A new day, a new thing

My goal to learn something new every day

Day 46: PowerPoint Selection & Visibility feature

It’s been another day of playing with PowerPoint today, so today’s post is about a PowerPoint feature I only just found out about. I’ve used quite a few different versions of Office, starting with 97, then 2003 followed by 2007 and I’m currently on 2010. The feature I found out about today has been included in PowerPoint since 2007, but it’s not very prominent. It should be. If you like to get even just a little bit creative with PowerPoint—adding a few shapes, putting in animations—then this feature is really helpful.

I’m talking about a feature called Selection & Visibility. First, to activate it, click on the HOME tab and then you should see an option labelled SELECT in the editing section on the ribbon. (As always, I’m describing how it’s done in Office 2010, different versions might be slightly different).


On the drop down menu that appears, choose SELECTION PANE…

Selection pane

Alternatively, you can just use the keyboard shortcut ALT + F10. (Sorry Mac users, I don’t know what the keyboard shortcut is).

It will bring up the Selection & Visibility pane on the right of the screen.

S & V

So, what can you do with the Selection & Visibility pane, and why is it so useful? Here are a few things that you might like to do:

Make shapes invisible

In the image above, you can see that I’ve added four identical rectangles. In the Selection & Visibility pane, you’ll see the the names of each of the rectangles. Four shapes isn’t all that much, but sometimes you might have several shapes or pictures on your slide. If you want to bring the shapes/pictures on to your slide with animations, you might have several overlapping, which can make editing and selecting one of them difficult. Fortunately, the Selection & Visibility pane lets you make some things invisible to clear up clutter your slide.

To make an object invisible, just click on the eye icon to the right. That will remove the object from your slide, and make it easier to look at. It won’t delete the object though, so to bring it back again, you just have to click on the now empty box where the eye used to be.

Make sure that you set all of the objects to visible before you start your show, otherwise they won’t show up at all during presentation mode.

Selecting objects

If you have several objects that overlap, and you want to, let’s say, change the colour of one of them, selecting the right one can be tricky. Often, you have to click a few times, and if you don’t select the right one, you might end up changing the properties of the wrong shape. To get around this, all you need to do is click on the name of the object in the Selection & Visibility pane, and it will select the object on the slide for you, allowing you to make any changes easily.


Being able to select individual objects easily is great, but when you have a lot of shapes that all have similar names, such as rectangle 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc. it’s not much help if you don’t know which shape is which. The Selection & Visibility pane can help you again here by allowing you to rename the objects. To rename something, just click once to select the object, and then click on it again (note: double clicking quickly does not work, it needs to be two consecutive clicks with a bit if a gap between).

Renaming your objects can be a good idea for a number of reasons. As I’ve already mentioned, selecting objects is much easier when you know which object you are selecting. Another benefit of naming your objects comes if you like to use triggers when adding animations.

Normally when you add an animation, you have the option of having it appear (or disappear, move, etc.) on a click, with previous or after previous. Sometimes, though, you want an animation to begin when you click on another item on your slide. This can be useful if you don’t want your presentation to be linear. Perhaps you want the option of being able to move around your presentation depending on input from your audience/class.

To add a trigger, first you have to add an animation to a shape, by going to the Animations tab at the top of the page. Once the animation has been added, you can add the trigger. Click on the TRIGGER drop down menu and then move to ON CLICK OF to reveal another list of all of the objects on your slide.


You’ll notice that they all have the generic rectangle name. Imagine you have 20 different shapes/images on your slide, and it becomes almost impossible to know which one to pick. But after giving each of the objects a name, the list will now show you the names of the objects, which makes it easier to choose the right one. Let’s say, I wanted to make 4 buttons for four different answers. Clicking on an answer would cause a different shape on the slide to react.


Notice how in the second image, the names of the shapes appear in the drop down list.


In the example above, I’ve only used four rectangle shapes. The Selection & Visibility pane will display all shapes, images, pictures, textboxes that you add to your slide, which can quite quickly build up if you have content rich presentations.

I can’t believe that I’ve gone this long without knowing about the Selection & Visibility pane, and I really think that this is a great feature that should probably have been given more prominence in PowerPoint. I know it’s going to make my life a lot easier.


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This entry was posted on February 15, 2015 by in Tech and tagged , , .


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