Free PowerPoint Backgrounds Using Unsplash Images

Unsplash is a website offering hundreds of thousands of high-quality photos from photographers all around the world. The photos are provided for free under a “do whatever you want” license, allowing you to use them for commercial and non-commercial purposes without the need to provide credit. This makes Unsplash a great source for material for a PowerPoint presentation.

In this post, I will show how to quickly create a nice-looking presentation with Unsplash photos as background images. See the screenshot below for the end result (and more):

PowerPoint Presentation with Unsplash Backgrounds

  1. The first step is to search the Unsplash website for a photo to use, ideally one in landscape orientation matching the format of your slides.

    Unsplash Search

    Once you have found a photo you like, select it and click the Download free button to download the image in JPEG format.

  2. In PowerPoint, go to ViewSlide Master and select the master slide. Now insert the downloaded image via InsertPictures.

    Insert Image

  3. Enlarge the image to cover the entire slide. If the aspect ratio of the image doesn’t match the size of the slide, select the image and click on FormatCrop to activate the Crop tool. You can now use the black crop handles to remove unnecessary areas of the image.

    Crop Image

  4. Go to FormatCompress Pictures, choose Web (150 ppi), and click on OK to compress the image. This step will significantly reduce the file size of the presentation, without sacrificing much picture quality.

    Compress Image

  5. Add a rectangle shape to the slide (Insert → Shapes → Rectangle) and change its size to cover the entire slide.

    Add Rectangle

  6. Remove the rectangles outline via Shape OutlineNo Outline.

  7. Choose a nice, dark fill color for the rectangle (Shape FillColor).

  8. Perform a right-click on the rectangle and select Format Shape from the context menu. Now change the rectangle’s transparency value to 10% (under Fill).

    Image Transparency

  9. Do another right-click on the rectangle and select Send to Back from the context menu.

  10. Select the image, do a right-click, and select Send to Back from the context menu.

  11. Select Slide MasterBackground Styles and select Style 4 (black background) from the menu. This will change the presentation’s text color to white.

    Background Style

  12. Click on Close Master View and enjoy your new PowerPoint template!

Free PowerPoint Countdown Template

Although PowerPoint doesn’t have dedicated functionality for creating countdown timers, it’s possible to build a timer using animation and slide transition effects. Instead of boring you with a step-by-step tutorial, I’ve created an attractive template with a digital clock countdown that you can easily adjust to your needs.

The countdown in the template lasts five minutes, but you can delete slides to shorten it if needed. Download the template file here.

Creating Device Mockups with PowerPoint

TLDR: I went through quite some trouble creating a set of device mockup templates for PowerPoint, which you can download here for free.

Realistic device mockups are a great way to showcase creative work, whether it’s a mobile app, a website, or any other digital product.

Device Mockup in PowerPoint

While Adobe Photoshop is certainly most designers’ first choice for creating device mockups, I wondered if PowerPoint’s “3-D Rotation” feature could do the job just as well.

3-D Rotation Settings in PowerPoint

(You can find the 3-D settings in PowerPoint by selecting a shape and navigating to FormatShape Effects3-D Rotation3-D Rotation Options...)

I started with a photo of a MacBook on a table and a dummy image that I wanted to project onto the laptop’s screen. Unfortunately, PowerPoint doesn’t let you transform an image by simply dragging its vertices like Photoshop does – you have to manually adjust the rotation, perspective and size settings. Pretty quickly, I realized that guessing the right values was virtually impossible and that I had to try a different approach.

The Math

My idea was that in order to determine the optimal “3-D Rotation” settings, I first had to understand how the settings actually work. With some reading on 3D transformations and a good amount of trial and error, I finally found the math behind PowerPoint’s calculation of the coordinates of a 3D transformed shape.

Let’s suppose we have a rectangle shape located at position (left, top) with size (width, height). We want to calculate the coordinates of the (left, top) point after 3D rotating the rectangle using the “X Rotation”, “Y Rotation”, “Z Rotation” and “Perspective” values set in PowerPoint.

Start Vector

We start by building a transformation matrix:

Building the Transformation Matrix

Now we transform the (left, top) point using the matrix:

Transformed Vector

The resulting vector is divided by z to project the 3D coordinates to 2D:

Projected Vector

We reverse the translation to the origin:

Translated Vector

The resulting 2D point consists of the x and y coordinates:

Final Vector

Brute-Force Search for Optimal Values

Knowing the mathematics behind PowerPoint’s 3D rotation, I wrote a small, quick-and-dirty tool to find the optimal 3D settings for given input values. Basically, you feed the tool the four vertices of the screen and the size of the image to project onto the screen. It then tries possible combinations (using nested intervals to improve performance) of width/height, x-rotation, y-rotation, z-rotation and perspective to check which one gets closest to the target coordinates. I have published the source code on GitHub.

Ready-to-use Templates

The result of the journey is a PowerPoint document comprising eleven mockups of different devices (laptops, tablets, phones). Here’s an overview:

PowerPoint Device Mockup Templates

The mockups are based on photos released by their authors under the CC0 license, which means they can be used for any purpose without attribution. I have included source links for the photos in the comment section of each slide. You can download the .pptx file from the link below:


To add your own screen image, simply select the placeholder image on the slide, go to the “Format” Ribbon and click on “Change Picture.” Have fun!

Free Christmas PowerPoint Template

Christmas is around the corner, and we've created a Christmas PowerPoint template to help you get in the holiday mood. Check out the screenshots below:

Christmas PowerPoint Template: Title Slide

Christmas PowerPoint Template: Content Slide

Christmas PowerPoint Template: Icons

Click here to download the template file. It's free for private and commercial use.

Free Halloween PowerPoint Template

With Halloween coming, I have created a PowerPoint template to give your presentations a special Halloween touch. Below are screenshots from the template and the link to download the file.

Free Halloween PowerPoint Template: Title Slide

Free Halloween PowerPoint Template: Content Slide

Free Halloween PowerPoint Template: Icons

The template comes with 12 icons (pumpkin, ghost, zombie, grave, severed hand, skull, spider, bat, magic hat, witch, moon, and castle), and includes the freeware font Poultrygeist by Apostrophic Laboratories.

Click here to download the free Halloween PowerPoint template.

This file is free for private and commercial use.

About ShapeChef

ShapeChef is a tool that helps you find and manage graphics and charts for your presentations. Click here for details.
ShapeChef: Graphic and Chart Library for PowerPoint

Blog Categories