Pathfinder vs. Merged Shapes

Perhaps one of the most-used tools in Illustrator, many designers wished there was a tool just as robust in PowerPoint. Good news! There is.

Location in PowerPoint

Select your objects, then: Drawing Tools Format Tab > Merge Shapes

Adobe-based tool

There is a technical difference between Shape Modes and Pathfinders. Shape Modes create new polygons of a single color. Pathfinders break existing shapes into distinct paths using the colors of the original objects.

Shape Modes:

  • Unite
  • Minus Front
  • Intersect
  • Exclude

Pathfinders:

  • Divide
  • Trim
  • Merge
  • Crop
  • Outline
  • Minus Back

PowerPoint equivalent

PowerPoint may seem to have many fewer pathfinder options than Illustrator. However, only two Illustrator functions don’t exist in PowerPoint.

Merge Shapes:
Union = Unite
Combine = Exclude
Fragment = Divide
Intersect = Intersect (whoa!)
Subtract = Minus Front & Minus Back

Examples of use

Original Shapes

Resulting shape(s) & their respective tool command

Result ImagePPT iconppt captionAdobe iconadobe caption
unionunite
subtract, select square firstsubtract front
subtract, select circle firstsubtract back
combineexclude
fragmentdivide
intersectintersect
NO EQUIVALENTtrim
NO EQUIVALENTmerge
NO EQUIVALENToutline, third shape added to show results
NO EQUIVALENTcrop
r

Potential Gotchas

Watch out for this. Why is the merge tool not the same as the union tool? Maybe it's like grouping

Copy link