Google Slides – Layers, arrange & groups

When you insert objects (images, shapes, text boxes) onto a slide, each one is inserted on a layer on top of the other one. So, the first object you insert is at the bottom (let’s say layer 1) and then the next one on top of that (layer 2) and the last one will be on the top (layer 3). You can change the layer your object is on by moving it either forwards or backwards.


Arranging your images & shapes

Here I’ve added 3 images and a green rectangle. I added them in this order:

  1. Green rectangle (the ‘ground’)
  2. Cat
  3. Bone
  4. Dog

So, what has happened is that the dog is on the top layer and the green rectangle is on the bottom.

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First let’s separate them out.

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Now I want to move the bone so it’s at the feet of the dog, but as you can see when I do that, it’s behind the dog not in front of it like I want.

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To change this, right-click on the bone, then select “Order”. You will be presented with 4 options:

Bring to front – This moves the object to the top layer.

Bring forward – This moves the object up one layer.

Send backwards – This moves the object down one layer.

Send to back – This moves the object to the bottom layer.

Here I’ll click on “Bring forward” to move it up one layer.

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Now the bone is in front of the dog.

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Now, I’ve decided to half bury the bone, so I’ve clicked on the green rectangle and selected “Send to front”. I then moved the bone down a bit to ‘bury’ it, i.e. now it’s behind the green rectangle. Note, I also rotated the bone a little, so some of it was still sticking up above the ‘ground’.

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Note, that the layer analogy is not strictly true, as no two objects can share the same layer. If originally above we have something like this:

Layer 1 – Green rectangle

Layer 2 – Cat

Layer 3 – Bone

Layer 4 – Dog

Moving the bone up has this effect:

Layer 1 – Green rectangle

Layer 2 – Cat

Layer 3 – Dog

Layer 4 – Bone

It makes Layer 3 the Dog, and Layer 4 the bone.

Moving the rectangle to the front does this:

Layer 1 – Cat

Layer 2 – Dog

Layer 3 – Bone

Layer 4 – Green rectangle

It moves all the others down one. So, moving something up or down, not only moves it up or down but also affects the position of the other objects, as the objects have a relative position to each other.


Grouping your images or shapes

Grouping objects together is often used with arranging and allows you to edit, move and arrange objects together, rather than doing them individually, which will save you a lot of time, and as we’ll see in a future post, will allow you to animate them together.

Here along with the cat, I’ve already added a speech bubble and a text box within that bubble. Now I want to move all 3 objects, but I don’t want to have to do it 3 separate times and I don’t want to have to select all the 3 objects individually every time I want to edit them.

So, first I select all 3 objects, by holding down the shift key and clicking on each object.

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Right-click on any of the selected objects and then click on “Group” from the menu.

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Now, all 3 objects are grouped together as one object. You can edit, move or arrange them as if they were one object.

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I find this particularly useful for speech bubbles, where you have a speech bubble and a text box. I create the two and then group them together, so they act like an editable speech bubble.

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To ungroup the objects, right-click on the objects and click on “Ungroup” from the menu.

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eBooks available on Drive, Forms, Sheets, Docs, Slides, and Sheet Functions:

Baz Roberts (Flipboard / Twitter / Google+)


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