How To Remove A Checkered Background In Photoshop

After you’ve cut out an image or created a graphic in Photoshop, you’re left with a checkered background that seems to be impossible to remove. Since you probably wanted a transparent background after all your selections and masking, a checkered background just isn’t going to cut it. Well, as you’ll soon learn, a checkered background isn’t as much of a problem as you might think.

A checkered background in Photoshop represents transparency in your project. Since the checked background is already transparent, there is nothing to be removed. To maintain this transparency for export, save your image as a PNG by going to File > Save A Copy and set the format to PNG.

Throughout this post, you’ll learn more about what this checkered background means, as well as ways to customize its look. If you’re in a situation where the checked background is attached to your image layer, I’ll share an easy way to remove it from your image for true transparency.

Let’s get started!

How To Remove A Checkered Background In Photoshop

In the example below, I have a graphic that I have removed the white background from. Therefore I am left with a checkered background on my canvas.

From the Photoshop workspace, it appears as if the checkered background is a part of my image, but it’s not visible in the layers panel. Luckily, this isn’t the case. Instead, these checkered backgrounds indicate transparency since Photoshop can’t represent “invisible” in any other way.

Although it would be cool if you could see right through your computer after cutting out a photo…

With that said, it’s important to note that these checkered backgrounds do not stay on your image when you export. Instead, you have to export to a file type that preserves transparency to keep a transparent background.

In most cases, the best file type to export to is PNG. This is because it preserves transparency and is compatible with every application you may work in.

To export a file to PNG, go to File > Save A Copy.

Then set the format to PNG and give your file a name.

Lastly, click Save to export your photo with a transparent background. Since the checkerboard in Photoshop only represented transparency, after export, your image will have a truly transparent background.

If you export to a different file type, such as JPEG, the transparent background in the Photoshop document will turn to white. This may not seem like an issue at first, but you’ll have a white background attached when you try to use that image in another project.

So if you want a transparent background after exporting, make sure your file format is set to PNG!

How To Remove A Checkered Background Attached To A Photo

In some cases, you may have received an image or graphic download from someone, but there’s a checkerboard background when you import the image.

In the example below, you can see how the checkerboard surround the graphic is different from that of the “transparent” checkerboard in Photoshop.

This can happen when your file has been saved as a screenshot since this will capture both the image and the background in the same screenshot. Another reason is that the checkered background was added for example purposes for an online store to give you an idea of what the asset looks like.

Luckily this can easily be fixed with a simple automatic background removal tool in Photoshop.

With your image layer selected and unlocked, open the properties panel by going to Window > Properties.

Scrolling to the bottom of the properties option, look for the “Remove Background” button within the quick actions. This button will automatically select your subject and remove the background via a layer mask. Click on it to begin the background removing process.

Photoshop will work its magic and remove the checkered background from your photo. In the Layers Panel, you can see the layer mask added to remove the background non-destructively.

Now you’re left with the actual checkered background that represents transparency in Photoshop. Using the export method you learned in the previous section, you can save your image with a transparent background by setting the format to PNG!

If you have trouble cutting out your image with this method, try these five best alternate methods.

How To Change The Checkered Background In Photoshop

You can change the look of a transparent checkered background in Photoshop by going to Photoshop > Preferences > Transparency and Gamut. In this window are transparency settings to change the size of your checkerboard, remove it altogether, or change the color of the checkerboard.

Let’s break each of the setting options down to give you a better understanding of your options.

To open the transparency settings panel, go to Photoshop > Preferences > Transparency And Gamut.

In the window that appears, you want to focus on the Transparency Settings options. Here you can adjust:

  • Grid size of your checkerboard
  • Choose a preset grid color for the checkerboard.
  • Create a custom color for your checkerboard.

Grid Size:

This setting allows you to change the size of each box in your checkerboard. I like to set this to “Medium” to see the grids still, but they aren’t too distracting.

One option to note is the “None” setting, which will completely remove the checkerboard grid and add a white background. This can make things slightly confusing as you won’t tell the difference between a white background and a transparent one with this setting active.

To get an idea of the different looks of each size, the preview box will show everything you need to know!

Grid Colors:

Here you can spice the look of your checkerboard by adding colors or darkening it. Clicking on the menu, there are a variety of preset options available to choose from. Simply click on the setting you wish to use in your workspace.

Custom Grid Colors:

Below the previous two options are colored boxes that control the color of your checkerboard. Since there are two colors in the checkerboard, there are two color swatches that you can change as you wish.

By clicking on either of these swatches, a color picker will appear to select a new color. Once a color is selected, click OK to apply it to your checkerboard.

Once again, you can use the preview box to see how your checkerboard will turn out.

So now you know that a checkered background in Photoshop isn’t necessarily a problem. That’s because it represents transparency! To maintain this transparency on export, saving your files as a PNG will ensure there’s no checkered background leftover. If you’re in a situation where a checkered background is actually attached to your image, then the remove background button is your answer.

Happy Editing!

Brendan 🙂

Article By

Brendan Williams

Hey, I'm Brendan! I'm a professional photographer and photo retoucher who has spent the majority of his career shooting or retouching outdoor lifestyle and social media campaigns for brands like G-Adventures, xoxo Bella, P&G, Fitbit, Chevy, Tourism California, and more. You can view my photography portfolio here.

These days I primarily focus my efforts on this site, creating guides and tutorials that I wish I had earlier in my career. Each week I publish new tutorials on Photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, and Canva to help you unlock new skills and bring your creativity to new levels! Everything you learn here is backed by real experience, so you can finally skip the fluff and focus only on what matters.

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