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PowerPoint Productivity Toolbar: Free Consulting PowerPoint Add-In

The Productivity Toolbar is a custom-designed ribbon that consolidates all the crucial native PowerPoint tools you need when designing slides.
After publishing this article, I started a personal project to create my own PowerPoint add-in. My motivation was threefold: first, I found it inconvenient to use multiple add-ins to access all the functions I needed; second, I wanted to minimize the escalating number of subscription fees I was paying each month; and third, I wanted to achieve a level of customization that third-party tools couldn't provide. Since this article has continued to be popular, I thought it would be helpful to make my add-in available to the public. The add-in includes the best features from add-ins I've personally tested, and I've created a free version with essential features that will always be free, as well as a premium version that provides access to all features for a one-time payment. If you're interested, I've included a link to the add-in below. In order to preserve the authenticity of my initial opinions on other add-ins, I have refrained from making any changes to the rest of the article or providing any information about my own PowerPoint add-in.

Why I Created This PowerPoint Add-In

As a management consultant, I often find myself dedicating a significant portion of my time to crafting PowerPoint presentations. These presentations are essential for communicating our findings and proposed solutions to clients. Recognizing the extensive hours I spend in PowerPoint, I developed this add-in with the following objectives in mind:

  1. Streamline the process of locating tools: Navigating the numerous ribbon tabs in PowerPoint can be time-consuming and cumbersome. This add-in aims to simplify access to commonly-used tools, saving valuable time.
  2. Enhance the alignment tools' intuitiveness: The native PowerPoint alignment tools can be unintuitive and difficult to use. By refining these tools' behavior, the add-in aims to make aligning objects in presentations more seamless.
  3. Boost productivity during slide creation and design: I wanted to focus on solving clients' problems, rather than being preoccupied with communicating the proposed solutions. This add-in optimizes the design process, allowing users to devote more time to addressing the underlying issues.

Furthermore, this project presented an exciting opportunity to develop my VBA coding skills. Although I initially developed this add-in for personal use, the continued interest in my "Guide to PowerPoint Add-Ins" article convinced me to release it to the public, hoping it would benefit others as well.


Productivity Toolbar

The Productivity Toolbar is a custom-designed ribbon that consolidates all the crucial native PowerPoint tools you need when designing slides. The toolbar's thoughtful organization saves you time by eliminating the need to search through numerous tabs for the desired tools. The advantage of using this ribbon over the Quick Access Toolbar lies in its ability to accommodate a more extensive range of tools.

Intelligent Alignment

Intelligent Alignment offers a more user-friendly approach to aligning objects, allowing you to align objects to the first selected item, rather than relying on PowerPoint's native alignment tools' unintuitive behavior. The primary issue with the native tools is their inability to specify the object you want to align to; instead, the Top/Bottom/Left/Right options align to the most extreme object selected. Meanwhile, the Middle/Center alignment and Horizontal/Vertical Distribution tools' exact behavior remains unclear.

With this add-in's Intelligent Alignment feature, holding the Shift or Control key before aligning/distributing objects using the native alignment/distribution tools ensures that all selected objects align/distribute to the first selected object. Moreover, holding both Shift and Control simultaneously will align/distribute and resize all objects to match the first selected object, providing an added layer of convenience.


This Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) add-in can be easily installed within PowerPoint, typically requiring no administrative rights on most enterprise systems.


To install the add-in on your PC, save it and add it to the Available Add-Ins list:

  1. Download the latest release of the add-in file.
  2. Open PowerPoint, click the File tab, and then click Options.
  3. In the Options dialog box, click Add-Ins.
  4. From the Manage list at the bottom of the dialog box, select PowerPoint Add-ins and click Go.
  5. In the Add-Ins dialog box, click Add New.
  6. Browse for the add-in file in the Add New PowerPoint Add-In dialog box, and click OK.
  7. When the security notice appears, click Enable Macros and then Close.
    • Note: If you cannot enable Macros in this dialog, follow these instructions from Microsoft to unblock the add-in: (1) Open Windows File Explorer and navigate to the folder where you saved the file; (2) Right-click the file, choose Properties from the context menu; (3) In the General tab, select the Unblock checkbox and click OK.
  8. A "Productivity Toolbar" tab should now be visible in the PowerPoint ribbon.

(Instructions adapted from Microsoft support)


To install the add-in on your Mac, save it and add it to the Add-Ins list:

  1. Download the latest release of the add-in file.
  2. Open PowerPoint, click Tools in the application menu, and then click Add-ins...
  3. In the Add-Ins dialog box, click the + button, browse for the add-in file, and then click Open.
  4. Click OK to close the Add-ins dialog box.
  5. A "Productivity Toolbar" tab should now be visible in the PowerPoint ribbon.

Upgrading Versions

To upgrade, ensure PowerPoint is closed and overwrite the add-in file with the new version.

Disabling the Tool Tabs

To optimize your experience with the productivity tab, I recommend disabling PowerPoint's Tool Tabs (also known as ribbon tabs that automatically open when inserting specific objects like Tables, Shapes, and Pictures). Disabling these tabs prevents PowerPoint from automatically switching the ribbon to these tabs when working with shapes, pictures, or tables. You can disable them using the following steps:

  1. Navigate to File -> Options -> Customize Ribbon.
  2. In the top right-hand corner of the window, click on the dropdown menu labeled "Customize the Ribbon" and select Tool Tabs.
  3. Uncheck the following Tool Tabs to disable them: Picture Format, Shape Format, Table Design, and Table Layout.

You can be confident that all vital tools from these Tool Tabs are already integrated into the custom toolbar, ensuring you won't miss any crucial functionality by disabling these toolbars. Please note that this step is entirely optional, based on your personal preference.