Quick Start Guide 

Microsoft PowerPoint 2013 looks different from previous versions, so we created this guide to help you minimize the learning curve.

When you first open PowerPoint 2013, you’ll see that you have several choices for getting started — using a template, a theme, a recent file, or a blank presentation.

How to get help with PowerPoint 2013 

If you’ve been using earlier versions of PowerPoint, you’ll probably have questions about where to find certain commands in PowerPoint 2013. 

There are many free resources available to help you learn PowerPoint 2013, including training courses, Getting Started help topics and videos, and basic tasks. To find these materials, click the PowerPoint Help button (the question mark) in the upper right corner of the PowerPoint window.

Create custom ribbon tabs and groups 

You can create custom tabs or groups on the ribbon and add buttons with the commands you want. Right-click any ribbon tab or group, and then click Customize the Ribbon.

Next, add commands from the PowerPoint Options box. For example, you could create a tab called Frequent, and then add some of your most frequently-used commands to a custom group on this tab. 

If you make a mistake, you can use the Reset button to go back to the default (“factory”) settings. 

Some older PowerPoint commands don’t appear on the ribbon, but they’re still available. In the PowerPoint Options dialog box, click Customize Ribbon, and then, in the Choose commands from list, select Commands Not in the Ribbon. Now find the commands you want and add them to a custom ribbon tab or group.

Things you might be looking for 

Use the list below to find some of the more common tools and commands in PowerPoint 2013.

Access frequently-used commands 

The Quick Access Toolbar, in the upper-left corner of the PowerPoint window, is a great place to add shortcut buttons to the commands you’ll use most often. 

Click the drop-down arrow next to the Quick Access Toolbar to add or remove the commands listed on the shortcut menu.

If the command you want to add isn't shown in the list, switch to the ribbon tab where the button resides, and then right-click it there. On the shortcut menu, click Add to Quick Access Toolbar.

Intuitive tools at your fingertips

Note that some ribbon tabs appear and disappear, depending on what you’re doing. 

For example, when you insert or select a video, the Video Tools: Playback and Format tabs automatically appear. They appear so you can apply formatting or set playback options for the video. These types of contextual tabs appear any time you insert or select a picture, chart, table, WordArt, or any other object. 

When you’re working on a slide and you right-click the slide background, the right-click menu appears, which is loaded with task options. 

Similarly, the mini toolbar automatically appears whenever you want to perform quick text-related tasks, such as indenting a bullet or applying bold to your text.

Changes to themes 

When you apply a built-in theme and you want to change the colours and fonts, you can now choose from designer-selected theme variants from the start screen or on the Design tab.

If you don’t see a combination that works for you, you can always customize the theme colours, fonts, and effects in Slide Master View

Click View > Slide Master and you’ll see the Colours, Fonts, and Effects options in the Background group.

New default slide size 

Much of the world’s TVs and video have gone to widescreen and HD formats, and so has PowerPoint. In previous versions, the slide ratio was 4:3. In PowerPoint 2013, 16:9 is the new default, but you can change this on the Design tab

If you work with slides in older versions of PowerPoint, or are presenting on older monitors or projectors, you’ll want to change the slide ratio back to 4:3. To do so, click Design > Slide Size and then choose 4:3 — or you can set your own custom size.

Presenter View setup is automatic 

If you used Presenter View in previous versions of PowerPoint, you might have had difficulties setting it up. PowerPoint 2013 fixes that headache and makes it simpler to use. 

All you do is connect a projector and monitor and PowerPoint applies the right settings for you automatically. However, you can also take control manually (switching between the monitor and projector) if you need to. 

Note that Presenter View no longer requires multiple monitors. Now you can rehearse and use all the tools in Presenter View from a single monitor without hooking up anything else.

PowerPoint on touch devices 

You can now interact with PowerPoint 2013 on touch devices running Windows 8. Using typical touch gestures, you can swipe, tap, scroll, zoom, and pan your way through your presentations.

Save your presentations to the cloud 

The “cloud” is like file storage in the sky. You can get to it any time you’re online. If you travel or move from one place to another on a regular basis and you need access to your files, consider storing your files in the cloud. 

OneDrive is a free online cloud service where you can securely access and share files with others. All you need is a free Microsoft account to sign in to OneDrive.

Sign in to Office 

To get started saving, sharing, and storing your files to the cloud, sign in to Microsoft Office. 

In PowerPoint, or any Office application, look for your name at the top right corner of the ribbon. After you sign in, you can switch accounts and change your profile.

How to work with people who don’t have PowerPoint 2013 

Here are some of the things to keep in mind when sharing or exchanging files with people who are using an older version of PowerPoint.