PowerPoint Quick Access Toolbar: Full Download, Setup, and Guide
In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to set up the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) in PowerPoint and how it can save you hours each day with improved keyboard shortcuts.
The PowerPoint Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) lets you create short, custom shortcuts for the most common commands in PowerPoint.
For example, normally, to left-align objects in the PC version of PowerPoint, you must press Alt, H, G, A, L for Left Align.
With a proper PowerPoint Quick Access Toolbar, however, you can press Alt, 1, L for Left Align.
This may seem like a small difference because it’s 3 vs. 5 keystrokes.
But if you use PowerPoint extensively, you will use these commands hundreds or thousands of times per day, which adds up to significant time savings.
NOTE: The “,” in these shortcuts means that you press and release each button sequentially. So, for the Alt, 1, L shortcut, you press Alt, release it, press 1, release it, and press L and release it.
Here’s how our recommended QAT shortens common commands and makes your life easier:
Alignment: Alt, H, G, A –> Alt, 1
Font Color: Alt, H, F, C –> Alt, 2
Shape Fill Color: Alt, H, S, F –> Alt, 3
Shape Outline: Alt, H, S, O –> Alt, 4
Format Shape: Alt, J, D, O –> Alt, 5
Order Objects: Alt, H, G –> Alt, 6
Font Size: Alt, H, F, S –> Alt, 7
Insert Rectangle: Alt, N, S, H, <Use Mouse to Draw> –> Alt, 8, <Use Mouse to Draw>
The QAT is the difference between leaving the office at a reasonable time vs. staying past midnight as you fix silly formatting issues on your slides.
You can get the full installation instructions below, plus some tips on how to recreate the QAT manually if you cannot install the file provided here.
If you’re on the Mac, you can still create the PowerPoint Quick Access Toolbar by following the “manual creation instructions” below, but the Alt-key shortcuts do not work.
To get around this problem, we recommend using a service like Accelerator Keys or a program like Parallels that lets you run the PC/Windows version of PowerPoint on the Mac.
PowerPoint Quick Access Toolbar: Installation Instructions (PC)
First, make sure you’ve downloaded the file above (“PPT-QAT-Export.exportedUI”).
Next, open PowerPoint and press Alt, T, O to enter the Options Menu.
NOTE: Once again, the “,” means “press and release.” So, press Alt, release it, press T, release it, and press O and release it.
When you reach the Options Menu, click on the “Quick Access Toolbar” on the left-hand side:
Within this menu, click on “Import/Export” at the bottom:
Select “Import Customization File” and then choose the PPT-QAT-Export.exportedUI file you downloaded from the link above.
Click “Yes” to confirm the changes when the warning appears:
The “Customize Quick Access Toolbar” area on the right should now look like this:
When you click “OK” and exit to the main area of PowerPoint, you should see all these commands under the normal ribbon menu:
And when you press and release the Alt key, you’ll see the numbers that activate these commands:
If you cannot install the QAT successfully, these commands do not appear, or you’re on a Mac, please see the sections below:
PowerPoint Quick Access Toolbar: Potential Problems in the 365 Version
Microsoft 365 programs sometimes hide the QAT by default, so you have to right-click the ribbon menu and make it visible:
Another issue is that Microsoft sometimes introduces “new features” and “new experiences,” making it harder to access the QAT and other important commands.
To fix this, click the “Upcoming Features” button in the title bar and disable the “new experience” look:
Finally, in some 365 versions, the “Autosave” command (set to Alt, 1 by default) is not overwritten when you import a customized PowerPoint Quick Access Toolbar.
To fix this, open the Options menu with Alt, T, O, go to the Quick Access Toolbar, and remove the “Autosave” command on the right-hand side.
Once you do this, all the other shortcuts in the QAT should move down one number, so Alt, 1 should now activate the Alignment commands.
PowerPoint Quick Access Toolbar: How to Recreate It Manually (PC and Mac)
If none of the fixes above work, another option is to recreate the Quick Access Toolbar manually.
It only takes a few minutes to set up, and it’s much faster than spending hours Googling to see why your PowerPoint/Office/Windows version does not work properly.
To set up the QAT manually, go to the Options Menu with Alt, T, O, and click on the Quick Access Toolbar on the left, as shown in the section above.
Under “Customize Quick Access Toolbar” on the right, you will see a series of default commands that already exist in the QAT.
Make sure the drop-down menu above is set to “For all documents (default),” and then click on each one and click “<< Remove”:
Once you’ve removed these default commands, go to “Choose commands from” on the left and set it to “All Commands”:
Next, scroll through the list and add the following commands to the Quick Access Toolbar in this order:
Change Outline Color
Draw Horizontal Text Box
Each command addition to the QAT should look like this:
Once you’ve finished, your PowerPoint Quick Access Toolbar should look like the one in the first section above.
PowerPoint Quick Access Toolbar: Issues on the Mac
In Mac PowerPoint, theoretically, you can also import a custom QAT, but we could not get it to work reliably on different systems.
BrightCarbon has some instructions you can follow, but they use a very different QAT than ours (theirs is much more crowded).
Due to these issues with importing a custom QAT in Mac PowerPoint, we recommend recreating the QAT manually.
You can follow the steps in the section above with a few small tweaks:
First, to access the Options Menu in Mac PowerPoint, press ⌘ + , and you should see an area like this:
Click the “Ribbon & Toolbar” icon and follow the steps above to remove the default commands in the QAT, select “All Commands,” and add all the commands to the right-hand side of this area:
Note: In Mac PowerPoint, there appears to be no way to add the “Change Font Size” command to the QAT.
Instead, there are only commands to Increase the Font Size and Decrease the Font Size, so we used the “Increase” version in the example above.
Finally, please note that the Alt-key shortcuts, such as Alt, 1 and Alt, 2, do not work in Mac PowerPoint because Mac systems lack the dedicated “Alt” key.
These Alt-key shortcuts are a big reason the PowerPoint Quick Access Toolbar is so useful; without them, the QAT will not save you nearly as much time.
To get around this problem, we strongly recommend using a service like Accelerator Keys to enable Alt-key shortcuts in Mac PowerPoint (and Excel).
Going Beyond the PowerPoint Quick Access Toolbar
While the QAT available here will save you a lot of time and accelerate your PowerPoint presentations, it’s just the first step toward true mastery.
You also need to learn how to use all the core commands and shortcuts, including the ones for alignment, distribution, and formatting, and how to create great-looking slides with them.
And if you want to level up your productivity even further, you’ll need to learn about VBA and macros in PowerPoint to automate your workflow.
Check out the full PowerPoint Pro course to get all that training and create presentations at warp speed.