Microsoft PowerPoint - common problems

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For such a commonly used problem, it's amazing how commonly you'll see people experience difficulties in PowerPoint.

These problems are particularly common when

Before making a presentation it's CRITICAL you allow plenty of time to check the WHOLE presentation runs smoothly on the computer you will be using for the real thing.... and make sure all the videos play!

PowerPoint works by creating links to videos, and ONLY if the video files are in the same directory as the .ppt, are these links relative (allowing you to copy or move the "presentation folder" and still have videos work). DO NOT MOVE video files out of this directory!

PowerPoint only lets you import windows ".avi" and ".mpg" files (not ".mov" files)... but might have problems with certain codecs - CHECK FIRST.

In earlier versions of PowerPoint, transparency looks very bad, and certain "custom animation" will not work. Will help (a bit) to save a copy "save as >> PowerPoint 97-2003" from the latest version in case the laptop has an old version.

COMMON PROBLEM: slides skipping ahead. Be careful with "slide timings". If you have done a "Record Narration" (which is actually a great way to rehearse) PowerPoint records time for each slide and turns on slide timings, and the slides will skip ahead BEFORE you click the button! This can destroy your presentation. Make sure you turn off slide timings by going: Slideshow >> Set Up Show >> Advance Slides box and click Manually.

Mac (OS X) PPT Problems:

> Playing a .ppt created with Windows on a Mac computer isn't too much of a problem EXCEPT for the movies!

> If you use "PowerPoint:Mac" version 11: Movies you've imported (using Windows) will NOT work during your presentation (when you click "play slide show")... HOWEVER, if you are in the normal/design view, you can double click on a movie and it will play in this view (use PgUp/PgDown to navigate slides in this view). To get movies to play in the presentation itself, you must re-import them all again - for each movie, click "Insert >> Movie" and place it over the original - I don't see any other way. Notice that, the movies you import using "PowerPoint Mac" have a little blue film icon at the bottom left corner - the original ones will not.

> If you use "PowerPoint:Mac" version X: Movies actually seem to play (& ironically version X is earlier than 11) during the presentation... HOWEVER, you may need to double click them all in design view, so it can update/confirm the links. For this reason Version X is preferable (you can right click the file "Open With" & you might have more than one version).

> If you want to import into KeyNote: Beware... It seems to do okay (although it might lose a couple of images and transitions), and even copies movies... but when you hit play, the slides are tiny and the response time is terrible... don't know how to fix it either.

Windows XP PPT Problems:

> Windows XP File Explorer may crashes as you are view this folder, or when you click on a ".avi" file. (it will show the background for ~3 secs before explorer windows close & the desktop reappears)

> To deal with during presentation: make sure you are not using thumbnail view and DO NOT click on any of the ".avis" - instead play them via PowerPoint or open them via "File >> Open" in Windows Media Player.

 NOTE: When you select a video file in Explorer it tries to load the file to extract summary info... but if a large movie clip is corrupt (ie. no index from a partial download) or it uses an unsupported codec, then Explorer tries to load the whole file. Bugger.
 To fix properly:
  1. You could try installing a codec pack (try: - now see if problem fixed
  2. Run regedit (go: Start >> Run, then type regedit) and find the following key: - ##HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\SystemFileAssociations\.avi\shellex\PropertyHandler
    1. Delete the "Default" value then close. You should now be able to see .avi previews almost instantly but without the crashes
    2. Be VERY careful playing with the registry, you can f**k your computer (I know)... at least save a snapshot first
    3. ("Start >> Programs >> Accessories >> System Tools >> System Restore" then "create a restore point")
  3. Remove the "preview media" feature by opening command prompt (Start >> Run, then type "cmd") & enter: regsvr32 /u shmedia.dll
  4. This prevents preview of ALL videos in the Explorer window... to turn it on again open command prompt & enter: regsvr32 shmedia.dll

Other Problems:

The filesharing sever we use at work "Zeus" has many name restrictions - long file name & certain characters are NOT allowed... to get around this I zip the whole folder.