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Open and Closed Motion Paths in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

Learn about open and closed paths for Motion Path animations in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac.


Product/Version: PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

OS: Mac OS X

Motion Path animations are movements that happen along a path. You can choose from several preset Motion Paths for simple animations. These include lines, curves, stars, and several other paths. You can see several of these paths in Figures 1 and 2 later on this page. These paths may indicate an animation, but for all other practical reasons, they are essentially just ordinary lines (shapes) that have curves, points, etc. You can edit these Motion Paths in the same way as you can edit any other lines in PowerPoint. If you are familiar with the drawing tools in PowerPoint, or if you use a graphic illustration program like Adobe Illustrator or CorelDRAW, you know that paths can be either open or closed. A circle is a good example of a closed path, whereas a curve is an open path. In Figure 1 you can see a slide containing some samples of Motion Path animations that use closed paths. Similarly Figure 2 displays a sample slide with some open Motion Path animations.

Closed Motion Path animations
Figure 1: Closed Motion Path animations

Open Motion Path animations
Figure 2: Open Motion Path animations

So, how is the concept of open and closed paths relevant to Motion Path animations in PowerPoint? This may not be terribly obvious, but these guidelines will help:

  • Any animation playing on a closed Motion Path gets back to the start point once it has finished playing. Thus the start and end points of such an animation are the same (see Figure 1, above).
  • Any animation playing on an open Motion Path has distinctly different start and end points. Examples of open motion paths are animations that play on a line or curved path from one part of the slide to another (see Figure 2, above).

If you know how to edit points in paths using PowerPoint's capable drawing tools, you can easily convert open paths to closed, and vice-versa. Even if you are not too familiar with the drawing tools, you can quickly convert an open path to a closed one, or the other way around, using the options that we explain next.

Follow these steps to understand the concept of open and closed motion paths, and to learn how to convert one into another:

  1. Launch PowerPoint. You will see the Presentation Gallery which allows you to set all attributes of your new presentation, such as a preset Theme or template. Make selections, or just click Cancel in this gallery to open a blank presentation with a new slide. PowerPoint 2011 users can change the slide layout of this slide to Blank by selecting Layout | Blank within the Home tab of the Ribbon. Then insert a shape on the slide and duplicate it.
  2. Apply motion path animations to both the shapes. For the first shape, add a closed Motion Path such as a star; for the second shape, add an open Motion Path, such as an S Curve 2 (both shown in Figure 3).
    Shapes animated with open and closed motion paths
    Figure 3: Shapes animated with open and closed motion paths
  3. If you closely observe the two motion paths in Figure 3 above, you will find that the Star Motion Path has only one arrowhead (the green one), but the S Curve 2 Motion Path has two arrowheads (green and red). This is PowerPoint's way of telling you that the first one is a closed motion path, and the other is an open path. Closed motion paths show only one green arrowhead, whereas open motion paths show both red and green arrowheads.
  4. Select the shape that has the Star motion path animation applied. Then select the Motion Path itself, and carefully right-click (or Ctrl+click) the dotted line representing the Motion Path. In the resultant contextual menu, choose the Open Curve option, as shown in Figure 4, below. The immediate result of choosing this option is that you will now see both green and red arrowheads in this motion path (see Figure 5, below) -- you thus changed a closed Motion Path to an open one.

    Open Path option selected
    Figure 4: Open Path option selected

    Both green and red arrowheads are visible
    Figure 5: Both green and red arrowheads are visible
  5. Now, select the other shape on the slide, and then select its S Curve 2 motion path, as shown in Figure 6, below. Carefully right-click (or Ctrl+click) the dotted line representing the Motion Path. Now choose the Close Curve option from the resultant contextual menu (see Figure 6 again).

    Close Curve option selected
    Figure 6: Close Curve option selected
  6. This will result in a new line segment being added to your Motion Path that connects its end point back to its start point, as shown in Figure 8. Note that you no longer see two arrowheads, but just the green one (compare Figures 6 and 7).

    Open Motion Path changed to closed Motion Path
    Figure 7: Open Motion Path changed to closed Motion Path
  7. If you don't fancy the straight line that PowerPoint adds to close the path, you can edit the line to curve it. To do that, right-click (or Ctrl+click) the Motion Path and choose the Edit Points option in the resultant contextual menu (you can see this Edit Points option in Figure 6, shown earlier on this page). This allows you edit the individual points (vertexes) and segments of the path, as explained in our Motion Paths in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac -- Edit Points tutorial. Once you have edited the line segment to appear smoother and more organic, you may end up with a Motion Path that looks similar to what you see in Figure 8, below -- compare Figures 7 and 8.

    Closed Motion Path, edited
    Figure 8: Closed Motion Path, edited
  8. Don't forget to save your presentation often.
Note: There's no limit to what you can do with the Motion Paths as long as you open and close paths, and edit points within the paths. Combine this with the option to draw your own custom motion paths, and reversing them -- and the possibilities are almost endless!

Note: Do some Motion Paths have the Open Path, Close Path, or Edit Points options grayed out? Yes, that can happen with paths that are essentially straight lines (see Figure 9), or Custom Motion Paths that are straight lines drawn using any of the Line drawing tools.

Edit Points and Close Curve options grayed out
Figure 9: Edit Points and Close Curve options grayed out

See Also:

Open and Closed Motion Paths in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows
Open and Closed Motion Paths in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Open and Closed Motion Paths in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows
Open and Closed Motion Paths in PowerPoint 2007, 2003, and 2002 for Windows

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