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PowerPoint won't open my older PowerPoint presentations

You try to open an older file and see a message like this:

PowerPoint can't open the type of file represented by [your presentation file's name]

PowerPoint 2010, 2007, and 2003 with Service Pack 3 (SP3) or later won't open files that were saved in either the PPT 95 format or the PowerPoint 97-XXXX & PowerPoint 95 format (where XXXX is 2000, 2002 or 2003, depending on the version of PPT).

See below if you're using PowerPoint 2003 with SP3. If you have 2007 or 2010, you can't force them to open these older files. If you really need access to the files, here are a few possibilities:

PowerPoint 2003 with Service Pack 3 (SP3)

Lately some PowerPoint 2003 users have been unable to open some older file types due to changes introduced in Service Pack 3 (SP3) for Office 2003.

This Microsoft Knowledgebase article describes the problem and suggests some fixes that involve making registry changes. The article includes links to REG files that solve the problems described.

If you aleady understand what to do with REG files and would like to download them directly:

To RE-ENABLE file formats blocked by SP3

To RE-DISABLE file formats blocked by SP3 and unblocked by the above REG files

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PowerPoint won't open my older PowerPoint presentations
Last update 17 April, 2012