5 PowerPoint productivity cheats

PowerPoint is THE presentation design tool. Everything you need to produce an engaging presentation can be found within the program, within the multitude of menus.

However, to those of us you aren’t fully familiar with it, PowerPoint can be slightly daunting. That’s why we’ve found five helpful PowerPoint productivity cheats to speed up your workflow.

1. Increase the ‘undo’ limit

Ah, the old ‘undo’ feature in PowerPoint… If you make an error and need to quickly go back a few steps, tapping Ctrl+Z will let you do just that. However, you can’t make too many mistakes and hope to undo them all, as by default PowerPoint limits the total number to 20. Reach that number, and no matter how hard you jab your fingers on both Ctrl and Z, you can go no further back.

Fortunately, for those of us who easily change their minds when designing a presentation (and for those of us who cock things up a lot) you can get around that 20 undo limit with trhe first of our PowerPoint cheats. How does a max limit of 150 sound, allowing you go back dozens and dozens of steps?

Tap on the File tab at the top, and then on Options. In the Advanced section of the menu navigate to Editing options and you’ll find the opportunity to increase or decrease the maximum number of undos. 150 undos is the highest possible, while three is the minimum, for those who like living dangerously. Just be aware that if you max out the undo limit, PowerPoint will be using a lot more memory on your computer, potentially slowing itself, and everything else, down.

2. Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are a Godsend, and not just in PowerPoint. Being able to quickly hit a few keys to achieve a goal, particularly a repetitive one, saves time and energy. When creating a presentation from scratch you might find yourself doing lots of different tasks, and hitting up lots of different menus. Learn these handy PowerPoint keyboard shortcut cheats and you’ll shave time off the job at hand.

  • Select all shapes in a slide: Ctrl + A
  • Duplicate without ‘copy & paste’: Ctrl + drag the object
  • Move an object horizontally or vertically: Shift + Drag object
  • Resize an object while keeping the proportions: Shift + resize drag
  • Toggle between text cases (upper, lower, sentence etc): Highlight text + Shift + F3
  • Change the ident of bulleted text in a text box: Alt + Shift + right/left arrow key
  • Start slideshow from the start: Yep, it’s F5 – best key on your keyboard.
  • Start slideshow from the currently selected slide: Shift + F5

3. Insert some lorem ipsum text

Next on the list of PowerPoint cheats is a fun one. Often when building a PowerPoint presentation, you’ll be setting up the template, slides, and transitions waaay before you insert your final copy text. Therefore you might need some placeholder text to drop in to get an impression of what the final look will be. Yes, you could copy and paste the RAC’s online manual for changing a Ford Mondeo’s oil. Or, far easier, you can generate some lorem ipsum text.

Lorem ipsum (or rather, Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, to give it its full name) is the standard placeholder text used by the print and web design sector, and PowerPoint boasts its ability to create it, right there in the program. No more jumping on your browser to grab it from a web page. To generate it, create a text box and type =lorem(x) (replacing ‘x’ with the number of paragraphs you want) and tap Enter. If you’re no fan of latin, or just fancy something random, type =rand(x,y) instead (with ‘x’ again being the number of paragraphs you desire, and ‘y’ being the number of sentences in each paragraph).

4. Resize multiple things in one go

If you have a slide filled with text boxes, images, icons, charts, and other crucial design elements, you might face a problem. What if you want to nudge the whole lot one way, but doing so element at a time takes ages and messes up their relative proportions? Simple; you need to group everything together.

First of all, highlight all the objects you need to alter. You can do this by clicking an empty section of the slide and dragging to cover the elements you want, or by holding down Ctrl and clicking on then individually. Once highlighted, hit Alt + G, grouping them all together under a single adjustment box. Hold down Shift and drag the corners of the box to resize the whole lot of them, preserving their proportions and shapes. As PowerPoint cheats go, this is an exceptionally useful one.

5. Capture a screenshot

If your presentation is about a website or software program, you might find it difficult to find the right kind of images you need. Instead, you’ll have to grab some screenshots of the relevant site or program, and PowerPoint can also do that for you, saving a lot of time and effort.

In the Insert tab at the top of the screen, click the ‘Screenshot icon. There you will see a thumbnail of each of the currently open windows on your machine, from web browsers to actively running programs. You might want to quickly ensure the screen you want to capture is correctly set up to show exactly what you want to be included in your image, then pop back into PowerPoint and select it. The image of that window will then automatically drop onto the slide you are currently editing.

Do need help with your presentation? Get in touch. Our expert design team will work closely with you to create a PowerPoint deck that will smash your audience’s expectations.

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