How to Duplicate a Shape in PowerPoint: Full Video Tutorial with Written Guide
In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to duplicate a shape in PowerPoint with different shortcuts, and you’ll learn how to set up default shapes to accelerate the process.
If you’re wondering how to duplicate a shape in PowerPoint, the best options are the following shortcuts:
Ctrl + D (PC) / ⌘ + D (Mac): Duplicates an object and shifts it slightly down and to the right.
Ctrl + Shift + Drag (PC) / ⌘ + Ctrl + Shift + Drag (Mac): Duplicates an object “in place” so that you create a copy and then drag the shape to wherever you want it to be.
The “+” sign in these shortcuts means “Press and hold down.”
So, with Ctrl + D, you should press the Ctrl key, hold it down, and then press the D key and release both Ctrl and D.
With the Ctrl + Shift + Drag shortcut, you should press Ctrl and hold it down, press Shift and hold it down, and then drag the shape(s) using your left mouse button; when you’re done, release everything.
Video Table of Contents:
1:06: Duplicating Objects
5:13: Default Shapes
12:36: Exercise: Create New Slide Sections
18:09: Recap and Summary
[Click the “Files & Resources” tab to get all the PowerPoint files for this lesson.]
Both these shortcuts are far more efficient than the normal Copy and Paste commands (Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V on PC; ⌘ + C and ⌘ + V on Mac).
For example, suppose that you’re working with a slide like the one in the “Before” file here:
You could click the “Current Valuation” blue box and press Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V, which produces this output:
These commands duplicate the shape and shift it slightly down and to the right.
However, you could do the same thing more efficiently with the single Ctrl + D (⌘ + D) shortcut:
If you want to duplicate shapes quickly in PowerPoint, and you don’t care about their positions or arranging them in a specific way, Ctrl + D (and F4 to repeat your last action) is the fastest way to do it.
But an even better alternative in many cases is the Ctrl + Shift + Drag (⌘ + Ctrl + Shift + Drag) shortcut, which duplicates a shape and “locks” its axes so you can move the shape straight up or down or straight to the left or right.
Here’s what happens when you select the blue rounded rectangle and use the Ctrl + Shift + Drag shortcut to move it up and down:
And here’s the same duplicated shape moving from left to right along a constant axis:
Do These Shortcuts Make a Difference?
These shortcuts might not seem like a big deal because using 2 keystrokes vs. 4 keystrokes doesn’t save much time.
However, when you use PowerPoint extensively, you will duplicate shapes and move them around A LOT.
Even if each shortcut only saves a few seconds individually, they could add up to 20–30 minutes saved if you’re in PowerPoint all day – as many junior investment bankers are!
How to Duplicate Shapes in PowerPoint with Default Shapes
Another option for “duplicating shapes” is to use the default shape feature in PowerPoint, which lets you set default styles for shapes, lines, and textboxes.
If you use this command, any new shape, line, or textbox you insert will use the same styles and formatting that you set.
For example, suppose that you click the blue “Current Valuation” box on the slide in the screenshot above.
Then, you press the Right Mouse Button and go to “Set as Default Shape” (the D letter key on PC; “Set Default” on Mac):
If you now insert a shape via the “Insert Shape” menu (the Alt, 09 shortcut key if you have our Quick Access Toolbar installed):
You’ll get another shape with the same fill color, font size, font color, and more:
You could also do the same thing with the textbox on this slide (“Over the past year, Jaguar’s…”) or the dashed line below the textbox:
Now, whenever you insert a new line, it will use the same style as the default line you just set:
Default shapes do not quite “duplicate” shapes or lines; they’re a quick way to apply consistent styles and formatting on a slide or throughout an entire presentation.
However, they do have some limitations:
1) Default shapes and textboxes copy only the formatting of the first line of text.
2) You can set only one default style per shape/line/textbox at once, so there’s no built-in way to store multiple “reference shapes.”
3) Defaults save with your current file and only apply to your current file, so you can’t easily “transfer them” to other presentations.
4) You can’t “reset” default shapes/lines/textboxes to their original styles. To do this, you have to open a brand-new PowerPoint file, copy the default styles from there, paste them into your presentation, and set new defaults in your current presentation.
5) It’s not always clear if you’re working with a shape or a textbox because they’re treated the same way in PowerPoint; the initial styles/formats are different, but there’s no way to tell them apart if the formats have been changed.
How to Duplicate Shapes in PowerPoint: Practice Exercise
In the exercise in this video, you’ll get some practice setting the default line, shape, and textbox for the sample slides included here.
In the second part of this task, you’ll use the Ctrl + Shift + Drag shortcut to duplicate the next 2 sections of the slide shown above.
To do this, you can start by clicking and dragging the left mouse button to select the shapes, textboxes, and the line in the main part of the slide:
Then, press and hold Ctrl and Shift and use the left mouse button to create duplicates of these shapes and move them down:
To create another duplicate of this entire collection of shapes, you can do the same thing by selecting all of them and using Ctrl + Shift + Drag to move them down.
If you want to distribute these shapes properly so that the same amount of space separates each section, you’ll need to group each set of shapes (Ctrl + G) and use the “Distribute Vertically” command (Alt, 1, V with our Quick Access Toolbar).
More Advanced Shape Features in PowerPoint: Alignment, Distribution, Formatting, and More
This tutorial should give you a quick overview of how to duplicate a shape in PowerPoint with different methods and how to insert new shapes with the proper formatting.
We go into much more detail on this topic in the full PowerPoint Pro course, including distribution, alignment, and formatting commands and how to use them to get great results.
We also teach you how to write macros in PowerPoint that accomplish these tasks so that you can automate your workflow.
Even if you have no interest in learning to code macros, you can install our macro package to get all these features once you sign up for the course.