Top 5 favorite new features of PowerPoint 2013By Heather Ackmann
When it comes to software, I am not a fan of first impressions. Given the learning curve for any new application, I like to reserve judgment until I’ve had time to really work with a program. Now that I have wholeheartedly been using PowerPoint 2013 for a few months, I’d like to share with you my top five favorite new features.
5. Switching accounts / SkyDrive integration
I’ll admit, I really wasn’t crazy about the idea of “logging in” to Office initially. I also admit that this isn’t the most exciting or even impressive feature, but it is one that I am thankful for. As someone with several Microsoft Accounts, a couple Office 365 accounts, and therefore many SkyDrive accounts, it was a bit inconvenient having to go to the web, sign in to a SkyDrive account, and then download whatever file I needed. I really love being able to quickly switch between profiles to quickly access files in the cloud right from PowerPoint.
Having two Microsoft Accounts gives me a nice little “fence” to separate my personal and work files. All I have to do is click on “Switch account” to access my other accounts.
If I didn’t want to separate files via multiple Microsoft Accounts, I can also just add two different SkyDrive accounts to one profile. In other words, I sign into PowerPoint with one Microsoft account, but add all my SkyDrive accounts by clicking on “Add a Place” from the backstage open screen.
The only thing I don’t like about this second method is that at first glance there is no way to distinguish between my two different SkyDrive folders. As you can see in the above picture, PowerPoint only displays the user name (which is the same) next to each account. On the Open screen, I would love to see the email address display below the name like in the Accounts screen. Other than that, this is a wonderful addition, one that makes me utilize my free cloud storage more than ever before, and limits my need to “remote desktop” into my work computer.
4. Threaded comments
When collaborating with others, it is now a lot less complicated to follow conversations. Comments are now “threaded” and a lot easier on the eye.
3. Play From and Motion Path End
Technically, these are two separate but similar features that tie for third place in my book. I work with a lot of animations, and these two new additions have saved me a ton of time when working with and creating them.
The old Play button in the Animation Pane is now a Play From button, allowing you to preview a portion of the animations on a PowerPoint slide. Simply select an animation in the animation pane before pressing the Play From button.
Motion Path End
When drawing motion paths, PowerPoint now “ghosts” your object so you can see exactly where that object will appear when the animation completes, so no more guessing!
2. Color Picker
PowerPoint now includes a color picker! Better late than never, right?
The Eyedropper tool is found in the Shape Fill drop menu located from both the Home tab and the Drawing Tools Format tab. To select a color on the slide, simply click on the Eyedropper button, and then click on the desired color. To select a color from outside of the PowerPoint application window, click and drag.
1. Presenter View
The presenter view received quite the overhaul. It now is much darker, so presenting from behind a computer screen will not create a creepy glow.
It also includes three resizable panes: a slide preview, a next slide preview, and a notes area. To resize any of these areas, simply hover your mouse over any of the divider bars, then just click and drag.
Personally, I don’t need to see my current slide or the next slide. So my view usually looks like this:
In the above picture, I’ve completely collapsed the current slide view, resized the next slide view to a teeny-tiny thumbnail, and maximized my notes area to act as a kind of teleprompter.
There are also a lot of tools at your disposal that were once buried in hard-to-reach menus. All buttons are touch-friendly sized, making it easier to navigate a presentation from a touch-enabled monitor or tablet. The only problem is that these buttons appear in the Current Slide pane, so if you are like me and minimize that area, they are no longer easily accessible; however, you can still get to those options by right-clicking.
Also very useful, you can now jump to any slide or section in your presentation by clicking the Slide Sorter button (the one next to the pen tool) or by right-clicking and selecting “See All Slides.
Your view will change, but your audience will still see your previously selected slide. As you select a different slide, your audience will just see a flawless transition to a new slide and will never know you are presenting out of order.
But perhaps the best addition to the presenter view is the ability to zoom into a portion of a slide.
Simply select the Zoom In button (Magnifying Glass icon), hover your mouse over the area you’d like to zoom into, and click.
The Bottom Line
Now, whether any of these features are worth the upgrade price depends on the individual. Personally, I feel the changes to the presenter view alone are worth the upgrade. The upgrades to animations are also nice. Some of my colleagues, however, feel otherwise, and I can certainly see their point of view. After all, they don’t really use SkyDrive, they almost never use presenter view, and they rarely use animations. But for those who travel and present a lot, PowerPoint 2013 is a refreshing step in the right direction.
To see a full list of all new features, see Echo Swinford’s Big List O’New Features in PowerPoint 2013.
To learn how to use all the new features of PowerPoint 2013, see my PowerPoint 2013 Essentials course from TrainSignal.
About the Author
Heather Ackmann 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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