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.


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.


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.


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.


Step 5: Inverse the layer

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


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.


Just like this:


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.


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.



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!

  • 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!!!