You’ve been sent a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, one that you have to view for work, for an introduction to a course, or for some other important reason.
Problem is, you don’t own a current copy of Microsoft Office. So how are you going to view the file?
I Need To View This Slideshow Now!
Microsoft Office has been released in several versions: 97, 2000, 2003, XP, 2007, 2010 and most recently Microsoft Office 2013 (the version that is available on disc and with an Office 365 subscription).
As a result, there is a strong possibility that the Office suite or PowerPoint standalone version that you own isn’t capable of opening the presentation you have received (for instance, a .PPTX file – using the Open XML format adopted by Microsoft with Office 2007 – cannot be opened natively in older versions), or at least doesn’t open it correctly.
Short of upgrading to the latest version of PowerPoint, your only recourse is to us a compatibility pack, a standalone viewer or a browser app.
Compatibility Packs For Older Versions Of Office
The first thing you should check is: do you own an older version of PowerPoint or Microsoft Office?
Since the 1990s, Office has shipped with a core of four apps: Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint (the amazing and versatile OneNote being a more recent addition since 2007). There is a good chance that you do own an older Office version, but your PPT presentation file is incompatible with the version of PowerPoint that you have, either due to an incompatibility with some rich media content or because your version of PowerPoint is pre-2007 and doesn’t support PPTX.
In this instance, your solution is simple: install a compatibility pack for PowerPoint, enabling you to open the PPTX documents in your older version of the software.
If you’re using PowerPoint 97-2003, use the compatibility pack download from Microsoft remembering to take the time to collect all available updates for the suites first, using Windows Update.
After downloading, run FileFormatConverters.exe and follow the steps outlined in the wizard to complete installation. Depending upon your OS, a restart may be required.
With this installed, PPTX files can be opened as easily as PPT ones, enabling you to view and edit presentation slides.
No Microsoft Office? Try PowerPoint Viewer
Compatibility Packs only work for versions of Microsoft Office. For a solution that works without Office, you’ll need a PowerPoint Viewer which enables you to view presentations created in PowerPoint 97-2010.
After downloading the 60 MB file – you’ll be offered the chance to also download viewers for Excel and Word – run the executable and follow the wizard to install it. With PowerPoint Viewer installed, all you need to do is open the PPT or PPTX file on your computer (perhaps restart your email client if it was received as an attachment) and it will be displayed. While editing will not be possible, you will still be able to view and even display the presentation on a big screen or projector.
Need A Quick Office Alternative? Choose From Offline And Online Solutions
If PowerPoint Viewer doesn’t suit, you might prefer to install OpenOffice or one of its forks, which should display the presentation for you without any problems. Totally down at heel, or unwilling to break the bank to view one file? Free trials of Office 2013 are available, which include PowerPoint.
Everything is in “the cloud” these days, isn’t it? If it’s not rain, it’s data, usually your photos, but also your emails. If you’re the owner of a OneDrive cloud account from Microsoft, you can open a PowerPoint file in your browser, directly from your web-based email inbox (or by uploading the file to OneDrive) using Office Online, one of several methods of using Office without paying for it.
Similarly, you might open your file in Google Drive, although you may have less success with some embedded functionality this way.
Put simply, there is really little reason for you to be unable to open a valid PPT or PPTX file. You can even use your mobile device!
Portable PowerPoint Viewers
Windows Phone owners are fortunate enough to be able to view PowerPoint presentations natively on their devices, thanks to Microsoft Office Mobile (albeit with minimal editing options). With the right hardware setup, there is also the functionality to transmit presentations on a larger display.
All versions of Microsoft Office Mobile have largely the same functionality, so cross-platform differences should be minimal.
You Can View PowerPoint Presentations Without Paying For Microsoft Office
A lack of Microsoft Office or a standalone copy of PowerPoint should not prevent you from being able to view PPT and PPTX files on your computer or even your mobile device.
Let us know what method you use to open PowerPoint files, and if you have any questions.