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Optimal Microsoft Powerpoint Quick Access Toolbar

If you’ve spent more than a few hours on an investment banking desk, you’ll know how much time you actually spend in Powerpoint. It’s honestly a little surprising.


Excel is cool and has a much higher skill cap, but if you’re on a sell-side deal or if you’re the junior analyst on a project, you might spend significantly more of your time in Powerpoint.

Just like in Excel, mastering the Quick Access Toolbar is a great way to improve your efficiency and save yourself precious time on the job.


The Quick Access Toolbar is the customizable toolbar that sits at the top of the Powerpoint window.


The advantage of this toolbar is that using it can be significantly quicker than the native shortcuts. You toggle each of the custom commands by simply pressing ALT and then a number on the keyboard:

  • ALT + 1 = Toggles first command…

  • ALT + 2 = Toggles second command…

Pressing ALT allows you to quickly access different Microsoft Powerpoint functions. When you press ALT, you can navigate through the Microsoft Powerpoint interface by pressing a follow-up letter. This follow-up letter will be displayed in a black square. You can learn the shortcut for each of the window panels and the subsequent commands.




Editing the Quick Access Toolbar


To edit the quick access toolbar, FILE -> OPTIONS -> QUICK ACCESS TOOLBAR

Use << REMOVE to get rid of the default options. Use ADD >> to add commands. You may need to switch the menu from “Popular Commands” to “All Commands”.



The Optimal Quick Access Toolbar


Our goal in customizing our quick access toolbar is to select commands that a) we frequently use and b) don’t have a good native Powerpoint shortcut.


Below are the commands that I was taught to use in my investment banking analyst training.



Here are the commands you should have:


Size and Position…

  • Quickly edit the dimensions of the shape you’re editing with this tool. You can quickly and precisely edit the width / height of the shape.

  • You can also check the important “Scale Height” and “Scale Width” percentages. Do you ever feel like one of your objects is bigger than another? Do you feel like certain objects are too pixelated or blown up? You want these %s to be close to 100% for them to look normal (typically 80 – 120% is fine).


Set Transparent Color

  • This is the biggest timesaving tool there is when dealing with logos. No need to open up a different photo editing software, just type Alt + 2 and click the color you want to make disappear.


Crop Picture

  • This is the second biggest time saver when dealing with logos and pictures. Easily crop photos to readjust what you’re trying to show.


Align Objects

  • The key difference between an amateur Powerpoint user and someone who’s gone through IB training is their ability to align objects. You want to make sure all of the different shapes you have on your slide are aligned or spaced properly. That means if there are shapes lined up in a row, the tops of the shapes are all at the exact same height.

  • If you have multiple logos spaced throughout a slide, you want to make sure the distance between them is spaced evenly.


Shape Width


Shape Height


Table Column Width

  • Sometimes, you’ll have to deal with Powerpoint tables (as opposed to outputted Excel tables). In that case, the previous commands won’t always work and you’ll need to be editing “Table” dimensions. This is the quickest way to do so!


Being good at Powerpoint is all about quickly formatting slides and having a good eye for design. It takes some time to develop a good eye, but with these tools, at least you'll be able to turn comments more quickly.