Using Shift and Ctrl to create contiguous and non-contiguous blocks of text, file names, and so on is almost second nature to most of us. You might not realize that you can use the same trick to select multiple objects in a PowerPoint slide. Doing so allows you to move, format, and even delete multiple objects at the same time.
The easiest way to select multiple objects on a slide is to hold down the Shift key and start clicking. For instance, to select the title and screen in the slide shown below, click either, hold down Shift, and click the other. PowerPoint will display selection handles for both objects. Then, grab either objects and move both as you would a single object. (You can use this technique to select more than two objects.) Click the background to clear the selection.
When you have several objects to move as a group, you might prefer the selection box. It works like a fence. You click outside the objects and drag to create a selection box (the fence). You can then move everything inside the selection box as one object. For instance, to move the stick man, click just beyond the common border of all the objects, drag to an opposite corner and release. Doing so selects all of the objects in the selection box. Then, you can move all of the selected items as one.
To format a multiple selection, right-click any of the selected items, and choose Format Object. PowerPoint will let you set and change properties that the objects share.
Use the Selection Pane
Starting with Office 2007, you can use the selection pane to select multiple items for moving, formatting, and so on. (Most Office applications have the new selection pane.) To view this pane, do the following:
- Click the Home tab.
- In the Editing group, click the Select dropdown.
- Choose Selection Pane.
Highlight an object in the pane to select it in the slide. Hold down the Shift key to select multiple items. It's the same principle, but the selection pane eliminates the need to click or surround the actual objects. This route is easier when you have lots of objects, layered objects, or small objects.Bonus: With lots of objects on a slide, getting to just the right one, can prove difficult, especially if you're working with layered objects. The easiest way to select a single object, in this case, is to press Tab. Doing so will cycle the selection through all of the objects on the current slide. Simply stop pressing when PowerPoint selects the object you want.
Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.