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Control how the browser opens PowerPoint files


You have a link to a PowerPoint file on your web site. When someone clicks the link you want to control

The unfortunate news is that the way a browser opens links to PPT or PPS or the newer PowerPoint 2007 PPTX/PPSX and other files depends on local user settings and/or settings on the web server. It's not necessarily something you as the web page/presentation author can control.

To make things more confusing, the behavior a user sees may depend on:

PowerPoint 2007 PPTX or PPSX files on your web site

If you put PPTX/PPSX files on your site, you may not get the results you expect.

When users click on the link to the file, they may get the familiar "Open or Save" dialog box, but ...

In order for links to PPTX/PPSX files to work, two conditions must be met:

You'll have to contact your ISP or web administrator to change the mediatype/MIME settings. Our ISP set things up so that the web server returns this for PPTX files and it works correctly for us:

Content-Type: application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.presentationml.presentation

If you have control over the PC

Using the Folder Options tool to force PowerPoint files to open in PowerPoint and not the browser:

If you put a check next to "Confirm open after download", when the user clicks the link, they'll see a File Download dialog box and will be able to choose Open, Save or Cancel.

"Browse in same window" controls whether the file opens in the same or a new window, for example, when "Confirm open after download" is checked and the user clicks Open.

For reasons explained here, this probably won't work entirely as described with Office 2003.

There's more info here and working from what's explained in these several pages, we got the following working on our system with 2003. This involves making edits to the registry. The usual warnings apply. If you don't know what the usual warnings are, don't do this.

The value you assign here will depend on how you want your links to PPT files to behave when clicked:

For test purposes, we've published a page with links to presentations saved from PowerPoint 2000 and 2003 as both PPT (presentation) and PPS (show) files. The web site is hosted on a Solaris (Unix) server running the Apache web server.

And on the same server, there is a page with links to identical files saved as PowerPoint 2003 PPT and PPS, and as PowerPoint 2007 PPTX and PPSX

Also see:

Jim Ley mentioned this registry setting in the PowerPoint newsgroup:

Whether PPT/PPS files open in a browser window or are saved to disk and opened in PowerPoint/Viewer is] a client setting, either in the file-types (accessed through explorer menus different in different o/s vers, or via (.8, .9 etc. latest ver):

@="Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation"

dword = 00000000 to open in a browser window
dword = 1 to open in PPT.

PowerPoint MVP Glenna Shaw researched this issue thoroughly from an accessibility perspective and has graciously allowed me to quote her report. As noted above, this probably will not work if you're running Office 2003:

Beginning in Internet Explorer 3.01 for Windows 95 all the way through Internet Explorer 6.0 for Windows XP, Microsoft modified Internet Explorer to allow an In-Place Activation feature for Microsoft Office documents on PCs that had either Microsoft Office programs installed or Microsoft Office Viewer Programs installed. The problem is that it's been my experience that screen readers do not work on Microsoft Office files which are activated in Internet Explorer, but Microsoft Office files do work with screen readers when opened in Microsoft Office Programs or Microsoft Office Viewers outside of Internet Explorer. I have finally found the way to turn off this in-place activation feature of Internet Explorer without having it prompt you to download the file. This means, after making this change, you can click on a link to a Microsoft Office file and it will automatically open in either the appropriate Office program or viewer outside of Internet Explorer, thereby making an inaccessible file accessible. I, personally, would recommend that everyone using a screen reader perform the following steps to turn off the in-place activation feature of Internet Explorer. Some might argue that this is slower, but all Microsoft Office files must be downloaded to your hard drive whether you open them in Internet Explorer or in the appropriate Office application. To turn off the in-place activation feature, you must perform the following steps for all file types associated with your Microsoft Office Programs or Viewers. I'll use the DOC extension as my example:
  • Double-click My Computer.
  • On the View menu, click Options or on the Tools menu, click Folder Options [depending on the version of Windows you have]
  • Click the File Types tab.
  • In the Registered file types list, click the specific office file type (for example, DOC for Microsoft Word), and then click Edit or Advanced [again, depending on your Windows version].
  • In the Edit File Type dialog box, perform one of the following steps, depending on the version of Internet Explorer that you are running:
    • If you are running Internet Explorer 3.01, 3.02, or 3.02a: click to clear the Open Web documents in place check box.
    • If you are running Internet Explorer 4.0, 4.01, 5 or 6: click to clear the Browse in same window check box and clear the confirm open after download.
    • Click OK to record your changes and close the Edit File Type dialog box.
    • Repeat the steps for any MS Office files that you do not want to activate in Internet Explorer. Examples are RTF, DOT, PPT, POT, PPS, XLS, etc.
  • Click Close to close the Folder Options dialog box

And for test purposes

This is a link to a small PPT presentation.

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Control how the browser opens PowerPoint files
Last update 29 December, 2017