Your top 3 PowerPoint time-savers?

Oct 31, 2014

Hey everybody,

Do you feel like there is never enough time in the day to get everything done? I’m always looking for shortcuts to shave a second off here and there.

Here are my top 3 PowerPoint time-savers:

1. Master slides: I don't think I could live without these. They make my life so much easier. Instead of making the same change x the number of slides, just make it once, et voilà!

2. Quick access toolbar: Anything I can do to reduce the amount of clicks is a winner in my book. To add something to the quick access toolbar, just right click on it and choose "Add to Quick Access Toolbar." For example, in my quick access toolbar I like to have the alignment menu and the format painter, which brings me to number 3...

3. Format painter: Who wants to manually adjust every single text, object, etc. so that they have the same format? Not me! Just select the object whose format you want to copy, then click once on the format painter to copy the format to one object or double click to copy to multiple objects. Works like a charm!

What about you? Any top notch PowerPoint shortcuts you want to share?

25 Replies
Steve Flowers

Had this same discussion with a few folks a week or so ago. Here's what jumped to mind:

  • Connectors for diagrams. These are seriously really nice. I find that I don't Visio for diagrams. PPT gives me pretty much anything I need for building nice flows. Mostly use these for project mapping but have used them for slide visuals as well. I see MANY people that draw lines in and don't use the connectors. Stuff ends up looking really sloppy and it's more work. Connector snaps rock.
  • Alignment tools. Lots of folks either try to eyeball or skip it all together. No easier way to make something look clean than to let the computer do the math (the thing they do best) for you.
  • Master slides with custom layout grids as a jig. Having defined visual areas on published output using background elements is common. But it can add to clutter. Having a few master slides to swap in and use for scale and placement with pre-made gutters and placement guides is handy. Swap these in and out as needed and turn off / back to a common background when done with the "jig". When the jig is off, you're left with consistent placement of elements with lots of whitespace and little clutter.
  • The Selection Pane is SO handy. A hidden gem that enables selection and deselection of objects on a slide.
  • Edit Shape > Convert to Freeform > Edit Points. I had a few projects where I forced myself to use what others had on their desktops for media production. Man, that was hard. But it forced me to explore some of the tools in the Office Suite. PowerPoint is a pretty powerful illustration and composition tool.
  • Non-modal size / position / format dialog. You can open the size / position and format shape windows and leave them open off to the side or in another monitor. With the dialogs open, you can select objects at will, make a tweak, update the alt text, color, etc... All without having to use the RMB again to bring up the panel.

A double three:)

Fairul Emry

PowerPoint is a great tool. I use it a lot for creating gradient buttons and objects. Most used features (other than keyboard shortcuts):

The Arrange feature (for aligning objects)

Extensively use the Rectangle shape object to create my borders, buttons, templates etc.

Gradient feature. On top of this I like to create another object layer and use the transparent feature on objects to enhance the object to give it a more 'shiny' look. 

Lastly, I love the many custom animation available. Created animated navigation menu's, popup effects and the like. 

Kristin Augusta

Master slides are awesome! 

I also like the photo editing tools (my favorites are "remove background" and some of the artistic effects - I used "cutout" as a really quick way to create a comic strip look.

Animation painter.  I strive not to overuse animation, but when I need it, it's nice to have the painter feature!

BJ Campbell

A good time-saver is not actually PowerPoint, but a good practice, especially for PowerPoint.  SAVE, SAVE, SAVE versions of files after major changes.  Within PowerPoint, duplicate slides so originals are intact and add notes to the page while developing.  You can remove duplicates and notes before finishing the final presentation.

Tim Danner

I used to do that, but eventually realized that, in the end, I was just adding more work and creating messy directories. Now that we have our own external drive that's accessible over the network (and connected to our free workstation across the hall), my method is copy my project and published files onto that drive that mirrors the production directory structure on my computer. I usually just do one update at the end of the day for things I'm still working on. For anything I finish, I immediately copy the updated files to the drive. I have my support ID person do the same thing, so that are production and published files are all in the same location and accessible by both us. And the structure of the directories, along with file-naming convention on the external drive is mirrored on my computer as well as hers.

Steve Flowers

Saving multiple versions or keeping a single backup is a great idea if you're not using live version control. I try to work most of my projects within a Dropbox folder. Automatically saves every change to a versioned repository that I can roll-back whenever I choose. Keeps my local directories clean and provides access to stuff wherever I am.

Not an option for everyone. But it's a great way to go if it's not prohibited by corporate rules.

Mat Beecher

Tom recently showed a neat trick utilizing the art of saving created buttons as pictures, and using the Change Picture option to quickly place buttons throughout a project; I've been loving this technique and shared it with most of my colleagues.

I love using ctrl + drag (on an object) to copy/paste it (instead of the old ctrl C, ctrl v method).

Using FreeForm shape to Trim out the background (by creating shape and then filling with a saved pic or clipboard image). Learned this one from a fellow hero!

Quick question on Master Slides... if you add hyperlinked objects (i.e. buttons) to the master slide, when you convert from PPT to Articulate Storyline, do the Master Slide hyperlinks remain functional? I'm currently suffering from a case of Captivate 6 and my PPT Master Slide buttons (prev, home, next) seem to lose their functionality when converted from PPT to Captivate. I'm dying to get Storyline back but cannot remember if Storyline keep the functionality of PPT Master Slide objects.

That being said, if anybody know a quick fix for me to maintain the functionality of PPT Master Slides in Captivate, I'd be grateful (for the time being).


Darrell Bird

2 techniques I use a lot.  

The first is select an object and use the CTRL + D function to duplicate the object.  Position is where you want it to be, then repeat the CTRL + D duplication process.  This will place the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc... in corresponding positions, in relationship to the previous.  This is very handy if you need multiples of an object and predefined spacing.

The second is the use of the Combine Shapes tool.  This allows you to create custom shapes without too much effort.  You can join two shapes using Union (adding them together) or use the Combine, Intersect or Subtract functions to remove part of one shape based on the position of the other.  

Jim Schoemer

On a similar note, I regularly use drag-copy (hold down CTRL key when clicking an object and dragging it into place), and paricularly when combined with the shift key to contrain movement to straight horizontal or vertical to maintain alignment. This doesn't auto-distribute multiple items like CTRL-D, but does keep everything aligned. In either method, the align/distribute commands are always available after the fact.

Peter Rushton

If you access Master Slides often, there is a shortcut I think you'll like: Shift+Click the Normal icon on the mini-toolbar-tray-thingy on the status bar to access Master Slide View - and again (without the Shift key) to exit.

And, if you find your Quick Access Toolbar filling up you can add a whole new tab for "My Stuff" on the actual ribbon - and organize in groups - under Customize the Ribbon.

Finally, if you use Ctrl C/V to copy and paste - you will love adding the Shift key to copy and paste formats just like using the format painter ;~))

Paul Moraga

OK, I know that this is an old discussion, but I just can't let it go by without mentioning the Outline View. It's a great way to work with a lot of text.

For example, if you have a Word doc with the titles of 50 slides that you want to create, just copy the list from Word, go to PowerPoint and open the Outline View (View > Outline View). Paste the list there. Depending on how your Word doc was formatted, you may have all the text on one slide. There will probably be some clean up work involved. Use hard returns to break up the text into individual slides and experiment with Tab and Shift+Tab to promote and demote bulleted lists.

In 10-15 minutes, you'll have a beautiful 50 slide presentation.

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