Top 10 PowerPoint Hacks / Shortcuts used by strategy consultants

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The team at PPT Productivity came from strategy consulting firms. As management consultants, we're always looking for the quickest possible way to achieve the best results in PowerPoint which is why we created the PPT Productivity add-in for PowerPoint.

PPT Productivity’s 180 + features can save you hours each week in PowerPoint. Here are 10 of our top time saving features, to hack your productivity in PowerPoint!

Top 10 PowerPoint hacks

1. Align and Distribute PowerPoint objects

To create great looking slides, consistent alignment and distribution of objects on your slides is important.

To quickly align shapes on a PowerPoint slide, first select the objects, then click either align left, center, right, top, middle, or bottom from the PPT Productivity Format Toolbar (or use the assigned PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts). Note that Standard PowerPoint also has alignment features- if you don't have PPT Productivity add-in, you can access these via Shape Format tab on the ribbon, then selecting the Align group, then the alignment button (PPT Productivity put these buttons on the Format Toolbar for faster access).

By default, PowerPoint aligns objects by outermost or most extreme position. If you prefer to align PowerPoint objects by first shape selected, PPT Productivity has this option. From the Settings on the PPT Productivity Ribbon, select ‘Shape Alignment’ then check the box ‘align to first shape rather than outermost shape’. This will override the PowerPoint default shape alignment, so you can by default align by first shape selected.

Align shapes/objects in PowerPoint

Once you’ve aligned the objects on your slide, you can distribute them evenly. To distribute PowerPoint shapes evenly, select the objects, the click distribute horizontally or vertically from the PPT Productivity Format Toolbar (or use assigned PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts to make this action even faster).

PowerPoint Distribute objects evenly horizontally vertically

PPT Productivity also has a feature that enables you to specify the space between each selected PowerPoint object. Specify an actual spacing between PowerPoint objects using the Set Gaps feature on the Format Toolbar. To set gaps between PowerPoint objects, select the objects, the click ‘Set horizontal Gaps’ or ‘Set Vertical Gaps’ on the Format Toolbar (or use PowerPoint Keyboard shortcuts to set gaps between PowerPoint Shapes).

The Set Gaps Feature includes an option to either move the selected shapes to accommodate the specified space between PowerPoint objects, or to resize the selected shapes to keep them within the existing area (watch the video below to see the feature in action)

Set space between PowerPoint objects vertically
Set space between PowerPoint objects horizontally

2. Swap position of PowerPoint Objects

The ability to swap the position of PowerPoint objects on a slide is one of our most requested PowerPoint features. With PPT Productivity you can swap the position of any PowerPoint objects on a slide.

You can Swap PowerPoint objects based on specific alignment points (relevant when you are swapping shapes that are different sizes!). You can swap based on vertical or horizontal alignment or swap based on the centre alignment point of each object.

First select the PowerPoint objects to be swapped, then click the Swap vertically, horizontally or position feature on the Format Toolbar (or use pre-assigned shortcuts keys to swap PowerPoint objects).

Swap position of PowerPoint shapes/objects

The Swap Positions feature is great when updating images or icons in PowerPoint presentations. Simply add the new version of the icon/image anywhere on the slide, then select the original version, hit Swap Position, the new icon/image is now perfectly placed where the original object was. Then delete the old version. No need to realign or reformat the slide!

3. Copy and Paste formatting in PowerPoint

Easily apply formatting from one PowerPoint object to other objects in your presentation.

You can use the standard PowerPoint Shortcuts Control + Shift + C to copy the format from one object, then Control + Shift + V to paste the format to another object. Or for more advanced formatting options, use the PPT Productivity Format Painter features found on the Format Toolbar.

The Format Painter features give you the ability to determine exactly what attributes you want to copy and apply to selected objects.

For example, using the PPT Productivity Format Painter for PowerPoint you can quickly copy the Table format and apply to existing PowerPoint tables throughout your presentation.

PowerPoint Format Painter, copy and paste format in PowerPoint

PPT Productivity's set of format painter features includes:

  • Advanced Format Painter: lets you specify selective attributes to copy paste from an extensive list
  • Style Painter: copy font style and size, shape color, shape outline color, outline thickness and style
  • Text Format Painter: copy font style and size only
  • Position & Size Painter: copy the position and size of an object, to align other objects across multiple slides in your presentation
  • Table Format Painter: copy the style of a PowerPoint table including line color and weight, fill color, font size, style and boldness
  • Shape Change Painter: copy a shape type and paste to change other selected shapes
  • Chart Painter: copy the format of a chart, including chart type. Quickly apply the chart type and formatting to update other charts
  • Angles and Tips Painter: copy the angles or tips of a shape to apply to another shape, for example on chevrons or triangles
  • Animation Painter: copy the animation of a selection to apply to another selection, with options to replace or append the animation when pasting

4. Group / ungroup PowerPoint objects

Grouping PowerPoint objects enables you to treat multiple objects as one single object or shape. Grouping objects can make using your swap, resize, distribution etc tools even more productive.

To group a selection of shapes in PowerPoint use keyboard shortcut Control + G. Group, Ungroup, Regroup features exist in Standard PowerPoint, but we've also put these features on the PPT Productivity Format Toolbar for faster access.

Group PowerPoint objects, Ungroup PowerPoint objects, Regroup PowerPoint Objects

PPT Productivity goes even further with new features for grouping objects by rows and grouping objects by columns. These features group items based on them being similarly aligned vertically or horizontally, making it easier to rearrange them. These features are particularly useful if you love using Box Tables in your presentations (text boxes used to create a table layout rather than an actual PowerPoint table).

Group objects in PowerPoint by row
Group objects in PowerPoint by column

5. Repeat/Redo PowerPoint commands

Ever find yourself performing the same action over and over again in PowerPoint? A favorite Productivity hack for PowerPoint power users, is the Redo/ Repeat last command keyboard shortcut.

The redo/repeat keyboard shortcut for PowerPoint is F4, or you can use Control + Y. PPT Productivity has enabled redo/repeat shortcut for its features, so you can use these keyboard shortcuts to repeat both standard PowerPoint commands and PowerPoint commands unique to PPT Productivity add-in.

Redo/Repeat last action in PowerPoint shortcut

6. PowerPoint Keyboard shortcuts

Have I mentioned how valuable Keyboard shortcuts are in helping you hack your productivity in PowerPoint? PowerPoint Shortcut keys are an essential part of most strategy consultants repertoire. In fact, so many McKinsey & Co consultants use PowerPoint Keyboard shortcuts we’ve programmed their favorite ones into PPT Productivity for the alumni community! Learn more about the aligned McKinsey Keyboard shortcuts.

PPT Productivity gives you the ability to assign more than 800 keyboard shortcuts to your most frequently used PowerPoint commands! Although you'd never remember 800 shortcuts, we've created the feature so you can program shortcuts for the features that you use the most. In addition to the standard PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts, we’ve pre-assigned about 70 extra shortcuts so you can start being more productive the minute your download PPT Productivity. You can review the list and reassign or create more as you work.

PPT Productivity gives you the ability the ability to reassign all shortcut keys - you can reassign them to make them easier to remember, or to suit your muscle memory if you used specific shortcuts at a previous firm.

Assign PowerPoint Shortcut keys

7. Resize PowerPoint objects, make PowerPoint objects the same size

Another frequently used PowerPoint hack is the Resize Tool. Perfect when you get midway through creating a PowerPoint slide, then realize you need to adjust the size of PowerPoint objects so they fit nicely on the slide.

To easily resize PowerPoint objects, head to the Resize Group on the Format Toolbar. Using the Resize tools, you can resize selected shapes by 10% increments, larger or smaller, or select the general Resize icon and specify in % how much larger or smaller you need the PowerPoint object to be.

Resize and scale PowerPoint objects

In addition to resizing PowerPoint shapes, PPT Productivity’s Resize shortcuts enable resizing PowerPoint objects to match other selected PowerPoint objects by height, width or height & width at the same time. To make PowerPoint shapes the same size, first select the ‘master’ object, i.e the shape you want the size of the other objects to conform to, then select all PowerPoint objects that you want to resize to the same dimensions. Now click on Resize either by height, width or height & width. All selected PowerPoint objects will now have the same size attributes as the first shape selected.

Make PowerPoint objects same size

8. Align objects over PowerPoint Tables

Here’s another awesome way to hack your productivity in PowerPoint! If you’ve ever needed to add images, logos, icons or other objects to a PowerPoint table, you're going to love the align objects over PowerPoint Tables feature.

First add a table/s to your slide, then place the objects roughly over the cell you want them to align to. The click ‘Align shapes over table cells’ feature on found in the Align group on the Format Toolbar. No need to select the table/s. It’s that easy. Watch the video and see for yourself!

Align PowerPoint shapes over tables, align objects over rows/columns in PowerPoint

We’ve even made it possible to align shapes over cells in PowerPoint Table rows and tables

9. Convert Text boxes to PowerPoint Tables, convert PowerPoint Tables to Text boxes

Have you ever started creating a PowerPoint slide using textboxes and then decided the content would be better represented as a table? Or has someone sent you a PowerPoint slide with a table, but you prefer working box tables rather than standard PowerPoint tables? I hear a lot of McKinsey alum answering yes to this one!

Our Convert PowerPoint textbox to table and convert PowerPoint table to textboxes features have been especially created for you!

This PowerPoint productivity hack is pretty simple to use. To create textboxes from a table, select the table on the slide, then hit ‘Deconstruct table in to shapes’ found on the PPT Productivity Ribbon.

Convert PowerPoint table to textbox/box tables

To convert a group of PowerPoint textboxes into a table, select the textboxes, the hit ‘Group shapes into table format’. You selected PowerPoint textboxes will be converted into a PowerPoint Table like magic!

Convert PowerPoint textbox to Table

10. Copy PowerPoint Table format and apply Table format to existing Table

PowerPoint does not allow you to change the default table of a PowerPoint presentation. However, the default PowerPoint table may not be the brand defined table required by your organization to use in your PowerPoint presentations, or you just might not like it very much. PPT Productivity has come up with another brilliant PowerPoint hack to get around this often times frustrating pain point.

The PowerPoint Table Format Painter will copy the format of any selected PowerPoint Table, and apply the same format to other tables on our slide, throughout your presentation or even in other presentations.

Change PowerPoint table format

There are so many other PowerPoint hacks and shortcuts we could have listed in this article. It was very hard deciding on just 10! What’s your favorite PowerPoint hack?

Want to create polished presentations faster? With PPT Productivity, boost your team's productivity with faster formatting, easier editing, collaboration tools and more! If you're not yet using PPT Productivity, download our free 30 day trial today. We offer free one-on-one training and flexible licensing to suit individuals, teams or enterprise.

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