Review of MagPointer, a PowerPoint add-in that helps you keep your audience's attention focused on where you want.
Many times, we create slides with content of several types. For example, you might create a chart on the left part of your slide and then add some supporting data for the same chart as a table on the right side. While showing this particular slide, you may want to alternatively highlight both these content types so that you can help focus your audience's attention to the topic you are discussing. This sort of highlighting is possible if you design your graphics or slide content that way -- and are prepared to use a fair amount of animation. Again that may need some sort of familiarity level from the presenter so that he or she knows when and what to click!
Fortunately, we are reviewing an add-in for PowerPoint that achieves predictable results without graphic jugglery or added animations. MagPointer automatically detects slide objects and enables you to interact with those objects in real time. For example, you can highlight text objects or table components, enlarge specific objects, create frames or zoom on specific slide areas. It is a suitable add-in for content-rich presentations and very useful for webinars, e-learning classes, and online business meetings. Of course, it is also beneficial for in-person presentations. Once installed, MagPointer automatically launches whenever your Slide Show begins -- while keeping all your PowerPoint animations and functionality intact.
Download the installer, run the setup routine and follow the instructions. When installed, follow these steps:
- Open an existing presentation or create a new presentation. Play the presentation inSlide Show mode.
- Once in the Slide Show mode, the add-in automatically gets activated -- a Smart Cursor and a floating SmartBar (right edge of the screen) appears, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 1. Note that PowerPoint's conventional Previous and Next arrow buttons (typically on the popup toolbar available on the bottom left) are disabled when you use MagPointer.
Figure 1: MagPointers Smart Cursor and SmartBar within Slide Show view
- Now, hover your mouse over the SmartBar to see some context-sensitive icons, as shown in Figure 2. This is intuitive and useful when you are using a remote mouse controller in face-to-face presentations.
Figure 2: SmartBar displaying icons
The SmartBar icons are explained below -- starting from top to bottom, as marked inFigure 2, above.
- Previous Slide: This takes you to previous slide.
- Next Slide: This icon takes you to next slide.
- Frame: Click the frame icon, move your cursor to the slide area where you want to add focus, drag the cursor until the area is covered -- release when done to create focus on that area. Alternatively, you can just left-click and drag to draw the frame around the specific slide areas to be focused. Frames can be freely drawn anywhere and are not related to slide objects. You can also change the frame color. Figure 3, below shows a frame created around the slide title. To remove the frame place your cursor over the SmartBar and click the Cancel icon which is the topmost icon with a red multiplication sign (see Figure 3, again). Additionally, you can also click inside a frame or right-click -- the latter option clears all highlights and frames.
Figure 3: Frame created
- Zoom: When this icon is selected (or you right-click and drag the cursor over a selected area), you invoke the magnifier. The cursor in this mode is replaced by a circular magnifying glass. The magnifier also serves as a projector -- the screen is dimmed and only the area under the magnifier is highlighted, as shown in Figure 4. Magnification is independent of slide objects and any area in the slide can be magnified. You can also adjust the magnifier's radius and zoom and finally you can also add magnifier spots (“frozen” enlarged highlighted areas).
You can click the left button of your mouse and drag or scroll the mouse wheel -- dragging up and down zooms out and in within your magnifier. Similarly, you click the right button and drag up and down to change the magnifier size.
Press the Esc key to get out of magnifier mode. Again, you can also right-click or press Cancel icon on the SmartBar to achieve the same result.
Figure 4: Zoomed slide area
- Multiple Highlights: To create multiple highlights click on the multiple highlights (or hold the Ctrl key while highlighting). You can highlight text, table elements, etc. You can also change the frame colors based on your requirement. Figure 5 shows multiple, highlighted text objects on a slide. To get out of this mode, click the single frame icon on the SmartBar.
Figure 5: Multiple highlighted text on the slide
- Multiple Frames: To create multiple frames click on the multiple frames icon on the SmartBar (or hold the Ctrl key while framing). To get out of this mode, click the single frame icon on the SmartBar. Again, you can also change the frame colors based on your requirement.
- Disable MagPointer: Click this icon to disable MagPointer.
- Previous Slide: This takes you to previous slide.
- Play around with the options -- you can also download the User Manual from the MagPointer site to learn how these options work.
It's possible to customize (fine-tune) MagPointer behaviors (actions, screen dimming, etc.) in theConfiguration window. To get to Configuration window, right-click to get the PowerPoint pop-up menu and select the MagPointer Configuration option.
MagPointer costs US$9.95 for a single user license. For corporate licenses, you can contact MagPointer.
Support is through e-mail and telephone.
MagPointer is an amazing product that lets you deliver your presentation with so much more control and oomph. However, we will not recommend that you use MagPointer without first playing a fair bit with the available options. You have to be in control of all the options, and practice them well before you use it in front of a real audience. Time spent playing with MagPointer options is certainly time well spent since some of the features provided are amazing indeed. And the cost:performance ratio is heavily lopsided to the performance part!