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.

Group Objects In PowerPoint

When you group objects in PowerPoint, it enables you to move them as a whole on your slide. This has many advantages:

  • it’s quicker and easier than moving them individually.
  • any object alignment you’ve made is retained when you move the objects.
  • you don’t need to spend time reselecting all the objects that you need to move. If it’s a complex group of objects, you would need to open the selection pane to do this.

If you have experience using an image editor like Adobe Photoshop, you probably already appreciate the advantages that grouping objects brings.

Let’s look at grouping objects in PowerPoint 2013 by following an example.¬†Below we have two objects: a star shape, and a rectangular text box with some text inside.

You're A Star

To make things easier, let’s open up the selection pane. We can do this in a couple of ways. If you have an image selected, you should see the Format tab appear within the Picture Tools tab. In the Arrange group, click Selection Pane. Another way to open up the selection pane is to go to the Home tab > Arrange (in the Drawing group ) > Selection Pane.

Selection Pane

The Selection Pane lists all the objects that are on the current slide and allow us to select each one individually. There are two ways to select an object now: click on the object on the slide itself, or click on it in the selection pane. To select more than one object at the same time, hold down ctrl as you click on additional objects.

Let’s select both of the objects on our slide by holding down ctrl as we click on them. The Selection Pane should then look like this:

Selection Pane Selections

Rectangle 12 is the text box with our text inside and 5-Point Star 11 refers to the star shape. See our Selection Pane tutorial for more details on all the ins and outs of using Selection Panes. With both the star shape and text box selected, press Ctrl + g to group them. Alternatively, if you prefer clicking things with your mouse, click Group > Group (in the Arrange group on the Format tab). You should now see just one bounding box around both objects, instead of a bounding box around each,

One Bounding Box

Now you can click and drag the group and every object within the group is moved as one. Our example is a relatively simple one where the group contains only two objects, but your group can be as complex as you like and may contain as many objects as you wish.