Fine-Tuning PowerPoint’s Morph Function

Using Morph

It’s October 18 – Persons Day. On this day in 1929, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Great Britain made the decision to include women under the legal definition of persons in Canada. This landmark was thanks to the efforts of the Famous Five, a group of Albertan suffragettes whose names were Henrietta Muir Edwards, Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney, and Irene Parlby.

I figured this would be a great opportunity to test out PowerPoint 2019’s morph function in order to create a presentation honouring the Famous Five. I started with an image of these women in elliptical frames, all taken at roughly the same distance. I then made four duplicates, and used PowerPoint’s Remove Background feature so that I had one image of each individual woman. I lined these up at the top of the title slide, and then duplicated the slide four times. I used the morph function to blow up each woman’s photo in turn, with each previous photo receding back up to the top row once her individual profile was clicked through.

Morph isn’t Perfect

My plan, however, wasn’t foolproof. I noticed that in several of the transitions, the large image and the small one that replaced it would not glide towards each other’s positions. Instead, invisible versions of the original uncropped image would glide around within the crop frame, each image refocusing on its new subject independently.

Fixing the Problem

To solve this, we took five oval shapes and sized them to fit the women’s frames as closely as possible. We then grouped each image with its oval. Now, instead of sliding around the uncropped image, the transition applied to the shape, inflating it and shrinking it as we had hoped.

This, though, allowed us to discover a new problem: on several of the transitions, the image coming to the forefront would abruptly jump through the receding image; clearly, the z-order (position in the imaginary stack of all items on the slide) was not consistent between slides. Simply picking a consistent order and applying it to all slides solved this, but it left us with one more thing to think about.

When issuing forth from the top row, or rejoining it, some of the images would glide just underneath the edges of adjacent images on their way to their final position. I felt that this did not make aesthetic sense; shouldn’t the bigger, “closer” image glide in front of the smaller ones? The thing was, though, that tweaking the z-order to avoid this inevitably led back to the other problem of images jumping through one another.  We solved this by duplicating the problematic images and aligning the duplicate directly overtop of the original; we then animated the duplicate to appear after the last morph transition, with the original disappearing at the same time. This resulted, finally, in a seamless transition.

Oops! I closed that tab! (in Windows 10)

You’re working on a research project, and you’ve dug through the bowels of the internet to find some information that is relevant to your question. After a brief interlude of looking up which artist sang the song you have stuck in your head in a new tab, your caffeine-saturated finger muscles accidentally press the close button/Ctrl + W one too many times. Oh no! We’ve all been there, but not all of us know what to do about it. Until now.

Press Ctrl + Shift + T to reopen the tab you’ve just closed, and the tab you closed before that, and so on. What’s more, if your computer updated overnight and closed your browser, you can use this same trick after you open your browser back up to recall all the tabs that you lost. This trick works in every browser on Windows 10.

Windows 10 MAGNIFY!

Another day at work, and your boss is checking in to see what you’ve accomplished. Of the several windows you have open, both for the project and for reference, one has very small text, and another has a font colour that doesn’t stand out against the background. How can you show your boss your progress without them having to squint 6 inches away from your screen? Or perhaps you’re presenting an Excel spreadsheet to a huge room. How can you make sure the people at the back can see the values in the cells?

Windows 10’s magnifier shortcut is your easy accommodation for this problem. By pressing Windows Logo Key + = (equals), you can zoom your screen in on wherever your cursor sits. This shortcut comes in three versions. In Full Screen Version (Ctrl + Alt + F), the entire screen zooms in on your cursor. In Lens Version ( Ctrl + Alt + L), a small window showing the magnified area appears. In Docked Version (Ctrl + Alt + D), the magnified area is displayed in a wide panel that appears at the top of the screen. These versions can be cycled between using Ctrl + Alt + M. In all three versions, the area magnified changes depending on where you move your mouse, and each version is also accompanied by a miniature window which allows you to:

  • Change the degree of magnification
  • Access a text-to-speech feature
  • Change the speed and accent of the text-to-speech feature*

Exit the magnifier by pressing Windows Logo Key + Esc.

Windows 10 Emojis: A Shortcut

Imagine that you’re a CSIS agent, and you’ve been asked to write up a report regarding the text messages exchanged between two suspects in a terror plot. Straightforward enough – unless the suspects use emojis. What is your senior agent going to think if your report states that one suspect used the “exploding head” emoji? Without a way to show the emojis themselves in high resolution, confusion might ensue.

Of course, you could have plenty of mundane reasons to want emojis in your documents as well. Perhaps you want your emails in Outlook to seem more approachable, or maybe you want to construct a simulated text conversation on a PowerPoint slide. Fortunately, Windows 10 has a solution: a searchable emoji keyboard. This tool can be called upon in almost any Windows 10 app by pressing the  Windows Logo Key + . (period). The dialogue box that appears is the same in any app that you open it in, and has all the same emoji options that you have on your phone, as well as pre-made “kaomojis” [(づ ̄3 ̄)づ╭❤~, (❁´◡`❁), etc.]. You can keep typing in the same spot in the document to search for a specific emoji, or you can click on the dialogue box’s various category tabs to view related options.