Steve Rindsberg has been associated with PowerPoint since the product originated more than two decades ago — his PowerPoint FAQ site is a treasure trove of PowerPoint information. When he’s not updating his site, he’s creating new PowerPoint add-ins that expand possibilities within PowerPoint. Steve’s also into a lot of print technology related stuff.
In this conversation, Steve discusses PPTools Resize, his new PowerPoint add-in that resizes slide dimensions.
Geetesh: What is PPTools Resize, and how did this new PowerPoint add-in evolve?
Steve: PPTools Resize is a PowerPoint add-in that allows PowerPoint users to change the size of their slides without distorting anything on the slides.
Oddly, it solves a problem I used to struggle with daily when I was in the 35mm slide service bureau business, years and years ago. The default PowerPoint slide size, then as now, was On-screen Show (4:3) 10×7.5 inches or the equivalent in metric. But 35mm slides are differently proportioned, 11.25×7.5 inches. Early on, when customers would send in default-sized presentations (which most of them did), we’d have to make manual adjustments.
And then, as now, you can’t just change the page size. When you do that, everything on the slide gets stretched or squished. Your pie charts all become egg-charts! So we’d create a new copy of the presentation, change the size, delete anything that got distorted and finally, copy and the paste deleted shapes back into the presentation from the unchanged original. This. Took. Time. Lots. Of. Time.
At the time, there was no way of writing add-ins for PowerPoint, and by the time there was, slide-making software and hardware had evolved to the point where there were relatively simple ways of dealing with incorrectly sized presentations.
So while I began writing add-ins to solve other problems, I forgot all about this one.
Then came wide-screen laptops, monitors, and projectors. PowerPoint got new wide-screen slide sizes in Office 2007 and immediately, users began to have the same problem as we’d had back in the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth and presenters used 35mm slides: the default presentation size didn’t fill their laptop screens and if they changed the page size so it did …. egg-charts again!
I assumed that Microsoft would include a fix for this problem in the next version of PowerPoint, but Office 2010 came out and left users with egg(-chart) on their faces again. If Microsoft wasn’t going to fix the problem, I decided that I would.
Perhaps this feature will appear in PowerPoint 20-whatever’s-next. Perhaps it won’t. But we know that it’ll never appear in PowerPoint 2010, 2007, 2003, 2002 or 2000. Resize is here now, and works with all of them.
Geetesh: What does PPTools Resize do differently than the Page Setup options within PowerPoint?
Steve: When you change the Page Setup in PowerPoint and select a new size that’s not proportional to the current size, PowerPoint stretches your slides to fit. And in the process, it stretches everything ON your slides … remember our egg-charts? To most PowerPoint users, that’s simply not acceptable.
But with Resize, you choose a new size for your presentation from among PowerPoint’s standard sizes or several additional special-purpose pre-defined sizes or any custom size you care to define. Instead of squeezing your original presentation out of shape, Resize creates a copy of it, changes its page size, then copy/pastes all the content from the original presentation, undistorted, into the new slides, masters, and layouts.
By default, Resize pops this content into the center of the newly resized presentation, making it as large as it can without distortion, but it also lets you adjust the left/right and top/bottom position of content on the new presentation or even add a margin all around the content. It’s all a bit difficult to visualize, but your Resize review on Indezine has some great visual examples. So does the PDF Help / Manual included with Resize (which you can also download independently — links to a PDF).
Could you do all of this manually in PowerPoint, no add-in needed? You could, but remember, you have to change the size of everything on every slide. And every Master and Slide Layout. If there’s text, you need to change the font size of every bit of text. And change the line spacing. And paragraph spacing. And line widths of each shape. And … and … and …
Resize will finish your entire presentation in less time than it takes to convert a single slide manually.