Author Archives: Courtney Jendra

Customizable Shortcut Keys are here!

Last week we welcomed a new feature to our Power Tools product in response to customer requests.   “Customizable shortcut keys” is a feature that enables you to set custom shortcut keys for 800+ PowerPoint commands.  For those born before the heady days of the internet, yes we’re talking about hotkeys 😉

The new shortcut keys feature is already available in our free trial and for new Power Tools purchases.  We will be delivering the release update to existing users over the coming week.

Why Shortcut Keys?

Mouse ninjas may not have noticed it yet, but the fastest way to do high frequency activities in PowerPoint is via shortcut keys (e.g. CTRL + C to cut).  However:

  • Learning Microsoft’s default shortcut keys takes time as they are often not intuitive (e.g. inserting a picture is ALT+N,P)
  • Not all commands have shortcut keys assigned

Our new feature means you can choose what you want your shortcuts to be – for the features in our toolbars and for almost all other PowerPoint commands.  We’ve got some mini video tutorials if you want to watch it in action. When using PPT Productivity you can mouse-over any PPT Productivity feature to recall what your shortcuts are and print a “cheat sheet” to help you learn your customized keys!

We’re loving this new feature – we find intuitive shortcuts really speed up common tasks!  Our founder Scott’s personal favorite is to use CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+ (arrow key) to insert a column or a row in a table (e.g. CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+ up arrow = new row above cursor position, CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+ down arrow = add new row below cursor position and side arrows for columns…).

If you haven’t yet tried our tools, download a free trial of all our Power Tools features.

If you’re an existing customer of Basic Tools or Productivity Tools (and you purchased your license prior to April 23rd 2019), please get in touch and let us know you’re interested in trying the shortcut key feature.  We will give you a free upgrade for the remainder of your current subscription.  Existing Power Tools users will be upgraded over the coming week (if you are on a team license this may take longer if your company’s IT team manage updates centrally).

Reach out if you have any questions and please let us know what you think – we’re always keen to get feedback (and we’re happy to add suggestions to our road-map)!  Email us at

What is a PowerPoint Add-in?

Thanks for visiting!  We’ve received a few inquiries from customers recently seeking to understand what our tools are so we thought it would be helpful to answer some common questions about “what” our tools are:

What is a PowerPoint Add-in?

PPT Productivity is a PowerPoint Add-in. An add-in is a way to extend the functionality of PowerPoint.  These are a ‘legitimate’ way to augment functionality – Microsoft even provides guidance about how to install add-ins on their website:

(Please Note – when you download our free trial and/or purchase a license, our installer will typically automate the steps for you that they list in the link above – we’re sharing the link to highlight that add-ins are an approved way to access additional features).

Is an Add-in the same as a PowerPoint Macro?

Kind of.  Macros are used in the creation of an add-in – (when we created the first version of PPT Productivity we actually called it “Cool Macros”).

Why do I need a PowerPoint Add-in?

Most of our customers are working in Management Consulting, Investment Banking, Corporate Strategy or other roles where they create a lot of presentations in PowerPoint (the kind of roles where overtime is an unfortunate reality and any time saving opportunity is much appreciated!).   In these roles PowerPoint is often used to produce presentations as client deliverables.  PPT Productivity saves users time by streamlining creation and editing of presentations – for example with alignment shortcuts, a customizable shape/slide gallery, customizable color palette.   The key benefit of our tools is to enable you to save time creating polished presentations!

What is a Consulting PowerPoint Toolbar?

Because Consultants use PowerPoint so much, a number of management consulting firms have developed in house PowerPoint Toolbars (e.g. McKinsey BA Toolbar, Accenture QPT, Bain Toolkit).  Some consulting firms just customize the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) for their firm, while others have more extensive ribbons and functions (like ours!).   PPT Productivity was developed  initially with consultants in mind, but our tools are in use by Consultants, Strategy teams, Investment bankers and many other customers around the world.

Will PPT Productivity tools really save me time?

Yes we think so!  We offer a free 30 day trial so you can check it out for yourself (no credit card details required for the free trial download).

Looking for a Consulting PowerPoint Toolbar?

We created PPT Productivity Toolbars to make our lives easier because as consultants, we wanted time saving shortcuts to make it faster to create and ‘polish’ slides.  We also knew that making it easy to reuse slides and frameworks would save a lot of time!!  Our team came out of management consulting firms (BCG and Accenture alumni) where PowerPoint presentations are often the primary deliverable we give to a client.  We started sharing the original beta version (many years ago), got great feedback and PPT Productivity was born.  Today we sell our tools to consultants, strategy teams, investment banks, private equity (and more) around the world.  Our team is based in Australia and North America to support all time zones.

Our tools are not only for consultants but they were created with frequent PowerPoint users in mind.  So if that sounds like you, download the free trial today and check it out for yourself (no credit card details required for the free trial – we’re not sneaky, we think you’ll love our 100+ saving features if you don’t that’s okay!).  We also welcome any suggestions for new functions or shortcuts.

Did you know PowerPoint 365 has maps?

We’re busily working on some free galleries that we will make available on the website soon (e.g. Common slide layouts, Flags, Maps).  We were pleasantly surprised to recently find ‘maps’ in PowerPoint 365.  Hidden away in the ‘charts’ section of standard PowerPoint is a world map, linked back to Excel for some neat customizing.  It’s great for data overlay type slides but  overcomplicated if you’re just looking for more basic maps.

PowerPoint doesn’t exactly make it intuitive (look in their help file for ‘Create a Map Chart ‘).  Googling for assistance we also found a good overview article from the folks at Bright Carbon:


May 2018 Release Notes – Sidebars refreshed, hi-res and screen magnification support

Version 2.4.42 was released on 30/5/2018.  If you have an enterprise license there may be a delay in you receiving this update as your IT team may need to separately manage your update.

Shape and Color Sidebars
NEW: Change all icon layouts to be in 2016 format – both Shapes and Color Sidebars
NEW: Shape Toolbar now with Extra Large icons for hi-res monitors
NEW: Auto sidebar button resizing and save of positioning
NEW: Allow Shift-override for Shape sidebar alignment functions

Gallery Sidebar
NEW: Added ability for Personal Galleries to be easily copied or moved to a Corporate Gallery
NEW: Added new delete text ‘x’ icon for the Shape Gallery filter (to quickly remove the filter)
NEW: When adding a shape to the gallery, a gallery filter is applied for that shape so you can see it once added
NEW: If you add a shape from a slide, the description is defaulted from the Notes section
NEW: Can now save a selected shape as a shape or as the entire slide

Main PPT Ribbon
FIX – ‘Send as PDF’ now works when sending a document saved on SharePoint
FIX – PPT’s Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) supported for all PPT Productivity functions
FIX – Can now use all PPT Productivity features while in a Slide Show (non-presenter mode)
FIX – When you paste a single mini slide the page now doesn’t navigate away from current slide
FIX – Fixed some functions that didn’t ‘Undo’ correctly
FIX – All window layouts updated where they were impacted by screen magnification settings of 125% or greater

Are these the ‘Cool Macros’?

PPT Productivity first made its appearance as ‘Cool Macros’ to consultants at Boston Consulting Group back in 2010.  We are occasionally contacted by former BCG consultants who are trying to track down the ‘Cool Macros’ tool.  We’re very happy to say that PPT Productivity Power Tools is indeed the new and improved version of Cool Macros, so please download your free trial today to enjoy the features you already know and love plus many more!