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Recovering a corrupt presentation

For Windows and Mac users both

If you're getting messages like "PowerPoint cannot open the type of file represented by .ppt" or other messages suggesting that there's a problem with your file, possible causes are:

Unblock a file

Remove password protection

If you suspect that the file is password protected, have the file's owner save it without the password protection and send you a new copy.


Otherwise, getting a corrupt presentation back seems to be pretty much a crapshoot. If you have an earlier version or a backup of the file, dig it up now.

If you are running on Windows Vista or later, you might be able to recover a previously saved version of the presentation:

No backup?

Try some of the things listed below. But first make a backup copy of your presentation and use it, not your original file. Never try any of these recovery techniques on your only copy of a presentation.

Things to try:

  1. If you run PowerPoint 2003, choose Help, About Microsoft PowerPoint from the main menu bar. If the About screen doesn't indicate that you have SP1 (Service Pack 1) or higher, you should update your copy of PowerPoint. Choose Help, Check For Updates. When the Office Downloads page opens in your browser, click "Check for Updates" and apply the recommended hotfixes and/or service packs.
  2. If you run Windows XP and have installed SP1, see Files open as Read-Only after installing Windows XP SP1, Other file/path related problems
  3. Open a blank presentation (You can apply the template used for the damaged file, if applicable. That might help cut down on reformatting.)
  4. From the main menu, choose Insert, Slides from File (or if you use PowerPoint 2007, Home tab, New Slides (bottom of button), Reuse Slides.
  5. Try to insert slides individually if you're not able to insert the whole thing

If your file became corrupted when PowerPoint or your computer crashed, there may be a temporary version of the file in your TEMP directory. If so, you can try the aforementioned Insert, Slides From File and browse to that file. Or you can try changing the file's extension to PPT and see if you can open it from within PowerPoint using File, Open. You could also do a search for *.TMP files on the off chance that it's not in your TEMP directory.

PowerPoint MVP Echo Swinford has some valuable suggestions for recovering from PowerPoint file corruption.

Troubleshooting damaged presentations refers to Windows 95 and PowerPoint 97 specifically but may have some useful suggestions.

If the presentation seems corrupted or on the verge of it, but you can still open it, download and use the CloneMe add-in from Microsoft (for PowerPoint 97 or 2000) or for PowerPoint 2000 and higher, try HTML "Round-tripping" to repair corruption

Many users have recovered damaged PPT presentations by opening them in Impress, the presentation program included with Sun's Star Office presentation package (US$70 in 2007) or .the free Open Office.

Or try Open Office, the free version of this same package. Note that it will ask if you want it to take over registration for the various Office file types (meaning that when you doubleclick a PPT file from then on, Open Office will launch instead of PowerPoint.) Unless this is what you want, watch out for it and just say "NO"

There's also Office Recovery, a set of commercial tools. Try this demo link also

If nothing else works, try opening the presentation in Word to see if you can at least recover the text:

Prevent corruption in the first place - best practices

And to help prevent corrupted PowerPoint files in the future, Echo has these suggestions

Did this solve your problem? If so, please consider supporting the PPT FAQ with a small PayPal donation.
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Recovering a corrupt presentation
Last update 31 January, 2013