Back in the cradle days of personal computing, the only program most people had was Lotus 1-2-3. So they used it for everything—from writing letters to drawing pictures. (Yes, you can draw things using just cell borders!)

Now there are specialized apps for just about every task, but most of us have a favorite “Swiss Army Knife” tool. And once you start expanding the use of PowerPoint beyond making presentations, there are a surprising number of handy ways to use it every day.

Here are three ideas for using PowerPoint beyond your everyday presentation:


Send screenshots to PPT for on-the-fly scrapbooks and galleries. Snagit (another great all-purpose tool) combines neatly with PowerPoint. Grab anything from the screen as you work or surf and send it straight to a PowerPoint presentation from Snagit, with one click. Very useful for keeping a record of versions as you’re working on an illustration, for example—you can just flip through the PPT without opening past versions.

I also use it to scrapbook project emails, create a quick gallery when I want to collect examples without downloading every item I see, etc. It even makes a great daily diary!


Use with Word to easily create a training doc or user manual. Nope, you don’t have to struggle with Word to produce a quick and polished document, complete with illustrations and instructions. Just snag the screenshots into PowerPoint, one per slide. Type the instructions into the Notes pane. Choose Office, Publish, Create handouts in Microsoft Word. A nicely formatted document will open with all the content in place. You can edit the document if you wish: formatting text, adding headers and footers, etc.


Build an illustration really fast.
If you are blindingly quick in Illustrator or Photoshop, this trick may not interest you. But for the rest of us, PPT makes a neat tool for speedy graphics. Just put whatever you want on a slide (shapes, pictures, text, etc.), drag around to arrange, layer the objects using Arrange, Order Objects, and stick them together using Arrange, Group Object. Voila. Then right-click on the result and choose “Save as picture” to convert this creation into a .jpg or other format. It’s a good idea to open and optimize the .jpg in a picture editor, but generally I have had no problems with these quickie pix.


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