What Is Microsoft PowerPoint?

Get to know Microsoft’s presentation software

Microsoft PowerPoint is a slideshow presentation program first developed by Forethought, Inc. for the Macintosh computer in 1987 and purchased by Microsoft in 1990. Microsoft has released several updated versions, each offering more features and incorporating better technology than before. The most current version of Microsoft PowerPoint is available in Microsoft 365.

Do You Need PowerPoint?

Presentation software is the easiest way to create and show the kinds of slides you've likely seen in meetings or classroom situations.

There are several free options, including LibreOffice, Apache OpenOffice, and SlideDog. However, if you need to collaborate with others on a presentation, integrate with other Microsoft programs (like Microsoft Word), or create a presentation that's viewable by anyone, purchase Microsoft PowerPoint.

If integration with other Microsoft programs isn't important, Google Workspace has a presentation program called Slides that allows for excellent collaboration with others.

Microsoft PowerPoint comes with all the features you need to create presentations. You can start with a blank presentation or choose from various preconfigured presentations (called templates). A template is a file constructed with styles and designs applied. This option provides an easy way to begin a PowerPoint with a single click.

A blank PowerPoint presentation

You can also insert pictures and videos from your computer and the internet, draw shapes, and create and insert all kinds of charts. PowerPoint offers many ways to transition between slides and animate the items on any slide.

What Is a PowerPoint Presentation?

A PowerPoint presentation is a group of slides that you create either from scratch or a template that contains information you want to share. Often, you show the presentation to others in an office setting, such as a sales meeting, but you can also create slide shows for weddings and birthdays.

PowerPoint presentation for a birthday party

When you display the presentation to your audience, the PowerPoint slides take up the entire presentation screen.

Do You Have Microsoft PowerPoint?

Lots of (but not all) Windows-based computers come with Microsoft Office installed. That means you might have a version of Microsoft PowerPoint.

To see if you have Microsoft PowerPoint installed on your Windows device:

  1. From the Search window on the taskbar (Windows 10), the Start screen (Windows 8.1), or from the Search window on the Start menu (Windows 7), type PowerPoint and press Enter.

    The search box in Windows 10.
  2. Note the results.

    Searching for PowerPoint in Windows 10.

To find out if you have a version of PowerPoint on your Mac, you can find it in a couple of ways.

  1. Look for it in the Finder sidebar, under Applications by selecting Go > Applications.

    Selecting Applications in the Finder in macOS.
  2. Or select the magnifying glass in the upper-right corner of your Mac's screen and type PowerPoint in the search field that appears.

    Finding PowerPoint in Spotlight Search in macOS.

Where to Get Microsoft PowerPoint

The two ways you can purchase PowerPoint are by:

Microsoft 365 is a monthly subscription, whereas you pay only once for the Office Suite.

The Microsoft Store where Microsoft Office is for purchase

If you don't want to create presentations but only want to view what others have created, use PowerPoint Online to view it for free.

Some employers, community colleges, and universities offer Microsoft 365 free to their employees and students.

The History of PowerPoint

Over the years, there have been many versions of the Microsoft Office suite. The lower-priced suites only included the basic apps (often Word, PowerPoint, and Excel). The higher-priced suites included some or all of them (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, SharePoint, Exchange, Skype, and more). These suite editions had names like Home and Student, Personal, or Professional.

PowerPoint 2016

PowerPoint is included regardless of which version of the Microsoft Office suite you are looking at.

Here are the recent Microsoft Office Suites that also contain PowerPoint:

  • PowerPoint Online and PowerPoint 365 are available and updated regularly in Microsoft 365.
  • PowerPoint 2019 is available in Office 2019.
  • PowerPoint 2016 was available in Office 2016.
  • PowerPoint 2013 was available in Office 2013.
  • PowerPoint 2010 was available in Office 2010.
  • PowerPoint 2007 was included with Office 2007.
  • PowerPoint 2003 was included with Office 2003.
  • PowerPoint 2002 was included in Office XP.

PowerPoint is available for the Macintosh line of computers too, as well as smartphones and tablets.

  • How do you make a PowerPoint presentation?

    The easiest way to start a new PowerPoint presentation is to use a template. Microsoft offers a variety of them in a range of casual and professional tones. Choose one and replace the placeholder text and images with your own.

  • How do you insert music into a PowerPoint presentation?

    Go to the Insert tab and select Audio > Audio on My PC to play music across slides in a presentation. Locate the music file you want to use, then choose Insert. Select the audio icon, go to the Playback tab, and select Play in Background.

  • How do you make PowerPoint templates?

    To save your current presentation as a template, go to File > Save As. Click Browse, then choose PowerPoint template from the Save as type list options. Give your new template a file name and select Save.

  • How do you compress a PowerPoint file?

    If you want to make your presentations smaller, compress the pictures you use in them. Select an image so the Picture Format tab appears. Go to that tab and select Compress Pictures (it's in the Adjust group). Here you have a few options: Uncheck Apply only to this picture so that the changes apply to all images in the presentation. You can also choose Delete cropped areas of pictures, but you can't restore images to their original size. Finally, select Use default resolution in the Resolution section.

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