Working with layers in PowerPoint

PowerPoint – Working With Layers

If you are working on a PowerPoint presentation and the slide only has 3 or 4 layers, it’s easy enough to arrange these using the Arrange button within the Home tab and use Arrange / Send to back or Bring to front.

However, if the slide is more advanced, with many more layers, you’ll want to have more control over this.

The easiest way to control this is to familiarise yourself with the Selection Pane.
There are various ways to access this, the quickest is from PowerPoint’s Home tab, clicking the Arrange button and choosing the last option on the drop-down that is called Selection Pane.

Once the Selection Pane is open, you can easily manage layers by reordering them, renaming them, hiding them or locking them into position to prevent you accidentally moving them out of place when working on the slide or template.

It works in a very similar way to programs such as Photoshop.

PowerPoint layers

Keyboard Shortcut To Launch Selection Pane

You can toggle Selection Pane open or closed from view within PowerPoint by using the following keyboard shortcut:

Windows keyboard shortcut for Selection Pane in PowerPoint:


PowerPoint 2023 in Office 365 Selection Pane to sort layers.

PowerPoint Selection pane

View or hide a PowerPoint layer

Once you are in the Selection Pane, you can toggle to view icon (the little eye) to make a layer visible or not.

This can be really useful when working on other layers or hiding the layer permanently from that particular slide.

Locking a layer in PowerPoint

Locking the layer by toggling the padlock will prevent the layer from moving around while working on other parts of the presentation slide.

Rename a layer in PowerPoint

Renaming each layer is easy by slowly double-clicking on the layer name. This is incredibly useful with complex slides or templates that use many layers.


The Selection Pane in PowerPoint is a powerful tool that allows users to efficiently organize and manage objects within their presentations. This feature enables easy selection, visibility control, and arrangement of elements, making it an indispensable asset for creating professional and visually appealing slides.

Users can access the Selection Pane through the “Home” tab, and it displays a comprehensive list of all objects present on the slide. By simply clicking on the desired element within the pane, users can select, rename, re-order, hide, or unhide specific objects with utmost convenience.

With the Selection Pane’s intuitive interface, users can streamline their editing workflow, saving time and enhancing the overall productivity of PowerPoint presentations.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced PowerPoint user, mastering the Selection Pane can significantly elevate your presentation creation process, ensuring a seamless and captivating audience experience.

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