Powerpoint 2016 for the Big Leagues (Mac Edition)

Are you a designer creating client presentations in PowerPoint 2016, focusing on information-rich designs with complex animations, layered graphics, morph transitions, and custom master slides? If so, you’ve come to the right place!

My name’s Chris Burbank, I’m a designer at CGI Interactive and we are going to take an insider look at PowerPoint 2016 for Mac. We will discuss the following:

  • Selection Pane
  • Animation Pane
  • Morph Transitions
  • Canvas & Master Slides

Selection Pane

The addition of the selection pane will automatically upgrade your organization and workflow within PowerPoint. In previous versions of PowerPoint for Mac, organizing layers was cumbersome and naming layers was impossible. With the selection pane, allow yourself the peace-of-mind by being able to name layers — no matter what type of element is included. (Photographs, icons, shapes, text boxes, videos and more.) In addition, you now have the ability to hide / show layers as desired. Working on a tricky multi-layer animation? No worries, hide the layers you don’t need and leave the ones you do, easy as pie.

The Selection Pane reveals all layers on a slide

Selection Pane Example:

Perhaps you have a complex slide with 50 layers — if 20 layers are hidden and you want to show them all but don’t want to click the show (eye) icon to reveal the individual layers, just click, “Show All” in the top section of the pane. Similarly, want to “Hide All” the layers to add new elements? That option is at your fingertips as well.

Keep in mind:

Duplicating an element on a slide? Don’t get confused by what’s what, be sure to name layers as you create them, this will help reduce any headaches later on.

Selection Pane Quick Tips:

  • Cannot select multiple items if you have CAPS LOCK on in animation pane.
  • Must hold shift prior to selecting and moving multiple layers.
  • Duplicating layers keeps the exact same layer name as it was copied from.

Looking for a more visual approach to reorganizing layers and elements? Utilize the “reorder objects” feature under the “arrange” tab. Although this feature was available in earlier versions — it’s widely underrated. This arrange feature is great for quickly moving elements when you do not want to fool around with the selection pane.

Animation Pane

Animations help create a high level of engagement and memorability when used with finesse. Elevate your animation game by using Smooth Start / End to create a natural movement effect and Bounce end to add a subtle bounce effect to denote the end of an animation. Want to create a call out animation that returns to its original spot or create an animation effect that needs to start and end at the same point? Use Auto-reverse to have it return to its default state. Within the Animation pane, click on the layer with your animation, and drill into Effect options, then simply select auto-reverse.

Working with Path Animations? Easily choose a pathway by using the Path Animation tool in the ribbon and choose any option under Basic or Complex. (Pro Tip: Steer clear of Custom, unless you are working on a highly custom animation that requires odd pathways.) Once selected, you can then leverage the Effect options panel (to the right of Path Animations) and create an straight path direction utilizing the presets: Down, Left, Right, Up, Diagonal Down Right, Diagonal Down Right.

If you are creating a complex animation and need to apply it to multiple elements, utilize the Animation Painter Tool. This tool allows you to copy an animation style from one group or layer to another. Simply select the layer or group with the animation, then within the ribbon, select the Animation Painter tool and click on the layer or group you’d like to apply it to, voila!

We all know about durations and delays, however, in the new PowerPoint 2016 for Mac, you have the ability to create custom duration timing as well as custom delays. This is an amazing upgrade as it will help you create sophisticated animations that are better timed and well executed.

The Animation Pane can be found on the Animation ribbon.
An example of animating a path.
Using the path effects, you can determine the direction of the path.
By right-clicking and selecting reverse path direction, you can create a pathway effect that animates into an element’s original location.

Animation Pane Example:

Say you have four circles you want to rise-up and sit in the middle of the screen. You can set the start to with previous, the duration to 1 second, and the delay for each circle from left to right to 0, 0.1, 0.2, 0.3. The final animation will show a fluid rise-up of each circle, which capitalizes on a sleek animation and is not time-consuming.

Keep in mind:

  • All of the elements you animate will have the layer name you created from the selection pane.
  • You cannot change the layer name in the animation pane, only the selection pane.

Animation Pane quick tips:

  • When adjusting animation delay for 0.01 seconds, you must type 0.01 vs .1
  • .1 will automatically convert to 1 second
  • Utilize the preview button located in the top-left of the ribbon to quickly view animations on the fly.
  • Also, use the Auto preview feature (located in the drill down for Preview) if you want to browse animation styles on the fly.

Morph Transition

Morph allows you to automatically and easily animate elements as a transition effect in PowerPoint 2016. Utilizing the morph transition is fun and easy.

Morph Transition Example:

First, create a slide with a colored circle. Next, duplicate the slide with the circle you just made. Now, move the circle to a different spot on the canvas, change its scale, smaller or larger, and change the color.Next, make sure you have the second slide selected, then go to the Transitions tab in the the top ribbon, and select Morph.

Keep in mind:

Within the transitions tab, you have a few options to adjust or tweak Morph. Want to Morph effect text? You have that option as well. The “word” effect will move words, the exact same words to be specific, to a different spot. You can also move letters via “Character” effect, i.e. if you had a text jumble on one slide and wanted to reveal the answer on the next slide. As with all transitions, you can still adjust the duration timing. (Including “on click” or “timer”.

Canvas & Master Slides

Canvas quick tips:

  • Hold shift to retain alignment of original element
  • Need to duplicate an item quickly? Right click and drag.
  • Zoomed all the way in or out of slide and want to quickly fit the whole slide to the current size? Click on the Fit to Screen icon, located in the bottom right hand corner of your window. Alternatively, you can select “Fit to Window” in the ribbon, within the view tab.


Overall, PowerPoint 2016 for Mac is a great upgrade from its predecessor PowerPoint 2011. If you’re not already on the newest version, we highly recommend updating to PowerPoint 2016 if you work on robust presentations for clients. The ability to name layers and organize files alone is reason enough to upgrade!