KB0127: How can I enforce a default toolbar configuration for all PowerPoint users?

think-cell does not offer any PowerPoint customizing beyond the think-cell products. However, the following hints may help you getting started on your own. Of course, this description is for your information only. think-cell assumes no liability for it.

PowerPoint 2000-2003

There are two fundamental approaches for customizing PowerPoint 2003.

1. PCB file

PowerPoint's toolbar layout is saved in a file called PPT11.pcb (PowerPoint 2003). This file can usually be found in the folder:


You can manually set up the desired layout of menus, toolbars and buttons on one computer, then close PowerPoint and copy the .pcb file to all other machines that should share the same toolbar layout. You must replace the .pcb file while PowerPoint is not running.

Replacing the .pcb file resets any custom toolbar layout that a user may have previously defined. If you want to give users an option to restore their own custom toolbar layout, save their .pcb file (e.g., give it a different name instead of deleting it).

2. Macros/Add-in

PowerPoint's COM programming interface allows detailed customization of all menus, toolbars, and buttons. Using this technology, you have essentially the same options as with manual customization.

You can use the built-in Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) editor to create macros for this purpose. You probably want to implement Sub auto_open() which is always called after the macro has been loaded by PowerPoint. Then save the presentation as PowerPoint Add-In (*.ppa), go to ToolsAdd-Ins... and configure your add-in to load on every start of PowerPoint. When you distribute the add-in to other machines, you will probably set up the registry directly. The corresponding keys can be found at


Alternatively, you can create a compiled COM add-in in your preferred language, such as Visual Basic or C#, using Microsoft Visual Studio.

You will find that completely rebuilding the toolbars on each start of PowerPoint is too slow to be practical (even with COM add-ins), so you should indentify certain occasions (first start of PowerPoint by the current user etc.) when to run the toolbar customizing code. Also, there are no guarantees as to the current toolbar layout when your macros start customizing (see next paragraph).

General Considerations

In any case, the individual users will still be able to use PowerPoint's built-in features to change menus, toolbars and buttons on their own. It is not possible in PowerPoint 2000-2003 to provide a static toolbar configuration that is set in stone from the user's perspective.

Regardless which approach you choose, according to our experience, the .pcb file is not 100% reliable. It seems that this file gets corrupted once in a while. In these cases, the users will be presented with Microsoft's default toolbar layout again. You should develop a strategy to handle these cases.

Before investing large efforts in a solution for PowerPoint 2000-2003, keep in mind that any solution you come up with will not work with PowerPoint 2007 (or later).

PowerPoint 2007 and later

There are two possibilities for customizing PowerPoint 2007 and later.

1. Customize the Ribbon

Microsoft provides a detailed introduction how to customize ribbons:

2. Customize the Quick Access Toolbar

The Quick Access Toolbar is displayed by default in the top left corner of the PowerPoint window (or alternatively just below the ribbon). To change it for every PowerPoint user:

  1. Create a new PowerPoint document. This will be based on your current default template.
  2. In the Quick Access Toolbar, click on the downward arrow on the right to open the Customize Quick Access Toolbar menu.
  3. Choose More Commands...
  4. Make the desired changes to the Quick Access Toolbar.
  5. In the combo box in the top right, choose For Presentation1.
  6. Press Ok to close the dialog.
  7. Save this presentation as a PowerPoint template, e.g. the default template blank.potx.
  8. Distribute the modified template to all users.