Powerpoint portability


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How to move your Powerpoint presentation to another computer to display.

Another move by Google into Microsoft Office territory was recently announced with their purchase of Tonic. Later this year we can expect an online presentation system (a la Powerpoint) to join Google Docs and Spreadsheets as rivals to Microsoft Office.

We customers can make use of the Microsoft vs Google battle. Over in our sister publication, Office Watch, we’re talking about using Google’s services as a low-cost extension of Office to give you features either not available in MS Office or only possible for more money. Check out the first part of the series ‘Using Google Docs & Spreadsheets to extend Microsoft Office‘.

While Google’s answer to Powerpoint will (presumably) come later this year there are ways to make your presentation portable and even online right now.

Most commonly, you need to put your Powerpoint files on a different computer for your speech or presentation. There are a few ways to do that.


Powerpoint viewer

The latest free Powerpoint viewer is available here, a 25MB download

It will run on any Windows 2000 SP4, XP SP1 or Vista computer and can display any PPT or PPTX file.

(for earlier versions of Windows like Windows 2000 SP3, Windows 98 SE, Windows ME and Windows XP you can download the Powerpoint 2003 viewer which will display .ppt files but not the newer Powerpoint 2007 formats).

All you need to do is copy the presentation file (PPT/PPTX) to the computer that you want to display it from. These days a USB ‘key’ is the easiest way to do that though you can email it, use a network share etc.

Make sure that your presentation is saved with all the fonts installed, otherwise the slides might not look the way you expect. Do that by going to Tools | Options | Save and choosing ‘Embed TrueType fonts’. For display the ‘Embed characters in use only’ is sufficient however if you think you might tweak your slides at the last minute choose ‘Embed all characters’

Powerpoint - Embed fonts in PPT image from Powerpoint portability at Office-Watch.com


Tip: include a copy of the Powerpoint viewer on the USB key if you can, just in case you need it. The display computer might not have the software installed or it’s not the latest version (which can handle Powerpoint 2007 files).

If the display computer is a Macintosh then you must have Office for Mac installed on it since Microsoft (unsurprisingly) hasn’t made a Powerpoint viewer for the Mac.

This method works fine as long as all the images and sounds are embedded (along with the fonts). Some files – notably movies are never embedded.  Audio files have a small size limit for embedding so most likely they’ll also be linked. You need to ensure those external files are also copied and in the same locations as they are on the production machine. Usually that’s difficult which is where the next option comes in …

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Package for CD / Pack n Go

For a long time, Powerpoint has had a way to bundle a presentation up for use elsewhere. It’s gone under various names like ‘Pack n Go’ or ‘Package for CD’.

In Powerpoint 2003 you’ll find ‘Package for CD’ under the File menu, whereas in Powerpoint 2007 it’s under the Office button (top left) and ‘Publish’ .

Powerpoint 2003 - Package to CD dialog image from Powerpoint portability at Office-Watch.com


Note: despite the name you can save the package to a CD or DVD disk (we’ll use the term CD here but either will work). As you’ll see below you’re not even limited to silver disks.

You can add multiple presentations to the one CD from the ‘Add files’ dialog, the open presentation is included automatically.

Unlike in some situations, the Options button here is worth investigating.

Powerpoint - Package to CD default options image from Powerpoint portability at Office-Watch.com

The default options are to include the Powerpoint viewer, include linked files but not fonts. We strongly suggest that you also embed the fonts, just in case.

If space on the target CD is an issue and you know you don’t need it on the displaying computer, you can de-select the Powerpoint viewer. Again, we normally keep it, just in case.

Even if you include the Powerpoint viewer you do NOT have to use it to display the presentation. The PPT/PPTX files are visible on the CD and can be accessed in the usual way.

For security you can set passwords to either access or modify the presentations.

In Powerpoint 2007 the options are much the same with some additions:

Powerpoint 2007 - Package to CD default options image from Powerpoint portability at Office-Watch.com

The ‘Archive Package’ option is new and leaves presentations in the existing file format.

‘Inspect presentations for inappropriate or private information’ is also available.

The viewer action options are worth looking at:

Powerpoint 2003 - Package to CD play options image from Powerpoint portability at Office-Watch.com

You can make the CD/DVD play one or all presentations automatically, display a menu or do nothing. The ‘Play’ options are handy if you’re giving the disk to someone else. These options do not prevent the person from accessing the CD and displaying the presentations in some other order.

When you click on ‘Copy to folder’ choose folder on your hard drive to save the package. Powerpoint will save the package in a new folder called ‘Presentation CD’.

Powerpoint 2003 - Package to CD file listing image from Powerpoint portability at Office-Watch.com

Once saved you can burn the package to any CD/DVD. Make sure you retain the same folder structure with the files in the ‘Presentation CD’ folder (ie autorun.inf, pptview.exe etc) in the root folder of the CD.

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Beyond the CD

Despite the name, you do NOT have to write the Powerpoint presentation package to a CD. These days it’s far more likely that you’ll save it to a USB ‘key’ than any kind of silver disk.

We don’t know why Microsoft persists with the ‘CD’ label when even their own staff rarely burn a presentation to CD anymore.

When you’ve saved a Powerpoint package to the ‘Presentation CD’ folder you can copy it to anywhere you wish. If you copy to a USB ‘key’ with the autorun.inf file in the root folder the presentation viewer will probably start automatically when you plug it into another computer (it depends on the settings of the host computer).

If you don’t want an autostart just copy the package to a sub-folder of the USB device instead then double-click on the pptview.exe program when you’re ready.

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