Inserted pictures behave unpredictably
When you insert pictures onto slides, sometimes they appear inside placeholders, sometimes not.
Why? How can you predict what will happen?
And why does it matter?
What will happen?
It depends on the version of PowerPoint you're working with.
First, what do we mean by "appear inside placeholders"?
- A placeholder is one of those "Click here to [whatever]" blocks that appear on newly inserted slides.
- A picture that appears in a placeholder will be resized to fit the placeholder and will replace the "Click here" text.
- If you select and delete a picture in a placeholder, the picture disappears; the "Click here" placeholder re-appears.
When you insert a picture into PowerPoint 2003 and earlier:
- If you've selected a Picture or Clip-Art placeholder first, the picture will appear in the placeholder.
- If any other type of placeholder is selected (or none is selected), the picture will appear as a regular picture.
When you insert a picture into PowerPoint 2007 and later:
- If there's an empty Content or Picture placeholder on the slide when you insert the picture, the picture will appear in the placeholder (whether you've selected it or not).
- If there are two such empty placeholders (or one of each), the first picture you insert will appear in the first placeholder, the second picture you insert will appear in the second placeholder.
- If there are no Content or Picture placeholders on the slide OR if all Content/Picture placeholders already contain pictures (or any other content), the picture will appear as a regular picture.
And why we care
Pictures inserted into placeholders in PowerPoint 2007 and later are automatically "downsampled" to lower resolution.
- This can make them blurry and in some cases can destroy the animation in animated GIF pictures.
- This happens regardless of your settings in PowerPoint's Options dialog or registry settings that prevent downsampling ("compression") of images otherwise.
- Images that are NOT in placeholders do respect your compression settings.
You may want to use the placeholder for other types of content.
- Having the picture automatically drop into the placeholder can be a nuisance.
- To fix it, click the picture to select it then press the DEL key to delete it, add some content to the placeholder (anything, even a few characters of nonsense text will do) then insert the picture again.
- Or to save a few steps, right-click the picture, drag it to one side, then choose Copy here from the pop-up menu. The copy will be a regular picture. Now you can click to select the picture in the placeholder and delete it.
Note: If you're not a coder, close or avert your eyes. This next bit could make your head hurt otherwise.
Pictures in placeholders don't behave exactly the same as regular pictures when you're using VBA or other code to work with them.
- If you're testing for all shapes of .Type = msoPicture or msoLinkedPicture, your code won't "see" pictures in placeholders. You also need to test to see if each shape's .Type is an msoPlaceholder and if so, whether the shape's .PlaceholderFormat.ContainedType = msoPicture or msoLinkedPicture.
- If you delete a picture in a placeholder, the shape doesn't go away, it reverts to an empty placeholder shape. You need to delete it twice, once to remove the picture and again to remove the empty placeholder.
- If you're inserting pictures and don't want them to get inserted into a placeholder, you must make sure that there are no empty Content or Picture placeholders on the slide, either by deleting them or by adding content to any empty placeholders, adding your picture(s), then deleting the "bogus" content from the placeholders you've temporarily "filled".