Slide development

The best free PowerPoint backgrounds

Boost your branding and bolster your theme with a bespoke background image that will make your slideshow the envy of all your colleagues.

PowerPoint backgrounds are like roads: unexciting but you’d miss them if they were gone. You can tell when someone’s chosen a poor PowerPoint background because you notice it’s there. And you can tell when someone’s using a good PowerPoint background because you don’t notice it at all. So if you’re looking to pimp up your presentations, that’s the balancing act you’ve got to master: selecting a background image that’s interesting enough to improve upon PowerPoint’s default options, but not so interesting as to distract from the message that’s overlaid.

Most people select a background image as an afterthought, which is odd given that it’s the first decision you’re obliged to make after firing up PowerPoint. It’s natural that you should want to crack on with the creative part rather than fuss about with background images; all that stuff can come later, once you’ve assembled your slides. And yet more often than not that ‘later’ part never comes. By the time you’ve reached the end, going back to the start and reappraising your choice of background images is the last thing on your mind. Which is a shame, because a judicious selection of images can subtly enhance your branding, complement your theme and give your presentation a certain je ne sais quoi. If you’re searching for the sort of background images that will put your colleagues’ slideshows to shame, the following resources should do the trick. Whether you share this esoteric knowledge with them is entirely up to you.

not sharing your PowerPoint background

 

Choosing the best free PowerPoint backgrounds

When it comes to choosing a unique background image – as opposed to PowerPoint’s tired default options – you’ve got two choices. You can check out one of the many PowerPoint libraries offering free resources including slide templates and background images or you can browse the background images to be found at free stock image sites. Both options work, so don’t feel constrained by searching only on sites that cater explicitly for PowerPoint. Anything can be a background image if you’re brave enough. A few caveats to bear in mind though:

  • A good background image will ideally work with light and dark text
  • Choose a dark image and you’ll have to use light text throughout and vice-versa
  • Check visibility on small screens to ensure your image is suitable
  • Watch image sizes: too small and the compression will show up on large screens

With that in mind, here’s where you can hunt down some of the finest images that ever graced a background:

 

PowerPoint Styles

PowerPoint Styles

It’s not the coolest site you’ll ever click upon, but PowerPoint Styles is packing several hundred background images which are free to use and sorted by theme. Some of these will be suited to using throughout your presentation, while others will only work as a title or concluding slide. Whether you’re presenting on law, medicine, telecommunications or sports, you’ll find that some of the available images are naff while others are darn cool. 10/10 if you can find a situation that justifies the blood and gun template.

 

Smile Templates

Smile Templates

Smile Templates lives up to its name, providing enough PowerPoint images to give you cause to smile at the extent to which you’ve just levelled up. 17 pages of free templates include loads of options that would be great as backgrounds throughout a PowerPoint presentation. Whether your business is nutrition, finance, fashion or the environment, Smile Templates will furnish you with good ideas and free backgrounds in equal measure.

If you’re looking for additional ideas for PowerPoint backgrounds, you’ll find some additional suggestions in a post we previously wrote on free PowerPoint templates. Now let’s move on and take a look at some free image sites whose pics are ideal as PowerPoint backgrounds.

 

Pexels

Pexels

Pexels is one of our favourite free stock image sites and it’s got an entire section dedicated to backgrounds. Its nature images will liven up even the driest of topics without ambushing your presentation and holding it to ransom; evocative but never provocative in other words.

 

Pixabay

Pixabay

Pixabay is another great resource for finding strong images. Not all of the options you’re presented with will be suitable, but some of these look awesome; just make sure they scale to fit your presentation and that you’re not obliged to crop key components of the image. If you find an image you really like but are struggling to get text to display clearly on top, remember you can always add a semi-transparent overlay in PowerPoint to enhance legibility.

 

Freepik

Freepik for PowerPoint backgrounds

There are some amazing vector images on Freepik that are good for PowerPoint backgrounds. If you’re in a creative industry such as graphic design or fashion, these cool geometric images will be just the ticket. Finally, two additional sites that warrant a quick look, even if they’re not as well-equipped as the options listed above, are All Free Download and Public Domain Pictures. Once you’ve experienced the wonderful wealth of images that are free to use on the web, you’ll wonder how you ever survived with PowerPoint’s default backgrounds. If you’re looking to up your presentation game, it all begins at the back.

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