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Explore Microsoft PowerPoint for iPad

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In this article, Jason R. Rich takes a look at Microsoft’s new PowerPoint for iPad app, discusses how to use it to import, create, or edit digital slide presentations, focusing on how to give presentations directly from an iPad.
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It took several years after Apple initially released the iPad, but Microsoft finally decided to support the world’s most popular tablet with genuine Microsoft Office apps that include Word, Excel, OneNote, and PowerPoint. These apps are fully compatible with their PC and Mac counterparts, and through the use of email or a Microsoft OneDrive account, they make it easy to sync and share Office-related documents, files, and presentations.

What You’ll Need to Get Started Using PowerPoint for iPad

As with the other Office for iPad apps, in order to utilize all of PowerPoint’s features and functions, this free iPad app must be used in conjunction with a paid Office 365 subscription, even if you already have another paid version of PowerPoint running on your PC or Mac.

An Office 365 Personal subscription costs $6.99 per month and allows a user to utilize the Office applications on one PC or Mac, as well as on one tablet. For $9.99 per month, the Office 365 Family plan grants full access to Office on five computers and/or tablets.

In order to utilize Apple’s OWA for iPad app, which is an email management app that is Outlook compatible, an Office 365 Business subscription must be acquired, which also unlocks all of the other Office applications for PCs, Macs, and the iPad.

Each paid Office 365 subscription includes a Microsoft OneDrive (formally Microsoft SkyDrive) account that offers 20GB of online storage space. OneDrive integration is now built into all of the Office applications (PC/Mac) and iPad apps, and allows for the easy sharing and syncing of Office-related documents and files via this online, cloud-based file sharing service.

The PowerPoint for iPad App Works Nicely with Its PC and Mac Counterparts

The biggest benefit to using the PowerPoint for iPad app, as opposed to another digital slide presentation app, such as Apple’s own Keynote, is that the PowerPoint for iPad app natively uses the PowerPoint file format, and helps to ensure full compatibility as presentations are transferred between your tablet and primary computers (or vice versa). All of the fonts, transitions, animations, SmartArt, tables, charts, and images, for example, that are built into PowerPoint for the PC or Mac transfer seamlessly to the iPad version of the app.

When you’re working with a PowerPoint presentation, the appearance of the digital sides (and their animations and transitions) are identical, whether you’re working on a PC, Mac (shown in Figure 1), or iPad (shown in Figure 2).

Figure 1 Here, a PowerPoint presentation is being edited on a Mac

Figure 2 The same presentation has been transferred to an iPad and can be edited or presented from the tablet

Thus, if a presentation is created on a PC or Mac and transferred to an iPad, the digital slides within that presentation will maintain their original appearance, and while you’re working on a presentation, you can easily switch between your computer and tablet thanks to OneDrive, and be able to pick up exactly where you left off.

Since the creation and editing of a PowerPoint presentation is often a collaborative process, the PowerPoint for iPad app allows for multiple people to be working simultaneously on the same presentation, and through the use of OneDrive, ensures that everyone is always working with the most current version of a presentation file.

Like all of the Office for iPad apps, this version of PowerPoint was designed specially for use with the tablet’s touch screen. Thus, no external keyboard is needed. The iPad taps and finger gestures you’re already familiar with work when using this app, which also takes full advantage of the tablet’s virtual keyboard when it’s needed.

Getting Started with the PowerPoint for iPad App Is Easy

If you’re already familiar with how to use the PC or Mac version of PowerPoint, you have the knowledge needed to fully utilize the iPad edition. After installing the app on your tablet, when you launch PowerPoint for the first time, you’ll be prompted to enter your Office 365 subscription details and OneDrive account information in order to activate the app. This only needs to be done once.

Each subsequent time you launch the PowerPoint app, the presentation management screen will be the first interactive screen you see (shown in Figure 3). From here, you can change which OneDrive account you’re logged into, create a new presentation from scratch on your tablet, see all of the recent presentations you’ve worked with on your iPad, or open an existing PowerPoint presentation file that’s stored within your tablet or your OneDrive account (assuming your iPad has Internet access).

Figure 3 From PowerPoint for iPad's Presentation Management screen, you can manage presentation files stored within your iPad or your OneDrive account

The command icons for each of these options are displayed along the left margin of PowerPoint’s presentation management screen. By tapping on the Recent icon, once a listing of the presentations you’ve already worked with on your iPad are displayed, you’ll discover a File icon associated with each presentation. Tap this icon to view a series of options for sharing or managing the presentation file. A similar File icon is displayed to the right of presentation file listings for PowerPoint presentations currently stored within your iPad when you tap on the Open command icon.

One nice feature of the PowerPoint app is that from the Open menu screen, you can quickly switch between accounts related to OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, or SharePoint Site URLs, which makes collaboration with others easier. Each account’s details can be stored within the app, so access to them is only one screen tap away.

To begin creating a PowerPoint presentation from scratch on your iPad, simply tap on the New command icon. Next, you’ll see the Template Selection screen (shown in Figure 4). Thumbnail images representing all 20 of the available and customizable PowerPoint presentation templates are displayed. Tap on the thumbnail you’d like to work with.

Figure 4 After choosing to create a new presentation, choose from 20 different templates which can then be customized to meet your needs

Displayed in the top-right corner of the Template Selection screen is the Slide Size option. Tap on this to choose between a Widescreen (16:9) or Standard (4:3) slide size, based on how you’ll ultimately be presenting the digital slide show. If you’ll be using the iPad or an HD television set, for example, the default Widescreen (16:9) option should be used.

After selecting a template, the main PowerPoint presentation editing screen (shown in Figure 5) will become available. This is the same screen you’ll use to edit a presentation that’s been created elsewhere and imported into the PowerPoint for iPad app.

Figure 5 From the Presentation Editing screen, you can create or edit digital slide presentations

Displayed along the left margin of the Presentation Editing screen are thumbnails for each slide in your presentation. Tap on a thumbnail to open and begin editing that slide. To add a new (additional) slide to the presentation, tap on the New Slide icon that’s displayed near the top-left corner of the screen, just above the slide thumbnails.

The user interface of PowerPoint’s presentation editing screen is very similar to the iPad versions of Word and Excel. Along the top of the screen are a series of command icons that give you access to a wide range of familiar PowerPoint commands, features, and functions. Tap on the circular, left-pointing arrow icon to return to the presentation management screen. The presentation you were working with will automatically be saved.

To the immediate right is the File icon. Tap on this to access the File menu, which offers a handful of options for managing the presentation file you’re currently working with. For example, if you’re using PowerPoint for iPad version 1.0.1), you can Name, Duplicate, Print (a presentation file or individual slide using an AirPrint-compatible printer), or Restore the file, adjust its Properties, or turn on/off the app’s AutoSave feature.

Also along the top of the screen, to the right of the File icon, are the Undo and Redo command icons, which work just as they do when using the PC or Mac version of PowerPoint. Meanwhile, displayed near the top-right corner of the screen are two additional command icons. Tapping on the Share icon reveals a menu with options for sharing the presentation file you’re working on with others. The Play icon transfers you from the Presentation Editing screen to the Play screen, from which you can access PowerPoint’s tools for actually showcasing your presentation.

Located along the top-center of the presentation editing screen are five command icons, labeled Home, Insert, Transitions, Slide Show, and Review.

When you tap on one of these five command icons, a submenu of options is displayed directly below the main row of icons along the top of the screen. For example, when you’re editing or creating an individual slide, the options displayed when you tap on the Home option offer tools for inserting and editing text within a slide.

Tap on the Insert option (shown in Figure 6) to add a New Slide or add a Table, Picture, Shape, or Text Box within the slide you’re working on. Tap on the Transitions option to incorporate a Transition Effect to the slide you’re working on, or apply that effect to the entire presentation. Just as in the PC and Mac version of PowerPoint, there are more than 30 transition effects to choose from (although not all of them are compatible with all of the templates).

Figure 6 The Insert option allows you to add a table, picture, shape, or text box to the slide you're currently viewing and working with

To preview a slide or view parts of a presentation, tap on the Slide Show option. From this submenu, it’s also possible to hide slides. At anytime, to rearrange slides within your presentation, press and hold down one slide thumbnail that’s displayed along the left margin, and drag it upwards or downwards to the desired position.

Tap on the Review option to add, edit, or display text-based comments or speaker notes that are associated with each slide. To view all of the notes for a particular slide, tap on the Notes option that’s displayed at the bottom-right corner of the screen.

Playing a Presentation on the iPad’s Screen

When you’re ready to preview or present a presentation, tap on the Play icon that’s displayed in the top-right corner of the screen. As soon as you begin playing a presentation, PowerPoint switches to full-screen mode. To return to the previous Presentation Editing screen, use a pinch finger gesture on the iPad’s touch screen.

To advance between slides, swipe your finger from right to left across the screen. To go back to a previous slide, or step back to a previous animation or slide element, swipe from left to right. To access the available command icons while playing a presentation (shown in Figure 7), swipe downward.

Figure 7 While in Play mode, PowerPoint for iPad offers several command icons. For example, tap on the Pen icon, and you'll be able to use your finger in order to annotate a slide in real-time while giving a presentation

When the Play mode’s command icons are displayed, tap on the End Slide Show option to return to the presentation editing screen. Tap on the Pen icon in order to use your finger and manually draw or write on the screen, over the slide that’s being viewed. Tap on the Pen Settings icon (which looks like a pen with a gear next to it) to adjust the pen’s color and thickness, or to delete the slide annotations you’ve added. The icon that’s displayed in the upper-right corner of the screen allows you to hide the slide and just display the annotations.

When It Comes to Presenting a PowerPoint Slide Show, You Have Options

Using a special adapter and/or the Apple TV device ($99.00, www.apple.com/appletv), which are sold separately, the iPad can be connected to an HD television set or LCD projector in order to showcase your presentation to a group of people. When Apple TV is used in conjunction with a wireless network, your tablet can wirelessly display whatever is shown on its screen simultaneously on an HD television set.

Without using Apple TV, a special cable is required to physically connect the iPad to the HD television set, monitor, or projector. Available from Brookstone (www.brookstone.com), for example, are a handful of portable projects that connect directly to the iPad using the Apple Digital AV Adapter (sold separately). Using this option, it’s possible to remotely (wirelessly) control your iPad from another iPad or iPhone when you install Apple’s free Remote app.

Final Thoughts

If you have the need to work with digital slide presentations, the PowerPoint for iPad allows you to create, view, edit, share, and present PowerPoint-formatted presentation files directly from your iPad using most of the features, functions and commands you’re already familiar with from the PC or Mac version of this popular application.

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