PowerPoint 2013: The Start Screen

The first time you start PowerPoint 2013 you will see the Start Screen.  The Start Screen is divided into four main areas:

Full Screen

1.  A Recent area with a list of the files you have opened recently.

Recent List

The default number of files that will appear here is 25, but may be changed in the File > Options > Advanced > Display area.  Of course, the very first time you open PowerPoint the list will be empty, but it will populate over time.

2.  Beneath the Recent area is the Open Other Presentations area.

Open Other Presentations

Click this link in order to search your file systems, both local and cloud-based.

Open A Presentation

Note that I have two SkyDrive areas linked here: one for work and one for my home account.  The Add a Place link only allows for adding SkyDrive locations or Office 365 SharePoint locations.  To access Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon Cloud Drive, or any other cloud-based storage system you have use the Computer link, and then browse your file system.  If you have made Windows favorites out of your cloud drives they will be easy to find.  The Computer link will also allow you to find anything on your local file system.

Cloud Navigation

3.  At the right top of the screen there is a Search for Online Templates and Themes search box.  According to Microsoft this will search through thousands of online templates.  They have provided some helpful categories beneath the search box.

Search Box

As you search for templates online, you can create a presentation based on one, or pin them to the Start Screen, saving them for later.  To pin an online template to the Start Screen, hover your mouse over it’s thumbnail and click the push-pin icon at its lower right.

Pin Template

4.  Below the search box you will see thumbnails of the various themes built-in to PowerPoint 2013.  Actually, if this is the very first time you have started the program, you will see only seven theme thumbnails and a product tour presentation.  As you begin to work with the program, and use the various themes from the application’s theme gallery (located on the Design tab) the remaining themes will populate the Start Screen.

A theme is a set of coordinated design elements, including a set of colors, fonts, object effects (like shadows, edges, corner effects, etc.), and background elements, like background colored gradients, art work or picture elements.  A theme may also contain custom layouts, but that is a more advanced topic.  Themes are applied to a presentation through the presentations layouts—it’s spacing and location parameters.  We will discuss layouts in a future post.  For now, if you are completely new to PowerPoint, know that themes are presentation design elements.  Templates, on the other hand, contain at least one theme, usually a set of layouts and even custom layouts, and usually one or more slides with pre-set content or other objects.

Click the Start Screen theme thumbnails to see a preview screen, that will allow you to page through various sample slides to see how the color scheme looks on a chart or SmartArt, how bulleted items, titles, and normal text look, how picture layouts look, and so on.  Each theme comes with variants, which are also displayed in the preview Window.  Most themes have four variants, but some have as many as eight.

Theme Preview

To create a presentation based on any of the Start Screen themes, click the create button in the preview window, or simply double-click the thumbnail.  Once PowerPoint starts with a new presentation based on the selected them, it is simple to change to another them or a variant on the current them by using the Theme Gallery and/or Variant Gallery on the Design tab.

Here is a brief video that goes over the entire Start Screen layout.