Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

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Alice Keeler

5 Tips for Using the Pen in Google Slides

A hotly anticipated feature in Google Slides is finally here. The ability to annotate on the slide during a presentation. Here are 5 tips for using the pen in Google Slides

5 Tips for Using the Pen in Google Slides

A long awaited features in Google Slides is the ability to annotate during the presentation. Using the pen in Google Slides is now possible! Here are 5 things to know about using the pen in Google Slides.

Using the Pen in Google Slides

While you are presenting your Google Slides you may want to circle something on the slide to bring attention to it. Until now, you had to hack this by using a Chrome extension. Now the pen feature is built into Google Slides presentation mode.Β 

1. The Pen Only Works in Presentation View

There is still NO good drawing pen directly in Google Slides. When I use presentations in Canva I frequently use the draw tool, and it is pretty robust. Strangely, Google Slides has not gotten the clue yet that this is a highly valued feature.

So it is important to understand that this pen feature is only when you click on “Slideshow” and are actually presenting the Google Slides.

2. Ink Can NOT Be Saved

When using the Pen tool during the presentation, you can draw right on the slide. HOWEVER, this annotation can not be saved. When you exit the presentation, the ink will be lost. Take a screenshot if you need to retain the annotations.

The text DOES remain throughout the presentation. If you go back to a previous slide, the ink annotations will still be visible.

3. Keyboard Shortcut is Shift L

To quickly enable the Pen tool use Shift L. This will also allow you to stop annotating. While in Pen mode you can not click on the slide to advance, obviously. Use Shift L to quickly toggle the Pen tool on and off.

You can use the arrow keys to advance to the next slide and remain in Pen tool mode.

4. You Can Change the Color

There are 4 pen color options. The default is red. Hover in the bottom left corner of your presentation to see the Slides toolbar. If the Pen tool is enabled you will see the pen icon next to the slide number. Click on this to change the pen color.

Screenshot of Google Slides in presentation mode with the pen tool selected to change the colors.

5. All or Nothing

When using the eraser tool, it erases ALL of the ink annotations on the slide. Note that it is ONLY that slide and not all of the slides that the ink annotations are erased.

Use Shift A to erase annotations

Learn the shortcut for erasing, Shift A, to avoid awkwardly having to wiggle your mouse on the screen during a presentation to find the eraser option in the Pen tool.

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