TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Introduction to Scripting Microsoft PowerPoint

Volume Number: 23 (2007)
Issue Number: 03
Column Tag: Scripting

AppleScript Essentials

Introduction to Scripting Microsoft PowerPoint

by Benjamin S. Waldie

In recent months, we have been discussing ways to automate the Office applications using AppleScript. We have discussed Word and Excel scripting, and this month, we are going to focus on scripting PowerPoint.

In Office X, PowerPoint's AppleScript dictionary contained a single command -- do Visual Basic. While no direct AppleScript-ability was present, this command at least provided a way to initiate Visual Basic macrocode from AppleScript in order to automate some tasks. Of course, to do this, one needed to be fluent in Visual Basic.

With the release of Office 2004, Microsoft introduced re-worked AppleScript support in the Office applications. Word and Excel both had their AppleScript dictionaries substantially re-written and expanded, and PowerPoint introduced extensive AppleScript support. Sure, you can still use the do Visual Basic command to automate PowerPoint, if you wish. But, this isn't necessary anymore, as AppleScript code can now be written to perform repetitive tasks directly. Furthermore, Microsoft has announced that Visual Basic support will be removed from the Office applications when Office 2008 is released, thus rendering any do Visual Basic code useless moving forward.

In this month's column, we will explore the AppleScript support in PowerPoint 11, released with Office 2004. In future versions of PowerPoint, much of the terminology we will discuss is likely to remain functional, although it is always good practice to test code for terminology changes when performing any application upgrades in a scripted workflow. Let's get started.

Working with Presentations

Making a Presentation

In PowerPoint, the base class in which you will work is a presentation. To create a new presentation, use the make command, followed by the presentation class, as demonstrated here.

tell application "Microsoft PowerPoint"
   make new presentation
end tell
--> presentation "Presentation1" of application "Microsoft PowerPoint"

The result of the make command is a reference to the newly created presentation. This may be placed into a variable, if desired, for future reference throughout your code.

Referencing the Front most Presentation

It's important to understand how to reference the front most presentation in PowerPoint. Like documents in most applications, presentations can be referenced by index. However, unlike many other applications, a PowerPoint presentation's index does not refer to its front to back ordering. Rather, it refers to the order in which the presentation was opened or created, in reference to the other currently opened presentations. So, it is never safe to assume that presentation 1 is the front most presentation. To ensure reference to the front most presentation, refer to the active presentation property of the application class instead, as demonstrated by the example code below.

tell application "Microsoft PowerPoint"
   active presentation
end tell
--> active presentation of application "Microsoft PowerPoint"

Note that the code above results in an ambiguous reference to the active presentation of the application, and not a specific presentation. If another presentation is brought to the front, then this reference will begin pointing to that presentation. Keep this in mind if you ever find that your code is not targeting the anticipated presentation, and verify the presentation ordering.

Opening a Presentation

To open a presentation file on disk, use the open command. For example:

set thePath to choose file with prompt "Please select a presentation:"
tell application "Microsoft PowerPoint"
   open thePath
end tell

When using the open command, please note that a result is not returned. Therefore, if your code will begin processing the newly opened presentation, you will need to form a reference to that presentation. While you could reference the active presentation property of the application, this is not always the safest method. To ensure an accurate reference to the newly opened presentation, locate the presentation whose file path is equal to the path from which the presentation was just opened. A presentation's path can be found by referencing its full name property. The following code demonstrates how to open a presentation, and then build a reference to the opened presentation by matching the opened path to the presentation's full name property.

set thePath to choose file with prompt "Please select a presentation:"
tell application "Microsoft PowerPoint"
   open thePath
   set theOpenedPresentation to first presentation whose full name = (thePath as string)
end tell
--> presentation 1 of application "Microsoft PowerPoint"

Saving a Presentation

To save a presentation that has been saved previously, use the save command, as follows:

tell application "Microsoft PowerPoint"
   save active presentation
end tell

This will cause the presentation to be saved in its original format back to its original path. You can also save a presentation into a new path, or in a different format. To do this, make use of the save command's optional parameters in and as. The following code demonstrates how to save a presentation to the desktop in presentation format.

set theOutputPath to (path to desktop folder as string) & "My Preso.ppt"
tell application "Microsoft PowerPoint"
   save active presentation in theOutputPath as save as presentation
end tell

Other supported save formats include presentation template, HTML, and PowerPoint show. You are encouraged to explore saving presentations in other formats further on your own.

Closing a Presentation

To close a presentation, simply use the close command, followed by a reference to the presentation you wish to close.

tell application "Microsoft PowerPoint"
   close active presentation
end tell

Although the close command has an optional saving parameter, which is supposed to allow you to specify a yes/no/ask constant value indicating whether the presentation should be saved when closed, PowerPoint seems to ignore it. To ensure that a presentation is saved before being closed, be sure to use the save command to save the presentation, and then issue the close command. For example:

set theOutputPath to (path to desktop folder as string) & "My Preso.ppt"
tell application "Microsoft PowerPoint"
   tell active presentation
      save in theOutputPath
      close
   end tell
end tell

Working with Slides

In PowerPoint, content is contained within the slides of a presentation, and much of the AppleScript code you will be writing will involve the manipulation of slide content. First, we'll discuss creating slides, and then we will explore ways of manipulating slide content.

Making a New Slide

To create a new slide within a presentation, use the make command. In doing so, you may also with to specify properties for the newly created slide, such as a layout style. This can be done by using the make command's with properties parameter. The following example code demonstrates how to create a new text slide in the front most presentation. As you will see, the result of the make command will be a reference to the newly created slide.

tell application "Microsoft PowerPoint"
   tell active presentation
      make new slide at end with properties {layout:slide layout text slide}
   end tell
end tell
--> slide 2 of active presentation of application "Microsoft PowerPoint"

Manipulating Slide Text

There are numerous ways of manipulating text content within slides. You can change the text itself, and you can also change attributes of the text, such as font, style, color, and so forth. We'll discuss a few different ways to manipulate slide text. You are encouraged to explore these and others further on your own.

The first thing to understand when working with text content on slides is that the text is not directly contained within the slide itself. Rather, it is contained within shapes that reside on the slide. PowerPoint's shape class possesses a text frame property, which itself is a class possessing numerous properties. One property of the text frame class is text range, which references yet another class, called text range. Text range has numerous properties, one of which is content. To change the text content of a shape on a slide, this is the property you will want to modify. It sounds a bit complicated, but it's really not, as demonstrated by the code below. This code will set the content of the first text shape on slide 2 of our presentation to the text "TEST HEADING".

tell application "Microsoft PowerPoint"
   tell slide 2 of active presentation
      set content of text range of text frame of shape 1 to "TEST HEADING"
   end tell
end tell

Font and style attributes are applied via the font property of a text range, which, again, references a class itself. Attributes such as bold, underline, italic, and more, are all applied using the font class. The following example code demonstrates how to adjust font attributes in this manner. This code will first set the content of the second shape on slide 2 of our presentation to the text "Test Content". It will then change the font, point size, and color of the text. See figure 1 for an example of the result of this code.

tell application "Microsoft PowerPoint"
   tell slide 2 of active presentation
      set content of text range of text frame of shape 2 to "Test Content"
      tell font of text range of text frame of shape 2
         set font name to "Futura"
         set font size to 24
         set font color to {255, 0, 0}
      end tell
   end tell
end tell


Figure 1. Styled Slide Text

Adding a Picture to a Slide

Adding a picture to a slide becomes slightly more complicated. To do this, you must first create a picture class on the target slide, while setting certain attributes for the picture, including its path, top, and left position. The following example code demonstrates how this is done. This code will first prompt the user to locate a picture file. It will then create a picture class at the specified top and left position on the target slide. The picture will then be scaled, relative to its original image size. An example of a slide containing an image placed using this code can be found in figure 2.


Figure 2. Placed Picture Content

set thePicturePath to (choose file with prompt "Please select a picture:") as string
tell application "Microsoft PowerPoint"
   tell slide 2 of active presentation
      set thePicture to make new picture at end with properties ¬
      {top:200, left position:400, lock aspect ratio:true, file name:thePicturePath}
      tell thePicture
         scale height factor 0.1 scale scale from top left with relative to original size
         scale width factor 0.1 scale scale from top left with relative to original size
      end tell
   end tell
end tell

Applying a Background to a Slide

Using AppleScript, it is possible to change the background of a slide. First, to ensure that background of the master slide is not modified, you'll probably want to disassociate the target slide's background from the master. Setting the slide's follow master background property to false does this.

To change the color of a slide's background, adjust the fore color property of the slide background's fill format to the desired RGB value. The following example code demonstrates how this is done. This code will also first disassociate the slide's background from the master.

tell application "Microsoft PowerPoint"
   tell slide 2 of active presentation
     set follow master background to false
     set fore color of fill format of background to {0, 0, 255}
   end tell
end tell

Other background attributes are also modifiable via AppleScript, including pattern, texture, and more. The code below shows how to apply a blue tissue paper texture as the texture of a slide's background. Figure 3 shows an example of the result of this code.

tell application "Microsoft PowerPoint"
   tell slide 2 of active presentation
      set follow master background to false
      preset textured background texture texture blue tissue paper
   end tell
end tell


Figure 3. An Applied Slide Background Texture

Working with Slideshows

Applying Slide Transitions

Preparing presentations for slideshow mode is another task that AppleScript can perform quite easily. Slide show settings and transition settings are both accessible to AppleScript. The following code demonstrates how to loop through the slides of a presentation, applying a dissolve entry transition to each slide.

tell application "Microsoft PowerPoint"
   tell active presentation
      set theSlideCount to count slides
      repeat with a from 1 to theSlideCount
         set entry effect of slide show transition of slide a to entry effect dissolve
      end repeat
   end tell
end tell

Running a Slideshow

Once your slides are complete, you may want your script to run the slideshow. To do this, you will probably first want to bring PowerPoint to the front. Use the activate command to do this. Next, use the run slide show command, targeting the slide show settings of the presentation you want to run, as shown here.

tell application "Microsoft PowerPoint"
   activate
   run slide show slide show settings of active presentation
end tell

Exiting a Slideshow

Exiting a slideshow is bit different than you might expect. You don't exit the presentation. Rather, you exit the slide show view of the slide show window of the presentation. For example:

tell application "Microsoft PowerPoint"
   exit slide show slide show view of slide show window of active presentation
end tell

In Closing

While we have truly only scratched the surface of what's possible by AppleScripting PowerPoint, the techniques discussed in this month's column should give you a good starting point. For more information about scripting PowerPoint, be sure to browse PowerPoint's AppleScript dictionary. Also, don't miss the PowerPoint AppleScript Reference Guide, available for free download from Microsoft's Mactopia website at http://www.microsoft.com/mac/resources/resources.aspx?pid=asforoffice.

Until next time, keep scripting!


Ben Waldie is the author of the best selling books "AppleScripting the Finder" and the "Mac OS X Technology Guide to Automator", available from http://www.spiderworks.com, as well as an AppleScript Training CD, available from http://www.vtc.com. Ben is also president of Automated Workflows, LLC, a company specializing in AppleScript and workflow automation consulting. For years, Ben has developed professional AppleScript-based solutions for businesses including Adobe, Apple, NASA, PC World, and TV Guide. For more information about Ben, please visit http://www.automatedworkflows.com, or email Ben at ben@automatedworkflows.com.
 
AAPL
$101.79
Apple Inc.
+0.21
MSFT
$46.68
Microsoft Corpora
+0.16
GOOG
$589.27
Google Inc.
+4.50

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

iMazing 1.0 - Complete iOS device manage...
iMazing (formerly DiskAid) is the ultimate iOS device manager with capabilities far beyond what iTunes offers. With iMazing and your iOS device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod), you can: Copy music to and... Read more
Xcode 6.0.1 - Integrated development env...
Apple Xcode is Apple Computer's integrated development environment (IDE) for OS X. The full Xcode package is free to ADC members and includes all the tools you need to create, debug, and optimize... Read more
Apple Safari 7.1 - Apple's Web brow...
Apple Safari in OS X Mavericks brings you all-new ways to find and enjoy the best of the web. It works with iCloud to give you a seamless browsing experience across all your devices. It looks out for... Read more
Delivery Status 6.1.2 - Check delivery s...
Delivery Status displays delivery status of packages for a variety of shipment services. Can't wait for your packages to arrive? Don't waste your time checking the site constantly, just open this all... Read more
Mavericks Cache Cleaner 8.0.9 - Clear ca...
Mavericks Cache Cleaner is an award-winning general purpose tool for OS X. MCC makes system maintenance simple with an easy point-and-click interface to many OS X functions. Novice and expert users... Read more
OneNote 15.2.2 - Free digital notebook f...
OneNote is your very own digital notebook. With OneNote, you can capture that flash of genius, that moment of inspiration, or that list of errands that's too important to forget. Whether you're at... Read more
Apple Configurator 1.6 - Configure and d...
Apple Configurator makes it easy for anyone to mass configure and deploy iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch in a school, business, or institution. Three simple workflows let you prepare new iOS devices... Read more
SpamSieve 2.9.16 - Robust spam filter fo...
SpamSieve is a robust spam filter for major email clients that uses powerful Bayesian spam filtering. SpamSieve understands what your spam looks like in order to block it all, but also learns what... Read more
OS X Server 3.2.1 - For OS X 10.9.5 Mave...
OS X Server is the next generation of Apple's award winning server software. Designed for OS X and iOS devices, OS X Server makes it easy to share files, schedule meetings, synchronize contacts, host... Read more
Apple Security Update 2014-004 - For OS...
Apple Security Update is recommended for all users and improves the security of Mac OS X. For information on the security content of this update, please visit this website: http://support.apple.com/... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Down Among the Dead Men (Games)
Down Among the Dead Men 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Avast! Take to the high seas in a fully interactive piratical tale of broadsides and buccaneers. From author Dave... | Read more »
Sling Adds Chromecast Support Through Sl...
Sling Adds Chromecast Support Through Slingplaye​r Mobile Apps Posted by Jessica Fisher on September 18th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
How to Completely Delete Your iPhone’s C...
The iPhone 6 is out tomorrow, and plenty of people are excited about it. So much so that they’re planning to – or already have – traded in their old iPhone to go towards it. The thing about trading in hardware is it’s very important to make sure... | Read more »
Dragon Quest I Review
Dragon Quest I Review By Andrew Fisher on September 18th, 2014 Our Rating: :: THINE QUEST AWAITETHUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Its historical significance aside, Dragon Quest 1 is a fun, campy, difficult, thoroughly... | Read more »
It Came From Canada: Overkill 3
Overkill 3 is like every trope of big modern gaming rolled into one. It’s a sequel to an action-packed military shooter. It’s flashy and scripted and flaunts its sophisticated graphics. And it’s a mobile game with a heavy emphasis on in-app... | Read more »
New Modes and Leader Boards in Update fo...
New Modes and Leader Boards in Update for Rules! Posted by Jessica Fisher on September 18th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
TwistedRun Review
TwistedRun Review By Rob Thomas on September 18th, 2014 Our Rating: :: DON'T TWIST YOUR ANKLE!Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad TwistedRun is kind of like running up a giant curly fry into the sky. Or maybe that was just... | Read more »
Scope Review
Scope Review By Jennifer Allen on September 18th, 2014 Our Rating: :: LOCATION AWAREiPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad Want to easily find photos from around the world based on their location? Scope is a... | Read more »
HipstaFox Review
HipstaFox Review By Jordan Minor on September 18th, 2014 Our Rating: :: FANTASTIC MR. FOXUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad HipstaFox is a great single that makes players long for the whole album.   | Read more »
Ninja Raft (Games)
Ninja Raft 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ** Special Launch Price ** "Ninja Raft is definitely the game to play if you’re into Tower Defense games and want to play something... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Save up to $300 on the price of a new Mac wit...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad at The Apple Store for Education and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free,... Read more
13-inch 2.8GHz Retina MacBook Pro available f...
B&H Photo has the new 2014 13″ 2.8GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1699.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. They’ll also include free copies of Parallels Desktop and LoJack for... Read more
16GB iPad Air on sale for $449, save $50
Walmart has the 16GB iPad Air WiFi on sale for $449 on their online store for a limited time. Choose free home shipping or free local store pickup. Their price represents a $50 savings over standard... Read more
13-inch 256GB MacBook Air on sale for $1099,...
B&H Photo has the 2014 13″ 1.4GHz 256GB MacBook Air on sale for $1099.99. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Toshiba Introduces TransMemory ID High-Speed...
Toshiba’s Digital Products Division (DPD), a division of Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., today introduced the TransMemory ID USB 3.0 Flash Drive, a simpler storage solution for people who... Read more
New iPads and OS X Yosemite Release Coming Oc...
The DailyDot’s Micah Singleton reports that Apple is planning to hold its next product announcement event on Oct. 21, at which it will unveil the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 and release a final build... Read more
Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Cross-Platfor...
Logitech has an enviable track record of making some of the best computer keyboards and mice. At least in my estimation, the best freestanding keyboards I’ve ever used have been Logitech units,... Read more
Roundup of Apple refurbished iPad Airs and iP...
Apple is offering Certified Refurbished iPad Airs for up to $140 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free. Stock tends to come and go with some of these... Read more
Sprint offers 16GB iPad mini for $199.99 with...
Sprint is offering 1st generation 16GB iPad minis for $199.99 with a 2-year service agreement. Standard MSRP for this iPad is $429. Their price is the lowest available for this model. Read more
2.5GHz Mac mini remains on sale for $549, sav...
B&H Photo has the 2.5GHz Mac mini on sale for $549.99 including free shipping. That’s $50 off MSRP, and B&H will also include a free copy of Parallels Desktop software. NY sales tax only. Read more

Jobs Board

Project Manager, *Apple* Financial Services...
**Job Summary** Apple Financial Services (AFS) offers consumers, businesses and educational institutions ways to finance Apple purchases. We work with national and Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.