PowerPoint 2010: New Features

Monday, July 19th, 2010 , 6 comments

As more and more presenters make the switch over to PowerPoint 2010, we’ve been exploring all the new features and designs to help you really get to grips with the latest update. We’ve created a range of PowerPoint 2010 tutorials on some of the best new features, but haven’t even touched upon others yet.

So, here we have a summary of the best new features of PowerPoint 2010 in our opinion, with a brief explanation of how to use each function, and an example of how it could be used to make a presentation effective. With advanced new functionality, PowerPoint really is making it easier than ever to create presentations that are impressive, engaging and memorable.


Fully-bespoke ribbon

PowerPoint 2003 had the ability to ‘float’ various menus and embed them wholesale into the working space, as well as the ability to create a new toolbar and populate it with favourite commands. PowerPoint 2007 lost some of this flexibility in favour of neatness – grouping commands into ‘tabs’ in the ribbon and allowing the user to customise only the uppermost toolbar. PowerPoint 2010 has improved on both and made customising the workspace extremely flexible. You can now create, name and illustrate your own tabs from scratch, and populate them with whatever commands you wish. This allows the user to create a completely personalised interface with all the tools you commonly use.

Smart tabbing

Clicking on a photo, shape or chart automatically brings up a specialised ribbon tab dealing with that specific type of graphic. This means that all the specialised tools for editing a photograph are available to you instantly, without even having to look in the standard or customised menus – and then they disappear when you move off the photo to do something else. This makes everything much more accessible and tidy, making PowerPoint feel more and more like a sophisticated design tool.

New colour schemes

Maybe this is too shallow of us, but the new black colour scheme looks fantastic…

Drawing and Formatting

Alignment on-the-fly

PowerPoint 2010 - Alignment

A boon in the style of Flash design packages, smart guidelines automatically pick up the positioning of objects around the one you are drawing, resizing or moving. Move or draw a shape near to another shape and construction lines appear, helping you to snap the position of the new object to the original. This virtually eliminates the need to use the align tool to line up objects. A serious timesaver.

Autoshape formatting

All the fancy new object styles from 2007 are there, including glowing edges and soft focus effects, along with a neat new gradient tool that allows multiple stop-points when creating gradient colour washes. In a few clicks it’s now possible to create the kind of objects that previously demanded a fair bit of fine-tuning in Photoshop.

Bespoke shapes

The freeform/edit points tool was always useful for creating custom shapes, and it’s still here, but now there’s no need to painstakingly draw each outline. The new Shape Union, Shape Subtract, Shape Intersect and Shape Combine tools let you merge shapes together or use them as cookie-cutters, so you can create any shape you desire and format it to look like a real-life object. See our PowerPoint 2010: Shape Union and PowerPoint 2010: Shape Union Subtract tutorials for examples of these tools at work.

Instant screengrabbing

If you want to import screenshots of a webpage or other application, you can now do it within PowerPoint without having to ‘Print Screen’, paste, crop and resize. Simply open the application you want to screengrab, click Insert > Screenshot within PowerPoint 2010, and PowerPoint shows you a preview of the windows you have open. Click the one you want and you get a perfectly sized screenshot aligned to the slide and with the desktop edges already trimmed off.

Very neat indeed. Check out the tutorial here.



PowerPoint 2010 can now cope with many more movie file formats. Previously, WMV was a dead cert; AVIs, ASFs and Quicktimes were a bit of a cross-your-fingers affair; and other formats were pretty much foreign to PowerPoint. Now you can safely insert all popular movie formats, including MP4, MPEG and Flash video – you can even paste in the link of a webpage that contains a clip, and PowerPoint will download it and insert it onto the slide. New video editing controls everything you may need to do to your clip without using any external software, and you can also have video controls on the slide, so that you can pause or track the clip as it’s playing in Slideshow mode.

Video formatting

Video used to automatically jump to the top layer of the slide and play in a flat panel. No more! In PowerPoint 2010, you can apply the same 3D and rotation effects to a video clip as you can to an Autoshape, allowing you to skew, stretch and morph the video frame to your heart’s content. You can even have multiple clips playing at once on the same slide, with 3D settings applied to the frames so they are facing one another, with subtitles or other graphics appearing over the top of them. Very cool. If you fancy yourself as an artistic director, apply different colour tones and lighting treatments to give a dramatic effect.

Video BookmarkingPowerPoint 2010 - Video Bookmarking

This impressive feature lets you place markers on the video to use as animation triggers. For example, if you have an interview clip, you can bookmark key points in the clip and link them to animations – when the interviewee mentions an outstanding member of staff, a headshot of the person flies out of the movie and onto the slide. Use this for adding illustration to a video narrative, or for creating rolling captions or subtitles. Click to see our PowerPoint 2010: Movie Editing tutorial.


Web-based sharing

If you can’t present in person, there’s now no need to either set up a webconference; convert the presentation to a flash file and host it on a webpage; or send it out on a CD. Using your Windows Live credentials (any Hotmail account), you can log into the new Broadcast Service and play your presentation over a web browser. Alternatively, save the presentation to your virtual storage area on Windows Live and allow it to be downloaded by your colleagues, or for collaborative work, publish it to SharePoint to track changes made by others.

Create Video or CD

The much loved Pack and Go is included here, which automatically burns your presentation to a self-running CD and includes all your linked files and videos. And at long last, the ability to create a video from your presentation. Simply, just ‘Save As’ a wmv file, and PowerPoint converts your presentation to a video. Or for more specialised use, the backstage area gives you options to render out the video for HDTV, web or portable devices (sadly, not for the iPad, but we’re working on that).

Whatever your version of PowerPoint, our Advanced PowerPoint Training could help you get to grips with it.

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6 Comments to PowerPoint 2010: New Features

  1. #1

    Janet Bornemann

    10:52 pm, November 15th, 2010

    It’s amazing how PowerPoint is suddenly catering a lot more to designers with new features that were once only available in Illustrator or professional page layout programs. I’m excited about these improvements because the more I can do within one program, the more productive I can be. It’s gotten to the point that I will sometimes use PowerPoint for Illustrator-type functions, just because ppt is the program I’m normally working in and it’s just plain convenient to stay there.

  2. #2

    Jessica Pyne

    10:29 pm, November 18th, 2010

    PowerPoint has come on leaps and bounds! It is certainly becoming much easier to do things like create your own icons in PowerPoint, which I’m sure many presenters and designers will find extremely useful.

  3. #3

    Maria Solatorio

    8:14 pm, September 16th, 2011

    I need to track changes in powerpoint 2010. Can you give me the steps on how to get there?

    Thanks so much.

  4. #4

    Richard Goring

    9:32 am, September 22nd, 2011

    Hi Maria,

    There is no ‘track changes’ function in PowerPoint, as you get in Word, for example – so you can’t make changes and PowerPoint automatically shows what has been altered.

    However, there are two ways of tracking the changes that you have made indirectly.

    First, you can use the comments function which is on the ‘Review’ tab on the ribbon. This gives you a text box in which you can write a comment, but when not being viewed, you only see a small yellow box with a comment number in it. This means that they aren’t too intrusive on the slide, but can easily contain as much or as little information as you like without having to resize anything. It is also possible to move the comment marker to any position on the slide, which might be useful if you want to comment on a particular element on the storyboard (just position the comment over it). These comments do not show up in show mode, so will not get in the way of presenting the slides. You can actually add more than one comment on each slide, which makes positioning even more useful as each element can have its own comment (if required). Finally, rather than having to hope that each comment is spotted, PowerPoint allows you to move between comments (again using the Review tab functions), which means that anyone viewing the presentation can make sure that they have seen all of the comments made.

    The second way is probably less useful, but involves changing the colour of any objects or text that are modified within the presentation. This is a manual task and so while it makes any changes very obvious, it does require someone to manually change everything back into the default colour.


  5. #5

    Dakota Dingding.

    3:05 pm, November 14th, 2012

    You know, this article helped me none in what I needed to find, and I really had faith in this website, since it’s where I always go for things of this nature.

    Thanks for nothing…

  6. #6

    Jessica Pyne

    10:45 am, November 16th, 2012

    Hi Dakota, we’re sorry to hear that you this article didn’t solve your problem. Do you have a specific question you would like to ask? If so, please let us know and we’ll get back to you.