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How to cut out images with Instant Alpha in Pages for iPad

Remove backgrounds in your images with the Instant Alpha tool in Pages for iPhone and iPad

mainImage editing probably isn’t what springs to mind when you think of Pages – Apple’s ‘word-processing’ app. However, if you haven’t yet discovered its hidden little feature, Instant Alpha, you’re in for a treat. This tool is particularly useful if you frequently use imagery in your documents, as it enables you to remove entire backgrounds from photos.

It might not produce Photoshop-standard edits, but it’s certainly a cheap, fast and highly convenient way of cutting out images. And the result is really rather impressive. So shut down your image-editing software, open up Pages, and start selecting and cutting. It won’t take long – we promise!


Step 1

1 Select the image

To place the image you want to use into your Pages document, press the ‘+’ button and then the photo. It will be positioned wherever the cursor is, so here it appears beneath the text.

Step 2

2 Choose the paintbrush

Press on the image to select it, and a pop-up menu gives you the options to Cut, Copy, Delete or Comment. Ignore these, but instead select the orange paintbrush icon in the top bar.

Step 3

3 Instant Alpha

From the paintbrush drop-down menu, make sure that the middle tab, labelled Image, is highlighted orange by pressing on it, and then press on Instant Alpha from the menu below it.

Step 4

4 Start dragging

Now that Instant Alpha is selected, you will see an instruction saying ‘Drag across colors to make transparent’. Using your finger, start dragging across a section of your image.

Step 5

5 Remove background

As you drag, the selected parts turn blue. Once you stop dragging by lifting your finger from the screen, these blue sections then turn transparent to show that they will be removed.

Step 6

6 Undo mistakes

If you make a mistake, pressing the Undo button removes the last selection made. If you want to restore a selection you’ve removed in this way, hold down the Undo button and select Redo.

Step 7

7 Zoom in

If you find that you are struggling around certain fiddly areas, such as the hair or the ears in this case, try zooming in to get a closer and therefore more accurate selection.

Step 8

8 Review the selection

When you have finished, the entire background will be transparent and appear much lighter – there should be no darker patches. Remember it will not appear absolutely perfect.

Step 9

9 Background gone

Once you are happy you have selected the background, press Done from the options above. As you can see, the subject now appears on the page without his background.

Click Image to Enlarge: