PowerPoint Keyboard/Mouse Shortcuts


To get really good at using PowerPoint you have to learn the built-in keyboard and mouse shortcuts that Microsoft provides for “power users.”  Here are a few that will save you time and streamline your workflow.

First and foremost, it should go without saying that you are using Ctrl-C, X and V to copy, cut and paste objects or text to/from the Windows clipboard.  For those who are really beginners, this means to select the object or text, then hold down the Control key (abbreviated, if you look at your keyboard, as Ctrl) and then press the C, X or V key to copy, cut or paste.  These keys were chosen not mnemonically, but because they can all be reached with the left hand while simultaneously holding down the Ctrl key.  In addition to these basics you should also be using Ctrl-Z to undo the last action (including deletion of entire slides), Ctrl-Y to redo the last undo, Ctrl-S to save your presentation, Ctrl-P to bring up the print dialog.  Those are the well-known shortcuts that are the sine qua non of PowerPoint, or any other Office program productivity toolbox.  Below are a few you may not use regularly.

Selecting a container with the Esc key

If you click within a textbox or a text container you will see a dashed line appear around it and your cursor will become the normal text insertion point.  If you then press the Escape (Esc) key, the entire object will be selected.  That is, its border will become solid and then any action you take (like a formatting command) will affect everything in the container.

Duplicating an object

One of my favorite shortcuts is to press Ctrl-D to duplicate a selected object.  The same can be achieved by holding down the Ctrl key and dragging the object, though with caveats you will see in the next video.  Finally, you can drag around multiple objects to select them all.

Drawing Symmetrical Objects, Straight Lines and Moving Objects

When drawing objects it is nearly impossible to draw a perfect square using the rectangle shape, a round circle using the oval shape, or an equilateral triangle using the triangle shape, unless you hold down the shift key when you draw.  Holding down the shift key while using these shapes causes them to be drawn with a 1:1 aspect ratio, and become, therefore, perfect squares, circles and equilateral triangles.  Use the same procedure to draw a straight line (or arrow, which is just a line with an arrow head on it).  When holding down shift while drawing a line it is impossible not to draw it straight.

One little know technique for drawing multiple, identical 1:1 objects is to right-click shapes in the shapes gallery and “Lock Drawing Mode.”  Then each click on a slide will draw a perfect 1:1 square, circle or triangle.  Clicking on the shape in the shape selection gallery, or simply pressing Esc, turns this feature off.

If you have drawn multiple shapes and selected them all shift-dragging will resize them all and maintain their aspect ratio.  Pressing the arrow keys will move them, but they will snap to your slides grid.  Pressing Ctrl-arrow key will nudge them, for those fine adjustments.  Pressing the Alt key and the left or right arrow key will rotate them in 15-degree increments.  Holding Ctrl-Alt- and left or right arrow will rotate them by nudging.

The following video illustrates these techniques.

Those are just a few of the many keyboard and mouse tricks that will help you work more efficiently with PowerPoint.