I spend lots of time making PowerPoint slides. To get my life back, I learned to make them very quickly.

Shortcuts, macros, and toolbars all speed up the brainless parts of slide-making. Here’s the 5 that everyone should know and use… They’ll get you 80% of the way there with minimal effort. If you want more, just ask. I’ve got a million of these!

The Tao of keyboard shortucts

Before I tell you my secrets, I want to to appreciate them! Here is the basic philosophy for getting the most out of shortcuts:

They don’t work if you don’t use them – learning them without using them is a waste!
Learning them is an investment – and it pays huge dividends in time saved later on.
Don’t touch your mouse – think as it of a game, practice makes you faster.

Bonus: on-lookers will be impressed and terrified by your skills, and you’ll and save your wrists by becoming a key-ninja (mixed metaphor with the whole Tao thing, I know)

Your 6 shortcuts for speeding up Powerpoint

Even if you already know these shortcuts… remember the Tao. You’re probably not using them enough! Make an effort to use these instead of your mouse.

1. CTRL+enter selects the slide title of a page, and inserts a new page if you press it again (or if the title was already selected) – you can use this to quickly make a ‘storyline’ deck with only the titles filled in – I know you consultants hear me!

2. F2 toggles between “edit object” and “edit text” – use it to edit the words in text boxes rather than trying to click on the text itself.

3. ALT+arrow keys changes the focus between selected objects – first make sure the “object” is selected, not the text-box (use F2), then use ALT-arrow to change the focus to another object on the page. Use CTRL+enter (above) to select the title if nothing on the page is selected yet.

4. CTRL+arrow keys changes order and indent-level of bulleted text in text boxes. Very handy when you’re deciding on the relative importance and nesting of all the brilliant points you just thought of.

5. CTRL+shift+’=’ makes selected text superscript – very useful for adding footnotes.

6. Between CTRL and ALT on your right hand is probably a “right click” button. This can speed up lots of menus including the one that gives you corrections for misspelled words.

Bonus tips

Always have “snap to grid” on. The first thing I do when I open a document is press ALT, V, I to open the “Grid and Guides” dialog followed by “ALT+G” to turn snap on. This makes ‘nudging’ objects with the arrow keys much faster. If you need the added control of a micro-nudge, use CTRL+arrow.

Use CTRL/SHIFT+click & drag to copy and move objects. Holding CTRL while you click & drag copies an object. Holding SHIFT restricts you to move the object in straight lines. You can use them together!

Ask me about the BA toolbar. If you’re a McKinsey-ite I can send you a toolbar that’ll change your life. For those non-McK’s out there… sorry, we gotta keep the competitive advantage ; )

What shortcuts did I leave out?

† I love footnotes

9 thoughts on “6 must-know shortcuts for faster PowerPoint

  1. From facebook:
    @Nicolas | The obvious one: have a template that has your name, the date (that gets updated) and the slide number (except on title slide). Consistency in the format helps a lot.

    @Julia | All I have is ctrl+shift+c and ctrl+shift+v copies and pastes formats.

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  3. Hi Shawn – I am a fellow McK alum, do you have a version of the BA toolbar for Mac powerpoint?

    If so would love to have a copy!!



  4. Hey Shawn,

    Former BA here – would love to track down the McK BA toolbar! Any way you could sent it over?



  5. Hi Shawn,
    thank you for your precious advice, please, could you send me the McK BA toolbar. I’m an alumna and would appreciate your help.


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