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Format Task Panes in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows

Learn about the Format Task Panes in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows. The Task Pane you see is based on what you select on your slide.

One of the pet peeves that many slide designers had with previous versions of PowerPoint was the large dialog boxes that sometimes completely covered the slide area. If you were trying to make some changes to your paragraph spacing -- or even altering the size or position of a shape -- you almost always needed to close or move the large dialog box to see the changes you made! And that was certainly not in tune with the modern interface you saw within everywhere else in PowerPoint! The new PowerPoint 2013 finally addresses this issue with the Format Task Panes, which offer options that enable the user to create and customize objects more intuitively.

All the Format dialog boxes of yore are now replaced by the Format Task pane. The Format Task pane aligns neatly with the right or left side of the PowerPoint interface, and you can now immediately see how your choices affect the selected slide objects. The Format Task pane also offers element selector tabs so you can jump quickly between different elements of your slide object without having to select one to modify. The new Format Task panes is the single source where different style formatting options are consolidated in one place.

In this article, we will explore how you can bring up the Format Task pane and how it works:

Summon Format Task Pane

  1. Open or create a slide which already has a shape - select the shape, as you can see in Figure 1.

  2. Figure 1: Slide with shape
  3. Right-click the shape to bring up a contextual menu, as shown in Figure 2. Within the Contextual menu select the Format Shape option (see Figure 2, again).

  4. Figure 2: Format Shape option to be selected
  5. This brings up the Format Shape Task pane -- pinned on the right side of the interface, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 3.

  6. Figure 3: Format Shape Task pane
  7. As you can see in Figure 3 above, the Format Task pane shows Format Shape options as we accessed the right-click menu from a selected shape. The formatting options change based on the object selected:
  8. Selected Object Task Pane
    Table Format Shape
    Chart Format Chart Area
    Shape Format Shape
    Picture Format Picture
    Text Box Format Shape
    WordArt Format Shape
    Text Placeholder Format Shape
    Video Format Video
    Audio (The Audio Icon) Format Picture
    SmartArt Format Shape
    Slide Background (Nothing Selected) Format Background

Move the Format Task Pane

The open Format Task pane can be easily moved from the right side of the interface to left side or anywhere on the interface -- to do that, follow these steps:

  1. Click the downward pointing arrow within the Format Task pane (highlighted in red within Figure 4) and from the drop-down list select the Move option (highlighted in blue within Figure 4).

  2. Figure 4: Move Format Task pane
  3. This will change the cursor to four sided arrow (highlighted in red within Figure 5).

  4. Figure 5: Four arrow headed cursor
  5. Now just drag the Format Task pane to the new position. For this tutorial we moved it to left side of the interface, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 6.

  6. Figure 6: Format Task pane moved towards left side of interface
  7. You can also drag the Format Task pane off the PowerPoint interface to another area on your Desktop -- or even onto a second display attached to your computer (see Figure 7).

  8. Figure 7: Format Task pane dragged off the PowerPoint interface

Resize the Task Pane

You can also resize the Format Task pane:

  1. Place your cursor on the edge of the Format Task pane to summon the two arrow headed cursor (highlighted in red within Figure 8).

  2. Figure 8: Two arrow headed cursor
  3. And then click and drag towards the left or right to resize the Format Task pane as required.

See Also:

Interface Overview: Format Task Panes in PowerPoint (Index Page)

Format Task Panes in PowerPoint 365 for Windows
Format Task Panes in PowerPoint 365 for Mac
Format Task Panes in PowerPoint 2019 for Windows
Format Task Panes in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows
Format Task Panes in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac