What is Google Slides? The ULTIMATE Guide!


What is Google Slides?

With the onset of remote working and online education, collaboration tools have gained in popularity. Google Slides is a prime example of that. But, what exactly is Google Slides?

Google Slides is a FREE web-based presentation tool provided as part of the Google Suite. Google Slides allows you to create, modify, and deliver a presentation; all through a web browser. Google Slide is also known for its best-in-class real-time collaboration features.

If you are new to Google Slides or perhaps curious to know more about this tool, then this article is the perfect place for you to start as I will be discussing, in detail, about various key aspects of Google Slides and how to use them properly.

What is Google Slides? What is it used for?

As previously mentioned, Google Slides is an application developed by Google. It was released in 2006 as part of Google’s office applications and was previously known as “Google Presentation”. However, it was officially renamed as “Google Slides” in 2012.

Google Slides is a presentation tool that is used for creating presentations, editing an existing presentation, or delivering a presentation/debriefing your audience in an academic or professional setup. It is very useful in delivering lesson plans and works really well with Google Classroom.

There are several other use cases for Google Slides. More and more startups and corporate organizations are starting to use Google Slides and it is gaining in popularity.

Is PowerPoint the same as Google Slides?

Google Slides is akin to Microsoft PowerPoint or Keynote. It is similar in its objective as the goal of both the applications is to be the most helpful tool for its users in enabling them to create a presentation. However, PowerPoint and Google Slides is not the same as they are two different presentation applications.

While there are several differences between PowerPoint and Google Slides, one of the major differences is that Google Slides doesn’t require you to download a software.

Google Slides completely works on a web-based interface! This means, you don’t have to be using your own computer to access your presentation anymore!

Your Google Slides presentation can be accessed through web browsers such as Google Chrome, Safari, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge. It can also be used on iOS and Android devices through its mobile application.

Is Google Slides FREE to Use?

Unlike many of its competitors, Google Slides has the upper hand when it comes to being accessible to people. Google Slides is completely FREE for use and packs most of the basic essential tools for creating presentations. Hence, it is a perfect option for people who are occasionally in need of making a presentation.

Students, small-scale entrepreneurs, teachers, non-profits, or other individuals who are looking for a presentation tool on a budget will definitely find Google Slides as a far more financially viable option as it is completely FREE.

The best part is that in addition to being free to use, Google Slides packs in most of the features and tools required to build an awesome presentation for which many of its competitors charge high prices.

While you surely get additional features when using other presentation applications, but, most users won’t need those features for making a simple presentation. Makers of Google Slides have truly understood the key requirements of the users of a presentation application.

What are the Key Features of Google Slides?

Google Slides comes packed with some unique and awesome features that literally sets it apart. Of course, it definitely has the basic tools that you would expect in any presentation application such as adding and editing text, working with shapes, formatting shapes and fonts, adding background color, etc.

I’ll just list down some of the key features that make Google Slides stand out!

1. Your Presentation is Always Accessible

Since Google Slides is a cloud-based presentation tool that is accessed through a web browser, you don’t have to necessarily be next to your computer to access your presentation.

It offers great flexibility in the ways you can open and edit a presentation. You can literally use any computer that has access to an internet connection and you’ll be good to go.

2. Your Presentation is Auto-saved

One of the best features of Google Slides is that your presentation is always saved.

In this modern technology era, you may be wondering why would any application be built without a feature to save the progress automatically? However, if you have ever used PowerPoint or Keynote before, you surely can relate to the agony of losing hours of hard work simply because you perhaps forgot to press Ctrl+S or save your presentation.

With Google Slides, you never have to worry about saving your files. They are always saved automatically.

3. Awesome Collaboration Tools

One the best features of Google Slides is its ability to allow users for a real-time collaboration on the same project.

This means, multiple users can work on the same presentation at the same time and Google Slides will sync it automatically in real-time!

This feature alone has been one of the key reasons for the rapid adoption of Google Slides among users. Although other presentation applications are now slowly catching up and also building this feature, but Google Slides is way ahead of the curve!

4. Adding YouTube videos to your Presentation

Another unique but useful feature that Google Slides provides is the ability to directly embed YouTube videos in your presentation.

This is a great value add especially for teachers who want to use YouTube video as an educational tool for its students. Likewise, even students can use to embed videos to showcase case studies and examples. Moreover, embedding YouTube videos allows your presentation to be relatively small in size while still showcasing a video.

I wrote a detailed post on how to embed videos (and other elements) in another article on this website. Make sure you check this out. You can click on this following link –

5. Publishing your Presentation to the Web

This is an extremely powerful feature that currently only Google Slides has to offer.

In addition to sharing your presentation with your audience, team members or even your clients, you can also publish your presentation to the web.

You might wonder what is the difference between sharing a presentation and publishing it on the web. When you publish your Google Slides presentation to the web, Google essentially creates a lightweight webpage (which has its own unique URL) that can be accessed by anyone with the link. You don’t need to own a domain name to publish your presentation on the web.

With this feature, you can now have hundreds of people see a presentation without the need to even own a website. Moreover, it also allows you to make changes to the source file without making it visible to your audience.

This feature is great for giving conference presentations or education institutes that can restrict access to certain group of students.

One thing to note is that publishing your Google Slides to the web can only be done if you/your company has a GSuite account with Google. (which is not free and comes at a price)

6. Huge Font Library

One of the other features that set Google Slides apart is the huge font library.

Although other common presentation applications such as PowerPoint and Keynote also provide a fairly large font library, what sets Google Slides apart is that it uses Google Fonts as part of its fonts library.

This means, your presentation will always look the same even when the recipient doesn’t have the fonts installed on his computer that you have used for your presentation.

Google Fonts are a collection of fonts that are used by the web. This allows your presentation to not just look great and in line with the latest design trends, but also ensures that your presentation looks just the same when you share it with others.

How to Use Google Slides?

Now that you know that Google Slides is FREE and it comes with some awesome features, I’m assuming you may want to give it a try.

If you are new to Google Slides, I shall be sharing with you what you need to start using Google Slides, basic steps on how to get started, and few key customizations that you can make to your Google Slides presentation.

This section will surely be enough to help you get started, and once you get a hang of it, you will be able to explore additional features.

1. Pre-requisites for using Google Slides

If you want to use Google Slides, you don’t have to do much of preparation. In fact, you don’t need to pay for anything, and you don’t need to download any software.

All you need for using Google Slides is a Gmail account. If you don’t have a Gmail account, you can create one for free. Simply click on mail.google.com, and create a new account by providing some basic details. It will just take a couple of minutes.

You’ll also obviously need to have an internet connect. But, since you are reading this, I don’t think that should be a worry for you.

With that, you are all set and good to proceed ahead.

2. How to Open a New Google Slides Presentation?

Once you have created an account, type in slides.google.com in your address bar, and it will directly lead you to Google Slides Application. If you are not signed in already, you may be prompted to sign in using your Gmail account.

The first screen will be something similar to what has been showcased in the image below –

Google Slides Interface

To create a new presentation, you will either need to click on “Blank” or choose a pre-existing template from the “Template Gallery”.

Clicking on blank will open up a new blank presentation on Google Slides.

All the presentation that you have created previously will be visible under the “Recent Presentation” section (as indicated in the image above).

The functionality of Google Slides and its contents are the same on both Windows PC and Mac OS. Likewise, you can also use all the functionalities of Google Slides on a mobile device. Thus, you don’t have to really worry about any device restrictions.

3. How to Work on a New Google Slides Presentation?

Google Slides usually houses all the basic tools you would expect yourself to need whenever you’re planning to make a presentation.

Thus, I’ll be showing you how to utilize the most basic functions and tools in Google Slides to get yourself started with making presentations using Google Slides.

Some of the very basic actions to do once you get started with Google Slides are as follows –

Start by simply opening a new Blank Presentation as mentioned above in the article.

Next, choose a theme of your preference by scrolling through the side-bar on your right. You can also import themes from external sources if you wish by clicking on the ‘Import Theme’ icon.

It is up to your creative skills and organizing skills to use the basic functions to make your desired presentation. But, if you struggle with designing a presentation, don’t worry, I’ve covered this in the latter part of this article.

The very first slide can be used to come up with your title. You can also choose the font size, color style, etc. as they appear on the tool-bar above.

To change the font, simply select the text box in which you type the text, and then choose the fonts from the title bar.

To create a new slide simply click on the ‘+’ icon on the top left corner of your screen. You can also select the first slide from the filmstrip view on the left (slide preview on the left panel of the screen), and press “Enter” to add another slide.

If you want to delete any of your slides, simply select it from the panel on the left by clicking on it and then press ‘delete’ from your keyboard.

These steps mentioned above will give you a basic overview of the interface and by now you should have a fair understanding of how to add and delete slides, how to change fonts and few other editing options.

You can play around a little bit until you get a hang of things.

Image showcasing how to insert image and other media in Google Slides
Image showcasing how to insert image and other media in Google Slides

You can also add media to your presentation such as images, videos, etc. For instance, if you want to add an image, simply click on “Insert“, then from the dropdown, select “Image” and choose the source of your image file.

Likewise, you can also insert other elements such as Text Box, Video, Audio, Tables, Charts, etc.

Now, let us move onto understanding a few other features that will help you get the ball rolling.

4. How to Animate Objects in Google Slides?

Sometimes, you want to avoid a monotonous presentation which may otherwise bore your audience. In such a scenario, you may want to animate the objects on your presentation.

Animating objects like shape, images and other elements is pretty simple in Google Slides.

Image indicating steps to animate an object/element in Google Slides
Image indicating steps to animate an object/element in Google Slides

First, select the object that you would like to animate in Google Slides. Then, click on “Insert“. A dropdown menu will appear. Scroll down and click on “Animation“. (Note – if you have not selected the object or element, you will not be able to choose this option).

Then you will see an animation panel on the right side of the screen. This panel provides you with various options to animate objects in Google Slides.

From the Animation Panel, you can start by choosing the animation effect (as indicated in the image above). Then, choose how you want the animations to appear. This could be “On click” or “With or After Previous“.

Choosing “On Click” will allow you to control the animation manually by a click of a button or a mouse click while presenting while the other two options will automatically make the animation appear with or after the previous/other animations.

You can also add multiple animations to your presentation or even to the same object. For instance, first animation can be an “Appear” animation, whereas the second animation on the same object can be set to “Disappear”. This will make the object appear and disappear either automatically or manually during the slideshow.

5. How to Add Transitions in Google Slides?

You can also add slide transitions in Google Slides. Transitions are basically animating or adding an effect between two slides.

Adding transitions in Google Slides is also quite easy.

First, click on the slide that you want to add the transitions. Then, click on “Transition“. You’ll notice the “Animation Panel” appear on the right side of your screen.

Then, under “Slide Transition“, click on “None“. A dropdown will appear. Choose any transition effect from the dropdown. That’s it!

You will now notice that the transition effect has been applied. You may also notice a small icon under the slide number tab on the left slide of the screen. This icon means you have some motion effect applied on the slide. (Check slide 2 and slide 1 in the image above for comparison).

6. How to Send (or Share) your Google Slides Presentation with Others?

Once you are done creating your presentation, you may need to share it with your boss or your clients. You may perhaps also want to share it with your colleagues in case you want to leverage the real-time collaboration feature of Google Slides. Either way, you need to know how to share your Google Slides presentation with others.

To share your Google Slides Presentation with others, simply open the presentation and click on “Share” on the top-right corner of your presentation screen. Then, simply add the email ID of the person you intend to share the presentation with or copy the link and share it with the person in a separate email.

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When sharing the presentation with others, make sure you have assigned the appropriate permissions so that the recipients of your presentation do not face an “Access Denied” error.

While sharing the presentation, make sure you have provided appropriate permissions for the intended person to access the presentation file. Otherwise, they may get a “Access Denied” error.

I wrote a detailed article on the various reasons why people get this error and how you can avoid it too. Make sure to check it out!

I’ve also explained the correct process of sharing the file with others in the above link. So, do make sure to check it out!

7. How to Access your Saved Google Slides Presentation?

There are times when you need to refer back to your presentation that you had created a few weeks back.

Accessing your saved Google Slides presentation might seem confusing at first since it works a bit differently from the traditional methods of saving a file on your computer.

Nevertheless, the process is pretty straight-forward. If you remember the initial few steps of opening a new google slides presentation, then this will be quite easy for you to follow.

Simply type in your address bar slides.google.com (or click on this link). Make sure you are logged in to your Google Account.

You will be welcomed with a screen that may look similar to the image above.

You can easily access your previously saved Google Slides presentation under the “Recent Presentations” section. Alternatively, you can also directly search by the name of the presentation by entering it in the search bar.

You can also access your Google Slides presentation files from your Google Drive. The process will be similar to what I’ve just mentioned. However, instead of visiting the link mentioned above, you will need to go to your Google Drive page. Make sure you are logged in to your Google account when accessing your Google Drive.

Personalizing Your Google Slides (Themes, Add-ons, and Other Modifications)

The virtual aesthetic of your slides is also crucial to captivate your audience with your presentation. And, Google Slides does not leave any stones unturned when it comes to personalizing your slides according to your preference.

Themes/Templates

As mentioned previously in an earlier paragraph, you have access to both built-in themes and you even have the option to import templates from external sources to further amplify the visual aesthetics of your slideshow. There are a few third-party vendors from where you can get your Google Slides templates although most of them are paid.

Add-ons

This feature outshines Google Slides as you can further extend this program’s capacity of tools by installing easy-to-use plugins. There’s already a dedicated button for installing Add-ons on the navigation bar.

Thus, you can always get your hands on some cool add-ons. A lot of these add-ons you will come across will let your add icons, charts, diagrams, gifs, and various other things that you usually can’t do with the basic tools of Google Slides

Other Modifications

Depending on your Google Slides usage, there are a few other modifications that you may want to consider.

One of the most important modifications would be to install an offline extension service to run your Google Slides program on your browser even with no internet access. We’ll talk about this in detail later in the article.

You can also add new fonts from external sources in Google Slides. Adding fonts from Google Fonts library is a great place to start.

Can you Use Google Slides Offline?

Google Slides also provides you with the ability to not just work online but also continue working offline in case you internet gets disconnected.

Although using Google Slides offline eliminates the possibility to collaborate with others since that will require an internet connection, it still is a great feature especially if you are in a poor network zone or when you want to work while traveling on a flight.

However, you will need to activate Google Slides’ offline feature before you get disconnected. Fortunately, you don’t have to download any software for this either.

While the mobile application has a built-in feature to support offline, the browser version on laptops and computers has some prerequisites.

In order to run Google Slides offline, you need to go through the following steps –

Step 1 – Install Google Docs Offline extension on Chrome

Install the “Google Docs Offline extension” on your Chrome browser by either going to the Chrome Web Store OR by clicking on this link which will lead you to the extension. (Make sure you are using a Chrome Browser)

When the page opens, click on “Add to Chrome” to add the extension to your Chrome Browser. Google Chrome will automatically add the extension and activate it for you.

Step 2 – Enable Offline Editing in Google Slides

You need to remember that the offline extension only works if you have the Google Chrome browser. Furthermore, make sure your browser is updated to the latest version for the extension to work correctly.

Now, go to your Google Slides page by visiting slides.google.com (make sure you are logged in to your correct Google Account).

On the top left corner of your screen, click on the hamburger menu (as indicated in the image above).

You’ll then see a drop-down menu on the left side of your screen. Then click on “Settings“.

An image showcasing how to activate offline editing on Google Drive

A new settings window will pop open. Make sure you toggle the “Offline” button to activate offline editing of Google Slides. Then, click “OK

A word of caution here – Working offline on Google Slides still lacks a few key features. Thus, it is best to always work online mode. However, use the offline version when you expect a lack of internet access. This is more of a stop-gap arrangement.

How to Download Google Slides on your Computer?

Downloading your slides on from Google Slides is a very easy task which I’ll be covering in this section.

PRO TIP!
The best format to save your presentation file is in the .pptx as we can easily open it in Google Slides, Microsoft PowerPoint as well as other presentation applications.

Furthermore, a PPTX file format is usually compatible with most presentation applications. It is important to remember that most companies will still prefer that your presentation be delivered in PowerPoint rather than Google Slides.

You can also save your Google Slides presentation directly on a flash drive. Either way, you will need to first download your Google Slides presentation.

I wrote a detailed article explaining the various ways in which you can download your Google Slides presentation on a flash drive. I’ll leave a link to that article below –

Here’s how to download your Google Slides presentation in a few simple steps –

  • Click on the ‘File’ tab and then proceed to the ‘Download’ option on the drop-down menu.
  • Another drop-down menu on the side will appear with a list of formats to choose from to save your file.
Image showcasing how to download a Google Slides presentation
  • As I have discussed above, the safest and clear option is to save the File as PowerPoint (.pptx) format as it is both compatible with slides and PowerPoint.
  • The file will be automatically downloaded, and then you will have to open the file click on the Save As option.
  • If you want to save the presentation to a flash drive, then navigate through your folders in the Flash drive dialog box and hit ‘save’ to successfully download your project with a title.

How to Open PowerPoint Presentations using Google Slides?

There are various ways to open PowerPoint files on Google Slides. Though some methods may seem more complicated than others, I’ll focus on the easier method of converting a PPTX into Google Slides Format and vice versa.

Here are the steps that you need to follow in order to open a PowerPoint file in Google Slides –

Step 1 – Open Google Slides, a Bank Slide for a presentation will show up.

Step 2 – Click on the ‘File’ tab and then proceed to ‘Open’ on the drop-down menu.

Step 3 – A dialog box will appear that will allocate several bars for you to choose your PowerPoint file from. If your (.ppt) slides are saved in your computer, choose ‘Upload’ and proceed to your folders to find the desired file and click ‘Open’.

If it is shared or uploaded to your drive, then resort to the ‘Shared with me’ or ‘My Drive’ section of the dialog box and open accordingly.

Step 4 – Voila, now you can access your PowerPoint presentation in Google Slides with ease!

Is there an App to Use Google Slides on the Phone?

Google Slides not only can be accessed on a browser, but it also comes with an app.

Google Slides has an app for both Android and iPhone. It can easily be accessed from the play store on android and the app store on iPhone.

The Google Slides app is great for reviewing presentations. You can also use the app to deliver a presentation directly from your phone. However, the Google Slides app is limited in functionality. You can edit text on the app, but working with shapes is rather difficult.

The best use of the Google Slides app is really to view the presentation, download the presentation, make it available for offline use or even deliver a presentation using the phone directly!

That said, if you want to create a presentation, I wouldn’t recommend using the app. In fact, your time would be best served if you create a presentation on a computer.

Is Google Slides App FREE to Use?

The Google Slides app, just like the application itself, is completely FREE to download and use. It is FREE for both Android and iOS devices.

That said, as mentioned above, the app doesn’t have the full functionality of Google Slides that you can see on a browser. It only has limited use cases and works well for the purpose it is designed for.

Can You Use Google Slides on an iPad?

You can definitely use Google Slides on iPad too. You can download the Google Slides app for an iOS device to use it on an iPad. However, in my opinion, the best way to use Google Slides on an iPad is by installing a Chrome Browser!

By using Google Slides through a Chrome Browser on an iPad, you get many more functionalities than a traditional Google Slides app.

Simply open your Chrome Browser, and visit the Google Slides Home Page. Make sure you log in to your Google Account while using Google Slides. Then, on your chrome browser on your iPad, go to the settings tab, and enable the desktop version of the site.

Google Chrome will then convert your browser to a desktop version providing you with many more functionalities such as adding and removing transitions, working with shapes, and adding animations to your Google Slides presentation directly on your iPad!

Benefits and Limitations of Using Google Slides

If you are still unsure of using Google Slides, let me share with you some benefits as well as limitations of using Google Slides.

I hope these will help you make your decision.

In fact, I wrote a detailed article highlighting several benefits and limitations of using Google Slides. I would highly encourage you to check it out. I’ll leave a link below –

For your convenience, I’ll list a few key benefits and limitations below. However, I’d highly recommend that you check out the above article.

Benefits of using Google Slides

Here are a few key benefits of using Google Slides –

  1. Google Slides is FREE to use.
  2. Accessibility – Google Slides presentation is always accessible.
  3. Cross-platform availability.
  4. Google Slides is a web-based tool. It doesn’t require a software.

These are just a few of the benefits. For a full list and a comprehensive explanation, make sure you check out the other article by clicking on this link.

Limitations of using Google Slides

Here are some of the key limitations of using Google Slides –

  1. Limited number of built-in themes.
  2. Lack of Advanced features.
  3. Limited options for animations and transitions.

These are just a few of the limitations. For a full list and a comprehensive explanation, make sure you check out the other article (mentioned above) by clicking on this link.

Is Google Slides Safe to Use?

When it comes to safety concerns regarding Google Slides, one thing to consider is the fact that it’s developed by Google. Google’s security protocols include strict password protection.

They have also pledged to protect your privacy and data unless you’re willingly sharing your files.

All your data and files are protected on secure data servers where they stay protected and out of reach from others. Google refuses to discuss in-depth about their data protection protocols for security measures, however, rest assured, you don’t have much to worry about your data or files being hacked as Google’s servers are some of the most secure in the world!

According to Google’s copyright policies, Google claims no content from its users is exploited and all users hold their ownership rights. Thus your Google slides files will always be safe from exploitation.

If you’re still concerned about safety measures, try changing your password once in a while and link your Google Account to a backup account. Make sure your Google Drive stays private at all times and only share your files with trusted contacts.

Lastly, when sharing presentations with others, share it by adding the email address of the concerned person rather than creating a shareable link. This will act as a deterrent and will serves as another way to avoid unwanted intruders from accessing your Google Drive files.

Google Slides vs PowerPoint vs Keynote – A Quick Comparison

You might be wondering; how does Google Slides compete with its more renowned competitors? Well, let’s understand this in a quick comparison.

PowerPoint is the earliest presentation program and has many dedicated users. This makes it the most reliable and popular presentation application in the market. Bigger and more professional companies will prefer a presentation made using PowerPoint due to its compatibility.

The number of ways you can use PowerPoint for design projects is also quite large. In that sense, it is a more complete program when it comes to presentation design. While it can be used by beginners, but it is most well-suited for pro-level presentation creators.

PowerPoint has a better reputation and many more features than any of its competitors. That said, it is also the most expensive of the three. However, PowerPoint houses the most number of animations and effects in its default library. It is also available on mobile devices, Windows, and Mac OS. You will also find a lot of help if you choose PowerPoint as your go-to presentation application.

Keynote, on the other hand, only works on Mac OS and is free on the latest ones but needs to be bought for previous versions of Mac. It has more features as compared to Google Slides but less than PowerPoint.

Using Keynote does give you a premium feel and also helps you bring out your creativity. But, it still lacks the charm of both Google Slides and PowerPoint when it comes to having unique features. Moreover, it is not really compatible enough as it is not available for Windows and can only be used with Apple devices.

Keynote also lacks a huge community due to its lower number of users as compared to PowerPoint. That said, it is a robust presentation software. If you are a Mac user and do not want to spend money using PowerPoint, Keynote is a great alternative!

Google Slides is the only free option that comes with a full package filled with the basic tools to execute a perfect presentation option. It is even compatible with PowerPoint formats. You can further extend the tools in its inventory.

Google Slides has the strongest collaboration features out of all. You can share and backup your files with ease. However, being a web-based free app has its drawbacks. It lacks the more advanced features compared to its other full-featured desktop presentation competitors.

That said, in my opinion, it is THE BEST tool for beginners, students or even people who need to create presentations but are not comfortable spending money on a presentation software.

Final Thoughts

Starting from, “What is Google Slides?” to “How to use Google Slides?” I’ve discussed various basic aspects there is to know about Google Slides. I hope I’ve been able to cover all of your concerns and questions about Google Slides, and that this article has made it easier for you to make your decision.

Hopefully, the knowledge you attained throughout reading this article was helpful and productive.

Our goal of this site is to provide you with similar helpful content. Make sure that you bookmark this site, and if you have any questions or topics that are related to presentation, make sure you check it out on our website!

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