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Advanced Shadow Effect Options in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

Learn how you can tweak the Shadow effects that you apply to shapes in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac.

Author: Geetesh Bajaj

Product/Version: Microsoft PowerPoint 2011
OS: Mac OS X

Date Created: August 15th 2011
Last Updated: August 15th 2011

Adding a shadow to a shape can give it more depth and you probably get that perfect shadow the first time you use PowerPoint's default shadow options, as already explained in our Apply Shadow effects to Shapes tutorial. However, there are times when you want that shadow to be a wee bit longer, or just a little less pronounced. Fortunately, that's possible and quite easy to achieve -- follow these steps to get started:

  1. Select the shape you want to apply or tweak the shadow effect for --it's best you select a shape that already has a shadow effect applied since you may end up liking the default shadow effect that PowerPoint provides. If you want to tweak the shadow further, double click the selected shape to activate the Format tab of the Ribbon (highlighted in red in Figure 1). Within this tab, locate the Shape Styles group, and click the Effects button that you can see in Figure 1 (highlighted in blue).

    Format tab of the Ribbon in PowerPoint 2011
    Figure 1: Format tab of the Ribbon

    Note: Format tab is a contextual tab. These tabs are special tabs in the Ribbon that are not visible all the time -- they only make an appearance when you are working with a particular slide object which can be edited using special options.

  2. This brings up the Effects drop-down gallery shown in Figure 2. Within the Effects drop-down gallery, choose Shadow | Shadow Options (the last option in Figure 2).

    Shadow sub-gallery within Effects drop-down gallery
    Figure 2: Shadow sub-gallery within Effects drop-down gallery

  3. Alternatively, you can directly right-click the selected shape and from the context menu, choose Format Shape option as shown in Figure 3 below.

    Format Shape option selected
    Figure 3: Format Shape option selected

  4. Either of the ways brings up the Format Shape dialog box. In this dialog box, make sure that the Shadow option in the Sidebar is active, as you can see in Figure 4.

    Shadow options within the Format Shape dialog box
    Figure 4: Shadow options within the Format Shape dialog box

    The options in this dialog box are explained below:

    1. Shadow: Deselect this selection box if the shape already has a shadow which you want to remove.

    2. Style: This option allows you to select from three shadow styles: Inner, Outer, and Perspective (see Figure 5 below).

      Shadow style options
      Figure 5:
      Shadow style options

    3. Angle: This spinner control is used to change the angle of the shadow in relation to the shape.

    4. Color: Displays the Colors gallery (see Figure 6) so that you can choose a color to apply to the shadow. If you need a colored shadow, you can only do so within this dialog -- the default shadows that PowerPoint provides are all black.

      Shadow color options
      Figure 6: Shadow color options

      Colors gallery includes four sections that are explained below:

      1. Theme Colors: Here you can select any of the colors in the active Theme of the presentation. You can also select any of the 5 tints or shades for any Theme color. Learn more about Themes here.

      2. Standard Colors: You can choose any of the ten standard colors available -- these ten standard colors are just choices of colors that PowerPoint believes to be widely used. You don't have to limit yourself to either the Theme colors or Standard colors, as I'll show you in the next options, although it's a good design idea to use Theme colors as far as possible.

      3. Recent Colors: Here you can find the colors most recently used. If you have just launched PowerPoint and created a new presentation, the Recent Colors option may be entirely absent since you haven't selected any color recently!

      4. More Colors: This option is to summon the Mac OS X Color picker as shown in Figure 7.

        Mac OS X Color picker
        Figure 7: Mac OS X Color picker

        In this Color picker, you can chose any color from the wheel. Thereafter adjust the selected color's luminosity within the long, thin slider on the right. Once you are happy with the color attained, you click OK to get back to your slide.
    5. Size: Use the size slider, or enter the shadow size value in percentages to increase or decrease the size (spread) of the shadow.

    6. Blur: This option makes the edges of the shadow more feathered (merged with the background) or sharper. Again, you can use the blur slider, or enter the blur value in points.

    7. Distance: Allows you to format the starting and the ending point of the shadow in relation to the position of the shape. You can use the distance slider or insert the distance value in points.

    8. Transparency: You can alter the transparency level of the shadow using this option. Use the transparency slider, or type the shadow transparency value in percentages.

      Note: When you are making changes to the shape attributes within Format Shape dialog box, you can see the live preview of the changes in the selected shape. So, always place the Format Shape dialog box on the slide such that it won't hide the selected shape.

  5. Click OK in the Format Shape dialog box to apply the changes to the shadow.

  6. Remember to save your presentation often.

See Also:

Advanced Shadow Effect Options in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Advanced Shadow Effect Options in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows
Advanced Shadow Effect Options in PowerPoint 2007 for Windows
Shadow Settings in PowerPoint 2002 and 2003 for Windows


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