Why Group May Be Disabled in PowerPoint
by Avantix Learning Team | Updated May 21, 2021
Applies to: Microsoft® PowerPoint® 2013, 2016, 2019 and 365 (Windows)
It's common to group objects in PowerPoint so you can move the objects together and apply formatting and animation to the group. However, you can't group certain objects. In this article, we'll discuss three situations where you can't group in PowerPoint as well as some solutions.
An easy way to group objects in PowerPoint is to select the objects by Shift-clicking or Ctrl-clicking, then right-click one of the selected objects and select Group from the drop-down menu. You can also click Group using several different tabs in the Ribbon. However, if these commands are greyed out, you won't be able to group the selected objects.
The following concepts apply to working with objects in Normal View, but also apply to Slide Master View as well.
Recommended article: How to Group or Ungroup in PowerPoint (with Shortcuts)
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Note: Buttons and Ribbon tabs may display in a different way (with or without text) depending on your version of PowerPoint, the size of your screen and your Control Panel settings. For PowerPoint 365 users, Ribbon tabs may appear with different names. For example, the Drawing Tools Format tab may appear as Shape Format.
If you are unable to group in PowerPoint, there are typically 3 common reasons:
- You have selected only one object (you must have more than one object selected to group).
- You can't group placeholders with other objects.
- You can't group objects with tables, embedded worksheets or GIF images.
1. You must have more than one object selected to group
If you have only one object selected, grouping will be disabled. You must have multiple objects selected to group.
2. You can't group placeholders with other objects
The most common reason you can't group objects is that one of the objects is a placeholder. In PowerPoint, you can't group placeholders with other types of objects such as a shape, picture or text box (or even other placeholders).
It's important to understand that a placeholder (which is part of a layout) and a text box (you have clicked Insert and then selected Text Box) are two different types of objects.
The Title and Content layout, for example, has a title placeholder and a content placeholder. Content placeholders may contain text, an image, a SmartArt object, a chart, a table, as well as other types of objects.
Although you can insert text, images and other objects in placeholders, they are not specifically identified as placeholders in PowerPoint (it would be helpful if the object type appeared in the status bar).
If text is in a placeholder and you want to group it with some other object(s):
- Select the text in the placeholder and then press Ctrl + X or right-click and select Cut from the drop-down menu.
- Click the Insert tab in the Ribbon.
- Select Text Box.
- Drag on the slide to create a text box.
- Click in the text box and press Ctrl + V.
- Click the edge of the placeholder and press Delete.
You should now be able to group the text box with the other objects.
If an image, chart or SmartArt is in a placeholder and you want to group it with some other object(s), you'll need to cut the image, chart or SmartArt and then paste it into a blank area on the slide:
- Select the placeholder containing the image, chart or SmartArt.
- Press Ctrl + X or right-click and select Cut from the drop-down menu.
- Click in a blank area on the slide.
- Press Ctrl + V.
- Click the edge of the placeholder and press Delete.
You should now be able to group the object with the other objects.
3. You can't group objects with tables, embedded worksheets or GIF images
If you have inserted a table, embedded worksheet (from Excel) or GIF image, you can't group it with other objects.
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