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.

In Powerpoint, make sure that presenter-view is enabled from the settings. Go to Slide Show from the preferences in the top menu bar.

Go to “Set up slide show” from the Slide Show tab above the edit-window. Select Monitor 2 or Auto as the Slide Show monitor. 

You would assume that this would be enough to ensure that the presenter-screen is mirrored and the presentation shown on the external display. 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:

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. You will then have 3 separate displays in the display settings

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. In this example, Monitor 2 from Powerpoint is the stage monitor. This won’t work. (see next step)

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

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

3. Turn on Mirrored screen

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

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

 

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 tested with these Macs:
– 15″ Macbook Pro 2015
– 14″ Macbook Pro 2021
– 15″ MacBook Pro 2018.
OS: Monterey.
Powerpoint-version: 16

Using this method with APS

Auto Presentation Switcher, 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.

Update 5. October 2022:

Since I wrote this text I have used the 3-screen Powerpoint Mac setup on several events. It hasn’t failed me so far. I feel more confident now than before that this article describes how you can use the 3 screen setup with Powerpoint for Mac. However, there is no guarantee that this solution will work for every Mac that has 3 screen outputs. It would be very interesting if more people could test this method, and share how it works for them.

Written by Morten Brekke Stensland

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