How to conceal PowerPoint objects without deleting them

Sometimes it can be difficult to select an object in PowerPoint, either because it’s hidden by another object or it’s too close to another one. There are cases too where you would like to see what the slide could look like without an object or a set of objects, but do want to delete them entirely. For all those tasks, the Selection Pane is your most unknown best friend.

Display the Selection Pane

The Selection Pane contains the list of all objects of a given slide. To have it appear:

  1. click the Home tab if it’s not displayed
  2. on the Editing menu on the far right, click Select
  3. choose Selection Pane

The Selection Pane now appears on the right hand side of your window.

As you can see in the screen shot above, this pane contains the list of all objects in the slide. When there are groups, like for instance here Group 4, it provides the list of objects contained in that group. However, as you can see, you will also have groups of groups. One of the key benefits of the Selection Pane is to discover all elements of groups and be able to select them independently if need be.

Select objects with the Selection pane

Let’s imagine that you want to change the color of the number 1 in the slide below.

It will be very difficult to select just the number 1 in the orange circle because it’s part of a group. However, once you clicked on the orange circle and discovered it’s actually Group 38 in the Selection Pane, then you can click only TextBox 40 to have only the textbox containing the number 1. Now, just pressing the Enter key will select the text itself to change its font, color or size.

Note that you can rename the object if you want to increase the usability of the Selection Pane.

Conceal objects

Notice on the right of the object name a little sign that looks like an eye (I know, it’s half an eye). In the slide above, if you click on the eye sign right of Group 38, the whole group (orange circle and text) will disappear.

However, the object is still there, it is just not displayed anymore. By clicking now on the horizontal line will make it reappear again. This is how you can conceal objects in front of others or can just create a slide without some of the objects to check what it looks like without deleting them physically. For instance, I can conceal all numbers in the slide above, just by clicking the eye icon for each group.

Once the choice made, it’s saved with the PowerPoint file and it will be used in Slide Show mode as well as in the printout. It’s therefore a great way to avoid the mess in printout created by superposed objects. You just conceal them for printing purpose and have them reappear for slide show. Note finally the Show All (and Hide All) button at the top of the pane that allows you to have all concealed objects to reappear in one click!

The Selection Pane is probably the most useful best kept secret of PowerPoint!

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