumbled upon that if I renamed the layer in Step 2, all worked. I don’t know why, but it did.

  • Raashi Singhi

    The best thing that happened to me! I’d been trying this for long.
    So easily explained!

  • Nice explain windy ??

  • Thanks for the quick tutorial! Worked great for me for my profile photo on my website 🙂

  • Kathy Burke

    This was so much easier than other ways I’ve tried doing it. I didn’t know about “delete” to get rid of unwanted background.

  • Colin Matthes

    I have found this very useful, but I have a problem when I press delete…nothing happens! If I do Command + Delete, it turns to a white background and if I do alt + delete, it turns black. I just want transparent. Any suggestions?

    • Asif Imtious Prome

      then just remove the black background with a magic eraser 😉 simple.

  • Great tutorial, thanks!

  • Zahir Ahmed


  • Allen Pagent


  • She

    Hi, thank you for such an easy tutorial (she says!) I am following this step by step exactly as instructed however when I open my saved image, it is still showing as a square white background around the circle. What am I doing wrong?

    • Joni Geels

      If you saved it as a JPG, then the white box will show. If you save as a PNG, it won’t. When you cropped, did you get a white background or a pixelated white/gray one?

  • Seas_fire

    Thanks – this was great. Really clear

  • Joni Geels

    Shut up! This was super easy. Thanks!!!

  • xXxCxXx

    Thank you for such a straight-to-the-point tutorial! There seems to be a lot of people that want to make these things out like you should have a Doctorate in doing …Ego issues THANK YOU AGAIN!!!

  • Terri Pugh

    Thank you so much for saving my sanity!!! Who knew that would be so easy?!

  • Super easy and helpful!! thanks so much!

  • Jeffrey Peltier

    If you then put the image into Adobe Illustrator cc and export it with a transparent back ground you eliminate the white square around the image; So if you save it as a desk top back ground it is just the circle.Thanks for your tip it works great. Be sure you export a png image not jpeg.

  • thank you. That was painless

  • Swapnil Singh

    Thank You very much. 😀

  • Worked a charm, thanks!

  • Thank you! Just what I needed!

  • James Cooper

    Hi christine. thanks for the post. do you offer in person photoshop tutorials/lessons? I am new to it but need to learn for work.

  • Sarah Danielle Ward

    When I press delete, nothing happens. Any suggestion?

    • Kathie Powell

      I had the same problem. I have PhotoShop Creative cloud. Hit: CTRL+D, This worked for me.

      • Jennifer Piper

        This did not work for me
        I tried CTRL backspace too and that also did not work

        • Akajin_Dzenor

          Try SHIFT+DEL, it worked for me

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  • mamaquint

    I am trying to print these circle photos to a specific size for a kindergarten student project, fitting 2 to a 4 x 6 photo page. What’s the best way to do that in PS?

  • Jennifer Piper

    I am unable to delete the background outside the circle. I followed the directions exactly and also tried other people suggestions. I’m not sure how to get it to work.

    • Akajin_Dzenor

      Try SHIFT+DEL

      • Charli Rose

        This is the only thing that worked for me. Thank you so much

        • Akajin_Dzenor

          Happy to be helpful 🙂

  • Kathie Powell

    I revisited this, in response to Jennifer’s post. I had trouble too with the delete key doing nothing (but had met with success months ago). What solved the problem for me was the following: I double clicked on the background to make a new layer. I went with the default for my test, so name is Layer 0, Color – none, and Mode – normal. I then did the circle (as described previously), then inverse, and hit the delete key! And I got the transparency as described! There are a few articles on the internet in regard to Adobe changing the functionality of things, and 32bit vs 64 bit. Please try what I just did, Jennifer.

  • Gaming with Hunter

    u saved my ass. finally i can submit my project tommorow. thankyou so much .

  • Katie Soderling

    I cannot, for the life of me, get this to work! I’ve followed it to the letter, tried variations…. I keep getting a white circle over the face I’m trying to crop. I can even select inverse because it’s gray. Please, someone help me. I think I’m losing my everliving mind.

  • Thank you so much for this valuable post!

  • YES! Finally – this was so simple! THANK YOU!

  • Geoff

    Excellent! Thank you!

  • Nenette Lambino

    Thank you so much for this post. You’re a life saver! <3

  • Ludmilla Schmidt

    Awesome! thanks so much

  • Carl Selfe
  • ER Vasol

    I press SHIFT but it does not retain a perfect round shape

  • Jackson Fandango

    Christine! Thank you so much …. the “png” selection is key! I’m doing a cd cover and was going to do rows of photos (like a 6×4 collage) over the entire front, and then got the idea to do a circle on the actual cd. I ended up loving the circle and changing the cover to all circles of photos, they look kinda like polka dots …. and I love it!

    It looks great and I couldn’t have done it without your clear and thorough instructions ….. Thank you, chris

  • Stacey Bon

    Christine – Thank you! I am almost there…the only thing not working for me yet is saving as a .png file to get the background to go away. I am still opening the file in another program and getting the solid white square around my circular image. Tips?

  • Carla Arce

    This has been a Photoshop skill I’ve always wanted to learn. Thank you so much for sharing! Truly, truly helpful.

  • Mikaela Morgan

    thank you!

  • Siobhan Conlow Judd

    This was very helpful, thanks!!

  • Very helpful, thanks

  • Luigi Lopez

    Great, thanks!

  • Katie Cizel

    You made it super easy! Thank you so much!

  • Naw Ko

    Thank you so much.

  • Arfa Noor

    Really, it is amazing, and very helpful .

  • Kelsey Skaarva

    Thanks this was really helpful. Do you have any tips in step 7 for the best way to get the square you crop right at the edges of the circle?

  • Temitope Alabi

    Thanks very much it worked

  • Tammy Zurak Allen

    Thank you. I was searching and searching for a template, this was exactly what I needed to do it myself.

  • Jen Locke

    Thank you so much! It’s exactly what I needed.

  • RoRo!

    Thank-you so much! This helped a lot.

  • Thank you so much for this tutorial! It helped me a lot. It’s very easy to follow. (:

  • This was SUPER helpful!! Than you for sharing!!!