4 Awesome PowerPoint Add-ins for Improving Productivity
As presentation designers who use PowerPoint daily, we’ve come across many PowerPoint add-ins (supplemental programs that add custom commands or custom features), both free and paid, that have helped improve our efficiency. We make it a point to work with PowerPoint add-ins that don’t require the end client to have them installed on their computers — we use these add-ins for productivity purposes only.
Why Use a PowerPoint Add-in?
PowerPoint on its own is already a pretty powerful program with lots of tools and features for creating custom presentations. Over time, though, power users (like us!) have recognized that there are actions we repeat regularly and automating them could save some time. Add-ins are a way to boost PowerPoint’s capabilities.
How Do You Install a PowerPoint Add-in?
Some PowerPoint add-ins function as executable files, meaning your operating system can install them directly and they will appear in the ribbon next time you open PowerPoint. Other add-ins can be downloaded to your computer but then you’ll need to activate them within PowerPoint. To do this, select the File tab and choose “Options” on the bottom left. In the pop-up window, choose “Add-ins” and then from the “Manage” dropdown, choose “PowerPoint Add-ins” and click Go. Select “Add New” and navigate to the folder where you’ve saved your new add-in; select it and click Open. New PowerPoint add-ins usually appear on the Tools tab of the ribbon.
Our Favorite PowerPoint Add-ins
Check out our recommendations below and let us know in the comments if you’ve found any yourself!
Color Swatch Add-in
If you regularly design and build templates in PowerPoint, this one is a lifesaver. Creating color themes can be rather tedious, but the Color Swatch add-in from developer Shyam Pillai makes it a breeze. One click of a button creates a template that you can fill in either manually or using the eyedropper tool. One more click saves the colors and applies them to the theme.
Bonus: While PowerPoint typically limits you to adding six custom colors, this add-in lets you add up to 12 additional custom colors without having to do so through XML code.
Cost: Free! | PC Only
Motion Path Tools
The Motion Path Tools add-in from developer Shyam Pillai (also creator of the Color Swatch add-in) allows you to duplicate an object at the end of its motion path (something that doing manually is surprisingly difficult in PowerPoint). While this tool is also available in the ToolsToo add-in mentioned below, the Motion Path Tools add-in takes it a step further and allows you to merge multiple motion paths into a single motion path. So, if you’ve opted to move an object down, left, up, left, and then right, for example, you can fuse the paths together and apply a single timing to it in the Animation Pane.
Cost: Free! | PC Only
Raleigh-based developer Gil Segal (#weloveraleigh) has created ToolsToo, a productivity suite. With more than 100 tools to choose from, ToolsToo is pretty extensive. Some of the features include splitting and/or merging text fields, extracting notes and slides, splitting animation. There’s also transposing tables, aligning and distributing shapes in new ways, making things the same size/spacing/rounded corners/etc., and swapping shapes. This suite is totally worth the one-time price; future upgrades are free as well.
Cost: $19.95 | PC Only
BrightSlide, developed by UK-based BrightCarbon, is a PowerPoint animator’s dream come true. There are tools for saving custom and multi-animations in a library that can be applied in any future presentation; a grow/shrink calculator (handy for those who need to make an object zoom and shift without using morph!), and a “waterfall delay” tool to stagger animations quickly and easily. The BrightSlide add-in also includes a multitude of productivity tools, including advanced alignment tools, object selection based on similarities, a theme color editor, a table format painter, and more. This PowerPoint add-in is also one of the few we’ve found that has both a PC and Mac version available for download.
Cost: Free! | PC & Mac