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Viewing PowerPoint Presentations

Posted By On December 1, 2010 @ 10:26 AM In MS Office Help,MS PowerPoint,Uncategorized | No Comments

Monica, from Wisconsin asks:

I can’t open PowerPoint presentations that come in my e-mails. I tried the PowerPoint Viewer, but it’s not working, either! What am I missing?


Having problems opening a PowerPoint slide show/presentation that’s been e-mailed to you? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. If you are one of the many experiencing this problem, follow these steps to finally get that PowerPoint file to open up!

1. How are you checking your e-mail?

If you have been having problems opening any files created in PowerPoint, the very first thing to look at is the way in which you are checking your e-mail. If you check e-mail via a dedicated e-mail client such as Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Eudora, etc., instead of double clicking on and trying to open the PowerPoint file from within the e-mail/e-mail program, export the PowerPoint file from your e-mail into a folder on your desktop (typically done by dragging and dropping the file from your e-mail message into your desktop folder,) then double click to open it.

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The reason for doing this is that some e-mail clients will try to open a file using it’s own program features and/or incorrect associations, instead of using the correct program to open the file. As such, you will typically see an error message, or no response at all, when trying to open the file from within your e-mail client.

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If you are not using an e-mail client, but a web mail interface (such as Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc.) to check your e-mail, you will want to download the PowerPoint file from your e-mail to your desktop, then attempt to open the file on your computer instead of in your e-mail. Again, doing so eliminates one more possibly mis-configured program (in this case your Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, or other web browser,) from attempting to open your PowerPoint file by downloading/moving the file to your computer, and trying to open it there.

If either of these steps successfully opens your PowerPoint file, fantastic! Read no further, you have just found a solution to your problem. Although you may want to look into correctly configuring your e-mail client and/or web browser to associate PowerPoint files with your PowerPoint reader.

If you are still unable to open that PowerPoint file, read on . . .

Check your file type

Many people have the habit of thinking that just because they have programs on their computer which read their files flawlessly, everyone whom they e-mail their files to will have the same programs installed on their computers as well. This, of course, leads to many instances where a file sent by one party is unable to be read by its intended recipient, as the computer receiving the e-mail does not have the necessary programs installed to open the attached files. This can be particularly problematic with PowerPoint files as there are currently four distinct types of files commonly output by PowerPoint, each of which have restrictions on how the different versions of PowerPoint can read them. These file types are:

.PPS – Used to contain a –viewable PowerPoint presentation, this PowerPoint file will normally open in the PowerPoint Viewer, or the full version of PowerPoint without issue.

.PPT – Used to contain an –editable PowerPoint presentation, this can sometimes be viewed in the PowerPoint Viewer, but will only be editable in the full version of the PowerPoint software.

.PPSX/.PPTX – The same as .PPS and .PPT, respectively, but saved in a newer Open XML format introduced in PowerPoint 2007. Typically, you will not be able to view PowerPoint files of these types without a recent version of the PowerPoint Viewer or PowerPoint 2007 or higher.

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If you are unsure of which file type you are having trouble opening, right click on the file and select Properties from the menu.

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Get with the program

Now that you know what type of PowerPoint file you have, you will want to confirm that you do (or do not) have the correct programs installed on your computer to read them. The quickest way to do so is to first, update your PowerPoint Viewer to the most current version found OpenOffice [1], which includes Impress. A part of the OpenOffice suite of programs, Impress has many of the same features and editing capabilities of the full version of Microsoft Office PowerPoint, but at a very hard to beat price: FREE!

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Check your source

If the file still fails to open, you either have a damaged/corrupt PowerPoint file, or a password protected PowerPoint file. In either case, you will want to contact the sender and have them re-send the file and/or give you a password to open it.

PowerPoint files can be finicky to work with, but if you follow the steps outlined in this guide, you should have absolutely no problem getting those pesky PowerPoint presentation to open up right away.

Thanks for the question, Monica.

~J. Conboy

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[1] OpenOffice: http://www.openoffice.org/