PowerPoint Secrets: PowerPointLabs Add-in

Have you ever heard of PowerPointLabs? This article will change the way you use PowerPoint forever. Probably all of us have used Microsoft Office presentation software at one point or another. But very few can say that they really master it. PowerPoint has many well-kept secrets that most people don’t even get to use once. Like for example how to password protect your presentation, or how to make your diagrams come to life.

PowerPointLabs is one of these secrets worth taking a look at. It will help you create less boring, plain presentations. Presentation design always takes time and effort, and PowerPointLabs will help you deal with that. If you want a really unique presentation, however,  you can always check out our professional PowerPoint designers here at 24Slides.


PowerPoint Add-ins

Most people use PowerPoint (and all the other Microsoft Office software) with the default layout it comes with. After all, it certainly covers all the basics. In the case of PowerPoint, it allows you to create great presentations, whether it is from scratch or using templates. But Microsoft Office also offers the option of installing add-ins for each software.

But, what are add-ins? They are small “patches” that add certain features to a software. Some offer solutions to specific problems or demands. Some simplify already existing features and help you save time and effort, making them more user-friendly or more accessible. For example, the Pexels Stock Photos Add-in. Pexels is a website that allows you to download free stock pictures, without commercial rights. You can always go to their web and download pictures there. However, if you use it very often, the Pexels add-in offers you the option of having their library directly connected to Word and PowerPoint. This add-in, for example, helps you avoid the extra step of going to their website and downloading it, saving time and effort.

In short, add-ins are a way to make your software more “powerful”. And the best thing is, it’s completely personalized. You can pick what add-ins seem interesting for you according to your own needs. Microsoft Office has its own Online Store, where you can find thousands of add-ins, both free and paid. You can also install add-ins directly in PowerPoint, through the tab Insert > Get Add-ins.

PowerPoint add ins

What is PowerPointLabs?

PowerPointLabs is one of these PowerPoint add-ins, focused on design tools. It was developed at the School of Computing of the National University of Singapore. The project also received the Learning Innovation Fund. Even if it is a private initiative, for the time being, it is completely free for anyone to download.

You might be asking yourself why you should install PowerPointLabs when the software itself, on its own, is more than enough. That might be true, but PowerPointLabs offers a wide range of possibilities beyond the basics. Even more, this program allows you to access the already existing features in a more friendly, easy way. PowerPointLabs have options for animations, highlights, narrations, “Shapes Lab” and many more.

powerpoint professional presentation

The best thing about this add-in is that, even if you move your document to another computer (to give your presentation, for example), it is not necessary for the other one to have this add-in. All the design changes and animations will remain in your presentation, wherever you open the file. Take into consideration, however, that you won’t be able to edit the elements you have added or edited using PowerPointLabs. So make sure you’re all done with your presentation before transferring it to another computer.

PowerPointLabs is also a great option to customize a little older versions of the Microsoft Office Software. For example, the Morph Transition feature is now available only for Office 365 subscriptions. With PowerPointLabs, however, you can make fairly similar things, no matter what version you have.

Whether you are a professional designer or just someone who does presentations every once in a while, this PowerPoint add-in has something to offer to you.

How to install PowerPointLabs

Installing PowerPointLabs is pretty quick and easy. You just need to go to their official website and download the software. It requires a small registration form, and after that, you’ll be all set to go on and install it. This add-in supports PowerPoint 2010, 2013 and 2016, and the form is mainly to choose what version you’ll be needing. If you don’t know what version of PowerPoint you have, you can find out in the tab File > Account. For example, this is how it looks in Office 2016.

PowerPoint add ins

After completing the form, it’ll give you a download link. To install it, you just have to follow the instructions on their Getting Started web. It installs pretty much as any other software does, but just in case, here is a summary:

1- Once you have downloaded the file (.zip), you’ll need to extract it. For this, you’ll need a Zip Software, like WinZip or ZipWare, that you’ll probably already have. You just have to select the application (file .exe) and extract it wherever you like on your own computer.

export PowerPointLabs

2- Once you have extracted it and opened it, the installation window will pop up. If you click on the Start Installation button, it should run automatically.

3- You’ll probably need to give the application access to your system. If a window like this pop-up, you just need to click the Install button.

4-Once it is installed, it will launch PowerPoint with the PowerPointLabs tutorial ready for you to start experimenting with the add-in. From then on, you’ll find the PowerPointLabs options in their own ribbon, as the last tab.

PowerPointLabs ribbon

The best PowerPointLabs features

PowerPointLabs has many great features, and some can be very tricky to catch right from the start. To get full advantage of the add-in, you definitely want to go through their tutorial. It may seem pretty long at first, but it’s worth the time. It will help you understand every single feature in it, and give you direct instructions so you can practice with all of them at least one.

If you can, going through the tutorial is certainly recommended. But here you’ll find also some of my personal favorite features of the PowerPointLabs add-in.

Animate in Slide

This PowerPointLabs feature is a great example of how this add-in simplifies already existing features. Animations like this will be too complicated and would take too much time to design for most people. With PowerPointLabs, however, they are as easy as a click. This feature allows you to animate and transform shapes on a specific slide.

PowerPointLabs animet in slide

As you can see, this is a great way to showcase flow and highlight different elements on the same slide. All you need to do is to select the shapes in the order you want them to move in. Then, you just need to go to the PowerPointLabs tab > Animations > Animation > Animate in Slide.

Add Animation Slide

This feature is also in the animations category, but works a little bit more like the “Transitions” tab of default PowerPoint. It helps make the transitions between slides smoother. In that sense, it’s very similar to the Morph feature of Office 365. Transitions are so smooth, that with some imagination, you can make a PowerPoint that doesn’t look like a PowerPoint at all.

PowerPointLabs add animation slide

The good thing about this feature is that it is very intuitive. Once you have your base slide you have to duplicate it. In the new slide, you can make all the changes of what you want the new slide to end up looking like. Then, select your original slide, and click PowerPointLabs tab > Animations > Animation > Add Animation Slide. PowerPointLabs will add automatically a slide between the two originals that will make the transition look smooth, almost like a video.

Zoom: Drill down/ Step back

This feature also simplifies the possibilities that come with the default version of PowerPoint. With this, you can make incorporate the zoom feature into your presentation. It is especially great because you can zoom in and out of whatever point you choose, without having to fix it manually. You can find this in PowerPointLabs tab > Animations > Animation > Drill Down or Step Back.

PowerPointLabs zoom

As you can see, this feature is great to put in context your presentation. For example, if you’re showing a process and want to go into more detail in one specific part. You can make the transition to the next slide by zooming in. This way, it will be very clear for your audience in which part of the processes you’re focusing on. And, the other way around, after you have finished with this segment, you can zoom out and remember the audience the bigger picture.


This PowerPointLab feature is great to make sure your audience’s attention is exactly where you want it to be. If you have a slide with a list or bullet-points, this option is great so your audience can follow you point after point. If you select the slide you’re working on and then PowerPointLabs tab > Effects > Highlight > Highlight points, PowerPointLabs will automatically highlight consecutively each of your points when in presentation mode. The text highlighted will change with every click you make.

PowerPointLabs highlight

With the option “Highlight Points” the text of each point will change color with every click. But you also have the option “Highlight background”, that will do the same, but instead of changing the text color, it will make it look like an actual highlighter. With the option “settings” you can change the color of the text and the highlighter for future effects.


This feature is very similar to the last one, but it is a little bit more versatile. It works great with images, for example, not only with bullet points and text. And, in contrast to the last one, what it’ll do is to darken some parts of the slide to highlight others and put it in the spotlight. All you need to use is the PowerPoint shapes to select what part you want to showcase, and then click on PowerPointLabs tab > Effects > Effects> Spotlight > Create Spotlight. As with the highlight option, you can use the settings option to select with color and transparency you want for the darkened area.

PowerPointLabs spotlight

Positions Lab

This feature is really a life saver for those working with several shapes and elements. Making sure all icons are the same size, or correctly distributed can be a tiresome task. Luckily, PowerPointLabs does it automatically. It gives you several options of how you want to order your elements, vertically, horizontally, if you want to adjoin them or distribute them equally in a certain space. Most of these are pretty self-explanatory, but I would still recommend checking the PowerPointLabs tutorial. Some of these features work on clicking order, for example, so the tutorial examples and exercises will help you get the most of this. But overall, it’s pretty easy to use. Just click the Positions Lab option at the PowerPointLabs ribbon, and the positions menu will open automatically.

PowerPointLabs Position Lab

Sync Lab

The Sync Lab feature is great because, when used correctly, it can help you save lots of time. This PowerPointLab feature allows you to select and element and copy certain characteristics. This format will be saved in your Sync Lab, and then you’ll be able to apply it to whatever other elements you wish. For example, if you need several circles of a determined color, with a determined line size and a determine transparency, you can make just one and use it to copy the same format to all the rest. This feature is really amazing for saving time and effort.

In conclusion, PowerPointLabs is an amazing tool. It will make your work easier and your presentations better. Most people don’t really bother learning about add-ins, and never realize all the possibilities they’re letting go. It’ll probably take you time to get used to all the new features PowerPointLabs offers you. But once you master it, I’ll certainly change the way you make presentations forever.

Designing presentations can be tricky and time-consuming. While PowerPointLabs might help you, making a customized PowerPoint Design that looks professional will take time and effort. If you want presentations with a professional look, you can always trust our PowerPoint designers here at 24Slides. They’ll make sure your presentation looks exactly as you dreamed it.