Cycle through overlapping objects to select them

When you have objects overlapping on a slide, it may be difficult to select the object you want. For example, you may find yourself selecting the text placeholder when you want to select an image. But when you move the text placeholder to select the image, getting the placeholder back in its exact location is difficult.

Instead, select any object and press the Tab key. PowerPoint selects another object on the slide. Continue to press the Tab key as PowerPoint selects object after object until the object you need is selected.

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9 comments to Cycle through overlapping objects to select them

  • Sometimes, a large object is covering many other objects on the screen. So I don’t have to keep cycling using Tab and risk selecting wrong objects, I’ll often use “Send to Back” (not “Send Backward”) on the “covering” object to temporarily have access to the covered objects. When I’m done, I select the large object and “Bring to Front” again.

  • Alessandro Santini

    These is a more formal way of doing this – from the “Home” ribbon, click on the “Select” button located at the right end of it. Then click “Selection Pane”. That will display the full hierarchy of items in the slide. You can even rename them so that you can easily find them later.

  • Yes, the Selection pane is a great new feature for PowerPoint 2007 and 2010. It also lets you hide objects. Thanks for bringing that up.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Alessandro!!

  • In PowerPoint 2013, you can also use the Selection pane to reorder objects. I wrote about it at

  • David Williams

    Hi Ellen

    No problem playing playing PP on my I Mac, but the same files on my Macbook Pro overlap intermittently at bottom of frames. 2011 version on both machines

    With thanks


  • Mindful Marketing

    Thank you Ellen for this information. I was trying the “tab” technique and it wasn’t working, then I realized I’m in “object edit mode”. So in case anyone else is having a similar issue, first press the “ESC” key to exit object edit mode and the press “tab” to cycle through all the objects on the slide.

  • Jill

    Thank you so much! This has dramatically increased my productivity when producing PowerPoint Presentations that contain multiple images. I used to move images out the way in order to get to the image in the background to modify it. This is SOOO much of a time saver. Thank you

  • nature_lover

    Hello Alessandro Santini,
    Your suggestion/help really helped me a lot and i wanna thank you for this…LIVE on you great helpers…Salute and all others having big heart to help others.

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