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Resize your presentations quickly and without distortion

Language Selector switches the text in your presentation from one language to another

FixLinks prevents broken links when you distribute PowerPoint presentations

Shape Styles brings styles to PowerPoint. Apply complex formatting with a single click.

Do this before using PowerPoint seriously

Before you get serious with PowerPoint, do yourself a BIG favor and change a few settings. Leaving them at their defaults can cause you to lose data or even your whole PowerPoint presentation.

Check for updates

PowerPoint is complex software and software has bugs. Microsoft works hard to fix bugs as they're discovered. To get the fixes, you have to apply what are called "Service Packs". Check regularly for updates to your versions of both PowerPoint/Office and of Windows.

You may not want to apply all available patches and service packs - you'll need to read the information from MS to decide. But ... if you use Office 2003, you should, without question, apply at least Service Pack 2 (SP2). Without SP1, PowerPoint 2003 may not open presentations from earlier PowerPoint versions and Service Pack 2 fixes a serious problem with embedded fonts.

If you have PowerPoint 2007

If you have PowerPoint 2003

For earlier Office versions and Windows updates

For general Office updates, start at the Office Downloads page

For Windows updates see Windows Downloads and Product Updates

Or if you have one of these Windows versions:

Whip Windows into shape

Before getting to work in PowerPoint, we recommend making a few changes to your Windows setup.

Make Windows stop hiding your stuff

Make Windows show file extensions and hidden files. Leaving file extensions hidden makes troubleshooting difficult and can cause other problems.

Make sure you've got a printer driver installed and set as Default

See How to select a default printer for instructions.

PowerPoint needs a printer driver.

No. We mean it really really NEEDS a printer driver. One it likes. If you don't give it one, it will cause you pain.

Even if you don't have a physical printer attached to your computer, install a printer driver and set it as your default. Even if you never actually print to this driver, it'll make PowerPoint happy. It doesn't matter whether the printer's connected or not. You don't even need to own a printer.

It should also be a local driver and set as your default printer, even though you never print to it. If your default printer is on a network and the driver's installed on the network too, you'll have problems if the network goes down or if you disconnect from the network. That's the same as having no default printer at all. Laptop users should watch out for this one especially.

How to find the share name and path to a network printer or How to find the share name and path to a network printer (in a new window)

Clean out your TEMP folder

Periodically check your TEMP folder and delete excess files. If there's a lot of stuff in there, it can slow PowerPoint (and other programs) down dramatically. If you don't know where your TEMP folder is, do this:

Windows opens an Explorer window onto your TEMP folder. You can usually delete any files you find there. If you get an "access error" message, it's because a file you're trying to delete is in use. Try deleting it again later.

Get rid of troublemakers

You can't live without some kind of antivirus program, but if your AV program includes an Office file scanning feature, turn it off and leave it off. It's almost sure to cause mysterious problems. This isn't really a big risk, since the software will still scan the same files during normal virus scans.

How to use Office programs with the Norton AntiVirus Office plug-in

Now start PowerPoint and let's go to work

Now that WIndows is behaving, we'll teach PowerPoint some manners.

First, we'll change some default settings that just don't make sense.

In PowerPoint 2003 and earlier:

In PowerPoint 2007:

Consider disabling AutoLayout
If you have PowerPoint 2002 (XP) or higher, you may want to turn Automatic Layout off. Automatic layout can cause your text boxes, pictures and other content to change size unpredictably and can lead to other oddball side effects.

To disable it::

Make Office stop hiding stuff from you ... the Menu commands this time. If you use PowerPoint 2000 or higher
(Note: These steps don't apply to PowerPoint 2007. It hides all the menus and won't give them back no matter what you do.

We're done with setup. But ...

Here are a few other suggestions that may prevent you from losing your work:

NEVER open from or save to a diskette, CD, memory stick, USB drive or any other removable storage device. Always copy presentations to your hard drive, open them, save them to your hard drive, then copy them back to the removable drive if necessary.

Avoid opening from/saving to a shared Novell or NFS network drive. Again, work from a local (ie, on your hard drive) copy of the presentation, then copy it off to the network drive when you're done with it.

Save Regularly and save often. Here's a good way to work:

Or if you prefer something more automatic (and elegant), install the Free Sequential Save Add-in by Shyam Pillai

In either case, periodically copy the most recently saved file off to another drive, a network drive, removable storage or burn it to CD. That way if the computer's hard drive crashes, you don't lose all your work.

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Do this before using PowerPoint seriously
Last update 07 June, 2011