How To Use PowerPoint Selection Pane To Work with Complex Graphics

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In this article you will learn how to use the selection pane tool in PowerPoint. The tool is extremely useful for working with complicated graphics or animations with multiple layers.

Let us say you want to create a photo frame graphic like the one below:

Photo Frame with Multiple LayersPhoto Frame with Multiple Layers

There are 5 layers of objects arranged one on top of the other including:

  1. Wooden frame
  2. Semi-transparent sheen
  3. The background mount
  4. The designer outline
  5. The image itself

It is not easy to maneuver the layers with just the ‘Bring Forward’ and ‘Send Backward’ options in PowerPoint. Even if you do manage to work with the picture frame graphic somehow, you will surely get frustrated when you want to work with a bit more complicated graphic like this filter diagram:

Complicated Filter DiagramFilter Diagram from PowerPoint Charts CEO Pack

You need an option that lets you handle each layer of objects with accuracy and ease. The magic tool that lets you do this is – ‘Selection Pane’. In PowerPoint 2013, the feature is improved to make the control even easier.

Using Selection Pane

We will understand the working of selection pane better when we do a small exercise. We will try to reorder the objects as shown below:

Reordering Objects Using Selection Pane

Step 1: Open the Selection Pane and Name the objects

The first step is to open the selection pane by going to ‘Select’ option in the PowerPoint ribbon:

Selection Pane Menu in PowerPointSelection Pane

The pane opens up on the right slide with the four objects on the slide:

Objects in selection pane

It is not easy to differentiate the objects from the generic names in the pane. So, let us rename the objects by double clicking on the names:

Rename objects in paneRename Objects

The top most layer is shown in the forefront of the slide. The bottom most layer is shown at the back of the slide. The rest of the layers are arranged from front to back depending on their order from top to down in the selection pane.

Layer of objects

Related: 3 part series on layering tricks in PowerPoint

Step 2: Reorder the objects

To reorder the objects you can either use the up or down arrows in the selection pane or you can select a layer and drag them up or down.
Reordering objects in Selection PaneReordering objects in Selection Pane

Reordering stacked objects

What if all the layers are stacked one on top of the other and hence not visible? This situation can occur when you are trying to animate multiple objects in the same location.

Stacked objects

You can click on the eye shaped radio button to show or hide objects on the slide:

Hidden and Visible Objects

If there are a lot of objects, you can click on ‘Hide all’ button to hide all the objects and click on the radio button of just the object you want to see.

Thus, you can have total control over the slide objects with the ‘Selection pane’ tool and can create some highly sophisticated diagrams.

Example of using selection pane:

1. Multiple layered and animated objects

In this animated template below,  for example, to add content to each of the notes, you would need to use Selection Pane. This will help in entering the information one by one without moving the animated shapes.

Selection pane for Animated Objects

 2. Edit / enter text in hidden objects

3 Related Areas Template with Hidden Objects

An easier option for busy business presenters:

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Browse CEO PackIf you found this article, please leave us a comment below. You will find 200+ PowerPoint tutorials on this site.

Related: Power Of Eye Dropper Tool in PowerPoint 2013

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