Non-evil uses of PPT

People who know me know I hate PowerPoint. It’s not exactly the program that I hate, but rather the way people use it. I was recently looking through some notes from a class I took in grad school and saw a packet of printed PPT slides, and there were no less than 72 slides! And every slide was just packed with information. This kind of thing is neither helpful to the students nor a good use of the professor’s time. I guess it could be a good use of time for the professor if creating the slides helps him or her form thoughts. Unfortunately, many professors who rely on slides also read from them rather than talking to the class.

Despite the evil ways I’ve seen PPT used, I still use this program quite a bit and think it can be helpful. I just don’t use it to create lecture slides. Conference presentations? Yes, but not for class lectures. So, I have decided to dedicate some posts to ways I’ve used this program in ways out of the ordinary. My main caveat is that some of these ideas are mine, while others were taken from others. I will do my best to differentiate between the two.

My most common use of PPT is as a quick image editor. My wife and I take a lot of photographs of our boys, and while most of them are uploaded to photo sharing site with no editing, occasionally I will need to edit or crop a photo quickly. Picasa is pretty good for most quick edits, but if you want to annotate the image at all you need a different program. PPT offers a quick way to edit a photo then export it as a JPEG, PNG or GIF. Here is what you do:

  1. You start with an unedited photo
  2. You will insert the photo into PPT
  3. Make any changes you want to the photo,  such as annotations, cropping or adjusting the color.
  4. Click “Save as …” and choose “Other formats”
  5. Then choose JPEG Interchange Format from “Save as type.” You can also choose GIF, TIFF or PNG.
  6. You will be asked if you want to export every slide or just the current slide.
  7. Click Save.
  8. You will also want to save the file as a PPT, in case you want to go in and make more edits later.

That’s it. The quality of the images is not stellar, but it’s good enough for most things. If you want to retain the image quality, then something like Photoshop is probably better, but for a quick way to edit a photograph, this is pretty slick. I have included a slightly more detailed guide on how to do this, in case you’re interested.