How to Create a Free Google Slides Template

Working with custom templates in the free version of Google Slides

People viewing a computer screen.

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If you use the paid version of G-Suite, you know it contains all the tools you need to manage default and custom templates across the suite of tools. If, however, you use the free version of Google’s tools, the management of templates isn’t nearly as flexible and powerful. In fact, out of the box, you cannot use your own, customized templates. However, with the slightest bit of work, you can make use of those customized templates you’ve created from within the likes of LibreOffice or MS Office. Although you’ll find plenty of possible templates in the Slides Template Gallery (such as photo albums, wedding albums, portfolios, general presentation, lookbook, party invite, and more), those templates are still somewhat limited. With a bit of time and creativity, you can add your own Slides templates.

What You’ll Need To Create a Google Slides Template

Screenshot of the Google Slides Template Gallery.

You only need a few things. The first is a Google account. You will also need a few templates to work with. These can have been created in your locally-installed application of choice (such as LibreOffice, MS Office, or Apple’s Keynote). Unlike working with Google Docs and Google Sheets, you cannot simply copy and paste the contents of a locally-created customized presentation into a Google Slides file. Instead, you need to upload a supported format. Because Google Slides doesn’t support MS Office file format, you’ll have to save those files with a specific file extension (more on this in a bit). If you don’t have a piece of software like LibreOffice, you’re not out of luck. Instead, you can modify one of the free templates from the Google Slides Template library. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Open one of the templates from the Google Slides Template Gallery.

  2. Edit the template to suit your needs.

  3. Rename the template by clicking the current name (in the top left corner) and typing a new name.

  4. Close the file.

Once you’ve opened a Slides Template, modify it to fit your needs (but don’t add content to the template—just alter the design). When you’ve finished making any modifications to the template, make sure to click the name in the upper left corner and give the new template a fitting name (such as WORKFLOW TEMPLATE or PROJECT TEMPLATE). After the changes have been made, the new template will be saved in My Drive.

A screenshot of the Google Drive + menu.

An Alternative Method

If you click the + button in Google Drive, and then click Google Slides, you’ll notice an entry labeled From a template. In the paid version of G-Suite, this does allow you to upload your own custom template. In the free version, however, this serves as a link to the Google Slides Template Gallery. If you click on this link, it will take you to the Gallery, where you can select one of the templates. Opening a template this way, allows you to bypass having to first go to the Slides Template Gallery. When you open a slide in this manner, it will save the file in your current working folder. So before you do this, let’s create a folder to house the new slides.

Creating a Templates Folder

A screenshot of creating a new folder in Google Drive.

Because we cannot add new templates to the Slides Template Gallery, what we want to do is create a new folder that will house our customized templates. To do this, open Google Drive and click +. From the popup menu, click Folder. In the resulting popup, name the folder SLIDES TEMPLATES and click CREATE. You now have a folder to house your presentation templates. Double-click to enter that folder.

Adding Templates

There are two ways you can do this:

  • Modifying one of the default templates in the Slides Template Gallery.
  • Uploading one of your locally-created custom templates.

To add a modified template from the Template Gallery, click + and then click Google Slides > From a template. Next, follow these steps:

  1. Modify the template to fit your needs.

  2. Give the template a fitting name.

  3. Close the template.

To add a locally-created customized template, do the following:

Screenshot of saving a LibreOffice presentation in the .odp file format.
  1. Create the new custom template in your locally-installed application.

  2. When finished, click File > Save as (or type Ctrl + Shift + A).

  3. Select ODF Presentation (.odp) as the file format.

  4. Name your presentation template something fitting for its usage.

  5. Go to the Google Drive SLIDES PRESENTATION folder.

  6. Click + and then click File upload.

  7. Locate the newly created presentation file and upload it to the folder.

Using Your Custom Templates

Screenshot of making a copy of a file in Google Drive.

Now that you’ve created or uploaded your new templates, you can’t just open them and start adding content. If you do that, those templates are no longer templates, but regular presentation files. Instead, do the following:

  1. Navigate into your SLIDES TEMPLATES folder.

  2. Right-click the template you want to work with.

  3. Click Make a copy. This will create a copy of the template you want to use. The new spreadsheet will appear in the SLIDES TEMPLATES folder and the filename will start with Copy of.

  4. Right click the file name and then click Rename. Give the presentation a unique name and you can then open it and begin adding content. Since you made a copy of the original presentation template, the template is still intact and can be copied as many times as needed.