I’ve been using PowerPoint for a long time, a long time… Throughout my PowerPoint journey I’ve found a tonne of functions in the presentation tool that match (and sometimes even beat) Photoshop. Don’t believe me? Read on…

As I write this I think to myself how many graphic designers will be glancing over this blog post thinking, “yeah right, whatever”.

It’s a common experience I’ve become accustomed to over the years of being a presentation designer. All over the world there are people that scoff at even the thought of using PowerPoint functionality to create beautiful and effective pieces of design. I think it’s about time that someone spoke out about the ways in which PowerPoint can be used for techniques that are just as effective as, and even simpler to achieve than, with many of the Adobe Creative suite programmes (Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Flash…)

I should point out that the depth of functions offered within Adobe programmes is vast. There are far more things that you can do with images in Photoshop than will ever be available in PowerPoint. But to that point, it’s been estimated that 90% of Photoshop users use less than 10% of the functions available to them.

I’m going to prove to you that many of the functions that get used in Photoshop can actually be carried out in PowerPoint, with even greater ease. Admittedly, Microsoft haven’t done a great job at advertising some of the things I’m going to show you; perhaps they just didn’t think that the general population of non-design folk would understand or be ready for them? So instead they continue to provide all kinds of instructions and layouts enabling bullet points to be placed generously on slides!

So here’s a list of the functions that are all easily accessible from your very own copy of Microsoft PowerPoint. I’m not going to explain in depth how to carry out each of the following, we’ll save that for future posts!

Viewing layers

One of the most helpful tools that hardly anybody knows is available. The ability to see and name all the objects on your slide with a list of layers. The ability to then make an object invisible while you work on others is indispensable. This works in the same way as the Illustrator and Photoshop layers function.

Removing image background

I’m sure most know about the fantastic ‘Magic wand’ tool designers use in Photoshop, enabling you to select and delete out specific parts of an image. This can be done in pretty much the same way in PowerPoint, using the ‘Remove background’ function.

Image blur

A really nice effect on slides is to have a blurred image in the background, allowing you to have sharp visuals containing your message in the foreground. Most of the time people send the image over to the graphics department to add a certain amount of Gaussian blur. In actual fact, the same function can be performed in PowerPoint by simply selecting artistic effects and dictating how much Gaussian blur you’d like to add to your image. This like many other functions in PowerPoint is actually much simpler to achieve than in Photoshop.

Image reflection

This is perhaps the best example of where PowerPoint far excels Photoshop’s functionality. If you’re trying to achieve a reflection in PS, you’re going to need a multiple step process, starting with 1.duplicating the image, 2.then mirroring it, 3.cropping down up to where reflection is needed, adding transparency, the list goes on…

In PowerPoint, simple select the reflection option from the picture format window. Straight away you’ve reached the point mentioned above, but the functionality doesn’t stop there, you can now control how far the reflection reaches, whether you’d like it to blur the further away it gets, plus many mare options far outreaching the ‘do it yourself’ Photoshop way.


Everyone loves the inner/drop shadow feature in Photoshop, well it’s exactly the same in PowerPoint with the ability to change the distance, blur, direction, colour etc… Just remember, when adding effects, less is usually more!

Image compression

Ever frustrated that your presentation file size is too big after inserting too many large images and then end up having to take them into Photoshop to reduce their size and resolution?

In PowerPoint there is an option to ‘compress images’ allowing you to discard any cropped areas, and reduce the image resolution to one that still looks perfect when presented, but is actually much smaller in file size than it was before.

Image colour overlay

Have you ever needed to make your image washed out to sit against the background of your presentation? Perhaps you’d like to change the colour of the image to make it mono-tone with a specific colour that fits in with your brand identity? This can be carried out in PowerPoint with one simple click of your mouse.

Text layout

You have the ability to change the leading, kerning and many other features similar to how you’d go about working with text in Adobe software, the advantage here is that once tweaked and perfected, your text remains editable, so there are no issues down the line when others need to amend the file. NO MORE UNEDITABLE TEXT IN PRESENTATIONS!

Learn more about typography in PowerPoint in our in-depth, how-to guide.

Pen vector tool

It is possible to use the freeform tool in PowerPoint to draw your own shape – no problem – then once you’re finished, simply right click and edit the points. Now you can alter the vector lines in the same way you would in Illustrator.

Wondering when you would use this tool? Check out the impact you can create using masking effects in this blog post.

So there you have it, a pretty long list of functions that mirror if not exceed the same functionality as in Adobe tools. Is PowerPoint better than Photoshop? I certainly believe that you can use PowerPoint functionality to craft effective, good-looking design once you know a few simple techniques. If you want to learn more about what PowerPoint can do, take a look at our free online resources:

Mind blowing PowerPoint, Awesome PowerPoint tricks, and Animation, or pick up more tips and tricks on our Blog.

If you’d like me to walk through any of the above examples in more detail, please comment below.

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Written by

Vincent Thompson

Principal design consultant

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  1. Image of Matt Matt says:

    Please. This post is filled with falsities.

    PPT background removal is nowhere near as good as Photoshop. Once you set the removal tool settings the first time, it’s even quicker than PPT. And when you select areas to keep or remove in PPT, it almost never gets the areas you want in a few clicks.

    Layers? Well, you can see them in PPT but not the image. In photoshop you actually get that layer image in a box to easily see without caring what you named it.

    Last time I checked, you can edit any text layer you want as many times as needed, and you have about 300 more ways to reshape your words than in PPT. It’s nice to show people many unknown things in PPT they can use, but there is no comparison.

  2. Image of Vincent Thompson Vincent Thompson says:

    Hi Matt –
    Some good points you’ve raised…
    You’re quite right the remove background tool isn’t anyway near as accurate as Photoshop, but you can get pretty good results if you’re using images in presentations. PowerPoint wasn’t designed for hi-res printable editing.

    Layers – it would be handy to view the image on the layers panel, still really handy when working with complex slides.

    Text – I was referring to text created in Photoshop and then inserted into PowerPoint.

    I don’t think anything I’ve mentioned above is false, as mentioned at the beginning of the article Photoshop is a far more powerful tool, but for most people who need to use simple functionality when creating content for their presentations and don’t necessarily have the knowledge or license of Adobe software, I wanted to point out some of the functions that are available.

  3. Image of Clemence Lepers Clemence Lepers says:

    PowerPoint isn’t better than Photoshop, it’s different.
    PowerPoint helps users to do basic things people who don’t have PS would like to do (remove a background image, add layers, use vectors as you pointed out), which is great. Most of us are not designers and don’t intend to become ones, so I agree that it’s really convenient.

    I think the point of your post was to show that PPT actually has some simple edition functions that get close from the ones offered in PS, isn’t it? Your post content is great, I just think you might want to change the title – which is misleading 😉


  4. Image of Sergey Sergey says:

    Theses are two tools with some overlapping functionality, I don’t see much sense in comparing them..

    PS is absolute crap for making good presentations.

    The same can be said for PowerPoint and nontrivial graphics.

  5. Image of liz liz says:

    I have been using powerpoint to edit everthing and anything!
    Totally agree with you Vincent! Totally!

  6. Image of Shweta Shweta says:

    If you play around a bit and get creative you can achieve anything you want with PowerPoint. I even created a full fledged movie with the animation feature.

  7. Image of Elison Elison says:

    Thank you so much for this! Keep it up with the patiently explained

  8. Image of Joe Pops Joe Pops says:

    I use PowerPoint for my amateur graphic design work. I’ve done over 300 pieces some far. It’s a great tool for the non professional.

    Joe Pops (Refuse2BB) on Pinterest

  9. Image of Ajayi progress Ajayi progress says:

    PowerPoint is a great app that combines simplicity with quality, if you really know how to use it.
    I totally agree with you, Vincent.
    Thanks for the information.

  10. Image of Sandra Gonzalez Sandra Gonzalez says:

    I’m a student of architecture and people always look at me weird when I say I use PowerPonit for my renders over Photoshop. I always like it better but there is just one thing I really need for my work that I havent been able to figure out if It’s possible and that wuold make PP and Ps the same for me. The last thing mention in this article, the thing with Edit Points, how can I do that but with an Image? I really just need ti know this to consider PowerPoint perfect…

  11. Image of Vincent Vincent says:

    Hi Sandra

    Glad you’re able to work with PowerPoint for your architecture projects, I’m sure there are lots of functions that come in really handy when working with your renders.
    To your point on edit points, in order to be able to do this you need to have a shape that is vector based (basically it needs to have a defined outline) Unfortunately an image is not vector based, it’s a series or small dots we call pixels, all of different colours that make out the image once zoomed out from.
    What may be of help, would be to use the freeform tool in PowerPoint to draw around part of the image that you’d like to view, once you have that shape, you could copy and paste the image into it, revealing only the part of the image you’ve drawn.
    Hope that helps.

  12. Image of david david says:

    Comparing the two I think is a bit wrong, Photoshop is useful in various fields from character animations, textures for 3d models, professional image editing, drawing and coloring comics and illustrations, creating graphics for motion graphics, etc. The important thing is that many of these programs that are used as standards have tools created to facilitate tasks in the area itself, for example if you want to make a comic or manga use clip painted studio since to create the text balloons or to put gradients or plots the program has tools designed for that.
    Clearly power point is one more tool and depends a lot on the person who uses it to do a good job, but it is like comparing movie maker with premier or sony vegas, or comparing a professional camera with a cell phone, or a rendering engine like Lumion. vs v.ray, clearly all this has a lower learning curve and is useful but that does not mean that it is more powerful and above all more flexible than the other program.
    Also something important to mention there are programs like GIMP that is the same as Photoshop and is free.
    Finally, the answer from “Clemence” seems very accurate and very focused, especially regarding the title, in my humble opinion it should be something like: Photoshop functions that can be emulated in Power Point.

  13. Image of Fra Fra says:

    Very goid article.I love ppt it is very easy WITH comprehensive tools.

  14. Image of Osk Osk says:

    I think the primary issue I have with the article is the click-bait title.

    No…Powerpoint is not better than Photoshop.

    That being said, you have laid out some things here that I never knew Powerpoint could do, and will implement them in my next presentation.

    The thing of it comes from the small print…well, IF you’re one of the 90% of PS users whom use less than 10% of the functions (instead of the more accurate 50% whom use 30%)…and IF you also are a Powerpoint Power-User…and IF this meets the minimum needs for your presentation…and IF we cure world hunger….etc., etc.

    Yes, IF you meet all of those criterion, then you MIGHT find Powerpoint more USEFUL to you than Photoshop….

    ….but not better.

    You used marketing tactics shamelessly, and you know it.

    The net is positive, however, as many PPT users will have expanded functionality from the article.

    …and you’ll have a lot of PS users ‘shopping your head onto a goat on your Facebook page.

  15. Image of martuja hosen martuja hosen says:

    Thank you so much for your valuable post. But IF you want to retouch your images that need to adobe photoshop. You tutorial was really amazing. Thank you for sharing this.

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