Help! My keyboard, mouse, and/or pointer does not work while in PowerPoint Slideshow view!

In August, I was the instructional designer charged with hosting an 8-hour training event. It went very well, but just when I started the first PowerPoint presentation in slideshow mode, I realized my laser pointer didn’t work (and new batteries didn’t help!). Then I realized my keyboard and mouse were also not responding.

To get around this issue on the day of the training, I started the slideshow using the “Rehearse Timings” button.

Rehearse Timings

Rehearse Timings

This meant having the Rehearsal window open during my welcome presentation. More importantly, I could continue the day without interrupting other modules. Fortunately, only the Welcome presentation was affected, and my SMEs (subject matter experts) were safe.

What Happened?

After some digging, the reason why I could not use my keyboard or mouse while in Slideshow View was due to the Kiosk setting. When a presentation is in kiosk mode, certain keyboard and mouse events are unavailable, and some PowerPoint controls do not work during the slideshow.

How Do I Fix It?

When stuck in kiosk mode, simply use the Escape key to exit the slideshow and return to normal view in PowerPoint. Follow these steps to shut off kiosk mode:

  1. Click the Set Up Slide Show button from the Slide Show ribbon.

    set up show window

    Set Up Slide Show window

  2. In the Show type group, change the setting to “Presented by a speaker (full screen)”. This is considered the best setting for projecting a presentation.
  3. Click OK.
  4. Save your PowerPoint file. (options in Set Up Show are stored in your PowerPoint!)

While you have Set Up Show open, be sure to poke around some of the other available settings… though most of these settings are now available from the ribbon in 2007 and up. Although my problem was very specifically kiosk mode, the Advance slide group settings could also have created a fairly similar issue.

How Did This Happen?

Three words: I did it.

This setting was turned on when I decided to reuse some of my welcome slides for mini-slideshows I use in between modules. I turned on the kiosk mode by accident on both slide decks instead of on the new one. When I realized that it was a problem only in one presentation, I was able to trace back the steps I made to figure out the problem.

It can happen to the best of us. In an effort to reuse and re-purpose things, accidents can and do happen. If I had given someone else this deck with kiosk mode enabled, I could have caused a lot of grief!


Pixel Perfect: How to replace text in pictures with gradients or solid backgrounds using PowerPoint

blog pictureLet’s say you have a picture with text that you need to update. Typically this will happen by accident – you have a great picture, and you accidentally save over your original with text added (happens to me all the time when building web-based training programs). Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is the Clone Tool (or the eye dropper and paint brush tools for solid backgrounds) in Photoshop. But what if you do not have a photo editor with these tools?

You do not need Photoshop or a dedicated image editor to fix this – you can do it right in PowerPoint!

High-level steps:

  1. Duplicate the picture
  2. Align the picture (optional)
  3. Crop the picture
  4. Add new text (optional)

blog picture 2

  1. Duplicate the picture: Hold down Ctrl and Shift keys, and drag original image with mouse
    In my example, I moved the picture to the left. Moving it down or up would have impacted the gradient and could yield unpolished results.
  2. Align the images as needed: From the PowerPoint Format Ribbon
    • Format > Align > Align Left | Top | Etc
    • Line up the gradient backgrounds before editing (see illustration)
  3. Fix the background:
    • Select the top, cropped duplicate image
    • Picture Tools > Crop (Size Panel)
      Tip: You may want to group your two pictures!
  4. Insert a new text box object, and add your updated text.


blog picture 3

Important Tips:

  • You may want to save a blank copy after step 3!
  • Watch the file size. The original picture size is doubled with this technique! You may need to re-save and replace the picture.
  • For gradients, alignment and direction are key (not so critical with solid colors). If you make a mistake, it’s best to undo and try again.

blog picture 4

Useful Keyboard Shortcuts in PowerPoint

Here’s my attempt to compile the best list of keyboard shortcuts I use that can help you become more efficient in PowerPoint. These keyboard shortcuts and other tools make the development process a little less painful, and it will open doors for using some of the advanced features which make PowerPoint an extraordinary presentation tool.

In a future blog post, I will focus in on keyboard shortcuts (and keyboard/mouse command pairs) for images and objects. There are so many ways to make your presentation look stellar. It makes me feel soooo good when someone asks if we outsource our presentations to a professional designer. Nope! One of my secrets is being efficient with all the little stuff, freeing up my time to get graphics and other details in order.

Common keyboard shortcuts to speed up everyday tasks (these work in many software applications):

  • Undo: Ctrl + Z
    Note: I use this at least 50 times per day! You can set the number of “undos” to a max of 150 from Office Button > PowerPoint Options > Advanced. Undo should be your best friend!
  • Redo: Ctrl + U
  • Edit inside of a text box (when an object is selected): F2
    Also is a lifesaver when editing cells in Excel!
  • Save:   Control + S
  • Save As (to save in different formats): F12 (function key)
  • Screen capture the window that has focus: Control + Alt + Shift + PrintScreen: Screen captures the window which has focus (not your entire screen, which PrintScreen alone does)
  • Switch between 2+ open documents:  Alt + Tab
  • Switch between open PowerPoints: Ctrl + F6
  • Quit editing text in text box (and to select the whole box object): Escape
    Note: Escape is my favorite button – it gets me out of trouble in many applications 🙂
  • Copy/Paste:  Ctrl + C to copy; Ctrl + V to paste
  • Cut/Paste: Ctrl + X to cut; Ctrl + V to paste
  • Print: Ctrl + P (opens print dialog box)
  • Make font size bigger: Ctrl + Shift + >
    Note: Will work with either text or an object with text selected
  • Make font size smaller: Ctrl + Shift + <
  • Bold: Ctrl + B
  • Italics: Ctrl + I
  • Add a hyperlink to selected text/object: Ctrl + K
  • Select text one character at a time: (position your cursor, then) Ctrl + left/right arrow key
  • Select text one word at a time: (position your cursor, then) Ctrl + Shift + left/right arrow key
  • Duplicate a selected object: Ctrl + D
  • Duplicate an entire slide: Ctrl + Shift + D

Explore These! Other Shortcuts to Try Out

  • What to do when there is no obvious keyboard shortcut? Press the Alt key on your keyboard once. Notice that letters appear on your PowerPoint ribbon. For example, notice that the letter “F” appears over the Office button in the top left corner. Press the “F” key, and the menu will open! Try pressing “Alt” on your keyboard and then see how using other letters will open different tools.
  • See available shortcuts by hovering over items in PowerPoint. If there is a keyboard shortcut, it will be displayed in a little pop-up message. Hover over the Bold tool in your Home ribbon. What does the pop-up say? Does it show the same keyboard shortcut noted in the list above?

Do you have a PowerPoint shortcut to share? Please leave it in the comments! I’ll try to return back to this list to update it with the latest and greatest from the professional world.


The Index is Understood – An Easy Way to Shorten Hyperlinks (and make them look nicer, too!)

Whenever I see a link like this:, I’m reminded of my K-12 English class when learning about subject pronouns (or somesubject thereabouts), “The I is understood!”. This basic grammar principle is similar for websites, except in this case I mean “index.htm”, “index.php” or “index.html”. I think it also works for home.htm and home.html, but test first!

Often, my presenters prefer to have the entire path of a link visible in our printed materials, but we have lots of subfolders in our CMS! It’s important to make it look nice, and that means removing any excess URL.

So, these three links will work, and they will take you to exactly the same place:

no index.html

index.html is unneccessary in this example.

Which would you rather see when you are reading? Which would you prefer to try and type?

So, when you are adding a hyperlink in, say, PowerPoint, you can remove the index.html from the end. Of course, if you do not like showing the full path of a URL, you can always change the Text to display to anything you so desire!


The way you post a link in some materials will have an impact on search engine optimization and SEO results. I do not have this concern, but if you do, I recommend you read this article:

If the word before “.htm” or “.html” is not index, this probably will not work (home is the only exception I’m aware of)! Likewise, if my file extension is not a common web-file extension (.htm, .html, .php), I cannot remove the file extension. For example, I cannot change these URLs:

(these are non-functional URLs; none will work)

How to: Increase How Many Times You Can Undo (Ctrl+Z) in PowerPoint (and other Office Products)

The undo button is a near-universal feature in most software applications, and it can be a lifesaver! However, sometimes, software will limit the amount of times you can undo. For example, in Notepad, you are limited on one, single undo (why I use Notepad++ at home). In Microsoft, the default is set to 5 or 10 times. That is not enough for me. I like to try things, and I can get myself into trouble. Without undo/redo, I would go crazy, like I did 15 years ago.

Did you know that in Microsoft Office, you can set the number of times you are allowed to undo? I believe this setting is available in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, though it may also be available in other Microsoft Office Products 2007 and newer.

  1. Click the Office button Image.
  2. Choose PowerPoint Options from the menu Image.
  3. Select the Advanced tab. Set the Maximum number of undos text field. The highest you can set it to is 150 undos.Image

Also remember, that you can redo. However, if you undo xx steps and then make a change (while xx steps back), you will no longer be able to redo back forward again! Be very careful when undoing!

How to View Two PowerPoints Side-by-side (dual or single monitor setup)

I have two monitors at work, and I could not figure out how to view PowerPoints side-by-side, so that I could update items faster.  It was very aggravating, but it was something I hadn’t ever bothered “wasting the time” to find.

Although this tip is best with two monitors, it does work with just one.  This does not give you two independent ribbons.

This morning I decided I would finally figure out one way or the other whether I could ever show PowerPoints next to each other.  After about 10 minutes of playing around and a quick search, I found the answers:

1. Use the Maximize/Restore Down button (it’s the icon next to the X in the top-right corner of any window).  (Note:  if using only one monitor, make sure your screen is Maximized instead)

2. Manually drag the window across both monitors so that PowerPoint spans across both screens.

3. Open both PowerPoints (you can do this with more, but we’re just setting up two).

4. In the “View” ribbon, click the Arrange All button.

Your PowerPoints will be displayed side-by-side.  Like Presenter Mode, you can still view a slideshow on each monitor, but this makes both monitors editable.

I can’t begin to say how much this will help me out!

Automatically Updating Excel Spreadsheets in a PowerPoint

For our e-learning modules, we use PowerPoint 2007 with Articulate Studio ’09. I created a 35 minute long web-based training (WBT) that is all about the forecasted energy usage for the upcoming summer.  The numbers are updated several times before the final numbers are available.  The only thing that changes in the presentation is data from one Excel spreadsheet.  The PowerPoint is about 80 slides.  The spreadsheet is included on about 30 of those slides.

Halfway through the review process for this WBT, the numbers were updated.  This means going through and updating 30 slides!  You can imagine this is not my favorite thing ever.  Plus, manually changing the numbers really invites mistakes.

In the past, we recreated the table in PowerPoint.  I’ve been researching ways that we can give the spreadsheet to SMEs to update that would link to the data to our PowerPoint.  When using “Insert Object” in PowerPoint, it would not ask to update the links upon opening the PowerPoint.  Then, I found the article called

Automatic Updating of Excel Tables in PowerPoint Slides
By Dave Paradi, MBA, Co-author of “Guide to PowerPoint”

This provides the steps to copy an excel spreadsheet (from within Excel) and, using the Paste Special function, paste a link to the spreadsheet.  By doing it this way, I can now choose to update the file every time it opens. 

One caution is that if you move the spreadsheet to a new location or if you rename it, it will break the links.  However, if you are careful with file placement, this can help for trainings that use spreadsheets with data that could change quite a bit.

Thanks Mr. Paradi!