Perhaps like you, I naively started out thinking that Google Slides was just a poorly maintained product suffering from some questionable foundational decisions made ages ago that worshipped at the shrine of PowerPoint and which have never since been revisited, but now, after having had to use it so much in the past year, I believe that Google Slides is actually just trolling me.
I’m a designer, but — stay with me! I don’t think I’m being fussy. This may surprise you, but I’ve become so desperate that I don’t care about nice slide transitions or nice typography. All I really want is to make really basic slides like this…
…without wanting to jettison my laptop into the nearest trash can.
Join me on this cathartic journey which aspires to be none of the following: constructive, systematic, exhaustive. I’m too tired for that, dear reader. Consider this a gag reel. A platter of amuse-bouches. A chocolate sampler box of nightmares.
Here we go.
Text in circles is left-aligned by default
Come on. This may seem like a small thing, but it is SUPER HILARIOUS. Centering text in a circle, who do you even think you are? By the way, LEFT-ALIGNED TO WHAT?! Open ten menus and find the option to change the left padding on the text (in inches of course, we’re not heathens), and you will discover setting the left padding to “0 inches” instead of “0.1 inches” does not move the text flush to the edge of the bounding box. MYSTERIOUS!
All measurements are in inches
Look, I know pixels might seem like the right call here in the year 2022, but you just never know when you might get an itch to hit that Print button, and you’re really gonna wanna know that that image (or video!) you dropped into your slides is a perfect 2 inches. I mainly present my work on 8.5" x 11" pieces of paper, so I really appreciate this decision.
OK, this one was too obvious, too easy — let’s move on.
Google Maps at your fingertips
Admit it, we’ve all been there. You’re putting together a really important presentation. Then out of nowhere you hear it — BOOM — your dishwasher has exploded in the kitchen. There’s no time to waste, you need a plumber, and FAST! Luckily, Google Slides is there for you. Just pop open Google Maps in the sidebar there, find some local plumbers, and you’ll be navigating there in no time, all from the safety and comfort of your slide deck.
Super useful shapes
Now, I often dive into this very nested menu to go shopping for some banal staples, like, say, I dunno, a checkmark, or an X. (Boring, I know!!) But honestly, once I arrive here, I find myself totally dazzled by the innovative array of merchandise. Maybe I actually want a dodecagon…?! And if you really want a dollop of delight, drop in that smiley face and check out what you can do with the mouth…
It’s impossible to align text with images
Fine, not impossible, but it’s TOTALLY HILARIOUS that because the default text boxes have padding built into them, it means that by default your text will never align with other objects like images unless you manually scoot them over, tapping your arrow key* like an idiot playing Flappy Bird, or manually go in and remove the additional padding.
*Oh, we’re coming for you next, nudge command.
Using arrow keys to nudge objects sends them to Timbuktu
I love this one. If you’ve ever used a computer before (probably none of you reading this), then throw your prior experiences out the window. Instead of arrow keys nudging objects a standard 1 pixel on the screen, arrow keys make the objects fly VAST yet ARBITRARY distances across your screen. (From what I can tell, somewhere between 0.08 and 0.09 inches. HILARIOUS!) If you want normal nudge behavior, you have to do the total opposite of what you’d expect, and hold down Shift.
List indentations look moronic when you resize text
Because indentations are set to absolute values (oh, inches, you strike again!) instead of %s, if you resize your text, you’re left with HILARIOUS list formatting. You could drive a bus though that spacing! It is so much work to make this look non-moronic again.
Using your browser to zoom in SHRINKS the slides
You need to open a new tab and try this right now. It must be seen to be believed. Hold down “⌘ and +” and watch, indeed, SQUINT, as your precious slide shrinks down to nothing, consumed on all sides by layers upon layers of greedy toolbars.
No one knows what this un-dismissable, annoying little tab is. It’s actually not hilarious. It wants to keep the bottom right corner of your slides secret AT ALL TIMES.
Surprise stretchy images
This is always good for a giggle. Drop in an image, decide you need to resize it — “Hmm, 3.29 inches should do it,” you whisper to yourself — and BLAAAM! You’ve got yourself a nice, stretchy picture on your hands. Silly, silly you — you forgot to check that “Lock aspect ratio” setting! You’ll have to do that every session, you know, so don’t forget next time!
This transparency slider that starts at zero
Maybe I’m just not well-traveled in this digital world, but this is the first time I have ever seen anything other than an Opacity adjustment that starts at 100%. This is so backwards and HILARIOUSLY confusing. “Let me set this to 80% transparency!” Every single time, it’s like trying to brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. To make it even better, there’s no numerical input field, and the slider doesn’t snap to anything sensible like “50%.” (In fact, the tooltip displaying the percentage often fades out so quickly that it’s difficult to know exactly what you set it to!)
Mysterious “A” text button
HAHA! The “Text color” button is that little “A” button with a colored line below it — oh, wait, you don’t see the colored line? It’s right there. Yes, the WHITE LINE. Ohhh, you probably just can’t see it because it’s the same color as the background. Don’t worry, there’s definitely a white line there, so it’s clearly the “Text color” button and not anything else, like say, the font picker or the text size adjuster. HAHA!!
Text alignment icon doesn’t reflect state
In this toolbar, the bold B button has a yellow selection state because the text is bold, and the “A” button has a little blue line below it because the text is blue (yes, we established that quite clearly above), and the text alignment button is showing “left-aligned” because the text is lef — WAIT A SECOND!
Dragging text boxes around is a nightmare
The default behavior when you select a text box is to put you in edit mode (focusing the cursor, editing the text) instead of selecting the bounding box of the text. This means you have to put on your boxing gloves and FIGHT to convince it that you really want to drag to move the text box instead of dragging to select text. I hold my breath and move my cursor at a snail’s pace to find the split second the cursor changes from “i-beam” to “all scroll.” I GUESS THIS IS HILARIOUS?!
Best for last, naturally. Now, this one might be the one that hurts us designers most. Right in the designer heart. At my company, designers spend hours building beautifully, carefully crafted, “can-we-just-export-that-straight-to-Xcode” prototypes in Origami, and when the time comes to place our little babies into a presentation deck, we jump through all the hoops: we upload it to Google Drive (no, Google Slides, the video I want to add is not accessible via a YouTube URL), we figure out all the bizarre permissions we need to grant so that our coworkers can see our video, and LO! Look at what it’s done to our baby. It’s turned it into a potato, and to add insult to injury, has slapped giant YouTube-style video playback controls on at the bottom. I could go on, but it… it just hurts too much.
“Quit complaining! Why don’t you use X instead?!”
I will stop complaining once I find a product that delivers four green checkmarks in these boxes. With a little work, Figma seems closest here! Who will win this amazing race?!
But enough about me — how does Google Slides surprise and delight YOU on an hourly basis? Leave your favorite features in the comments, and smash that Like button!