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Dynamic Reordering of Shapes in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

Learn about Dynamic Reordering of shapes and other slide objects in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac. You'll find each slide object placed on an imaginary transparent sheet, much like a layer.

Although you can change the order of shapes or any other slide objects using the conventional Send to Back and Bring to Front options in the Arrange gallery, you can do reordering in a much intuitive way in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac. We call this new technique Dynamic Reordering, and this works by dragging shapes to the required positions in a special reorder view.

To access the Dynamic Reorder options, select the Home tab of the Ribbon. Within the Format group, click the Arrange button to bring up the Arrange gallery, as shown in Figure 1. The two Reorder options (highlighted in red within Figure 1) are placed right on the top in this gallery.


Figure 1: Reorder options within the Arrange gallery

Both of these Reorder options are also available when you select, and carefully right-click a shape (or multiple shapes) on your slide. This brings up the contextual menu, shown in Figure 2. Note that the Reorder options within the contextual menu have been highlighted in red within Figure 2.


Figure 2: Reorder options within the contextual menu

In this tutorial, we will explore the topmost Reorder Objects option. We will look at the Reorder Overlapping Objects option in the next tutorial of this series. Here's how the Reorder Objects option works:



  1. Open your PowerPoint presentation and navigate to the slide which contains shapes you want to reorder. Our sample slide can be seen in Figure 3.

  2. Figure 3: Shapes on a slide
  3. Now, select the Home tab of the Ribbon. Within the Format group, click the Arrange button to bring up the Arrange gallery. Within this gallery, select the Reorder Objects option, as shown in Figure 4.

  4. Figure 4: Reorder Objects option selected within the Arrange gallery
  5. This will bring up the Dynamic Reorder view, as shown in Figure 5. Each slide object is placed on an imaginary transparent sheet, much like a layer. Note that all shapes, including the non-overlapping heart shape are visible on separate layers according to the Z-order in which they have been placed on the slide. Also, note that there are two buttons: OK and Cancel placed on the bottom right of this view (highlighted in red within Figure 5).

  6. Figure 5: Dynamic Reorder view displaying all shapes on the slide
  7. For reordering, hover your cursor over the layer that contains the shape you want to reorder, and then click to select this layer. For this tutorial, we hovered the cursor over the layer which contains the violet triangle. Note that the Z-order position of this shape shows up as 5, as shown in Figure 6 below.

  8. Figure 6: Layer containing the triangle selected in the Z-order
  9. Now, drag the selected layer to the Z-order position you require. We dragged this layer right on top of other layers to achieve a Z-order of 1, as shown in Figure 7, below. Now the triangle is placed above all other shapes (compare Figures 5 and 7). Click the OK button (or press the Return / Enter key on your keyboard) to apply these changes, and get back to your slide.

  10. Figure 7: Layer containing the triangle moved to the top of all other shapes
  11. Note: Clicking the Cancel button or pressing the Esc key on your keyboard will take you back to the active slide without any changes.
  12. This will take you back to your slide. The shapes now are reordered (compare Figures 3 and 8).

  13. Figure 8: Shapes on the slide reflecting the dynamic reordering done
  14. Tip: Grouped objects are considered as a single slide object, and all show up on the same layer in the Z-order. If you want to reorder objects within the group, you will first have to ungroup them.
  15. Save your presentation often.