PPTools is a range of PowerPoint add-ins that comes from an entity called RnR, a useful two-person partnership dedicated to the cause of making lives of PowerPoint users simpler. For the uninitiated, RnR stands for Rindsberg and Reilly or Reilly and Rindsberg, whichever you prefer. Their full names are Steve Rindsberg and Brian Reilly, and they are both Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs (Most Valuable Professionals). Here's a brief outline about both of them:
Steve Rindsberg has been associated with PowerPoint since the product originated. His PowerPoint FAQ site is a treasure trove of PowerPoint information. When he's not updating his site, he's creating new add-ins that expand possibilities. Steve's also into a lot of print technology related stuff.
Brian Reilly has also been long associated with PowerPoint. He is an authority on using VBA with PowerPoint and also the author of the book, Create PowerPoint Presentations In A Weekend. He often creates customized solutions for clients that involve taking PowerPoint and other Microsoft Office applications to the limit.
The creators visualise the PPTools range as a diverse and useful set of add-ins to extend and simplify the use of PowerPoint. This review discusses the free Starter Set available for download from the PPTools site.
The PPTools Starter Set adds capabilities to PowerPoint that can make your work flow easier and more productive. The Starter Set is free for use. All other PPTools add-ins are available for download and purchase from the PPTools site. In addition, they also provide an upgrade route for Starter Set users in the form of PPTools Starter Set Plus. We'll discuss that later in the review.
Once you've downloaded the Starter Set, you're ready to install the add-in. Follow the simple instructions included within the product and you should be up and running in no time.
The installation takes care of initializing the add-in into PowerPoint, as it did on my system with three versions of PowerPoint installed (97, 2000 and 2002). The first time you load PowerPoint thereafter, you are presented with one, two.....no wait, let me count - actually four new toolbars (see screenshot above). Each of these toolbars performs a set of functions. While some of these are important additions to PowerPoint, others are more convenient ways to access routines hidden within the PowerPoint interface.
Let's examine all the buttons on all the toolbars!
The Master Bar, as the name suggests is the headquarters of your PPTools collection. The first of the two icons opens the PPTools Help window.
The second icon is used for Preferences, providing options to decide which of the PPTools load automatically when you launch PowerPoint.
The RnR Edit bar comprises 10 buttons.
The first two take care of zooming in and out in Photoshop fashion. The third magnifying tool zooms to fit the slide to the current window. Naturally, all these functions are already available within PowerPoint, and it’s just that a one-click procedure makes things so much simpler.
The next two tools on the Edit bar are a great addition to PowerPoint; conventional copying and pasting objects between slides may not place them in the exact coordinates of the original. Here's where the Memorize Object Position and Place Object tools help. In effect, this means that you can place objects to the center of a slide (or any other align mode if you Ctrl-Click the button to view options). Some of these tools have additional options, details of which can be found on the PPTools site.
The next four tools on the Edit bar are Cycle Case, Small Caps, Reduce Font Size and Increase Font Size. All these options are available in PowerPoint through the use of shortcut keys, but many users will welcome the one-click availability of these options through the RnR Edit bar.
Steve adds to that:
It might be worth mentioning that the Font Size buttons change font size in smaller increments than PowerPoint's font size button - that's the main reason we created them. And the user can edit the PPTools.INI file to change the increment.
The final button is the Help button, which when clicked, opens a text file that explains all RnR Edit functions in detail.