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Date Created: August 31st 2011
Last Updated: August 31st 2011

Using PixSwap
Pricing and Support


While PowerPoint 2003 and previous versions provided you with an option to recolor your pictures easily, this option was removed in PowerPoint 2007 and also did not make it to the subsequent PowerPoint 2010. This was indeed one of the very cool options in PowerPoint and many long-time users were not too amused with its absence. Yes, if you have a copy of PowerPoint 2003 or an older version installed, you can easily still recolor the pictures in that version -- and then bring that content to any of the newer PowerPoint versions -- but doing that often can be cumbersome and boring -- especially now that PixSwap, a third-party PowerPoint add-in brings back the Recolor option to PowerPoint 2007 and 2010.

Like the older Recolor option, PixSwap also limits the recolor to vector clip art formats -- while the PixSwap documentation lists only WMF as the supported format for clip art, we were able to use this feature with both EPS and EMF files as well! Of course, you won't have luck recoloring any bitmap file formats like JPG or PNG -- but that's because Recolor only works with vector file formats. Learn more about differences between vectors and bitmaps here.

PixSwap is from PPTAlchemy, a UK based company. You can learn more about the product, and download a trial version of PixSwap from their site.

My contact at PPTAlchemy for this review was John Wilson - thank you, John.


Using PixSwap

Before installing the add-in, make sure you enable the Developer tab of the Ribbon within PowerPoint -- these links will help you:

Enable the Developer tab in PowerPoint 2010
Enable the Developer tab in PowerPoint 2007

Once the Developer tab is active within your Ribbon, close PowerPoint and then run the PixSwap installer. If you use PixSwap in demo mode, you will find it to be fully functional and it may do all you need – the only difference in the demo and the full version is that the demo has a 20 use limit. Thereafter follow these steps for a small walkthrough:

  1. Launch PowerPoint and insert some clip art (any WMF or EMF file will work) on your slide. Figure 1 shows a picture of a flower placed on the slide.

    Flower Clip Art placed on the slide in PowerPoint 2007
    Figure 1: Picture of a flower placed on the slide

  2. Select the graphic, and ungroup it so that PixSwap can now do recoloring -- if you do not ungroup, PixSwap will show an error message. These links will help you learn more about ungrouping:

    Group, Ungroup and Regroup Shapes in PowerPoint 2010
    Ungrouping Slide Objects in PowerPoint 2007

    Make sure you only ungroup once and not twice!

  3. Select the ungrouped clip art picture which still shows as one selection. Access the Design tab of the Ribbon, locate the new Recolor Clips group and click the Recolor Clip Art button (highlighted in red in Figure 1 above).

  4. This will open the Color Swapper dialog box, as shown in Figure 2.

    Color Swapper dialog box
    Figure 2: Color Swapper dialog box

    The Color Swapper dialog box basically has three sections which are explained below:
    1. Color Selection: Displays a swatch for every color in your clip art picture (RGB values and a swatch of the color). To change any color, you first need to select the radio button for that color.

    2. Change Color: Once you select the color you want to change, just enter the RGB values of the new color you want to change to. You can add the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) values within the three boxes you see. If you do not want to use the Pixie option we discuss next, you can click the OK button now to apply the changed color.

    3. PIXIE OR Instant Eyedropper: This input box lets you insert the color value from Pixie, a free color picker application that works with PixSwap to make accurate color choices simple. It is recommend to install this free application so that you can pick any color from the screen. You can also insert a picture within the same slide as where your clip art graphic is inserted and let Pixie pick colors that match the overall look of your presentation slides.

      When Pixie is running, the color beneath your cursor's location (highlighted in red in Figure 3) will be picked up by Pixie (highlighted in green in Figure 3). As you can see in Figure 3, Pixie displays all sorts of values of the color in different color modes.

      Slide with PIXIE active
      Figure 3: Slide with PIXIE active

      To copy a color's values, just press Ctrl+Alt+C. Then paste (press Ctrl+V) these values within the Color Swapper dialog's Pixie or Instant Eyedropper input box. This will change the color value of the selected color to be changed and the HTML color value also appears within the input box (highlighted in red in Figure 4).

      HTML color value within the input box
      Figure 4: HTML color value within the input box

      Click the OK button to apply the changed color.

  5. Pixie also lets you choose color from the Color dialog box (see Figure 5) -- to launch the Color dialog, just press Ctrl+Alt+X when Pixie is active.

    Pixie's  Color dialog box
    Figure 5: Pixie's Color dialog box

    Note: The Color dialog may open behind PowerPoint interface! To avoid this, try clicking on the PIXIE dialog first to pass control to PIXIE. Then press Ctrl+Alt+X. Alternatively, you can use the taskbar to bring it to the front when required.

  6. Whichever way you choose to change the color - Pixie or PixSwap, once the replace color values are input, click the OK button within the Color Swapper dialog box. Figure 6 shows how we changed all the colors within our inserted clip art graphic to reflect the overall look of the slide (compare to Figure 4 above).

    Colors changed for your clip art graphic
    Figure 6: Colors changed for your clip art graphic

  7. Save your presentation.


Pricing and Support

PixSwap costs US$19.99. Support is through e-mail.



PixSwap is a great option if you need more control over the color of your vector graphics in PowerPoint -- the Pixie integration is a genius move that lets you sample colors from the background or other graphic elements within your slides -- thus letting you create graphics that look restrained, understated, and matching in look with the rest of your presentation slides.


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