There are four different ways to change an Office icon or SVG graphic in Microsoft 365, Office 2019 or Office 2021. The two official SVG edit methods in Microsoft Office with their in-built limitations or some choices before inserting into Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Outlook.
Limited SVG/Icon changes are available from the Graphics Tools | Format tab.
In this article we’re using an SVG from Wikipedia which has the features we need to show the features and limitations of Microsoft’s SVG editing.
The positioning and size options work well, no problem there.
But the Graphics Styles options are very limited, a color change is applied to all the parts of the graphics. Our example has two graphic elements, the circle and the rectangle (bar). An Office color change is applied to both!
That’s not very helpful and there were plenty of complaints. Microsoft added a clumsy workaround to ‘fix’ this problem, ‘Convert to Shape’.
Convert to Shape
Convert to Shape should better be called ‘Convert to Office graphic format’. The idea is that as an Office graphic, there’s more control.
Start the conversion from Graphics Tools | Format | Change | Convert to Shape
As you can see, the conversion hasn’t gone well. Only three letters made it through the conversion (if you look at the original SVG you can guess why, but it’s no excuse). The horizontal bar looks OK but manipulating it is hard because the handles don’t match the shape.
By all means try ‘Convert to Shape’ but don’t expect a lot. Even with Office Icons the SVG object separation isn’t all it should be.
Office Icons can only be changed using the inbuilt editing features but for external SVG’s there are other editing options available before importing into Word, Excel or PowerPoint.
Either of those options within Office 365/2019 have their limitations as noted. For better editing options or even simple color changes of individual segments, we have to go beyond Office.
Handmade changes to SVG
SVG files are plain text that can be opened and edited in any text editor like Notepad.
Making simple changes is fairly easy. We often open an SVG to change the colors of individual segments or remove unwanted parts before adding to an Office document.
See Make simple changes to SVG graphics for more detail.
Online SVG editors
There are many SVG editors out there and for occasional or one-off needs, the online editors are enough. Open your SVG with one of these editors, make your changes then save back to your computer before adding to an Office document.
Some SVG online editors to check out.
https://boxy-svg.com/ also has Win10, Mac and Chrome apps.