I Can’t Select An Object In PowerPoint

Maybe you’ve been here: there are only a few objects on a slide in your PowerPoint presentation, but for some reason every time you click on the one you want to select, some other object gets selected instead. How frustrating!

There can be a couple of reasons for this, and we’re going to explore the solutions to each.

1. The Object Is In The Background

Right click on a blank area of your slide and select Format Background.

Format Background

The Format Background panel will open on the right of the workspace. Here you can specify, amongst other things, a picture to display in the background of your slide. If you set a picture background like this, there is no way that you can select it by clicking on the slide. So stop it!

2. The Object Is In The Slide Master

The Slide Master is a whole tutorial in itself (stay tuned for that one!), but here is a quick guide to help you select that elusive object. Go to the View tab > Slide Master (in the Master Views group), and on the left select the layout of the slide you are having problems with.

Slide Master

For example, if the object you are trying to select is on a Title and Content slide, find the Title and Content Layout slide master and select it. Then find your object using either the previous or next method.

3. The Object Is Hidden Among Other Objects

You don’t even need too many objects on a slide for it to become difficult to select just one of them. Having objects close to each other on a slide can cause selection difficulties. The easiest way to resolve these difficulties is to use the Selection Pane.

On the Home tab, click on the Arrange command (in the Drawing group), and select Selection Pane.

Selection Pane

The Selection Pane that opens on the right will display a list of all objects on the current slide. You can select one by left clicking on it. Even if you can’t see an object on the slide because it is underneath another object, you will be able to see – and select – it in the Selection Pane.

Selection Pane Proper

Can’t Group Objects In PowerPoint

Grouping objects in PowerPoint is a very useful tool. When you group together a number of objects, you can move them all as one instead of moving them individually, thus making the process quicker and easier. You can move them more accurately, too, especially if you’ve already spent some time aligning them first.

To group objects, you first of all select them and then, on the Home tab, click the Arrange command (in the Drawing group) > Group.

Group Objects

Group Option Grayed Out

Sometimes, however, the Group option will be grayed out, meaning you can’t select it. Why?

Faded Out Group Option

Some combinations of elements just can’t be grouped in PowerPoint. In our example, we inserted two text boxes, which we could group, and then added an additional picture. We found we couldn’t group the picture with either of the text boxes. You might think that it is the picture that is the problem. Wrong! It’s text boxes.

You cannot apply the Group command to a selection that contains a placeholder – unless all the elements are placeholders. We could group the text boxes together, because they are both placeholders, but as soon as we introduced an element that wasn’t a placeholder too – the image – the group option disappeared.

To make things more complicated, you also can’t group a table. To be more precise, when your selection includes a table, the Group command is unavailable. If you want a really unwieldy workaround, you can ungroup the table to turn the individual cells into shapes and then use the Group command.

Shortcuts For The Group Command

We used the commands in the ribbon for grouping so that we could show the grayed out Group command, but often people prefer keyboard shortcuts as they are quicker. The keyboard shortcut for Grouping is ctrl + g.

You can return a group to its constituent parts by ungrouping it. You’ll find the ungroup command using the ribbon, and, in fact, you can see that option in the images above, albeit grayed out. The keyboard shortcut for ungrouping is ctrl + shift + g.

Make A Picture Transparent In PowerPoint

There are several reasons why you might want to make a picture transparent in Microsoft PowerPoint. One reason is that you have place the image over some text and you want the text to show through the picture. Unfortunately, PowerPoint 2013 does not allow you to simply adjust the transparency of a picture you insert into your presentation. You have to do follow some extra steps.

Change The Background Of A Shape To Be An Image

First of all you will need to insert a shape onto a slide. Let’s use a bog standard rectangle: go to the Insert tab and click on the Shapes command (in the Illustrations group). Choose a rectangle:

Choose Rectangle

The cursor will change to a crosshairs shape, indicating that the shape tool is active; drag out a rectangle on your slide. Once you’ve dragged it out, you can resize it by dragging the resize handles at the corners and halfway along each edge.

Once you are happy with the size of the rectangle, right click on it and select Format Shape.

Format Shape

The Format Shape panel will open to the right of your workspace. In the Fill section, Solid fill will be selected by default.

Format Shape Panel

We need to add a picture to the background, so select Picture or texture fill. When you do, you will see different options appear in the Format Picture panel – all picture related. We first of all need to select a picture, so click on the File button, beneath “Insert picture from” (see 1, below).

Select Picture

Navigate to where your picture is located on your computer, select it and click Insert, The picture will now appear as the background to the rectangle. Now that we have the image in place, we can adjust the transparency setting (see 2, above). If you drag the transparency slider to the right, you will increase the image’s transparency and it will appear more see-through. Drag the slider to the left and the transparency decreases – the image becomes more solid. Alternatively, you can type in the percentage transparency in the input box to the right of the slider, if you know the precise setting you want (perhaps you are following a tutorial).

The rectangle you inserted may have a border on it. If you don’t want a border, click on Shape Outline (in the Shape Styles group) and then select No Outline.

No Outline

The tabs and commands referred to above can only be seen when the shape (the rectangle) is selected. They are context sensitive tabs. Hopefully this knowledge will help if you are having problems locating them.

Track Changes In PowerPoint

Unfortunately, there is still no functionality to track changes in PowerPoint. You can achieveĀ  something similar to what track changes gives you in Word, but you have to manage comments, responses, feedback etc. yourself. Doing it this way allows you to get suggestions for changes from your colleagues, but it is the presentation owner who actually makes the changes.

A good way to capture feedback is to get your colleagues to use the comments feature in PowerPoint. Comments in PowerPoint 2013 are much improved and can initiate useful discussions about the presentation being viewed. Each comment is tagged with the name of the user who made it, so you know who thinks what.

You could email everyone in your team a copy of the presentation. However, if you do this, you will receive multiple copies back from them, all with different comments. Compiling all comments into one “master” presentation would be a nightmare. A better solution is to store the presentation in one central location and invite all contributors to comment on it. Microsoft SkyDrive is a good location to store a presentation that you want to share.

To make this work, it’s a good idea to save the original presentation somewhere on your computer. Then you will always have the original to refer to. Next, post a second copy to SkyDrive and ask your colleagues to provide feedback by leaving comments in it. You can email them with a link to the shared presentation so they know where it is. You may need to give permissions to your reviewers so they can access your presentation.

Once the feedback process is complete, it’s sometimes useful to remove permissions from the shared presentation. Doing so will stop further comments being left that you might miss.

Open both the original and the shared presentation and work through all the comments left in the shared version. The Review tab is where you need to go to view comments. Use the Next and Previous buttons in the Comments group to navigate them.

Each comment is marked by a speech bubble that looks like this:

Speech Bubble

If you read a comments that you agree with, you can make appropriate changes to your original presentation, saving the file after each one.