Office 365 cheat sheets

PowerPoint for Microsoft 365 cheat sheet

Are you getting the most from PowerPoint for Microsoft 365/Office 365 in Windows? Learn about the key new features in Microsoft’s powerful presentation app.

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Collaborate in real time

An important feature in PowerPoint Microsoft 365/Office 365 for those who work with others is real-time collaboration that lets people work on presentations together from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Microsoft calls this “co-authoring.”

Note that in order to use co-authoring, the presentation must be stored in OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, or SharePoint Online, and you must be logged into your Microsoft 365/Office 365 account. Also, co-authoring works in PowerPoint only if you have AutoSave turned on. To do it, move the AutoSave slider at the top left of the screen to On.

To collaborate on a document, open it, then click the Share button in the upper-right part of the screen. The “Send link” window opens. Enter the email addresses of the people with whom you want to collaborate and type in a message if you want.

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Here’s how you invite others to collaborate in PowerPoint. (Click image to enlarge it.)

By default, the people you share the document with can edit the document, but you can give them read-only access by clicking Anyone with the link can edit just above the input box, and on the “Link settings” screen that appears, uncheck Allow editing. From that screen you can also set an expiration date for the sharing link and set a password that people to whom you’ve send the link will need to access the spreadsheet. (If you use a business, enterprise, or education edition of Office, your IT department may have set up different default sharing permissions and options.)

In the “Send link” window, you can alternatively copy a link to the file and send that yourself instead of having PowerPoint send it for you, or send the link through Outlook. A final option is to send a copy of the presentation instead of the link, either as a PowerPoint presentation or as a PDF, but that option doesn’t allow live collaboration.

When you’re done, click the Send button.

To begin collaboration: When the email recipient gets your invitation to collaborate, they click a button or link to open the document, which opens in PowerPoint Online in a web browser rather than in the PowerPoint desktop client. They can either edit or read it in PowerPoint Online, depending on the permissions you granted, or click Open in Desktop App and use it from the PowerPoint desktop client.

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Each collaborator on a shared PowerPoint file gets a different-colored icon.

Different colored icons identify the different people working on the document. Hover your mouse over each icon to see their names. You’ll be able to see the changes they make, and they see yours.

You can do more than see each other’s work. Everyone can make comments, and others can respond to them, live. To make a comment, right-click an area and select Comment from the menu that appears. The Comments pane appears. Type in your comment and click the arrow at the bottom of the comment, and everyone can see it. They can then respond, so that comments are threaded, making it easy to follow conversations.

You can open and close the Comments pane by clicking the Comments button towards the top right of the screen. From the pane, you can review people’s comments and make comments of your own.

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Comments appear in a pane to the right. (Click image to enlarge it.)

If you want a co-worker who isn’t actively collaborating on the presentation to know you need their input on one of your comments, in the comment type @ and the first few letters of the person’s name, then choose their name from the list that appears. When you click the arrow to post the comment, they’ll get an email telling them they were @mentioned and linking to the comment in the presentation.

Be aware that how well real-time collaboration works depends on the strength of your internet connection. On slow or flaky connections, you won’t immediately see edits that other people make and they won’t see yours immediately — there will be a lag. So it’s always best, when possible, to have the strongest connection possible when collaborating.

Use AutoSave as a safety net while you work

Worried about losing your work on a presentation because you forgot to constantly save it? Worry no more. AutoSave automatically saves your files for you, so you won’t have to worry about system crashes, power outages, PowerPoint crashes, and similar problems. Be aware, though, that it works only on documents that are stored in OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, or SharePoint Online.

You may think you’re already protected against these problems because of the AutoRecover feature built into earlier versions of Office. But AutoSave is significantly different and better than AutoRecover. AutoRecover doesn’t save your files in real time, so it’s easy for you to lose work. Instead, every several minutes it saves an AutoRecover file that you can try to recover after a crash. But this feature doesn’t always work — for example, if you don’t properly open Office after the crash, or if the crash doesn’t meet Microsoft’s definition of a crash. And Microsoft notes, “AutoRecover is only effective for unplanned disruptions, such as a power outage or a crash. AutoRecover files are not designed to be saved when a logoff is scheduled or an orderly shutdown occurs.” And the files aren’t saved in real time, so you’ll lose several minutes of work even if all goes as planned.

AutoSave is turned on by default in PowerPoint for Microsoft 365/Office 365 for .pptx files stored in OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, or SharePoint Online. To turn it off (or back on again), use the AutoSave button on the top left of the screen. If you want AutoSave to be off for all files by default, select File > Options > Save and uncheck the box marked “AutoSave OneDrive and SharePoint Online files by default on PowerPoint.”

Using AutoSave may require some rethinking of your workflow. Many people are used to creating new presentations based on existing ones by opening the existing file, making changes to it, and then using Save As to save the new version under a different name, leaving the original file intact. Be warned that doing this with AutoSave enabled will save your changes in the original file. Instead, Microsoft suggests opening the original file and immediately selecting File > Save a Copy (which replaces Save As when AutoSave is enabled) to create a new version.

If AutoSave does save unwanted changes to a file, you can always use the Version History feature described next to roll back to an earlier version.

Review or restore earlier versions of a presentation

Another useful feature you should know about is Version History, which lets you go back to previous versions of a file, review them, and copy and paste from an older file to your existing one. You can also restore an entire old version.

To use it, with a file open, click the file name at the top of the screen. A drop-down menu appears with the location of the file and a Version History section. Click Version History, and the Version History pane appears on the right side of the screen with a list of the previous versions of the file, including the time and date they were saved.

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Scrolling through previous versions of a presentation.

Click any older version, and that version appears in a new window. Scroll through the version and copy any content you want. You can also overwrite your existing presentation with the earlier version or save the earlier version in a separate file.

Version History works best when used in conjunction with AutoSave. You can use it without AutoSave, but it’s not as useful because you don’t get as many saved versions to go back to.

Use Zoom to present nonsequentially

Ever wish you could jump around in your presentation, showing your slides in nonsequential order? The new Zoom feature does this by creating a kind of visual shortcuts table that lets you quickly zoom from one section to another — handy in case you want to go back to a previous slide or skip over a section of your presentation.

When you’re in a presentation, select Insert > Zoom. You get a choice of three different kinds of Zoom:

  • Summary Zoom: This lets you create a visual summary of your presentation. You select the slides you want included in the summary. Each of those slides becomes the beginning of a section of the presentation. When you’re giving a presentation, you can click a thumbnail on the Summary Zoom slide to go to the beginning slide of a section.
  • Section Zoom: If you’ve already created sections in your presentation, when you choose Section Zoom you’ll see those sections. Choose which you want to put on your Section Zoom slide. Then when you’re giving a presentation, click any thumbnail to jump to that section.
  • Slide Zoom: This lets you jump from a slide to any other slide in the presentation. It’s generally best used for short presentations without many sections. After you click Slide Zoom, you select which slides you want to be able to jump to, and they’ll show up in a Slide Zoom slide. Click any slide to jump to it.
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Here’s how to insert a Summary Zoom slide, with thumbnails of your entire presentation. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Other useful PowerPoint for Microsoft 365/Office 365 features

PowerPoint for Microsoft 365/Office 365 has several more useful features. Although they’re not as significant as the other features we’ve covered here, they’re worth knowing about.

Insert 3D models: This visual trick lets you show full three-dimensional details of an object. Select Insert > 3D Models and choose the 3D model you want to insert, either from your computer or from an online Microsoft library. Once it’s inserted, you can tilt or rotate the model any way you want during your presentation.

Text highlighter: Here’s a simple way to draw people’s attention to specific pieces of text: Use the new text highlighter to choose different colors to emphasize different portions of your presentation. It’s the same highlighter that Word has had for some time. To do it, select the text you want to highlight, then choose Home > Text Highlight Color.

Easier background removal: After inserting a picture, you can remove its background as a way to focus more on the photo’s subject or a detail. In earlier versions of PowerPoint you could remove backgrounds but had to use the drawing tools to select and fine-tune the item you wanted to keep; now the process is more automated. To do it, select the picture whose background you want to remove, then select Picture Format > Remove Background.

Royalty-free images: To get access to thousands of royalty-free images, icons, and stickers, go to Insert > Pictures > Stock Images and then select from Stock Images, Cutout People, Icons, or Stickers.

Use a Bluetooth-enabled pen to control a presentation: If you’ve got a Bluetooth pen like the one that comes with a Surface device, you can use its button as a clicker to move to the next slide or a previous one. First pair the pen with your computer. Then go to Windows 10’s Settings app and select Devices > Pen & Windows Ink. Under Pen Shortcuts, check the box next to “Allow apps to override the shortcut button behavior.” A single click will now move to the next slide in a presentation, and holding down the button will move one slide backward in the presentation.

Handy keyboard shortcuts

Using keyboard shortcuts is one of the best ways to accomplish tasks quickly in any version of PowerPoint Microsoft 365/Office 365. You can even use them to navigate the Ribbon. For instance, pressing Alt-H takes you to the Home tab, and Alt-G takes you to the Design tab. (For help finding specific commands on the Ribbon, see our PowerPoint for Microsoft 365 Ribbon quick reference.)

But there are many other keyboard shortcuts to help you accomplish a vast array of tasks in PowerPoint. We’ve listed the ones we’ve found the most useful below. Want even more shortcuts? Microsoft’s Office site has comprehensive lists of shortcuts for creating and delivering PowerPoint presentations.

Useful PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts

Don't forget to download our PowerPoint for Microsoft 365 Ribbon quick reference!

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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