Big List of New Features in PowerPoint 2013

Categories: PowerPoint 2013.

Well, now that PowerPoint 2013 has released to manufacturing, it’s time to publish my big list of new features. This is my list of new stuff in PowerPoint 2013, definitely not the same list Microsoft marketing publishes. So here we go…

Start UI. PowerPoint 2013 gives you a whole new experience from the get-go. Choose from a bunch of new templates and variants and see previews of a few slide layouts before you begin your presentation.

16×9. This is the new default slide aspect ratio. (The old one was 4×3.) Don’t worry, you can still set your default template to 4×3 if you want.

13.33″ x 7.5″. This is the new default slide size. (The old 4×3 was 10″ x 7.5″, and the old 16×9 was 10″ x 5.76″.) Personally, I think this is a very good thing.

Before I forget, Scale to Fit Paper is now ON by default in the File | Print dialog. I’m sure this is directly related to the 13.33×7.5 slide size feature above. (So the whole 16×9 slide will print on the page.)

Slide Size tool. There’s a new tool on the Design tab to help you switch your slides from 4×3 to 16×9 and back without completely wrecking all your content. Yay!

Variants and SuperThemes. We now have variations of a theme that are built-in. Most variants are very similar to the “base” theme, with changes to the color or font set. Themes that include variants are called SuperThemes.

Format panes. Instead of having a Format dialog, we now have a Format pane that is docked to the right side of the work space.

Insert Online Pictures. The Office programs now distinguish between inserting pictures from your hard drive and inserting them from online. Similar settings exist for Video and Audio.

Logging in. Log into your account, and you’ll see more content and have more options. For example, if I’ve logged onto my MSFT account, my SkyDrive will show up (along with, Flickr and Bing image search) when I click Insert Online Pictures.

Saving. When you save, online locations such as SharePoint team sites and Skydrive are in the forefront. Don’t forget to click Computer before browsing to a location if you’re saving to your hard drive!

Present Online. This is really the equivalent of Broadcast Slide Show, but the presenter has the option of letting people download the presentation as well (or not). Be aware — if you allow the audience to download, then they’ll also have the ability to navigate through the broadcast presentation at their own pace while you’re presenting.

Save as Video. By default this now creates an MPEG-4 Video. WMV (Windows Media Video) is still an option.

New Slide button. They finally added this to the Insert tab! (Only took three versions, sheesh. Unfortunately it’s still in the wrong place — it should be on the other side of the Images group, but nobody listens to me!) Don’t worry, it’s still on the Home tab also.

Popup menu in Slide Show View. The buttons that show in the lower left corner during slide show view have been tweaked for a better touch experience. They’re not as subtle as they could be, but they’re not as bad as they could be, either.

See All Slides. When in a slide show, we now have a view that looks kind of like Slide Sorter View. (There’s no longer a Go to Slide menu with an option to navigate by slide title, though.)

Presenter View. This is all kinds of new and all kinds of cool. And if you only have one monitor, use Alt+F5 to see and practice with Presenter View!

Page Curl transition. Yes, you heard (read) me right — we finally have a page turn transition! It’s actually called Peel Off, but what’s in a name? Actually, we have quite a few new transitions, including Page Curl, Curtains, and Fracture (among others). Also, while we’re on the subject of transitions, the bounce has been removed from the end of the Pan transition.

Play From. The animation pane now lets you play from the selected animation.

Motion Path End. A ghosted object now shows up to show you the end position of a motion path. Very, very helpful!

Animation Zombies. Some of the old animations (Stretch and Collapse, for example) are baaaaack!

Threaded Comments. Comments have been enhanced with a Comments Pane that shows the comments thread and avatars for those commenting.

Enhanced Smart Guides. Those whisker things that showed up in PowerPoint 2010 to help you align and position objects on a slide? Well, they got even better in 2013 because now they also help with distribution.

Enhanced Guides. We now have the equivalent of lockable, colorable guidelines, people! Wahooo! Put one set of guides on your slide master (to indicate margins, for example). Add others to any layouts that might require different guides. And add even more to the regular slides as you’ve always done. When you’re in Normal (editing) View, only the guides on the slides will be selectable — otherwise you’ll need to go to Master View to move them. Oh, and did I mention that you can recolor all of these? Just right-click a guide…

Color Picker. We now have eyedroppers to pick up and apply fill, outline and font colors. All together now: Thank you, PowerPoint Team!

Merge Shapes. These tools, which are similar to the Pathfinder tools in Illustrator, are now on the Ribbon (on the Drawing Tools Format tab). The group is called Merge Shapes instead of Combine Shapes. There is also a new tool, Fragment, to complement the other four.

Semantic Zoom. We can zoom and pan in Slide Show View now.

Charts. Charting is a lot better in many ways and a lot worse in others. Now a small Excel datasheet opens above the chart instead of Excel opening and taking up half your screeen. The interface is vastly improved. They added a combo chart to the types of charts (yay!). They added new chart styles (good) but removed the 2007/2010 chart styles (bad). They made the default chart font size 12 points (good or bad, depending if you like it or not) and the default chart font color a tint/shade of Dark 1/Light 1 (horrible if Dark 1/Light 1 is anything besides black or white).

PowerPoint Web App. This has lots of new features. We can now add, edit and format shapes, apply a new theme, and use animations and transitions. We also have audio and video playback in both Reading and Slide Show views. It still supports co-authoring, but now it supports co-authoring with regular ol’ PowerPoint, too. And if you embed your presentation into a web page or blog, it’s no longer just static pictures — it’s actually like a regular presentation with animations, transitions, audio and video. (Old embedded presentations will automatically update to behave this way, too.)

Default Office Theme is a bit different. The colors are different and the default effects set is way more subtle.

SmartArt graphics. We got some new SmartArt diagrams.

Backstage. Along with the overall interface overhaul to a newer, flatter look, Backstage has been reorganized once again.


Save as HTML. Gone. Done. Kaput. It’s not in the interface, and it’s not accessible with VBA either.

Insert ClipArt. This has been replaced with Insert Online Pictures. No clipart or picture collections are installed with Office 2013.

Not missing, just moved. Theme Colors, Fonts and Effects dialog are no longer on the Design tab, but they are available in Slide Master View. Background Styles are available in Slide Master View.

Broadcast Slide Show. This isn’t really gone — it’s just morphed into Present Online.

Outline pane. Again, this isn’t actually gone, it just doesn’t show up any more next to the Slides pane in Normal (editing) View. Go to the View tab to turn the Outline pane on and off.

Combine Shapes. For those of you who used these, they’re not gone. They’ve been promoted to the Drawing Tools Format tab of the Ribbon and are now called Merge Shapes.

In Slide Show View, there’s no longer a Go to Slide menu with an option to navigate by slide title. Instead, we have the new See All Slides view, which looks similar to Slide Sorter view.


  1. Echo Swinford

    You’re welcome, Nolan! I think there are a few minor corrections I still need to make. Luckily blog posts are editable!

  2. Echo Swinford

    Well, they are actually … you know, I don’t know exactly what they’d be called in official Microsoft-ese. When you click the Merge Shapes button, you get 5 options: Union, Combine, Fragment, Intersect, Subtract. So it’s actually a set of tools, and IMO the singularity / plurality is nebulous. ;-)

  3. Rick Stone

    Thanks for the rundown! Looks like some interesting features have been added in.

    Love hearing about them from the sources other than Microsoft.

  4. This is an interesting post, really liked it. After reading this I feel MS PPT just got better. Would look forward to use it as soon as possible to feel the difference.
    Thanks for sharing sharing your experience and this useful information with us
    authorSTREAM Team

  5. Is ANYONE having trouble with graphics (boxes, circles, e.g., “shapes”) built in pptx 2007 NOT appearing, or “half” appearing in 2013? I’m having to rebuild a lot of graphics that are standard for my presentations because when they appear in “presentation mode” they are chopped off. Is there a patch from Microsoft to prevent this problem? Any jpgs or pngs I’ve pulled in or created in PPTX are fine; just not any shapes I’ve created.

  6. Echo Swinford

    Hi, Leslie,

    There are some others experiencing issues with “chopped off” slide titles and graphics. Check this thread: I made some suggestions there on page 2, but if you have any presentations that exhibit this behavior it would be great if you could upload some samples for folks to test. Please post in the thread on the .answers forum to let us know where to access those files.

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