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Create Custom Shaped Picture Placeholders in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac

Learn how to create custom shaped Picture placeholders in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac.


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Product/Version: Microsoft PowerPoint 2016 for Mac

OS: Mac OS X






Do you want your pictures to be contained within shapes that look like frames? Or maybe you want to use silhouette style placeholders for your pictures? Yes, this is possible! In fact, look at Figure 1, below. These custom picture placeholders were created within PowerPoint 2016 for Mac, and we used nothing that's not part of the program. Yes, this process is a little involved, but we'll hold your hand if you promise to follow all our steps in sequence!

Custom picture placeholders
Figure 1: Custom picture placeholders

We have already learned how PowerPoint enables you to insert placeholders within a Slide Layout. Picture placeholders are one among the various placeholders you can insert. You can do more with them to create custom placeholders, as shown in Figure 1, above. We used PowerPoint's Merge Shapes commands. Follow these steps to learn more:

  1. First, add a new Slide Layout within the Slide Master. With your new Slide Layout active in Slide Master view, access the Slide Master tab of the Ribbon. Then click the arrow part of the Insert Placeholder button, highlighted in blue within Figure 2, below. Thereafter click the Picture option in the resultant drop-down menu, as shown in Figure 2, below.

    Picture placeholder option
    Figure 2: Picture placeholder option
  2. Go ahead and drag and draw to insert a Picture placeholder in the new Slide Layout, as shown in Figure 3, below. Resize and reposition your placeholder as required.

    Picture placeholder within the Slide Layout
    Figure 3: Picture placeholder within the Slide Layout

    Tip: Want to resize or reposition your new picture placeholder precisely? Explore our Shape tutorials that explain how you can do these tasks with Shapes. Picture placeholders are shapes too! What's important though is that you do nothing more than resizing and repositioning at this time with your Picture placeholder, since the Merge Shape options we explore next won't work if the placeholder is further formatted.
  3. Access the Home or Insert tab of the Ribbon. You'll find a button called Shapes in any of these tabs. Click the Shapes button to bring up the Shapes drop-down gallery as shown in Figure 4. From the Shapes drop-down gallery, choose a shape that goes well as the corner of your typical rectangular picture placeholder. We choose the Diagonal Stripe shape as you can see in Figure 4.

    Shapes drop-down gallery
    Figure 4: Shapes drop-down gallery

    Tip: While inserting the shape, if you feel that it may overlap the text 'Picture' on the slide, you can increase the indent of the bullet point associated with it as shown in Figure 5.

    Indent of the bullet point increased
    Figure 5:
    Indent of the bullet point increased
  4. Now, insert the shape within your slide layout. We placed it on the top left corner of the rectangular picture placeholder, as shown in Figure 6. We also changed the line attribute of this shape to No Line.

    Playing on a picture placeholder's corner
    Figure 6: Playing on a picture placeholder's corner

    Why did we set the line attribute of the Diagonal Stripe shape to No Line? That's because a line may add some extra thickness around the shape area, and may not allow you to accurately place this shape above the top left corner of your picture placeholder.
  5. We then duplicated the Diagonal Strip shape (press Ctrl+D) thrice, and placed instances on all four corners of the picture placeholder, flipping individual shapes as required, as shown in Figure 7.

    Extra Shapes inserted and rotated
    Figure 7: Extra Shapes inserted and rotated
  6. You now need to combine the four corner shapes with the Picture placeholder. Make sure your picture Placeholder is selected first. Then select all the inserted corner shapes to add to your selection (press either the Command or Shift key to add more shapes to your selection).
  7. Now click the Merge Shapes button within Drawing Tools Format tab to bring up a drop-down menu, as shown in Figure 8. Within this drop-down menu, select the Combine option as shown in Figure 8.

    Combine option applied to the selected Picture placeholder and shapes
    Figure 8: Combine option applied to the selected Picture placeholder and shapes
  8. This results in a custom picture placeholder as shown in Figure 9.

    Combine option applied to the selected Picture placeholder and shapes
    Figure 9: Combine option applied to the selected Picture placeholder and shapes
  9. For this tutorial we used the Combine option. You can even use the Union, Fragment, Intersect, and Subtract options. Results will differ based on the Merge Tools option you choose and also on the order in which the shapes are selected before they are combined. Play around with these options.

    Note: Not getting the result shown in Figure 9, above? Do you instead see a full solid color picture placeholder, as shown in Figure 10, below? This may occur depending on whichever slide object you selected first, If you select any of the corner shapes first, and then the picture placeholder you'll get the results shown in Figure 10, below. So always opt for selecting the Picture placeholder first and then the corner shapes to achieve results shown in Figure 9 above.

    Picture placeholder with solid color
    Figure 10: Picture placeholder with solid color
  10. When done, access the Slide Master tab of the Ribbon, and click the Close Master View button (highlighted in blue within Figure 11). This will get you back to Normal View.

    Close Master View button
    Figure 11: Close Master View button
  11. Access the Home tab of the Ribbon and click the Layout button to bring up the Layout drop-down gallery you see in Figure 12, below. Notice that your new Custom Layout (highlighted in blue within Figure 12) shows up here, ready to be used to create a new picture slide.

    New Slide Layout with the picture placeholder added
    Figure 12: New Slide Layout with the picture placeholder added
  12. Note: The new layouts you create are saved as part of the presentation, and are not available in any other presentations you create. Other than adding placeholders to your new slide layouts, you can also change their slide backgrounds. Of course, you can also rename your custom layouts.
  13. Now add a new slide based on your new layout, as shown in Figure 13, below.

    Your new custom Picture placeholder
    Figure 13: Your new custom Picture placeholder
  14. Add a picture within the custom Picture placeholder as shown in Figure 14, below.

    Picture placeholder has a picture fill now
    Figure 14: Picture placeholder has a picture fill now
  15. Save your presentation often.

See Also:

Create Custom Shaped Picture Placeholders in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows
Create Custom Shaped Picture Placeholders in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Create Custom Shaped Picture Placeholders in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac
Create Custom Shaped Picture Placeholders in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows

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