We help IT Professionals succeed at work.

How to prevent / stop PowerPoint from automatically inserting pictures and icons into empty placeholders?

Jamie Garroch
Jamie Garroch used Ask the Experts™
on
Is there a way to stop PowerPoint from automatically inserting pictures/icons into an empty picture placeholder on a slide when using the Insert / Pictures and/or Insert / Icons functionality?

For example, if I have a slide that has a picture placeholder occupying 50% of the width of the slide and I want to insert an SVG icon next to it, before adding the picture, the SVG icon is automatically inserted into the empty picture placeholder, even if it's not selected. This is a simple example with a simple workaround, insert the picture first but in some cases, a layout may have numerous picture/object placeholders so this problem becomes more of an issue. It's also a problem when automating PowerPoint with VBA.

Is there a keyboard modifier to prevent this behavior or a setting in options?
Comment
Watch Question

Do more with

Expert Office
EXPERT OFFICE® is a registered trademark of EXPERTS EXCHANGE®
John KorchokProduction Manager
Commented:
In a quick test, pasting the picture when the placeholder is not selected, prevents it from glomming on to the picture placeholder. I've never seen any registry settings to change this.

You can also delete the placeholder, insert the graphic, then reset the slide layout to restore the placeholder.
Jamie GarrochSenior Technical Consultant at BrightCarbon

Author

Commented:
Thanks John.

FYI, there's is a bug in the picture pasting behaviour relating to non-rectangular picture placeholders which we reported to Microsoft last week.

I updated the first line of the question to make it clearer that this particular insertion behaviour relates to when a picture or icon is inserted from the Insert tab. It's the automatic insertion into placeholders in this case that I want to prevent.

The placeholder deletion idea is an interesting workaround from an automation perspective. When not using VBA, we're trying to find a solution to train thousands of corporate users on how to avoid this annoying default behaviour.
John KorchokProduction Manager

Commented:
I think of these Microsoft blunders as "authoritarian helpfulness": We know how you really want to work, so we'll make it impossible to do anything else.

This is somewhat elaborate, but you could create customUI replacements for Insert>Picture and Insert>Icon and have VBA scan for picture placeholders. When found, unselected placeholders would be filled with a dummy graphic, then the user's picture or icon inserted, then the dummy picture is deleted. If the placeholder is selected, the insert operates normally and the picture goes into the placeholder.
CEO PowerPoint Alchemy
Commented:
We have sometimes inserted images onto a blank slide then cut and pasted onto the slide with the picture placehoder. I know this is a crazy workaround!
Jamie GarrochSenior Technical Consultant at BrightCarbon

Author

Commented:
Thanks both of you for confirming there's no [easy] solution for a user with PowerPoint 'as is' and that 'something' can be done via programming.

I don't think customUI (or repurposing) here will work as I'd lose the Microsoft SVG icons UI. Likewise, insert+cut+paste has its own challenges given the unstable nature of the clipboard on different PC configurations (leading to sporadic "clipboard data not valid" errors - which can be handled).

I wish Microsoft would just give the choice to turn this off either in Options of via a keyboard modifier when clicking the Pictures / Icons button!
John KorchokProduction Manager

Commented:
Agreed! Give us the options!
There used to be an option to turn this off! It was like, automatically apply layout or something. And many of us turned it off.

I *bet* that Microsoft removed this option when they introduced Designer. Just a gut feeling.
And now that I've said this publicly, of course I cannot find any evidence of it whatsoever. I must have dreamed it. Wishful subconscious thinking? :-)