Quickly Open The Windows Task Manager

Keyboard shortcuts are fantastic time savers. Recently, I was reintroduced to a Windows keyboard shortcut while I have been watching the PowerPoint performance on some animation/image/video heavy presentations. What I want is the Windows Task Manager to be open on one screen so I can see how the computer is processing the presentation.

windows task manager

The fastest way to open this dialog box is with a 3 key, keyboard shortcut: CTRL + SHIFT + ESC

windows task manager


-Troy @ TLC


Online Time Calculator

This one of those great, free, online apps that just makes life easy for certain projects.

Online time calculator

There is not much to the webpage (in design or content) – which means no annoying ads. So, what would this simple online time calculator app be good for? – Math! For example:

You have 9 videos and need a total run time – drop in the 9 times and it provides a total. Reorder to get the best combination to have a break at the 10 minute mark. If you have 9 presenters, 90 second transitions, a 2:00 minute opening video, and anything more – drop in the times for each and get a total run of show. If you have 10 autorun slides, each with a 1 second transitions, and you look at the animation pane for the animation duration – drop in all the times and you get a total presentation duration.

This is a simple and good resource to have when needed. I recommend bookmarking the Time Calculator webpage for any future needs.

-Troy @ TLC


NXPowerlite Black Friday 50% Off Deal


TLC Creative Services has been a long-time user of NXPowerlite to quickly optimize presentation files to manageable sizes – without losing image quality (see this post on the TLC’s custom NXPowerlite settings). Microsoft’s internal image compression has improved a lot over the past few generations of PowerPoint, but I still find 3rd party tools do a better job. No sponsorship here, just letting everyone know that the NXPowerlite Black Friday sale is a good deal to take advantage of if you do not have an add-in to optimize presentation files.

NXPowerlite Black Friday

The Windows Desktop version is regulary $50. Purchase Friday, November 25th at 50% off. $25 is a great value and a smart addition to any designer’s toolbox. Go here for the Neupower sale page.


-Troy @ TLC


Free Thanksgiving Themed PowerPoint Template

Everyone have a great Thanksgiving week! Here is a full featured PowerPoint template developed by the TLC Creative design team, and FREE to download!


Download here.

-Troy @ TLC

PowerPoint Tutorial

PowerPoint Change Shape

All PPT shapes are vector (meaning they can be resized with no quality loss and are very small in file size). One great feature of PowerPoint (that has been in many versions but hasn’t been discovered by everyone), is the ability to change shape to any other shape – AND maintain all format styling and animation!

Here is an example, a rectangle with gradient fill, text styling and cast shadow.

1. Select any shape on a slide.

Change Shape 1

2. Go to the FORMAT TAB.

Change Shape 9

3. Click the EDIT SHAPE drop down menu.

Change Shape 8

4. Select the CHANGE SHAPE menu

Change Shape 7

5. From this PPT shape gallery, select the new desired shape – for this example, we are choosing the heart shape.

Change Shape 11

6. The rectangle changes to a heart shape – and the color file, drop shadow, gradient, text font-color-styling and animation are all still there!

Change Shape 2

-Troy @ TLC


The Presentation Podcast Episode #18 Released Today!

A new episode from The Presentation Podcast with Troy, Nolan, and Sandy is available today! Check out their latest discussion on “Conversations From The Microsoft MVP Summit” and add to your favorite Podcasts on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, SoundCloud and more at The Presentation Podcast.



PowerPoint Animation Thanking U.S. Veterans!

Here is an animation developed using only PowerPoint, and exported as a video (using PowerPoint’s video export). Thank you to all that serve and have served in the U.S. armed forces!


Good Bye Microsoft MVP Summit

I am heading home from a great 5 days at Microsoft as an invited guest at the 2016 MVP Summit. Each day was spent on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, WA in conference room meetings seeing the future of PowerPoint and providing input on the current version needs, feedback on concepts and giving examples of real-world use of the application the very dedicated dev team works on. Here are a few photos of the week:


(Top to Bottom)

  1. Fun photo opportunity at the main conference center.
  2. Comparing PowerPoint notes and files with PowerPoint MVPs Steve Rindsberg and Heather Ackmann.
  3. Multiple espresso bars for the event were fantastic!
  4. Some of the signage found across the Microsoft buildings
  5. Troy with a number of the amazing PowerPoint dev team
  6. 11 of the 15 North America MVPs for PowerPoint were here!

-Troy @ TLC

Resource/Misc Tutorial

Office 365: Change to First Release Channel

The big, and confusing question, is how to change from CURRENT CHANNEL version of Office 365 to FIRST RELEASE version. This is accomplished in the Office 365 Admin Console – so you will most likely need to be an administrator on the account to access these options. One of the confusion points is Office 365 Admin Console itself. If you search the web for tutorials on where to find the settings, the older tutorials often reference an older build of Office 365, which shows how quickly Microsoft is changing and updating things. I have been using Office 365 to run TLC Creative Services since its release in 2011 and the Admin area has had many overhauls during that time, which makes things difficult to keep things running smooth when the entire interface changes.

Based on the 2016 Office 365, Business Premium account admin console, here are the steps to change which Office Channel you have:

  1. Log into your Office 365 account
  2. Click the “checker board” selection button in the upper left
    First Release Channel 3
  3. Find and click the ADMIN button
    First Release Channel 4
    First Release Channel 5
  5. The SOFTWARE DOWNLOAD SETTINGS dialog will open. In the SOFTWARE FOR PC section, confirm 2016 VERSION is on, and the “How often do you want users to get feature updates for Office apps” is set to EVERY MONTH (CURRENT CHANNEL)
    First Release Channel 6
  6.  Click SAVE
  7. Someone with Admin Rights to the Office 365 needs to complete these next 3 steps
    1. Log into the Office 365 Account
      First Release Channel 11
    3. In the RELEASE PREFERENCES section, click EDIT
      First Release Channel 12
    4. Select a RELEASE TRACK (a “track” is going to be the “channel” option) and go through the settings process
      First Release Channel 13
  8. When the above items are complete, go to this web page:
  9. Log into your Office 365 account
  10. If the above steps were completed, you will see this message that your Office 365 account can be changed to the FIRST RELEASE CHANNEL
  11. Note: if you already have Office 2016 installed (which I am guessing most everyone will), this next step is installing the First Release version, but it will not (at least from my testing and use) affect your current install – it automatically upgrades the current install and keeps all settings, files and data
  12. Close all Office apps (PowerPoint, Outlook, etc.)
  13. Click INSTALL
    First Release Channel 8
  14. The Office installer will run
    First Release Channel 9
  15. Open PowerPoint, go to FILE > ACCOUNT > OFFICE UPDATE and it should now list FIRST RELEASE
    First Release Channel 10

-Troy @ TLC


Office 365: Current Channel vs. First Release

Microsoft Office 365 has been a huge leap forward for PowerPoint (and all Office apps) if nothing more than it has enabled Microsoft to easily release updates small and large to the applications. One item that is causing lots of confusion is the idea of “Current Channel” and “First Release.”

Here is how to determine what your install of Microsoft Office is.

  1. Open PowerPoint
  2. Go to File > Account
  3. On the right side under Product Information and Subscription Product, look for the OFFICE UPDATES section
    First Release 1
  4. This will list either CURRENT CHANNEL or FIRST RELEASE
    First Release 2


Note: the FIRST RELEASE option is also called OFFICE INSIDER, which has 2 levels: Insider Slow and Insider Fast.

Next Post: how to change which channel you have in the Office 365 Admin console.


-Troy @ TLC