Create a Whiteboard in PowerPoint Using These Shortcuts

By Taylor Croonquist

Have you ever wanted to make your presentations more interactive by scribbling notes on your slides? With PowerPoint you can use a combination of shortcuts to quickly get whiteboard functionality without leaving your presentation or using any other software.

This is not the ultimate whiteboard scenario, but it’s a great trick to have in your toolkit when you need to sketch something on the fly during a presentation or workshop.

Creating a Whiteboard Scenario in PowerPoint: Method #1

Step 1: Start Pen Inking Mode

While in Slideshow Mode (this will not work in the normal view of your presentation), hit CTRL+P on your keyboard to enable pen inking. Hitting the shortcut, your cursor becomes a red dot and you can now draw on your slides.

This shortcut works in all versions of PowerPoint 2007 and later, and with the pen turned on you can write on your slides, underline items, check things off in a list and more.

You also can change the color of the pen in the lower left hand corner of your screen, as pictured below.

Whiteboarding picture 1

While this by itself can be a great way to make your slides interactive, we’re not at the whiteboard scenario quite yet.

If you want to learn all of the inking shortcuts, see the video below for a demonstration:

Step 2: Select a Whiteboard or Blackboard

With your pen active (this does not work after the fact), you have two keyboard shortcut options for your whiteboard session.

#1: Hit “B” on your keyboard to turn your screen black, effectively giving you a blackboard.

#2: Hit “W” on your keyboard to turn your screen white, effectively giving you a whiteboard.

In this mode you can now write (or draw) on the blank canvas using your mouse, or if you are projecting with a tablet, you can draw with your finger or stylus (which is much easier).

For tablets, you are looking for the blackout slide option in the upper right-hand corner as pictured below in the iPad version of PowerPoint.

Whiteboarding picture 2

When you are done inking, just hit “B” or “W” to return to your presentation. From there, you can start your next session again by hitting the “B” or “W” shortcut again.

Just remember when blanking out your screen to first hit the pen shortcut (CTRL+P) if you want to write. Using the pen shortcut after blanking out your screen will automatically return you to your presentation.

Saving Your Ink

Using the freestyle whiteboard technique described above does not allow you to save your ink to your presentation. What you can do (this is a sneaky work-around of mine), is take a picture of the whiteboard session with your phone or camera before ending it.

So if you do want to save the ink from your whiteboard session, you will need to use a different method.

Creating a Whiteboard Scenario in PowerPoint – Method #2

This method involves setting up blank slides at the end of your presentation to use as a whiteboard or blackboard.

Step 1: Insert Blank Slides

At the very end of your presentation, add as many blank slides (with a white or black background) as you like.

Note: You don’t have to add them at the very end, although I do find this easier to remember and navigate to than throwing them somewhere in the middle of your deck.

Step 2: Start Your Slideshow and Start Inking

With your presentation in process, just jump to the blank slides when you want your whiteboard session to start.

Two keyboard shortcuts for quickly jumping between slides in Slideshow Mode are:

#1: Type your slide number on your keyboard (assuming you know it) and then hit ENTER

#2: Hit CTRL+S on your keyboard to launch the Navigate Slide dialog box, where you can then find and jump to your slide

You can see both shortcuts in action and more in the video below.

Now on your blank slides, all you have to do is hit CTRL+P to enable the pen and start inking.

Saving Your Ink

Once you’re done with your inking, you can simply hit ESC to end your presentation. You will then be given an option to save your ink as ink annotations.

Once you do that, your annotations will be saved to your slides as objects that you can then edit by opening up the Ink Tools Tab in your Ribbon. To open the Ink Tools tab, navigate to the Review Tab and select “Start Inking.”

Whiteboarding picture 3

Ink Currently Can’t Be Saved on the iPad

And it sucks…one of the easiest places to add ink to your slides and you can’t save it!

Although I’m sure they will fix this in a future update, the current version of PowerPoint on the iPad (version 1.9.3) does not allow you to save your inking sessions (which I assume is the same for the Android version of PowerPoint).

So yes, you can draw ink on your slides using your tablet, but you currently cannot save the ink (regardless of how you try to do it). You will have to go back to the sneaky method of taking a picture of your screen.

So that’s how you can creatively use PowerPoint shortcuts (and a few clever workarounds) to create your own whiteboard or blackboard in the middle of a presentation to create a more interactive audience experience. While probably not the best fit for a keynote address, it’s a handy trick to have in your tool kit  if you’re working with a small group or demoing things from a desk.

Editor’s Note: To learn more PowerPoint shortcuts like these and tips for using them, visit Taylor’s blog.

About the Author:

Taylor Croonquist is a co-founder of Nuts & Bolts Speed Training, which aims to make working professionals at least three times faster in PowerPoint. For more information on the company, visit the Nuts and Bolts website

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