PowerPoint’s golden shortcuts – how many are you missing?

Here’s a quick quiz for you

Do you know how to do these tasks in PowerPoint with just a few keystrokes:

Well, read on to find out, and see how other neat PowerPoint shortcuts can help you.

I’ve organised the shortcuts into these sections, which you can click if you want to jump to a specific shortcut (Or, for a table listing the shortcuts mentioned in this post, see the summary at the end.)


Own your slideshowScroll to Contents ↑

  • Start smoothly

    One shortcut I use daily is Shift+F5 to start the slideshow – but from the current slide, not slide 1. That’s so handy for checking how your slide looks at full-screen, especially if it’s animated.

    Or, to start your slideshow from slide 1, press F5.

    (Here’s one way to help you remember what F5 does: When you’re editing text in Word or Outlook, you might know that pressing F5 opens the Go To dialog box, and in your browser F5 reloads the page. So to help me remember what F5 does in various programs, I think of it as meaning “Go!”)

  • “B” the bossScroll to Contents ↑

    When you present face-to-face, pressing B is by far one of the most vital shortcuts. That blacks out your screen (to remove visual distractions while you tell a story or lead a discussion), which is a great way to show you’re “the boss of your slides”, and they just support you.

  • Move in sequence – or at willScroll to Contents ↑

    To advance the slideshow (if I’m not using a remote clicker), I find it easiest to press Space – because it’s such a big key to hit! But what if you want to step back instead of forward? Press Backspace, which seems easy to remember (as it starts with the word “back”).

    You can jump to any slide in your slideshow by typing the slide’s number and pressing Enter. For instance, that’s handy if someone asks you a question about a slide you presented earlier.

    Or, go to your 1st slide by pressing Home or your last by pressing End. To exit your slideshow (no matter which slide you’re on), you can press Esc to “escape” from it. (To see a helpful list of other shortcuts during your slideshow, press F1. But to look professional, I recommend you do that before your talk, not during it!)


Edit a specific slideScroll to Contents ↑

While editing your deck, if there’s 1 slide you keep updating, you can use some of the shortcuts above to quickly return to that slide.

For instance, suppose you keep updating slide 20. To get back to slide 20 when you’re editing another part of your deck:

  1. Press F5 to start your slideshow.
  2. Type 20 and press Enter to go to the slide.
  3. Press Esc to return to Normal view at slide 20.


Select objectsScroll to Contents ↑

  • Re-select object(s) you last changed

    While you’re editing your slides, here’s a neat trick very few people know:

    To re-select the object(s) you changed most recently (since you opened PowerPoint), press Ctrl+Z Ctrl+Y. (Pressing Ctrl+Z undoes your change, but Ctrl+Y redoes it and leaves the changed object(s) selected.)

  • Select an object in sequenceScroll to Contents ↑

    When you want to select any object on your slide, you can press Tab repeatedly. That selects objects one after another, starting at the back. (Normally, the 1st object you put on the slide’s at the back, and the last object you added’s at the front. That’s true unless you’ve used commands like Send to back or Bring to front.)

    Lots of objects on your slide? It might be quicker to press Shift+Tab repeatedly, which starts at the front instead of the back.

  • Select multiple objectsScroll to Contents ↑

    Suppose you want to copy or format several objects at once. Usually the quickest way to select them all’s to “lasso” them by dragging diagonally between empty areas of your slide (or even outside your slide), to surround the objects you want.

    Or, you can select 1 object and then hold down Ctrl (or Shift) while you click other objects, which adds them to your selection.


Work with textScroll to Contents ↑

  • Edit text

    Once you’ve selected 1 object, you can edit its text by pressing Enter. (If you’re used to spreadsheets, you might prefer to press F2, like you can in Excel to edit cells.)

    If the selected object doesn’t have any text, you can just start typing to add text to it. (And many people don’t realise you can put text into shapes – you don’t need separate text boxes.)

    To insert a line-break (which is like pressing Enter in text, except it lets you format all the text as 1 paragraph), press Shift+Enter.

  • Move through text (or select it)Scroll to Contents ↑

    When you’re editing text, to move the flashing text cursor by a word at a time, press Ctrl+Left or Ctrl+Right. To move to the start or end of the current line, press Home or End. To move to the start or end of the object’s text, press Ctrl+Home or Ctrl+End.

    To select text, you can hold down Shift while you move the flashing cursor. For instance, to select text to the left, 1 word at a time, press Shift+Ctrl+Left.

  • Change capitalisationScroll to Contents ↑

    One extremely handy shortcut changes the case of text (and it works in Word and Outlook too). To use it in PowerPoint, select 1 or more objects containing text (or select some text, or click in a word), and then press Shift+F3 up to 3 times. That cycles between:

    • lower case
    • Initial Capitals

    (You might think Shift+F3 will be hard to remember, but it’s easier if you think of it as “Shifting between three types of capitalisation”.)

    To switch back to selecting objects instead of selecting and editing text, press Esc.


Duplicate objects or slidesScroll to Contents ↑

The quickest way to make a new copy of an object is to select it and press Ctrl+D (for “duplicate”). For instance, on this slide, you might do that when creating the shapes to use in place of bullets:

And if you want to duplicate the current slide, press Ctrl+Shift+D. (Or, to make a brand new slide, just press Ctrl+M for “make”.)


Size objects preciselyScroll to Contents ↑

When you right-click an object (or several selected objects), you see a menu of useful commands, like Size and Position. To use the menu with your keyboard:

  1. Select the object(s).
  2. Press Shift+F10 to open the menu.
  3. Press an underlined letter to access the related command,
    like Z for Size and Position.
  4. Press Tab (or Shift+Tab) to move between options.


Copy formattingScroll to Contents ↑

You probably know you can use the Format Painter button to copy formatting from the selected object to others. It’s a quick way to reproduce all the object’s formatting (like colour, line thickness, font, shadow, and so on), instead of reapplying it bit-by-bit to other objects.

Well an even quicker and more convenient method’s to use keyboard shortcuts:

  1. Select the object whose formatting you want to copy.
  2. Press Ctrl+Shift+C.
  3. At any time thereafter, select the object(s) you want to apply the format to.
  4. Press Ctrl+Shift+V.


Align objectsScroll to Contents ↑

To align objects by using built-in keyboard commands, you need to press a series of keys like one of these:

  • Alt  H  G  A  T     (meaning Home tab, Arrange, Align, Top)
  • Alt  J D  A A  T   (meaning Format tab, Align, Top)

What d’you think of those? To me, they’re way too long, and far from memorable!

Luckily, you can use 2 little-known tricks to bypass PowerPoint’s built-in commands:

  1. Add features (like the Align commands) to the Quick Access Toolbar (or “QAT”).
  2. Use the Quick Access Toolbar by pressing Alt followed by a number.

To add a command or menu to the QAT, right-click the feature you want and choose Add to Quick Access Toolbar.

For instance, if you add the Align menu after the default QAT buttons (so it’s the 5th item), you can then align the tops of selected objects just by pressing Alt 5 T. That’s so much easier than the built-in commands, and far quicker than using your mouse!


Other resourcesScroll to Contents ↑

Recently, experts Laura Foley and Ellen Finkelstein both published blog posts about PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts. Laura’s post focuses on shortcuts that start with pressing Alt, and Ellen’s looks at ones that involve pressing Shift or Ctrl. Be sure to check out their posts (and the rest of their blogs) for tons of great tips.

For instance, Ellen’s post lists over 20 little-known but extremely helpful shortcuts that’ll make your work in PowerPoint much quicker and easier. I find them indispensible.

And for the most complete free guide to PowerPoint shortcuts I’ve ever found, with over 100 shortcuts, see this post by Nuts & Bolts Speed Training.

You might also like this 6-minute video that shows how to use many shortcuts to help you size and rotate shapes precisely:

What’s one of your favourite PowerPoint shortcuts? I’d love to hear your views in the comments.

Other related posts:


Summary of shortcuts mentioned aboveScroll to Contents ↑

Shortcut Purpose
Control slideshow…
Shift+F5 Start slideshow from current slide
F5 Start slideshow from slide 1
B Black out screen
Space Advance slideshow
Backspace Step back through slideshow
Number Enter Jump to specific slide
F1 Show keyboard help
Esc Exit slideshow
Select any object…
Ctrl+Z Ctrl+Y Select last changed object(s)
Tab Select next object
Shift+Tab Select previous object
Ctrl+click (or Shift+click) Add object or slide to selection
Edit text…
Enter (or F2) Edit object’s text
Shift+Enter Insert line-break
Ctrl+Left or Ctrl+Right Move text cursor by words
Home or End Move to start or end of current line
Ctrl+Home or Ctrl+End Move to start or end of object’s text
Shift+F3 Change capitalisation
Esc Exit text editing
Duplicate objects or slides…
Ctrl+D Duplicate selected object(s)
Ctrl+Shift+D Duplicate current slide or selected slide(s)
Ctrl+M Make new slide
Size objects precisely or format them…
Shift+F10 Z Open Size and Position tab for selected object(s)
Shift+F10 O Open Format Object tab
Ctrl+Shift+C Copy selected object’s formatting
Ctrl+Shift+V Apply copied formatting to selected object(s)
Alt Number Use commands on the Quick Access Toolbar
Draw shapes…
Shift+drag Draw shape with equal proportions (or draw line that’s horizontal, vertical or diagonal)
Ctrl+drag Draw shape from centre
Ctrl+Shift+drag Draw shape from centre with equal proportions
Resize objects…
Shift+drag corner handle Resize with existing proportions
Ctrl+Shift+drag corner handle Resize from centre with existing proportions
Ctrl+drag any handle Resize from centre symmetrically
Move objects or copy objects or slides…
Shift+drag object(s) Move object(s) horizontally or vertically
Ctrl+drag object(s) or slide(s) Copy object(s) or slide(s)
Ctrl+Shift+drag object(s) Copy object(s) horizontally or vertically
Rotate objects precisely…
Shift+drag rotation handle Rotate object(s) in 15° increments (e.g. 45° or 60°)

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