Custom Bitmap Background on OpenOffice Impress 2.x

I was building my slides for a speak I’ll make on this Sunday when I came to such a disappointment with OpenOffice that I had to scream! And I was searching for the adequade place to do it when I remembered of my blog. So forgive me for any english mistakes, but this post is being written on the heat of emotion (anger, by the way).

Turns out that, if you want to define a custom background for your slide on OpenOffice Impress, you have to create a bitmap fill, then, go to the master slide, and then select the bitmap you created before, and then close the master slide. Can you imagine something less obvious to do? I mean, on PowerPoint, all you have to do is to right-click your slide and select “Change Background” or something like that. On the window that opens you choose for a bitmap, a gradient, a color whatever you want, and even choose if it will apply to all slides or not.

The model chosen by OpenOffice developers is absolutely pathetic. I’m sorry guys, you have made a GREAT software on the overrall, but this is exactly the kind of thing that blocks new users. How on earth would a normal user find out how to place a custom background? “Look on the help files” ? Two things: It’s not there, I looked. And if I, who work with computer and tech support for more than 10 years, looked and could not find, what would you say of the average end user (grand-ma)? Even if it is there, average end users DON’T look on the help files. They don’t know it exists. I’m serious. As I said, I work with tech support and you would be amazed the number of people to whom I’ve shown the help files and say “WOW! If I ever knew there was such a thing!”.

So, I’m not sorry for being angry, because it’s an absolutely ridiculous approach and I need to scream this aloud! MAKE IT SIMPLE FOR GOD’S SAKE! You’ll never beat MS Office working this way.

By the way, here is the procedure:

1) Go to Format / Area (Yes, believe me! We start going to “Format Area” )

2) Choose BITMAPS on the window and click the Import button

3) Name your imported bitmap

4) Go to View / Master / Slide Master (Shouldn’t it be Master Slide?)

5) Right click on a free area of the slide and go to Slide / Page Setup

6) On the background tab, choose bitmaps from the drop-down menu and select your previously created bitmap.

7) Find a way to tell OO developers that it is a terrible way to select a background.


~ by Dante Regis on September 28, 2007.

44 Responses to “Custom Bitmap Background on OpenOffice Impress 2.x”

  1. My god, thanks for that, I thought I’d never find it.
    And this isn’t the only thing that’s bad in OO, as a matter of fact I’m evenvcreating a VM right now so I can run MS Office 😦

  2. Thanks! I looked all over the place for a way to change the background. I feel like a real hacker getting it to use my own picture and then something other than “Gray 10%” or “Sun 2” for a color. For years I thought they just didn’t think anyone needed to choose their own graphics/colors.

  3. Thank you, I was really desperate.

  4. Yes, I agree, it wasn’t easy and intuitive to change OOo’s Impress background. I’ve seen many other blogs, forums, etc complaining and describing about the non-intuitive way of changing background. One other site I visited has the instruction to insert regular picture on the Slide Master (btw, Slide Master is correct, see: MS Office 2007 also use the name Slide Master). Inserting regular picture to a slide is easier, BUT it isn’t semantically correct (people like me cares about things like that). Thanks for sharing another way.

  5. Thank you so much for posting! I believe there are still many users out there sharing your feelings. I too, was equally frustrated–totally agree with you word-for-word–and here I stumbled upon the solution. Seriously, thanks & let’s all hope that OOo will fix this ASAP… 🙂 (and, once again, THANK YOU!!!)

  6. Hey thanks for this info. Yeah how on earth people will know that they put it there and worst, its not in the help file. And I truly agree about what you said about those OO developers. They’ve made OO for free but so super anti-user-friendly and they will never beat MS Office. I mean, what are they thinking? Is this some kind of tactic to make people get pirated MS Office? If it is I’m sure as sunrise that it’s not even close to a good tactic.

  7. Thanks. I had tried a long time ago and had given up. I am glad your were there for me this time.

  8. Btw. If you add picture as written in point 1,2 and 3, there is no need to go to View / Master / Slide Master. Only Slide > Page setup is enough.
    But thx 🙂 Ive also been searching for that for a long time

  9. It is fixed in OpenOffice 2.4 now you can just right click on the slide master “Slide -> Set Background Picture for Slide”.

    Anyway, it’s improving all the time, even with simple things like this.

  10. @Anon: strangely, that did NOT work for me!!!!
    Okay, it SEEMED to work at first…
    But then, when I loaded the file (after saving and closing OOImpress), the BG images were gone!!! AAAAAAAAAAARGH! Give me my time back, OOImpress designers!!!!! You WASTED my time!!

    Sorry about the flaming, but I SERIOUSLY considered uninstalling OOo and returning to, ahem, “MS_Office2007_with_CDKey.iso”…

  11. You can make it a little easier. Keep steps 1-3 (an irritation), and then:

    4) hit f11 (Styles and Formatting)
    5) click background, ricght click, select modify
    6) choose the bg bitmap as before.

  12. I owe you my freaking life.

  13. Thank you very much indeed. The OpenOffice UI just plain sucks. One would need a new open-source project using the existing engine, but creating a better interface…

  14. Thanks!
    Wonder why this is not to be found on the help pages.

  15. Thanks man, I was about to give up on this AGAIN.

  16. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
    I don’t know what else to say.
    Ah, yeah, I hope OO 3.0 will improve all this kind of stuff.

  17. OO 3.0 has indeed improved on this kind of stuff, you can now set a background picture doing richtclick=>slide=>set background picture for slide. yay : )

  18. Wow I too have been a computer tech for years and have made loads of web pages as well as presentations in PP and just wanted to try this open office program. Well SHEESH what an ordeal! Without this information I would have spent hours setting this up!

    Thank YOU so much!!!!

  19. Thanks, you’re top of Google search for this issue. It’s so stupid I’m in awe of the quirkiness of the design of Open Office.

  20. Thank you for this post, I’ve been trying to set the background presentation-wide for nearly an hour without success…

  21. OK, You got the idea, but there is a way easer way!

    1. right click on an empty part of your slide
    2. click slide and page settup (Just like you did with your idea on the master slide)
    3. click the BACKGROUND tab
    The rest is so easy that I don’t need to tell you
    NOTE: I am using the latest version of OpenOffice.
    (PS: I am a computer GEEK and I am only 13!)

  22. Isaac can be real geek, but who can know what was ‘latest version of OpenOffice’ in July 2009 (and do you mean some released version or source from version control)?
    In OpenOffice 3.0 this hasn’t fixed. In page->setup->background tab there are only list of bitmaps, no import own custom bitmap at all.

  23. Gah! Thank you. I was about to use my roommates computer for use of their Power Point because I was having such issues with OO. Thanks so much!

  24. If I’d know that yesterday… Thanks

  25. Thank you so much for making this. I wasn’t at the point of wanting to destroy my computer( yet), but I never would have found this on my own. Microsoft may be a front for the devil himself, but at least they make changing the background easy…till the OS crashes your computer.

  26. Thanks a lot! great little tutorial. You didn’t leave anything out. Thanks again,

  27. This blog is really useful.

  28. LOL

    right click on slide->slide->set background picture for slide

  29. Thanks for this info … it saved my sanity … God came through you just in the nick of time …

  30. Thank you so much for this post. I would have never found it without you…

  31. this totally deleted our project. why thanks alot.

  32. thanks very much. I totally agree with you, I can’t believe how hard they have made it to find. I coudnl’t figure it out for like an hour and i probably never would have if I had not found your blog. You really helped…

  33. Thanks heaps!
    I was freaking out but then I found your blog.
    I am using Open Office 3.1 and they did not bother to improve/add a simpler way to import a custom background. This is shocking, but in line with the irrational way of thinking of Sun developers.

  34. Thanks. This was really driving me insane…

  35. Hi:

    The esaiest way to change your background using an image is just to right click on an empty area on your slide and once the menu appear go to slide then set background picture for slide. Forget about bitmaps and all that crazy stuff previously mentioned. It is just like MS Powerpoint people.

  36. Thanks so much I’m working on a final presentation for my class and I’m a graphic designer so if I had to use one of the defaults it would have made me look retarded with the subject matter I was using.

    You were a life savor since everything else I found was unhelpful.

  37. Oh my word!
    After an hour of panic I found your guide. That is indeed a bizarre way to modify background. And I had to switch to make this presentation after making a whole bunch of things in Illustrator. So much for thinking I knew a thing of two about design-related software and how it works.

  38. Does anyone know how to make the pic background fainter? Like a watermark kind of effect?

  39. They’ve heard your cries! You can now simply right click the slide and choose slide > set background picture for slide. It’s easier and better quality.

  40. Oh. My. Gosh. Thank you so much. The Help section kept talking about the “Import tool”, which I couldn’t find at all. You just saved my Bachelor’s Thesis presentation!

  41. There is a much easier way. You just right-click on any slide and select Slide > Set Background Picture For Slide…and that’s it.

  42. Believe me, Open Office is not that bad and it is user-friendly. You have just been using MS Office for so long.

  43. Dude, thanks a lot for this post.

  44. Thank you for doing this writeup! Openoffice/Libreoffice should let some interaction designers be at the helm, and make some choices regarding simplicity.

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