PowerPoint to Photoshop (and back) on your Mac!


Use the tools you have to get editable layers of content in and out of PowerPoint from Photoshop on the Mac OS.

This is not an easy process but, it works mostly – kinda. You’ll need: Adobe Illustrator, Acrobat, PowerPoint and Photoshop for this Mac centered conversation.

Photoshop is a presentation professionals’ best friend. The tools available and the workflow built into the CC suite make designing and producing marketing materials both intuitive and collaborative. But the one thing that is always a bump in the road for me is getting custom designed Photoshop layers into PowerPoint. I say bump in the road because that’s just what it is, an annoyance! It’s easily, though tediously, possible to get snapshots of layers into PowerPoint using “copy merged” or “Save as PNG”.

The number of steps necessary to make this possible is substantial and you have limited capabilities. These cut and paste methods provide no way of getting editable content back and forth between the two programs and force you to do some manual image placement.

But on the Windows platform there’s an answer to this: pptXTREME’s Photoshop Import. Photoshop Import lets you import FROM and export TO Photoshop with all Photoshop layers separated for fast easy and precise formatting all within PowerPoint no jumping back and forth between applications necessary.

The Macintosh based presentation designer isn’t so lucky. The best way I’ve cobbled together is to round trip individual slides to and from Photoshop through PowerPoint using PDF’s and Illustrator.

We need to manually set up our files to be sure our graphics are the right size for the PowerPoint file. These settings should be your default for widescreen HD content.

We’re going to go under the assumption that this file will be projected from PowerPoint at 1920×1080 resolution. That dimension translates to this in Photoshop: 1920×1080 at 144 DPI, that last bit the DPI, is very important, be sure your file is set up this way based on this explanation. This setup ensures that you’re working with the same size documents round-trip and full resolution.

Let’s start with getting the layers out of PowerPoint and into Photoshop. Adobe and Mircrosoft cooperate well enough that this process is actually pretty simple.

1. Export the PowerPoint File to PDF

I used a standard Microsoft template for this example, I have two text blocks and two shapes inserted on this particular slide. One shape has a drop shadow on it so we can see how effects are transferred and one is a custom shape created editing the shape’s points.


Right from within PowerPoint go to File > Save As… and export a PDF file

2. Open the PDF in Illustrator


You’ll notice when you open the file in Illustrator you can open the Layers pane and toggle open the individual layers of the images and shapes including editable text layers. Shape effects have been correctly rendered flat on the appropriate layer. The images from PowerPoint are nested inside clipping paths and clipping groups, see tip below.

3. Export the Illustrator File to PSD

From within Illustrator go to File > Export… and export a PSD file

You’ll be offered these options for export to PSD from Illustrator.


Boom, Done. Open your Photoshop document. You have editable text and separation of layers in Photoshop from objects on a PowerPoint slide.


Getting your content from Photoshop back to PowerPoint is a little more complicated and suffers from inconsistent color export and other hiccups we’ll cover.

Now that we’ve edited our Photoshop file it’s time to get the layers back into PowerPoint, positioned correctly and as individual layers.

1. Open PSD in Illustrator

From within Illustrator go to File > Open and navigate to the PSD file we’re trying to get into PowerPoint. The PSD should be sized as outlined above for proper position and resolution of our end graphics in PowerPoint.

2. Export or Save as PDF File

Once you have the file open in Illustrator give it a quick look and make sure all of your resolution settings and such are correct so far.

Then File > Save As.. or File > Export and save a PDF file from your open PSD in Illustrator file. There are MANY settings inside the “Save Adobe PDF” input pane.

The most important settings are to preserve editing capabilities and to avoid downsampling and color converting or correcting. A good place to start is Illustrator Default Preset, it avoids press CMYK conversions right up front.


3. Open in Acrobat and Export to PowerPoint

From Adobe Acrobat open the PDF we just created from Illustrator File > Open. Once open, of course take a quick look and make sure that all of the content and sizing is correct so far. Next File > Export to… Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation.

4. Fix What Didn’t Work Well

Through this process all of my elements and colors and sizing have transferred cleanly between applications, however this last one was a doozy. In some instances this PowerPoint file just exported from Acrobat will be fine, and it will provide you with clean correctly sized images in your PowerPoint document and editable text all originating from Photoshop (originally originating from PowerPoint!).

There is a chance however you’ll have trouble that looks like this:


On the left is my original PowerPoint file and on the right is the same file after coming round trip through Photoshop. The issues are evident in the red space in the lower left corner. Where the color is bright and vibrant in the original that vibrancy is lost when we make the last transition from PDF to PowerPoint.

To correct these issues I’m going to go back to my Photoshop document and save out each layer or any layer I might need to replace in PowerPoint into a new folder and manually replace them in PowerPoint.

While this process is remarkably inelegant sometimes when you’re in a Mac environment you just need to get the content from Photoshop to PowerPoint. Even adding the time needed to color-correct or replace some images in the final PowerPoint file this method may prove to save some time. I can even see using some of these steps to help my workflow with other Adobe products like InDesign.

Tip: when you are trying to get graphics from Photoshop to PowerPoint using the steps above try un-nesting the elements of the layers in the Illustrator export to PDF step above..


If all of the images are straight layers and not nested or masked layers they will be imported into PowerPoint as images that can be replaced rather than objects with an image fill. This way you can control or right click on any image that needs updating and “Change Picture”.

Learn more about Photoshop to PowerPoint transitions with PhotoShop Import – it makes creating PowerPoint presentations easier.


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