How to create invisible hyperlinks to files

While presenting using PowerPoint, we often embed related documents. We want the ability to open these documents on demand. But at the same time, you don’t want the audience to SEE the hyperlink. You don’t want them to know you are prepared!  Another practical usage is when you want related presentations to be available in a single click without affecting the look and feel of your base presentation. Here are many ways in which you can achieve this.

Invisible Hyperlinks to files

Photo credit: Tg-Pint / Foter.com / CC BY

Why do you need Invisible Hyperlinks to files?

Many reasons. I deliver new presentations every day. However, I need some reference presentations all the time. I need to have these presentations available to me in ONE CLICK from the current presentation. There is no time to stop the current presentation and go to Explorer to find the other presentations.

Another reason is when we present data, we usually put the summary in the slide. However, the audience may ask you about details about the data. That data is typically in some Excel file. But you don’t want to waste time and create confusion by stopping the presentation and finding the file in front of everyone. This looks unprofessional. You need a hyperlink to that file which is not visible to others. But you should know where to go to click it.

Similar situation arises where you have embedded a collateral file in a slide. It looks like an icon. But everyone knows it is a file. You don’t want people to see that icon to prevent random digressions from curious attendees. But you want a one click way to open the file.

The psychology behind hyperlinks

If someone notices that there is a hyperlink, they are bound to ask you to show it to them. Therefore, once the hyperlink is visible, you are vulnerable. What want to be prepared with all the related files being accessible in one click using a hyperlink, but we don’t want others to visibly notice it.

There are two ways to achieve this, depending upon the kind of hyperlink we are talking about.

  1. Simple hyperlinks to files
  2. Paste Link hyperlinks

Let us see these one by one.

How to hide simple hyperlinks?

We usually just highlight some text and choose Insert Hyperlink option. This type of links are extremely visible. The solution is to put hyperlink on shapes instead of text. The default textboxes which appear when you create a slide are called placeholders.

Placeholders vs. Textboxes

For placeholders, even if you don’t select the text inside them and put a hyperlink, the link is visible on the text. If you manually add a textbox, selecting the entire textbox and adding a hyperlink to it DOES NOT show it on the text

Hidden Hyperlinks

Don’t try to put a hyperlink to that textbox. It will be visible. Put a rectangle of the same size as the text and superimpose it on top of text. Insert hyperlink for the rectangle. Now we want to make the rectangle as invisible as possible. Remove its border. Now go to Format Shape – Background and change the transparency to 99% – which makes it almost invisible.

Change transparency to 99%

That’s it. Now the hyperlink will work if you hover the mouse over it. But others cannot see that it is a hyperlink.

Hidden hyperlink shown. Pointer is a finger and the file name is shown as tooltip

Putting hidden transparent hyperlinks in masters

In my case, I need multiple such hyperlinks to many presentations. Therefore, I put them in the slide master at the bottom. I know which area is which presentation. In fact if you hover over the hyperlink, it shows the file name. I have saved it as a template. I create a new presentation from this template and I get all the links I want with no extra effort.

In the next article, we will cover the Paste Link related hyperlinks and how to hide them.


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