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May 11, 2011

Top 10 New Features of PowerPoint 2010

By powerpoint-2010

A lot of times when a new version of an application is released the hype surrounding all the new and enhanced features proves more exciting than the new features themselves.

Some features sound really cool at first, but then finding a use for them in your day-to-day work is difficult or in some cases inappropriate. In those cases upgrading to the latest version just because there is a later version is not always a worthwhile venture.

Top 10 New Features of PowerPoint 2010It’s been close to a year since the public beta release of PowerPoint 2010, and throughout this past year I’ve been amazed by all the new features PowerPoint 2010 has to offer. With 60+ new and/or enhanced features I was quite curious which ones I’d actually use on a day-to-day basis and which ones would fade into the background.

And after looking back over the past year’s presentations, I’m happy to report that there are quite a few features that I actually use on a daily or weekly basis. So, I’ve tallied up those features and compiled my own “Top 10″ list to demonstrate why PowerPoint 2010 is well worth an upgrade.

No. 10: Customize the Ribbon

There are still mixed feelings about the new ribbon interface. Personally, I love the ribbon and feel that it is much easier to locate certain commands. But if you disagree, PowerPoint 2010 gives you the ability to create your own custom tabs filled with whatever tools and commands you use on a regular basis.

For example, I draw a lot of shapes and wanted all commands related to shapes in one tab. So I created a Shapes group with my frequently used shapes (rectangle, oval, triangle, and straight connectors), and an Edit Shapes groups filled with all kinds of editing options including hidden features such as the combine shapes tools. I also created a Format Shapes group, a Move Shapes group, and a Customize section with the Customize the Ribbon button added to it so when using my custom ribbon I realize I forgot to add a command, I can quickly jump to the PowerPoint options window to make my customizations.

Customize the Ribbon in PowerPoint 2010

But perhaps the best part of PowerPoint 2010 is the ability to Import and Export any Quick Access Toolbar or Ribbon customizations so that you can transfer your custom tabs and commands to other computers.

Customize the Ribbon in PowerPoint 2010

Click to read more information about how to customize the ribbon in Office 2010.

No. 9: Group Slides into Sections

Another great addition to PowerPoint 2010 is the ability to group slides into sections. And I’ve got to be honest; at first, I wasn’t that excited about sections and didn’t think it would be something I’d use very often. But after forcing myself to try it out on several of my presentations, I’m hooked.

Overall, this is a feature that I find very useful for longer presentations (think 50+ slides), of which I have many. With sections I can navigation the slide deck easily by collapsing or expanding sections from both the slide sorter view (pictured below) and the normal view through the navigation pane.

Group Slides into Sections in PowerPoint 2010

I can even rearrange, print, or apply themes or transitions by section.

No. 8: Improved Picture Crop

I had been using PowerPoint 2010 for a while before I realized just how cool the picture crop tool is now. You can now easily crop pictures by aspect ratio, a feature which is great if you work back and forth between widescreen (16:9 or 16:10) presentations and the standard 4:3 PowerPoint slide ratio.

Improved Picture Crop in PowerPoint 2010

Also if you have ever tried to use pictures as a shape background fill or in SmartArt, you may have been bothered by how earlier versions of PowerPoint stretch the images beyond recognition. Well, with PowerPoint 2010 you can now set and customize how an image will fill or fit into a shape.

Improved Picture Crop in PowerPoint 2010

Selecting Crop → Fill will make the picture cover the edges of the shape, and selecting Crop → Fit will make the picture’s edges fit inside of the shape. Even basic cropping is better. Now, with the crop tool activated, PowerPoint will still display the removed portions, just grayed out slightly — a great feature for seeing both the before and after all at once from one view.

No. 7: Broadcast Slideshow via the SkyDrive

Let’s face it, not everyone has SharePoint, so sharing documents and slideshows with people in other locations is still a bit tricky. Luckily, PowerPoint 2010 gives you the ability to broadcast your slideshow, allowing you to upload your presentation using the free PowerPoint Broadcast Service.

Broadcast Slideshow via the SkyDrive in PowerPoint 2010

All you need is a Windows Live ID to sign in to send a private URL to remote users via email. And all that your remote viewers have to do is click the link to watch your presentation from most any Web browser.

Broadcast Slideshow via the SkyDrive in PowerPoint 2010

Broadcast Slideshow via the SkyDrive in PowerPoint 2010

Click here to view the step-by-step directions on how to save documents to the web with Office 2010 and Windows Live SkyDrive.

No. 6: Insert Video from Online Sites

In previous versions of PowerPoint, inserting video from online sites was a bit tricky and didn’t always work quite as you would expect it to. Now, with PowerPoint 2010 presenters can insert and play video from online sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, and Revver during a slide show. All you need to do is copy and paste the embed code into the insert video dialog box and PowerPoint does the rest.

Insert Video from Online Sites in PowerPoint 2010

NOTE: This does not technically embed the video into your presentation. You will require a high speed internet connection during your presentation to stream the videos.

No. 5: Save Presentation as a Video

For the past few years I’ve been using a variety of third-party applications all designed to convert a PowerPoint slide deck into a video; however, often with these third-party solutions I’d see a drop in quality or a disconnect between my slide animations and audio. With the release of PowerPoint 2010 I was very excited to see the innate ability to create a video and see that in doing so both audio and very complex animations keep their timings and synchronization.

Save Presentation as a Video in PowerPoint 2010

You even have the ability to save in one of three possible sizes:

  • Computer & HD (960 x 720),
  • Internet & DVD (640 x 480),
  • Portable Devices (320 x 240).

NOTE: Resolutions will vary depending on the size of your PowerPoint slides (Design → Page Setup → On Screen Show 4:3 or On Screen Show 16:9, etc.).

No. 4: Combine Shapes Tools

Often in PowerPoint I create my own graphics by drawing and grouping shapes together. Sometimes, however, rather than grouping shapes I always wished there was a way to join shapes or at minimum “cut” one shape out of another shape like you can do in other graphic programs. Well, now with PowerPoint 2010 you can join two or more shapes with either the Shape Union or Shape Combine tools, and even cut shapes using the Shape Intersect or Shape Subtract tools.

Combine Shapes Tools in PowerPoint 2010

But you won’t find this handy tool on the ribbon. You’ll have to manually add this command to either your Quick Access Toolbar or to a custom tab on your ribbon. You can find Combine Shapes in the section “Commands not in the ribbon” from your PowerPoint Options screen (File → Options → Quick Access Toolbar → Choose commands from: | Commands Not in the Ribbon).

Combine Shapes Tools in PowerPoint 2010

No. 3: Animation Painter

As a huge fan of the format painter, I was happy to see that the PowerPoint team decided to add an animation painter tool as well to PowerPoint 2010. Now, just like with formatting, you can copy and paste an object’s animations with just a quick click of a button. This isn’t by far the most exciting new feature, but I place it third in my list mainly because of how much I actually use this feature.

And granted, I do use more animations than the average PowerPoint user does, so my perspective on this feature might be a bit less than universal. But I’ve got to say that the animation painter has saved me a ton of time on the job in preparing presentations.

No. 2: Bookmark and Trigger Audio and Video

Another great new feature in PowerPoint 2010 is the ability to create bookmarks inside media, allowing the presenter to skip or jump to a particular point within the media. But this feature really finds its power in the ability to trigger an animation to media bookmarks, which if you ever tried to sync animations to music you’ll understand why bookmark triggers are so cool.

Unfortunately, this feature is not one that translates well in blog format. So, watch this clip from my PowerPoint 2010 Training course to see what you can do with either video or audio bookmarks and triggers in PowerPoint 2010: Triggering Animations to Audio Bookmarks in PowerPoint 2010.

No. 1: Remove Background from a Picture

By far the most used feature (and therefore my most favorite feature) in PowerPoint 2010 is the background removal tool for pictures. As someone who has been using Photoshop to do exactly this for years, I welcome PowerPoint’s quick and easy-to-use tool.

Remove Background from a Picture

All you have to do to remove the background is click the background removal tool (located on the Picture Tools | Format tab), which will open up a special tab on the ribbon:

Remove Background from a Picture

Next, click on the Mark Areas to Remove button and then click on the areas of the photo you want to remove. Alternatively, you can click on the Mark Areas to Keep button and click on the areas of the photo you wish to keep. When finished, simply click the Keep Changes button on the background removal tool’s tab. And if you don’t believe that it is that easy, be sure to watch this tutorial on using the PowerPoint background removal tool.

I hope you enjoyed my very own top 10 list of the new PowerPoint 2010 features.

Where Do You Go From Here?

About the Author

is an accomplished instructor who has taught over 4,000 students at the high school, college, and adult levels. Specializing in computer applications, writing, and literature, she holds a degree in English and Secondary Education, an Illinois Type 09 Initial Teaching Certificate, and is a Microsoft Certified Master for Office 2003. While her energetic and easy-to-follow style is ideal for beginners to computer applications, her knowledge, thoroughness, and foresight in potential problems will satisfy the more proficient user.


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