# how to create a pdf with a transparent background

How do I create a pdf file with a transparent background?

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{xcolor}

\begin{document}
\nopagecolor
hi
\end{document}


This doesn't work since \nopagecolor resets the page color to the default background, but how do I make it transparent, as one can with e.g. a png image?

• I was under the impression that a pdf would default to transperant. You don't need any special code for it. Open the pdf in an image-editor, and you will see that it is transperant. – Runar Aug 7 '16 at 20:17
• Hmm. In gimp it opens with a white background. – JPi Aug 7 '16 at 20:20
• I tried opening a transperant pdf with gimp and you are right, it turns into a white background. Might be a bug in Gimp. – Runar Aug 7 '16 at 20:36
• You can use Image Magic, it will display a transparent background with \nopagecolor or if background is not explicitly set (which is transparent by default). – alwaysask Aug 7 '16 at 20:58

\nopagecolor of pdftex.def (and LuaTeX) disables the page color, it does not use any other color like white. Compare and look closely at the cropped images:

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{xcolor}

\begin{document}
% Page 1
\nopagecolor
\verb|\nopagecolor|
\newpage

% Page 2
\pagecolor{white}
\verb|\pagecolor{white}|
\end{document}


The second page has a white background.

The first page does not have a background, which can also be verified by the page stream operators for the first page with some added comments:

stream
0 g 0 G  % set black as fill and stroke color
0 g 0 G  % set black as fill and stroke color
0 g 0 G  % set black as fill and stroke color
BT  % begin text
/F15 9.9626 Tf 148.712 657.235 Td [(\134nopagecolor)]TJ  % Write "\nopagecolor"
0 g 0 G  % set black as fill and stroke color
0 g 0 G  % set black as fill and stroke color
ET  % end text
endstream


The white background of GIMP adds the white background. I have not seen an option to disable it (version 2.8). If the white color is only used for the background, then option "Colors → Color to Alpha" can convert white back to the alpha transparency channel.