PowerPoint 2010 cheat sheet: Visual tour

Find your way around Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 and the Ribbon interface.

PowerPoint 2010 screen with labels
The PowerPoint 2010 interface

As with PowerPoint 2007, the PowerPoint 2010 interface centers on the Ribbon for commonly used commands. Also handy is the Quick Access toolbar, which you can customize with whatever commands you like. The File tab leads to an area called Backstage, a command center where you can handle an array of tasks.

See our PowerPoint 2010 cheat sheet for much more information about the PowerPoint 2010 interface and features.

The Ribbon
The Ribbon

Love it or hate it, the Ribbon is the main way you'll work with PowerPoint 2010. Instead of old-style menus and toolbars, the Ribbon groups small icons for common tasks together in tabs on a big ribbon. The Home tab, shown by default, contains the most commonly used features, including creating new slides, changing layouts and formatting text.

Other tabs have similar groupings. For example, the new Transitions tab shows buttons for items that you can use to create transitions between slides -- Cut, Fade, Wipe, Split and more. And in PowerPoint 2010, you can customize any Ribbon tab with whatever commands you like.

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Chart Tools tab and subtabs
Context-sensitive tabs

The Ribbon is context-sensitive, changing according to what you're doing. Depending on the task you're engaged in, it sometimes adds more tabs and subtabs. For example, when you insert and highlight a chart, several entirely new tabs appear: Design, Layout and Format, all underneath a Chart Tools supertitle just above the Ribbon.

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Backstage: Info screen
Backstage: Info screen

When you click the File tab on the Ribbon, you're sent to the Backstage screen, a one-stop shop for doing common tasks such as saving, printing and sharing presentations, broadcasting your presentation, compressing media files embedded in your presentation and more.

The Info screen in Backstage shows useful information about the file you're working on and lets you set its permissions, prepare it for sharing and more.

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Backstage: Save & Send screen
Backstage: Save & Send screen

The Save & Send screen in Backstage gives you myriad options for sharing presentations: via email, in Microsoft SharePoint, in the cloud, broadcast over the Internet, as a PDF, as a video, packaged on a DVD and more.

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Backstage: Options screen
Backstage: Options screen

The Options screen in Backstage lets you customize the way PowerPoint looks and works, including slideshow options, proofing options and what buttons appear on various Ribbon tabs and in the Quick Access toolbar.

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New video editing tools
New video editing tools

PowerPoint 2010 includes a host of tools for editing videos inside PowerPoint without having to use an external program. You can crop the video, add fade-ins and fade-outs, adjust the brightness and contrast, add an array special effects and more.

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New image editing tools
New image editing tools

PowerPoint 2010 also offers new tools for performing basic image editing on a graphic or photo you're using in a presentation. These tools certainly don't rival Adobe Photoshop or even midrange image-editing software, but for basic, quick-and-dirty editing, they do the trick.

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Broadcast Slide Show dialog box
Broadcast a slideshow

Microsoft now offers a free PowerPoint Broadcast Service that lets you share a live presentation over the Web. (You'll need a Windows Live ID to make it work.) When you start a broadcast, a link is created to the presentation; you can send that link to other people who can then click it and watch your presentation streamed over the Internet in any Web browser.

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A new feature called Protected View is designed to keep your computer safe when you open PowerPoint documents sent to you via email or that you downloaded from the Web. Any time you open one of those documents, it's opened in Protected View, which essentially means that you're blocking that document from accessing your computer.

It also means, though, that you can't edit those documents or even print them -- you can only read them. If you know the file is safe, click the Enable Editing button in the Protected View warning message. This marks it as a Trusted Document; from now on you'll be able to edit or print it.

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Add buttons to the Quick Access toolbar
Tip: Add buttons to the Quick Access toolbar

For one-click access to your most frequently used commands no matter which Ribbon tab is showing, customize PowerPoint 2010's Quick Access toolbar by clicking the small down arrow to the right on the Quick Access toolbar and choosing More Commands.

You'll see the Options screen shown here. Choose commands from the left side of the screen, add them to the list on the right, and they'll appear in the Quick Access toolbar.

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Hidden Ribbon
Tip: Hide the Ribbon

You can take back some screen real estate by temporarily hiding the Ribbon. To do it, press Ctrl-F1 or just right-click anywhere in the Ribbon and select "Minimize the Ribbon."

The Ribbon will still be available when you want it -- all you need to do is click on the appropriate tab (Home, Insert, Design, etc.) and it appears. It then discreetly goes away when you are no longer using it.

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Alt key Ribbon shortcuts
Tip: Use Alt key shortcuts for Ribbon navigation

You can use a clever set of keyboard shortcuts for working with the Ribbon. Press the Alt key, and a tiny letter or number icon will appear on the menu for each tab -- for example, the letter H for the Home tab. Now press that letter on your keyboard, and you'll display that tab or menu item.

When the tab appears, there will be letters and numbers for most options on the tab as well, providing an easy way to select commands without taking your fingers from the keyboard.

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