Last week, Excel and PowerPoint add-in developer Chirag at OfficeOne Solutions released Shape Locker. It took me only reading the description and who the developer was to know it was the answer to a lot of project requests – and this add-in does not disappoint!

Shape Locker is simply listed as a PowerPoint add-in to “Lock shape position, size, rotation, text and more with Shape Locker.” And it simply does exactly that! After downloading and installing, PowerPoint adds a new “Design Tools” tab.

There is only one button for the add-in. Select a shape in a presentation, go to the DESIGN TOOLS tab and click the LOCK SHAPES button.

The add-in is controlled through a single dialog box. Check the options desired, click OK and you are done.

Here are my test slides:

Slide 1 = is completely editable.
Slide 2 = I have applied different Shape Locker options to each text bar
You can download these slides to text the results here (57 KB .pptx)


The first bar has all editing options disabled, so you can select the shape, but do nothing to it (move, resize, change colors, edit text, etc.). Here are the Shape Locker settings applied:

For the second text bar, I left the text editing and disabled all other options, so you can change the words but not move/resize/re-color/etc. the shape.

On the 3rd bar, it is the opposite of the previous. The shape can be adjusted (move, recolor, resize, etc.), but the text cannot be modified.

And for the final text bar, I simply used the option to disable the ability to select the shape to completely lock it from any edits.

This is the functionality that users (especially myself) have been asking for since PPT 2000. But it does have a few downsides:
– Only 1 shape at a time can be locked. So if you want to lock a full presentation (or most of a presentation), it is going to take some time to click on each shape and apply the Shape Locker settings.
– To unlock a shape, it is also a time consuming process. Select a shape, open the Shape Locker dialog, uncheck the lock settings – for each shape, 1 at a time. Note: If the disable selection option (used in the final bar of the test slide) is used, that shape cannot be selected and cannot be unlocked (ie. It is permanently a part of that slide).
– Any computer with Shape Locker installed can unlock shapes.
– This add-in specifically says it works with PPT 2010 (32-bit and 64-bit) and PPT 2007. The add-in is not available in PPT 2003 and if a presentation with locked shapes is opened in PPT 2003, there are some unpredictable results. Here is the same test slide opened in PPT 2003 and among other things, if the text has been locked, it does not show up.

I was able to ask Chirag about a few issues and feature requests. The good news is a few features are already in the works that will resolve a few of the tedious use aspects and also add even more power to this fantastic add-in!

You can get the Shape Locker add-in from the OfficeOne site here. And if you first go to my friend Geetesh’s Indezine site, that review has a 50% off promo code (until August 31, 2012).

Last, fellow PowerPoint MVP Steve Rindsberg of PPTools offered this fun trivia about the Shape Locker add-in:
Q – “Why do they call it Shape Locker when it lets you lock placeholders, text boxes, video clips, and pictures as well?”
A – Because when coding everything on a slide is a Shape; placeholders, text boxes, videos, pictures, sounds, etc.

– Troy @ TLC