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Change Default Shape Attributes in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

Learn how to set default attributes for shapes in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac. You can set deafults for open and closed shapes, and fills and lines.

Whenever a new shape is inserted on a slide in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac (or in any previous version), you will find that by default it is filled with a gradient fill, has an outline, and a shadow applied (or something else, depending upon the Theme your presentation is based on). For example, in a new blank presentation that we created, any new shape inserted is by default filled with a gradient fill, and has a thin dark blue outline. It also has a shadow, as you can see in Figure 1.


Figure 1: Default attributes for shape in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

These Default Shape attributes can be changed very easily. But do remember that these changes are only limited to the presentation you are working on. If the presentation is not saved, you'll lose the changes.

Follow these steps to change the Default Shape attributes in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac:

  1. Launch PowerPoint 2011 for Mac, and you will see the Presentation Gallery. Click the Cancel button in this gallery to open a blank presentation with a new slide. PowerPoint 2011 users can change the slide layout to Blank by selecting Home tab | Layout | Blank option.
  2. Now insert a shape (any shape will do) on the slide. Typically, by default the shape is filled with a blue gradient fill, has an outline and a shadow applied (refer to Figure 1, above). If you see different attributes, don't worry, just move ahead with the rest of the steps.
  3. Select the shape so that the Ribbon area now shows the Format tab, as shown in Figure 2. Activate this Ribbon tab by clicking on it.

  4. Figure 2: Format tab of the Ribbon
  5. Note: The 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.
  6. Within the Format tab, locate the Shape Styles group. In this group, locate the Fill button and click the down-arrow next to it to open the Fill drop-down gallery that you can see in Figure 3. Choose any of the fill types as required. To learn more about how to apply shape fills, refer to our Fills for Shapes tutorial.

  7. Figure 3: Fill drop-down gallery


  8. Now, with the shape still selected, locate the Line button within the Format tab. Click the down-arrow next to the Line button, to open the Line drop-down gallery that you can see in Figure 4. Choose the Weights option in this drop-down gallery to open the Weights sub-gallery that you can see in Figure 4. Within this gallery, choose any weight (thickness) value for the shape's outline. To learn more about how to change the weight (thickness) value for the shape's outline, refer to our Formatting Lines (and Shape Outlines) -- Weight tutorial.

  9. Figure 4: Weights sub-gallery within the Line drop-down gallery
  10. You can even change the shape outline to a dashed style by selecting the Dashed option within the Line drop-down gallery. Doing so opens the Dashed sub-gallery that you can see in Figure 5. Within this gallery, choose any dash style for the selected shape. To learn more about how to apply dash style, refer to our Dashed Lines tutorial.

  11. Figure 5: Dashed sub-gallery within the Line drop-down gallery
  12. If you don't like the default shadow attribute of the shape, you can change it or even remove it completely. With the shape still selected, locate the Effects button within the Format tab. Click the Effects button, to open the Effects drop-down gallery that you can see in Figure 6. Within the Effects drop-down gallery, select the Shadow option to open a sub-gallery with various shadow options as shown on Figure 6. To learn more about how to edit and remove shadows, refer to our Advanced Shadow Effect Options tutorial.

  13. Figure 6: Shadow sub-gallery within the Effects drop-down gallery
  14. Figure 7, below shows the shape with changed fill and outline attributes, and without any shadow. At this point, the shape looks distinctly different than the Default Shape attributes you saw in Figure 1, earlier in this page.

  15. Figure 7: New shape attributes
  16. Now, select and right-click the shape to bring up the context menu shown in Figure 8. From the menu choose the Set as Default Shape option, as shown in Figure 8.

  17. Figure 8: Changed shape attributes being set as default shape attributes
  18. This sets the changed attributes of the selected shape as the Default Shape attributes for the presentation you are working with. Hereafter, whenever you insert a new shape on a slide in this presentation, it will sport the new shape attributes.
  19. Make sure you save the presentation file.
  • Note: There are few points that you have to remember about Set as Default Shape option:
  • • You can change the thickness of an open shape such as a line or an arrow, change its color and weight (thickness), and then right-click and choose Set as Default Line option. Thereafter, when you insert open shapes, they will take these new attributes. But, if you draw a closed shape, they won't sport the new attributes that you applied to the open shape and set as default.
  • • You can change the fill of a closed shape such as a rectangle or an oval, change its outline's color and weight (thickness), and then right-click and choose Set as Default Shape option. Thereafter, when you insert closed shapes, they will take the new attributes. But, if you insert an open shape, such as a line or an arrow, they won't sport the new attributes that you applied to the closed shape and set as default.
  • • The curves or closed shapes drawn with drawing tools like Curve, Scribble, and Freeform, never take changed shape attributes. They always sport PowerPoint's Default Shape attributes. Of course you can draw an opened or a closed shape using one of these tools, apply new shape attributes to it, and then right-click and choose Set as Default Shape option. But, thereafter, if you again draw a new opened or a closed shape using one of these three drawing tools (Curve, Scribble, and Freeform), you will still see PowerPoint's Default Shape attributes in the newly drawn shapes, and not the new ones you just saved! But, if you insert a closed shape thereafter such as rectangle or a circle, it sports the new shape attributes that you saved with the drawn curve.

  • See Also:

    Default Attributes: Change Default Shape Attributes (Glossary Page)

    Change Default Shape Attributes in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows
    Change Default Shape Attributes in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
    Change Default Shape Attributes in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows
    Change Default Shape Attributes in PowerPoint 2007 for Windows