Change Default PowerPoint Settings Aspect Ratio from 4:3 to 16:9 – Permanently

April 28, 2015

Big News You Guys!

If you are using anything older than PowerPoint 2013 (including MAC’s PowerPoint 2011), the slide default for any new PowerPoint is 4:3 instead of 16:9. Some of you might not know the difference (happy to explain!) but I’m assuming a majority of you are excited for this quick hack like I am because of the fact that it is a HUGE pain to have anything built out in the 4:3 format and realize it must now be a 16:9 aspect ratio.

Why is a 16:9 Aspect Ratio So Great?

The 16:9 ratio is the new default and industry standard for presentations, video recordings or anything you want to viewed on a wide screen. Think of Flat Screen TV’s, Projectors and Tablets, all of these are built to display their best at a 16:9 ratio! Below are examples of the same image projected on a widescreen display to showcase the differences of a 16:9 and a 4:3 ratio. Notice the black bars on either side of the 4:3 example, this is because the slide layout is not optimized to fit a widescreen!

Aspect Ratio Comparison

Set a 16:9 Aspect Ratio As Your PowerPoint Default!

Now that we have drummed up enough excitement, let’s go over how to actually implement this hack in 7 steps!

  1. Open up a new – default presentation in PowerPoint. (It should look pretty boxy like our visual example above.)
  2. In the Ribbon Bar, Select “Design” then “Page Setup”.
  3. A Page Setup Dialog Box will appear with a dropdown option under the field, “Slides sized for:”
  4. Change the selected option from, “On-screen Show (4:3)” to “On-screen Show (16:9)” and the select, “OK”!
    PowerPoint Aspect Ratio Tutorial 1
  5. Now that we have set our desired default, we need to save it as a template! Select, “File” then “Save As” to have the Save As Dialog Box appear.
  6. Change the default file name (normally “Presentation1”) to “Blank” and under the “Save as type:” dropdown option, Select, “PowerPoint Template (*.potx)” and then Select “Save”.
    • IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER!! Do not change where (file location) you are saving the file. (A lot of people automatically hit Desktop. This is also a bad idea but we can discuss that in another post… 🙂 ) It will automatically save to an area in your computer where Microsoft Office Templates are saved.  In the image below you can see the file path where it will say something along the lines, “AppData > Roaming > Microsoft . Templates”.
    • Picture1
  7. Finished! As soon as you save the template, try opening up a blank PowerPoint and you will immediately see that it has been updated to the 16:9 Aspect Ratio!

Hoped this helped and you are as excited as I am to not have to change the default Aspect Ratio every single time you open up a new PowerPoint.

Happy Tuesday!


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  • Reply Rebecca Maguire April 28, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    Size really does matter!!!!

    • Reply Esther Maguire April 29, 2015 at 7:46 pm

      It really does! In addition to width and height contrary to popular belief 🙂

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