All Microsoft Office programs offer the option of creating or implementing macros, which doesn’t just facilitate PowerPoint automation, but means you can streamline your work process across Word, Excel, and Access too.

Macros function as a sub-program in Microsoft Office applications, fulfilling the same purpose every time and helping users to automate functions. Macros describe a sequence of commands/actions that are automatically processed in a predefined order when they are implemented, which can include individual keys, combinations of keystrokes, or mouse clicks.

Using macros allows designers to create and utilise PowerPoint automation, so you can perform a chain of commands and actions that you may use often to help save time for one design or across several projects – essentially templating your workflow.

How do PowerPoint macros work?

To fulfill their function, macros describe the saved instructions in code that PowerPoint processes automatically into corresponding command sequence. All macros in Microsoft Office programs, including PowerPoint, use on a proprietary programming language called VBA (Visual Basic for Applications. Understanding this scripting language is essential creating your own PowerPoint macros. With the Visual Basic Editor, Office tools have an integrated practical dedicated development environment for this purpose.

You can start a PowerPoint macro through the macro menu, or the button in the Quick Access menu or ribbon.

How to create and open PowerPoint macros in PowerPoint

If you want to create macros with current editions of PowerPoint, you need to use VBA code for a PowerPoint macro with any code editor of your choice. However, Visual Basic Editor is integrated directly into PowerPoint, making providing a convenient and easy solution for embedding macros.

Since Visual Basic Editor is a Microsoft Office developer tool that’s switched off by default, you’ll need to activate it first – by clicking the File tab, then Options, then Customise Ribbon, which allows you to adjust PowerPoint’s top menu bar according to your own preferences and work style.

Select the entry Main Tabs in the right menu window, put a check mark next to Developer and then click OK to add the corresponding tab to your PowerPoint menu. The Developer tab should now appear in your ribbon. If you select this tab, you’ll be able to open the VBA Editor at any time using the Visual Basic button embedded in the bar.

The easiest way to create a new PowerPoint macro with the VBA Editor is click “Macros”, to open a menu for entering the desired name for the macro.

Under “Macro in:”, select the PowerPoint document where you want to use the sequence of commands. If you select “All open presentations”, you will be able to use the macro across different projects.

Click the “Create” button to create the PowerPoint macro. If you want to create and use PowerPoint macros with notifications, you will first have to activate this type of macro under Macro security.

PowerPoint will start the Visual Basic Editor automatically, including the standard code window. There you will also see the automatically generated start and end lines of your macro’s VBA code.

To integrate the macro you’ve created for your PowerPoint design, save it either in the folder that is currently open or in a folder specifically created for saving macros. To do this, click the “Save” icon in the menu bar of the VBA editor or, hit the key combination [Ctrl] + [S].

PowerPoint reacts with a dialog box where the application indicates that you can only save macros in PowerPoint Macro-Enabled Template or PowerPoint Macro-Enabled Presentation type documents. Click No to change the file type of your current document or to indicate the location of a corresponding template.

If you save a PowerPoint document as a macro-enabled presentation or template, the file extension .pptm or .potm will be affixed to your file name instead of the standard ending .pptx.

Now under Save as type, select PowerPoint Macro-Enabled Presentation or PowerPoint Macro-Enabled Template, or alternatively the location of your central PowerPoint macro template (if you created it in advance) before clicking Save in the last step.

For PowerPoint templates, Microsoft PowerPoint automatically indicates a template directory as the storage location. However, you are not required to use this to use the program’s suggestion.

As soon as you have saved the macro in a certain PowerPoint presentation or template, you can execute it at any time. In this case, the easiest way to do this is via the macro menu in the Developer ribbon tab, use the corresponding tab and click the Macros button, like you did when creating the macro.

You can also call up the menu for creating, executing, and processing PowerPoint macros using the keyboard shortcut. To do this, simply press [Alt], [W] and [0] sequentially. In the window you should now see the previously saved and created macro, and you should be able to select it by left clicking. To start the command sequence, simply click the Run button, which will result in the menu closing again and the macro code being executed.

To learn more about the custom tool for PowerPoint automation, like Marcos and Add-Ins, check out our Ultimate Guide – free to download here.