10 ways PowerPoint 2013 gets more polish

Thankfully, Microsoft is introducing some long-overdue changes to PowerPoint.

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5. Video input and output improve

PowerPoint 2013 supports additional video formats so it's more likely videos will play in your presentation without you needing to install additional codecs.  For example, PowerPoint 2013 supports the MP4 and MOV formats for playing video, and you can export a PowerPoint presentation to video in MP4 or WMV formats.

The new Video button on the Insert tab includes options that let you search for a video from an online source and drop it into your deck without first downloading it to your computer.

6. Audio playback options expand

PowerPoint 2013 supports a wide range of audio formats without requiring you to download and install additional codecs. Supported formats now include AIFF, AU, MID, MIDI, MP3, M4A, MP4, WAV, and WMA.

You can click a button in PowerPoint 2013 to play audio tracks across the entire slideshow or across slides. While this has always been possible, it was ridiculously annoying to set up.  Now all you need do is to insert the audio file, select it, and choose Audio Tools, Playback tab and click the Play In Backgroundoption.

7. Presentation View becomes rosier

While the PowerPoint Presenter View was available in earlier versions of PowerPoint most users didn't know it existed. Plus, if your computer only had one monitor you couldn't access it --even to rehearse your presentation!

Now you can access Presenter View even on a single monitor by pressing Alt + F5. In Presenter View you can swap monitors for Presenter View and Slide Show View if desired. You can also view a thumbnail view of your slides, and click to view a slide out of sequence.

The new Zoom option lets you look close-up into an area on a slide to draw attention to it. There's a new laser pointer tool here, too.

8. Work better with your team

When you're designing a presentation with others, the new Comments feature will make it easier to discuss your slideshow with collaborators. When you add a comment, it appears in a Comments task pane down the right of the screen and stays visible while you work.

There are also options to add a comment from the Insert tab or the Comments task pane. The Comments task pane lets you navigate through comments, and see if there are comments on other slides. You can view your presentation with or without comments by selecting the Show Comments from the Review tab, and deselecting Show Comments.

9. Bring your presentation online

Now you can present a deck stored in the cloud or on your PC to the Web in real time. To use the new Office Presentation Service, choose File, Share, Present Online. You can also allow attendees to download the presentation to their own PC.

You'll also see Presenter View while making your presentation. Plus, you can play video at presentation time, and viewers get their own set of video controls. In addition, viewers can navigate back to previous slides if they need to check or follow up on something.

10. Work with the cloud

PowerPoint integrates closely with your online data and services. The free, browser-based PowerPoint WebApp lets you view and edit presentations. In addition, PowerPoint presentation files by default are saved either to your SkyDrive account or, for business users, to SharePoint.

Other cloud options allow you to import pictures direct from Office.com, Flickr, Facebook, and elsewhere for use inside your presentations; there's no need to save them to your PC first.

This story, "10 ways PowerPoint 2013 gets more polish" was originally published by PCWorld.

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