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.
 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Fantastical 2.4.1 - Create calendar even...
Fantastical 2 is the Mac calendar you'll actually enjoy using. Creating an event with Fantastical is quick, easy, and fun: Open Fantastical with a single click or keystroke Type in your event... Read more
Fantastical 2.4.1 - Create calendar even...
Fantastical 2 is the Mac calendar you'll actually enjoy using. Creating an event with Fantastical is quick, easy, and fun: Open Fantastical with a single click or keystroke Type in your event... Read more
Live Home 3D Pro 3.2.2 - $69.99
Live Home 3D Pro, a successor of Live Interior 3D, is the powerful yet intuitive home design software that lets you build the house of your dreams right on your Mac. It has every feature of Live Home... Read more
Live Home 3D Pro 3.2.2 - $69.99
Live Home 3D Pro, a successor of Live Interior 3D, is the powerful yet intuitive home design software that lets you build the house of your dreams right on your Mac. It has every feature of Live Home... Read more
FileZilla 3.27.0.1 - Fast and reliable F...
FileZilla (ported from Windows) is a fast and reliable FTP client and server with lots of useful features and an intuitive interface. Version 3.27.0.1: MSW: Add misssing file to .zip binary package... Read more
Spotify 1.0.59.395. - Stream music, crea...
Spotify is a streaming music service that gives you on-demand access to millions of songs. Whether you like driving rock, silky R&B, or grandiose classical music, Spotify's massive catalogue puts... Read more
Sierra Cache Cleaner 11.0.6 - Clear cach...
Sierra Cache Cleaner is an award-winning general purpose tool for macOS X. SCC makes system maintenance simple with an easy point-and-click interface to many macOS X functions. Novice and expert... Read more
DiskCatalogMaker 7.1.2 - Catalog your di...
DiskCatalogMaker is a simple disk management tool which catalogs disks. Simple, light-weight, and fast Finder-like intuitive look and feel Super-fast search algorithm Can compress catalog data for... Read more
Live Home 3D Pro 3.1.2 - $69.99
Live Home 3D Pro, a successor of Live Interior 3D, is the powerful yet intuitive home design software that lets you build the house of your dreams right on your Mac. It has every feature of Live Home... Read more
Deeper 2.2.1 - Enable hidden features in...
Deeper is a personalization utility for macOS which allows you to enable and disable the hidden functions of the Finder, Dock, QuickTime, Safari, iTunes, login window, Spotlight, and many of Apple's... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

The best deals on the App Store this wee...
There are quite a few truly superb games on sale on the App Store this week. If you haven't played some of these, many of which are true classics, now's the time to jump on the bandwagon. Here are the deals you need to know about. [Read more] | Read more »
Realpolitiks Mobile (Games)
Realpolitiks Mobile 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $5.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: PLEASE NOTE: The game might not work properly on discontinued 1GB of RAM devices (iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad... | Read more »
Layton’s Mystery Journey (Games)
Layton’s Mystery Journey 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $15.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: THE MUCH-LOVED LAYTON SERIES IS BACK WITH A 10TH ANNIVERSARY INSTALLMENT! Developed by LEVEL-5, LAYTON’S... | Read more »
Full Throttle Remastered (Games)
Full Throttle Remastered 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Originally released by LucasArts in 1995, Full Throttle is a classic graphic adventure game from industry legend Tim... | Read more »
Stunning shooter Morphite gets a new tra...
Morphite is officially landing on iOS in September. The game looks like the space shooter we've been needing on mobile, and we're going to see if it fits the bill quite shortly. The game's a collaborative effort between Blowfish Studios, We're Five... | Read more »
Layton's Mystery Journey arrives to...
As you might recall, Layton's Mystery Journey is headed to iOS and Android -- tomorrow! To celebrate the impending launch, Level-5's released a new trailer, complete with an adorable hamster. [Read more] | Read more »
Sidewords (Games)
Sidewords 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Grab a cup of coffee and relax with Sidewords. Sidewords is part logic puzzle, part word game, all original. No timers. No... | Read more »
Noodlecake Games' 'Leap On!...
Noodlecake Games is always good for some light-hearted arcade fun, and its latest project, Leap On! could carry on that tradition. It's a bit like high stakes tetherball in a way. Your job is to guide a cute little blob around a series of floating... | Read more »
RuneScape goes mobile later this year
Yes, RuneScape still exists. In fact, it's coming to iOS and Android in just a few short months. Jagex, creators of the hit fantasy MMORPG of yesteryear, is releasing RuneScape Mobile and Old School RuneScape for mobile devices, complete with... | Read more »
Crash of Cars wants you to capture the c...
Crash of Cars is going full on medieval in its latest update, introducing castles and all manner of new cars and skins fresh from the Dark Ages. The update introduces a new castle-themed map (complete with catapults) and a gladiator-style battle... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

13″ 2.3GHz/128GB Space Gray MacBook Pro on sa...
MacMall has the 13″ 2.3GHz/128GB Space Gray MacBook Pro (MPXQ2LL/A) on sale for $1219 including free shipping. Their price is $80 off MSRP. Read more
Clearance 2016 12-inch Retina MacBooks, Apple...
Apple recently dropped prices on Certified Refurbished 2016 12″ Retina MacBooks, with models now available starting at $1019. Apple will include a standard one-year warranty with each MacBook, and... Read more
Save or Share
FotoJet Designer, is a simple but powerful new graphic design apps available on both Mac and Windows. With FotoJet Designer’s 900+ templates, thousands of resources, and powerful editing tools you... Read more
Logo Maker Shop iOS App Lets Businesses Get C...
A newly released app is designed to help business owners to get creative with their branding by designing their own logos. With more than 1,000 editable templates, Logo Maker Shop 1.0 provides the... Read more
Sale! New 15-inch MacBook Pros for up to $150...
Amazon has the new 2017 15″ MacBook Pros on sale for up to $150 off MSRP including free shipping: – 15″ 2.8GHz MacBook Pro Space Gray: $2249 $150 off MSRP – 15″ 2.89Hz MacBook Pro Space Gray: $2779 $... Read more
DEVONthink To Go 2.1.7 For iOS Brings Usabili...
DEVONtechnologies has updated DEVONthink To Go, the iOS companion to DEVONthink for Mac, with enhancements and bug fixes. Version 2.1.7 adds an option to clear the Global Inbox and makes the grid... Read more
15-inch 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro, Apple refu...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pros available for $1699. That’s $300 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for a 15″ MacBook Pro. An Apple one-year warranty is... Read more
13-inch 2.3GHz Silver MacBook Pro on sale for...
B&H Photo has the new 2017 13″ 2.3GHz/256GB Silver MacBook Pro (MPXU2LL/A) on sale for $1399 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Apple Tackles Distracted Driving With iOS 11...
One of the most important new features coming in iOS 11 is Do Not Disturb while driving, intended to help drivers stay more focused on the road. With Do Not Disturb while driving, your iPhone can... Read more
iMazing Mini for Mac: Free Automatic and Priv...
Geneva, Switzerland-based indie developer DigiDNA has released iMazing Mini, their free macOS utility designed to automatically back up iOS devices over any local Wi-Fi network. The app offers users... Read more

Jobs Board

Frameworks Engineering Manager, *Apple* Wat...
Frameworks Engineering Manager, Apple Watch Job Number: 41632321 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: Jun. 15, 2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 Job Summary Read more
Product Manager - *Apple* Pay on the *Appl...
Job Summary Apple is looking for a talented product manager to drive the expansion of Apple Pay on the Apple Online Store. This position includes a unique Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple...
SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple...
SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Senior Payments Architect - *Apple* Pay - A...
Changing the world is all in a day's work at Apple . If you love innovation, here's your chance to make a career of it. You'll work hard. But the job comes with more Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.