By Jen Sweeney
When a new version of Office comes out, the new features often grab the most attention. But for each release, Microsoft also tinkers with existing features to make them easier to find and use. Here are five PowerPoint tools that aren’t new, but are definitely worth learning how to use:
PRESENTER VIEW Microsoft made some welcome improvements to this feature for the 2013 release. It now automatically detects if you have two displays and turns on Presenter view (known as Auto Extend). If you are using one display, you can rehearse in Presenter view by hitting Alt + F5 or by right-clicking anywhere on the screen and choosing Presenter view from the context menu.
Other notable improvements include a new zoom feature and the ability to jump around a presentation with Slide Navigator.
PICTURE EDITING In the old old days, you had to leave PowerPoint and use a separate application to modify images. It was time-consuming and clunky to say the least. Today’s PowerPoint offers a robust collection of image editing tools — including background removal, picture corrections, cropping, artistic effects and more.
SMART ART SmartArt sure has grown up in the past few years. What began as a clunky org chart maker has blossomed into a tool that’s stuffed with graphic options — easily switch between graphic types to find one best suited to your content; customize by changing overall color scheme, or modifying color, shape and size of individual elements; turn a bulleted list into a graphic with one click; make your diagram stand out with animation.
MOTION PATHS Motion paths and other animation effects have the potential to add clarity to complicated concepts in a presentation. But animation should be used sparingly, especially in a business setting. For PowerPoint 2013, Microsoft made improvements to the animation options. Now, when you create a motion path, you can see where your object will end up (a “ghost” image moves along the path to the endpoint while your original object stays put).
CUSTOM SHOWS Creating a custom show is yet another way to do more with less. If you have to present similar information to different groups, there’s no need to create separate presentations or to include information that’s irrelevant to one group. Creating custom shows from one presentation is much more efficient.
PowerPoint offers two kinds of custom shows: basic, which is a separate presentation that includes some slides from the original like in the previous example; and hyperlinked, which enables you to incorporate one or more separate presentations.