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Change the Default Template or Theme in PowerPoint 2013

Learn how to change the default template or Theme in PowerPoint 2013.


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Product/Version: Microsoft PowerPoint 2013
OS: Windows 7 and higher






When PowerPoint 2013 is launched, do you see an empty presentation with just one slide? This template influences the default look that PowerPoint provides -- the first slide typically has placeholders for the slide's title and subtitle. The text typed within these placeholders shows up in black over a white slide background. Although this default look works most of the time, you don't have to stick with these defaults. You can easily change the default look to something else -- for example, use your custom PowerPoint template or Theme as the default? Or even any of the other templates / Themes built within PowerPoint.

You still have the same two requirements as always: it must be in the right place, and it must have the right name. Additionally, you may find that the right folder is not visible because it could be hidden! Find out how to show hidden folders.

Before we explore how to change the default template / Theme, let's see what you get when you launch PowerPoint. You get the one slide blank presentation, as shown in Figure 1, below -- but there's more here than what meets the eye. First of all, this blank presentation also has a template / Theme -- you will find the template / Theme name mentioned on the Status Bar, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 1, below.

Theme name displayed on the Status Bar
Figure 1: Theme name displayed on the Status Bar

Tip: Cannot see the Theme name on the Status Bar? Follow the steps in our Display Theme Name in PowerPoint 2013 tutorial to turn this option on!

Now that we know that this default blank template / Theme influences the black text on white slide look, can we change this to something else? Yes! And to do that, you need to follow any of the two alternative options. The first option creates a default template. The second option creates a default Theme. Choose the one that works for you.

Templates and Themes -- Are They Different?

So are Templates and Themes different? Yes, they are different but they are similar too. The biggest difference is indicated in their full names: PowerPoint Template and Office Theme. Whereas Templates are limited to PowerPoint alone, Themes can also influence documents created in other Office applications such as Word and Excel.

Beyond this difference, Templates can also contain sample slides -- and Themes cannot.

Save a Default Template

Follow these steps to save your own default template in a specified location and also provide it with the right name:

  1. Open a template file or a presentation based on the template you want to use as your default.
  2. Click File menu to bring up Backstage view, as shown in Figure 2. From the File menu, choose the Save As option (see Figure 2 again).

    Save As option to be selected
    Figure 2: Save As option to be selected
  3. This opens the Save As Backstage view, as shown in Figure 3. Here double-click the Computer option, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 3.

    Computer option
    Figure 3: Computer option
  4. This brings up the Save As dialog box, as shown in Figure 4.

    Save As dialog box
    Figure 4: Save As dialog box
  5. Within the Save As dialog box, select PowerPoint Template (*.potx) from the Save as type list, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 5.

    Save as type list
    Figure 5: Save as type list
  6. PowerPoint 2013 no longer takes you to the correct folder when you choose POTX as the file type. So navigate to C:\Users\<UserName>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates -- substitute <Username> with your computer username (see Figure 6).

    Notice the area highlighted in blue within Figure 6, below. Can't read the folder path? Just click on the area to see the actual path (see Figure 7).

    Provide a name to the template. Remember, the template must be named Blank.potx, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 6. Click the Save button.

    Provide a File name
    Figure 6: Provide a file name

    Click to find out the path to the folder
    Figure 7: Click to find out the path to the folder
  7. Hereafter, choose the File | New option. Your default template will be the first file listed on the Presentation Gallery, where it will be labeled Default Theme (highlighted in red within Figure 8) -- but it’s actually a default template, complete with any sample content slides you included.

    Default Template/Theme
    Figure 8: Default Template
Note: To return to the original plain default blank template, just delete the Blank.potx file you saved.

Save a Default Theme

Follow these steps to save a default Theme:

  1. Start a new blank presentation.
  2. Access the Design tab (highlighted in red within Figure 9) of the Ribbon.

    Design tab of the Ribbon
    Figure 9: Design tab of the Ribbon
  3. Within the Themes group, click the More button (highlighted in blue within Figure 9, above) to bring up the Themes drop-down gallery, as shown in Figure 10.

    Themes drop-down gallery
    Figure 10: Themes drop-down gallery

    Tip: Is the Theme that you want to be the default not visible here? You must then first apply your Theme to the open presentation to see it within the Themes drop-down gallery -- explore our Applying Themes in PowerPoint, Word, and Excel 2013 tutorial to learn more.
  4. Now, right-click any of the Themes to bring up a context menu, as shown in Figure 11. Within the context menu select the Set as Default Theme option, highlighted in red within Figure 11.

    Set as Default Theme option
    Figure 11: Set as Default Theme option
  5. Behind the scenes, PowerPoint automatically chooses the correct folder and saves the active Theme within that folder. The Theme is saved as Default Theme.thmx, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 12.

    Default Theme file within the appropriate location
    Figure 12: Default Theme file within the appropriate location
  6. Hereafter, choose the File | New or by re-starting PowerPoint. Your default template will be the first file listed on the start screen, where it will be labeled Default Theme (highlighted in red within Figure 13). The presentation will be created based on the Theme you chose to be the default.

    Default Template/Theme
    Figure 13: Default Theme
Note: To return to the original default blank Theme, select the Theme called Office Theme -- then right-click to bring up a context menu and select the Set as Default Theme option.

Where are these folders?

Depending upon your version of Windows, the following are the correct folders for the default template (Blank.potx) or the default Theme (Default Theme.thmx) -- substitute your user name for <UserName>.

Windows 8:
Template: C:\Users\<UserName>\Documents\Custom Office Templates
Theme: C:\Users\<UserName>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates\Document Themes

Windows 7:
Template: C:\Users\ <UserName>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates
Theme: C:\Users\<UserName>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates\Document Themes

If you are not taken to one of these folders automatically, navigate there manually. The best part about knowing these folder locations is that once you have created the Blank.potx or the Default Theme.thmx file, you can easily copy this from one computer and then place it within the same location in any other computer -- you end up setting the default template / Theme without even launching PowerPoint!

What If I Have Both a Default Template and a Default Theme?

So if you have both a default template and a default Theme, which one will PowerPoint use? As long as a default Theme called Default Theme.thmx is available in the designated folder, PowerPoint will use that as the default for all new presentations created. If that's not available -- or if you have deleted the Default Theme.thmx Theme file, then PowerPoint 2013 will use the Blank.potx template file within the designated folder.

See Also:

Change the Default Theme in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac
Change the Default Template or Theme in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows
Change the Default Template or Theme in PowerPoint 2007 for Windows
Change the Default Template in PowerPoint 2003 for Windows

PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts

PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts and Sequences:
PowerPoint 2016, 2013, 2011, 2010, 2007 and 2003 for Windows
PowerPoint 2016 and 2011 for Mac

Have your ever used keyboard shortcuts and sequences in PowerPoint? Or are you a complete keyboard aficionado? Do you want to learn about some new shortcuts? Or do you want to know if your favorite keyboard shortcuts are documented?

Go and get a copy of our PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts and Sequences ebook.



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