If you’ve ever run or written a macro for PowerPoint, Excel or Word on a Windows PC you’ll probably be familiar with the Developer tab. Move over to the Mac and you’ll be able to turn on the Mac Developer tab for both Excel and Word but it simply doesn’t exist for PowerPoint. Until now!

The developer tab allows you to run macros in a file and develop them yourself. On a Windows PC in PowerPoint this tab is not visible by default, you have to go to the customisation settings to turn it on via File / Options / Customize Ribbon. Similarly, to access the developer tab in Excel on a Mac you have to turn it on under Excel / Preferences / View as you can see at the bottom of this window:

Excel Mac Preferences View with focus on 'In Ribbon, Show' the developer tab option is selected.

In the Microsoft 365 Mac version of PowerPoint, there’s no such option. There have been lots of folk requesting that Microsoft bring the Developer tab to PowerPoint but for now, the request has been turned down. So what can we do about it?

Introducing the BrightCarbon Developer tab add-in for PowerPoint Mac

We’ve developed a simplified version of the Mac developer tab seen in Excel that you can download for free. You’ll need to be running the 2016 or Microsoft 365 version of PowerPoint (as there’s no ribbon in PowerPoint 2011).

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Download the Developer Tab for Mac add-in file and save it in this folder*: (you might need to create the Add-Ins folder yourself)
    ~/Library/Group Containers/UBF8T346G9.Office/User Content/Add-Ins
  2. Download the supporting DevTabMacPPT script file and save it in this folder*:
    ~/Library/Application Scripts/com.microsoft.Powerpoint
  3. Activate the Mac Developer tab add-in in PowerPoint as follows:
    1. Start PowerPoint
    2. Click Tools / PowerPoint Add-ins…
      Add-ins window for PowerPoint Mac
    3. Click the [+] symbol, browse to the folder where you saved the add-in, select it and click Open
      Add-ins window for PowerPoint Mac with the Mac developer tab add-in visible.
    4. Click the OK button to finish.
    5. Depending on your version of macOS, you may be prompted to grant access for PowerPoint to control your computer. This is required for the script file to send keystrokes. If you’re not asked, you need to do this manually in System Preferences / Security & Privacy / Accessibility where you can tick the box next to PowerPoint:
      macOS Gatekeeper Accessibility screenshot

*To access the ~/Library folder in Finder, click the Go button whilst holding the alt key and then click Library. You can then navigate to the required folder and then drag it to the side bar to create a shortcut.

You can now see the brand new Developer tab ‘lite’ in the ribbon:

Screenshot of PowerPoint Mac Developer tab with the Quick Access Toolbar above the ribbon

It’s referred to as ‘lite’ because the controls group that you find on Windows is missing:

PowerPoint Developer tab no controls

This is because ActiveX controls are built on a Windows-only technology and hence Microsoft cannot support this type of control on Office for macOS. You’ll see ‘controls’ in the Excel for macOS developer tab but these are Form Controls and again, ActiveX controls are not available there either.

And there’s more.

You see that row of icons in the top orange title bar on macOS? That’s called the Quick Access Toolbar and we’ve got another free customisation file that you can download here to elevate your presentation creation productivity to new heights. Learn more about our QAT for Mac.

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Written by

Jamie Garroch

Senior technical consultant

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  1. Image of Geetesh Bajaj Geetesh Bajaj says:

    This is very cool, Jamie.

  2. Image of Doug Doug says:

    Once I click on the + sign in Tools/Powerpoint Add-ins there does not seem to be a way to browse to ~Library/Application Scripts/com.microsoft.Powerpoint

    • Image of Jamie Garroch Jamie Garroch says:

      There are several ways to get to this special folder Doug. The way I do it is to open Finder, click Go in the macOS menu bar with the option key held. That shows the user’s Library folder. You can then click on that and navigate to the required Application Script folder for PowerPoint. Once there, drag it to the sidebar to create a shortcut. Once it’s there, you can easily get to it from PowerPoint.

  3. Image of Dinesh Rudra Dinesh Rudra says:

    Hi Jamie, this was really helpful. Thank you for that.
    I see the new tab but unfortunately I can’t see the QAT and also, when I click on the Visual Basic function, I get a
    “Run-time error ‘5’: Invalid procedure call or argument” error message.

    Any idea what I’ve done wrong?
    Thanks again!

    • Image of Jamie Garroch Jamie Garroch says:

      Hi Dinesh. That error is a very generic once raised in lots of situations but in this cause it probably means the script file couldn’t be found. Did you manage to download the DevTabMacPPT.scpt file and save it in the required folder? It goes in the user’s Library here: ~/Library/Application Scripts/com.microsoft.Powerpoint

      • Image of Francesco Francesco says:

        Hello Jamie,

        I’m having the same issue as Dinesh. I checked and I did save the DevTabMacPPT.scpt file in the required folder, but still having the same issue. I don’t seem to find a solution to this.

        Any idea?
        Thank you

  4. Image of Jamie Garroch Jamie Garroch says:

    Dinesh/Francesco: would either of you be able to share your screen on a Zoom call so I can look at this? If so, please use the contact link at the top of the page and address the message to me.

  5. Image of Julia Julia says:

    Hi, Jamie! Thank you a lot for your hard work. Could please tell how to create the add-in folder? , I can’t make head or tail of it ? ( I tried to apply one method you suggested in the comments , but it’s no success)

  6. Image of Julia Julia says:

    Hi, Jamie! I figured out how to create a folder just right after having left a comment)))) but now I have another problem. While browsing to the folder where I saved the add-in, I simply can’t find it. I guess I do smth not right )) Thank you a lot

  7. Image of Julia Julia says:

    Hi, Jamie! I am finally succeed to add everything. But now it says run-time error 5…what should I do, could you tell me please ? I added script to the folder . Thank you a lot for your time . P.s I am just a beginner with those kind of things

    • Image of Jamie Garroch Jamie Garroch says:

      Hi Julia (and Dinesh, Francesco) . The ‘error 5’ can happen on some versions of macOS that don’t prompt you to allow PowerPoint to access the script file. Gatekeeper is a tricky little beast! Thank you to Oren for figuring this out 🙂 We’ve updated the add-in to prompt users to do this here: System Preferences / Security & Privacy / Accessibility (then unlock and tick the box next to PowerPoint). We’re also updating the article above with this info and a screenshot.

  8. Image of Tony Tony says:

    easy to use but the activeX Controls that are present in Excel are missing

    • Image of Jamie Garroch Jamie Garroch says:

      Hi Tony. That’s correct. They are completely missing from Microsoft’s implementation of PowerPoint for macOS. With Excel you can customise the ribbon and see them listed under All Commands but they just don’t exist in PowerPoint. Having said that, you could use standard shapes with action callbacks to get some slide show interactivity on macOS.

  9. Image of kai kai says:

    Hi Jamie,
    Thanks a lot for the add-in and straightforward description. Installation worked for me immediately for Powerpoint 2016.

  10. Image of sg sg says:

    Hi Jamie, Thanks-I followed all of the steps unfortunately when I navigate to it, it is greyed out. I also enabled ppt to make changes through security and permissions. I am running the most recent version of ppt (16.45).

    • Image of Jamie Garroch Jamie Garroch says:

      I wonder if VBA is installed on your machine. Can you reach the VBE window via Tools / Macros… / Visual Basic Editor?

  11. Image of e e says:

    Thank you for this. Is it possible to get the Controls back as well? I need them to enable annotation during slideshows (I know you can draw on slides during slideshows but you cannot type, which is frustrating)

    • Image of Jamie Garroch Jamie Garroch says:

      Unfortunately the controls haven’t been provided for PowerPoint by Microsoft.

  12. Image of Ahlam Ahlam says:

    Hi Jamie, Thanks a lot for the instructions and the add-in, I installed and saved the files in the proper locations, imported the add-in then check the accessibility in system preferences, great, but there are no controls when I click on the developer tab, I only see, Visual Basic which does nothing when click on it, Macros, store, pp add-in bottoms, but nothing else. I needed to add “editable text” on my presentation but I dont see any of the tools or controls under the developer tab 🙁 Could you help

    • Image of Jamie Garroch Jamie Garroch says:

      Unfortunately the controls haven’t been provided for PowerPoint by Microsoft.

  13. Image of Sebas Sebas says:

    I placed the add-in in the right folder, and when i want to select it within Powerpoint Extra menu > Powerpoint Add-ins, it’s greyed out.
    SaveasAdobePDF was already added and is in the same folder.
    It doesn’t let me add it. What to do? I use the office 365 version.

  14. Image of Bryant Bryant says:

    Hello Jamie,

    I’m excited I found your sight but am having trouble with executing my macros code.
    One gives me a mismatch error and another doesn’t have any errors but it is suppose to let me change the color of one object depending on the first object you click.
    While I realize that this could be a mistake in my code, I am using code that has been used on other machines, let it be windows. It doesn’t use any active X stuff either.
    Do you have any clue what is up? It seems to me almost if the file I got was corrupted but usuallable. maybe I’ll reinstall.

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