How to use Actions in Microsoft PowerPoint

In PowerPoint, Actions let you add interactive elements to your slideshows. You can use them to navigate around a presentation, and you can use them to move to a hidden slide in a presentation and then return to where you left off.

Actions can be grouped and placed on master slides to create a custom navigation system for a presentation. Using them, you can add Next and Previous buttons as well as Home and End buttons that, when clicked, move you around a presentation.

Actions don't have to be attached to visible objects. You can attach an action to an object that is invisible on a slide so that, although you can't see it, you can still click it. In addition to navigation, Action buttons can open an Excel or Word file, bring up a web page, or play a video.

Interactive quizzes are another useful application for Actions. Each slide can contain a quiz question and a choice of answers. Depending on the answer clicked, you can jump to different slides in the presentation.

So, for example, if someone chooses incorrectly, you can take them back to the slide that explained the concept they apparently didn't understand. Follow these steps to create and use Actions in your presentations.

Create an Action using a button

To find PowerPoint's Action buttons, go to the Insert tab, and from the Illustrations group select Shapes > Action Buttons and choose the shape to use. Select Action Button: Information, and drag to create the shape on the slide. When the Action Settings dialog appears, click Hyperlink to, click the Slide entry, choose the slide to link to, and click OK twice.

Using a Return Action

If an Action button links to a hidden or out-of-sequence slide, add a Return Action button on the linked slide to bring the user back where he came from. From the AutoShapes list select Action Buttons, Return, drag it onto the slide, and accept the default setting, Hyperlink to: Last slide viewed.

Add an Action to a shape

You can attach an Action to any shape or image. For example, insert an image, select it, and from the Insert tab, click Action and then Hyperlink to. Select the slide or file to link to, or the file or web page to display. You can also use the Mouse Over option tab to play a sound or highlight the image when the pointer is over the Action button.

Action buttons as a navigation system

To create a navigation system that appears on all slides, from the View tab choose Slide Master and click Master Slide. Add these Action buttons from the Shapes list: Back, Next, Beginning, and End – and accept the default configuration for each. Click Normal View to return to working with your slides. Take care not to place anything (such as an image or text block) over the buttons, or they won't work.