Powerpoint and Macbooks: How to use mirrored Presenter View in a 3 screen setup

Mac + Powerpoint

I think I might have found a solution to a problem that shows up when using MacBooks to display Powerpoints with presenter-view from FOH on corporate events!!
Skip the problem – take me right to the solution

Using Powerpoint Presenter View for speakers on Corporate Events

When a presenter shows their Powerpoint-presentation from a stage or a studio, they usually want to see the presenter-view while they are talking. Here they can see their slides and presenter-notes.

The presenter-view in Powerpoint for mac.

In corporate events, there are two ways to play the presentation. For smaller events, the presenter can bring their own laptop to the stage and use this to play the presentation. By plugging the laptop straight to the projector, the presenter can see the presenter-view on the internal display, and the actual presentation is shown on the external display.
But for bigger events, the A/V team wants more control of the presentation-computer, so the presentation needs to be played from a computer placed at the Front of House. From there it can feed the projector, the streaming-device, and send the presenter-view to a separate monitor on the stage.

In order to display Presenter View on a separate display using laptops, you normally want to mirror your internal display with the stage monitor. Then both monitors will show the presenter view, and the external display will show the full presentation.

Screen setup when using a laptop placed at FOH to play the presentation. The laptop-display is mirrored with a monitor on the stage, and the projector shows the full presentation

MacBook screen setup for mirrored display

With Macs you can set up the screen-configuration from the Displays settings in System Preferences. This is an example of how it could look:

Monitor-setup in Mac. Two of the displays are mirrored
The mirrored displayed shown.

The problem: Powerpoint on Mac don’t show the presenter-view on the mirrored display in a 3 screen setup

Then, in Powerpoint, you would assume it would just be plug and play? From looking at the Settings window, it seems that all we have to is to make the presentation show on “Monitor 2” which should be the external display:

Push “Set Up Slide Show” to choose the monitor to display the presentation

But, to our surprise, when we play the presentation, the presenter-view is no longer mirrored on the stage-monitor. Instead, only the desktop is shown:

The display on stage is no longer mirrored when the powerpoint is displayed.

In PC this works seamlessly. So why doesn’t it work in Mac? And can we solve it?
Yes! After years of grey hair and frustration, I think I have finally found a way around this issue:

How to solve the problem – what works for me

  1. Identify what Powerpoint means by Monitor 2

First you must stop all mirroring on your MacBook. Have your internal display set up as the Main display, and the two connected displays as extended.

Use 3 separate screens
Keep the built in display as the main display

Now go to Powerpoint. In the Slide Show settings, go to Set up slide show. Set the Monitor to Monitor 2, or Automatic. Then play the presentation, and take note of what is the screen where the presentation is displayed.

Set up slide show in Powerpoint.
In this example, Monitor 2 from Powerpoint is the stage monitor. This won’t work.

2. Make sure that Monitor 2 in Powerpoint is routed to the display where you want to show the presentation

From step 1: If Monitor 2 is the display used to show the presentation to the audience, then you can proceed to step 3. If Monitor 2 is the stage-monitor that you want for presenter-view, then you need to swap the routing of two hdmi-outputs from your Macbook.
If you send the hdmi-cables through a hardware switcher, then you can do this internally in the switcher. This would be my preferred way of action as it doesn’t involve any physical unplugging and patching. Also, the Macbook wouldn’t be aware of these changes, so you won’t change any internal mac-settings.

Routing the HDMI-outputs from the Macbook throug video switcher. Pictured is Roland v-1hd

Alternatively, you can just swap the HDMI cables going out from your macbook

After swapping HDMI cables from the MacBook, we change what is defined as Monitor 2 in Powerpoint

When Monitor 2 of Powerpoint is routed to the correct destination, you can move on to the next step

3. Turn on Mirrored screen

Now you can turn the mirror back on, with the stage monitor mirroring the internal display on the mac

In this example, I will use the Atomos Ninja as the stage-monitor

4. Check that the Monitor in Powerpoint is set to Automatic or Monitor 2

Monitor setup in Powerpoint

Also, if you haven’t done so already, make sure that Presenter View is enabled from the Settings. Go to Slide Show from the preferences in the top menu bar.

Slide show settings from the Preferences menu

Now you are good to go: If you play the presentation, you will get the configuration with presenter view on the stage-monitor

Hurra, it finally works!

Equipment used for testing

To reach the conlusions above, I have used two Macbooks. I got the same result for both.
– 15″ Macbook Pro 2015
– 14″ Macbook Pro 2021
OS for both machines: Monterey 12.4
Powerpoint version: 16.63.1

Disclaimer – more testing needed to conclude

There is no guarantee that this solution works for other Macs than the ones I have used.
Both my Macbooks have dedicated HDMI outputs, and it could be that macbooks with only Thunderbolt outputs behaves differently. It would be very interesting to try this method on different MacBooks and see what happens.

Using this method with APS

Auto Presentation Switcher, or APS, gives you more ways to open, display and switch presentations. When opening presentations on Mac with APS, the monitor where the presentation is shown is taken from the Powerpoint settings. So you don’t need any additional preparation to use this method with APS.

Written by Morten Brekke Stensland


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