Customizing Your PowerPoint Workspace

Less Clicking, More Doing with the Quick Access Toolbar

Steve Sheets, Technical Director

Steve Sheets

Dec 21, 2017

No doubt about it, PowerPoint is a great tool! Sometimes we find ourselves using features that take a little too long to get to though. What do I mean by too long? More than one click for something I use a lot. Some of you may be thinking, what about key commands? We'll get a post up about key commands one day, but memorizing those can be an exercise. In the meantime, here is a short video that can help users become more efficient in minutes as we explore the Quick Access Toolbar and Custom Ribbons in PowerPoint.

For PC users, you can even download and use our sample QAT. To quickly make your own custom QAT, try right-clicking on your favorite buttons in ppt and select "Add to Quick Access Toolbar".

Mac users must click the "Customize Quick Access Toolbar" drop-down found at the end of the QAT and search for the commands they wish to add. Please note that (for now) on a MAC any functions available solely via plugin will not work in your QAT.


I've been asked to share what is currently in my QAT. The first 9 items in the toolbar are the most useful on a PC as they can be easily activated by tapping Alt and then their corresponding number, if you are on a Mac you may want to put your most useful items in the middle. While it is subject to change for a specific project or task, this is pretty much how I keep it.

The first 3 are from the FREE PPTools hammer plugin, they are:

Memorize: Learn the position (and optionally the size) of a selected object

Hammer: Apply the memorized properties

Options: Settings you would like tool to memorize

YOUtools has similar functions to the hammer and is available on Mac. with you tools you can right-click an object to copy its size and position, then paste a number of combinations of those attributes to another object.

YOUtools also has the functions for my fourth and fifth slots with:

Align to First: Toggle to apply alignment functions to the first object selected

Fill Slide: Scale and distort object to fill the entire slide to its edges

The rest I believe are all native to PPT and are not from plugins, they are:

Fill: Adjust a selected picture to be centered within and fill its crop and remove distortion

Merge Shapes: Dropdown with useful options for creating custom shapes

Crop: Button that is also a dropdown with useful features like crop to 1:1 ratio 

Reset Picture: Resets, color, crop and size to that of the source image 

Insert Picture: Inserts a picture to your layout

Send to Back: Sends the selected object to the bottom-most layer of your slide

Bring to Front: Sends the selected object to the top-most layer of your slide

Distribute Horizontally: Evenly distributes selected objects horizontally

Distribute Vertically: Evenly distributes selected objects vertically

Rotate Objects: Useful for flipping objects vertically or horizontally, to rotate objects, hold alt and press the arrow keys

Align Objects Left: Align the left edges of the selected objects

Align Objects Center: Align the horizontal centers of the selected objects

Align Objects Right: Align the right edges of the selected objects

Align Objects Top: Align the top edges of the selected objects

Align Objects Middle: Align the vertical middles of the selected objects

Align Objects Bottom: Align the bottom edges of the selected objects

Change Shape: Opens a menu to convert your current shape into another

Edit Points: Allows custom shape editing to be done by hand, for more precise work, use merge shapes

Convert to Smart Art Graphic: Will break bullets/paragraphs in a selected text box into all kinds of flowcharts and other useful design starting points

Convert to Text: Can turn smart art back into a text box and other handy tricks

Symbol: Insert a glyph

Eyedropper Fill, Text Color and Line Color: Apply any color to the selected shape. This tool, as well as eyedropper text fill and eyedropper outline, have been lifesavers when doing rapid prototyping and testing out palettes.

Lock Aspect Ratio: Now works in the QAT! Great for resizing objects by holding shift and the arrow keys without distorting the object. 

Share This

About The Author

Steve Sheets, Technical Director

Steve is a designer with high expectations for a final product but he tends to obsess over process too. He likes to know the many ways to get things done, the advantages of each and their oh so scary pitfalls. Perhaps that's why he has a Mac and a PC?

"Workflows are one of the few times in life where the best way tends to be the easy way, the trick is figuring out what's 'easy' for your specific situation."

Connect on LinkedIn

You May Also Like…

5 Simple Steps for Better Business Presentations

Follow this simple framework to build and deliver better business presentations

Nov 12, 2021


Our Presentation Studio Model Explained

To make it count, presentation workflows need to be intimate, iterative and responsive.

Nov 05, 2021


Following a Painter’s Path

Georgia on our minds...again.

May 05, 2021


Know Your Audience

3 Things to Consider Before Stepping Up to the Mic

Sep 25, 2020