How to use the action button

Welcome back to PowerPoint training online for another Friday tutorial. This week’s tutorial is going to be focused on how to use the Action button. The action button is a feature that allows you to add an action to any item (words, images shapes etc.) in PowerPoint. Actions include things such as moving to the next slide, opening a webpage and even opening another program.

With this feature you are able to create an interactive slide show that you can share with people. This then gives you the ability to create e-learning content without having to pay for premium software such as Elucidat or Articulate, not that these are not worth the price you pay for them as they have a lot of features which you just cannot get in PowerPoint. 

You can use this feature in any PowerPoint since the 2010 version. However the online and application version of PowerPoint does not have this feature. 

The “How to use the action button” video

The “How to use the action button” step-by-step guide

Step One – Decide what you want to make an action

The first step in creating an action is deciding what you want to make an action. You can use words, images and shapes. In fact you can use anything that you are able to put on a slide. Once you know which item you want to do something with, just highlight it. 

Step Two – Go to the Insert tab

With your item selected, go to the insert tab, this is right next to the Home tab

Step Three – Open Action popup box

You will find the action box under the Links section of the Insert tab. When you click on this it will open the Action pop up box which will allow you to set the type of action that will happen. 

Please note, the Action button will only be able to be clicked on when you have something selected on the slide. If you do not have anything selected on the slide then this button will be grayed out.

Step Four – On Mouse click or Mouse over

Now that the action box is open, there is one thing which you must decide before you can set an action. Do you want the action to take place when you click on an item or do you want it to take place when your mouse hovers over the item.

You can choose which one you want by going to the appropriate tab. Mouse Click or Mouse Over.

Step Five – Choose your action

Once the action button is open you can decide which type of action you want to choose. This is what you can choose from:

  • None
  • Hyperlink to
  • Run program
  • Run Macro
  • Object action
  • Play sound
  • Highlight click

These options are the same for both Mouse over and Mouse click.

Step Five A – Action – Hyperlink to

Hyperlink to: allows you to link to something. There are multiple options to choose from. These are:

  • Next slide – The next slide in the deck
  • Previous slide – The previous slide in the deck
  • First slide – The first slide in the deck
  • Last slide – The last slide in the deck
  • Last slide viewed – The last slide that was viewed
  • End show – Finish the presentation
  • Custom show – create a custom flow for the presentation
  • Slide – Send you to a specific slide in the deck
  • URL – A web url, this can be any website (super handy for YouTube links)
  • Other PowerPoint Presentation* – Will open another presentation in presentation view
  • Other file* – allows you to open any other file type like PDF or Word doc

*It is important to note that if you share this presentation with any other person and they do not have access to the presentation or the file then they will not be able to open it. 

Step Five B – Action – Run program

Run program allows you to run a program** as an action. You can open any program that is already installed on your computer. It can be Microsoft Word, Excel or even Minecraft.

**It is important to note that if you share this presentation with any other person and they do not have access to the program then they will not be able to open it.

Step Five C – Action – Run Macro

The run macro option allows you to run a macro that you have already set up. If you have no macros setup then this option will be greyed out so that you cannot use it. 

For those that do not know what a macro is, it is a group of commands that you create to do a particular task using VBA (Visual Basic for Applications).

Here a couple of examples:

  • Change Slide During Slide Show
  • Change Font on All Slides in All TextBoxes
  • Change Case From Upper to Normal in All TextBoxes

These may seem simple to do now and seem like they are standard features but a lot of the features within Powerpoint nowadays were not there twenty years ago.

Step Five D – Action – Object Action

This option will run object action, this is any action which has been connected via OLE (Object linking and embedding). If you have not connected anything via OLE then this box will be greyed out. 

OLE or Object linking and embedding is where you link a piece of work from another program. The best example that I can think of would be linking data from Excel. You can have all your data and charts within Excel, use OLE to then insert a chart into PowerPoint. Then when you update your charts in excel, they will automatically update in PowerPoint.

Step Five E – Action – Play sound

When this box is ticked, it will play a sound every time you press on the item which you have set up the action on. 

Step Five F – Action – Highlight click

When this box is ticked, the mouse pointer will highlight every time you press on the item which you have set up the action on.

Step Six – Press OK

Once you have set your desired action, you just need to press the OK button. The Action menu will disappear. If you now go into the presentation view, you will be able to carry out the action which you have just set. 


And there we have it, another weekly tutorial completed. I really hope you found it usual and it will be something that you will be able to use.

Thank you for taking the time to join us today. Now I would really love to hear your thoughts on the action button. Will it be something that you will use. Or do you have a work around for all the features mentioned above? Was this tutorial helpful for you. You can join the conversation below or check or join us on Twitter

If you want to read more, just check out our blog. And if you want to learn something new make sure you check out our tutorials page. We have great tutorials on how to use all the features in PowerPoint and we also show you how to create custom graphic content to help brighten up your slides.

Finally, have you been looking for some new PowerPoint templates to freshen up your slide decks, then why not check out our templates store. You will be able to find a template for any need.

Till next time folks, 


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