General PowerPoint troubleshooting procedures
You might want to print out this page and keep it handy as you work through these suggestions.
Restart your computer
The first step in troubleshooting any kind of computer problem is to restart the computer. We call this the Jim Hart Glare Method because nobody can glare like Jim. But give it your best shot:
- Click Start, Turn Off Computer and shut down Windows and the computer. Power it down completely.
- Glare at the computer for five minutes.
- Turn the power back on and let Windows restart.
Computers and software are subject to occasional random glitches. Often a restart is all it takes to fix it. And equally often, a restart is the only thing that WILL fix it.
If the problem seems confined to some but not all presentations but not all, try "round-tripping" a problem presentation to HTML and back.
- Round-tripping works best in PowerPoint versions 2000 - 2003.
- It may not produce useful results in PowerPoint 2007 and later, but it's worth a try.
- It won't work in PowerPoint 97 and earlier.
Save a back-up copy of your presentation before round-tripping it
Check for updates
- PowerPoint 2007: click the Office Button, click PowerPoint Options, click Resources, then Get Updates.
- PowerPoint 2003: choose Help, Check for updates and install any recommended service packs and updates.
- Earlier versions: try visiting Office Update and apply recommended updates.
Let Office try to repair itself
- PowerPoint 2007: click the Office Button, click PowerPoint Options, click Resources, then Diagnose.
- PowerPoint 2000 to 2003: choose Help, Detect & Repair.
- PowerPoint 97 and earlier: re-run Setup from the Office CD and choose the Reinstall option (this will repair or replace any missing files but won't change your current installation).
Still not fixed?
- If not, see Don't use PowerPoint for anything serious until you've done this! Do that stuff. Then come back here. We'll wait.
- If possible, open your presentation then choose File, Save As and save it under a new name. This helps clean out accumulated digital trash and ensures that you have a backup copy of your work.
- Locate your TEMP folder and clean out all the mess of files that's probably accumulated there. Quit PowerPoint first, then click Start, Run and type "%temp%" (without the quotes) into the box, then press OK. That opens a window on the TEMP folder so you can delete files.
IMPORTANT:If you're trying to recover a corrupted presentation, DO NOT delete temp files until after you've tried the suggestions in Recovering a corrupt presentation
- Make certain that there's plenty of hard drive space, especially on the drive where Windows is installed.
- Run ScanDisk and defragment your hard drives
- Try setting your graphics hardware acceleration back
- Right-click the Windows desktop, choose Properties from the popup menu, then click the Settings tab. Try a different resolution, color depth or refresh rate setting; if you have a choice, avoid so-called "High color" and pick either 256-color or True-color/24 bit modes.
- Make certain that you have a printer driver installed, that it's set as the default printer, and that it's connected to a printer attached to your local machine, to FILE: or, if it's a network printer, that the printer and server it's attached to are up and running properly. See How to install a local printer driver and How to install a TEST printer driver
Tell Outlook not to use Word as its editor
If Outlook is running, shut it down, then test in PowerPoint again. If you can't shut Outlook down for some reason, at least disable the option to use Word as your email editor:
- In Outlook, choose Tools, Options. The Options dialog box appears.
- In the Options dialog box, click the Mail Format tab.
- On the Mail Format tab, remove the checks next to "Use ... Word to edit e-mail messages" and "Use ... Word to read Rich Text e-mail messages"
- Click OK
Temporarily disable your antivirus program
If PowerPoint crashes, won't open or save files, acts weird, or gives you printing problems, disable your antivirus software completely. It would be wise to disconnect your computer from the network and leave your browser and email program shut down until you restart the antivirus program. At the very least, disable any MS Office-specific virus protection features. These are notorious troublemakers.
Now try it again
Start PowerPoint again. See if the same problem occurs. If it does, set your video hardware acceleration back.
How to set graphics hardware acceleration back
If that fixes the problem, it probably means that you have a bad video driver. Check with the manufacturer of the video board for updated drivers.
Was there an error message from PowerPoint or Windows?
If you see specific error messages from PowerPoint, there's a whole section of the FAQ devoted to these. Check there for the specific message you're getting. Start here: Troubleshooting Tips and Procedures
Google is your friend
If you see an error message, jot down the EXACT text. Then fire up Google and type the EXACT text of the error message into the search text box. As often as not, the information you need to fix the problem will be in the first few links.
If not, try narrowing the search down a bit by putting quotes around the error message, snipping out the most relevant bit and putting quotes around that, and/or adding the word PowerPoint to the search text.
Do you suspect it's an add-in causing the problem?
- PowerPoint 2000 (and possibly 97): start with Ctrl + Shift + Alt keys depressed. This causes it to start with VBA disabled, so no VBA macros will run.
- PowerPoint 2002 and up start with the Ctrl key depressed. This causes it to start in Safe Mode, which disables addins and performs a few other safety checks.
Using a network?
PowerPoint and networks don't always get along well, particularly non-Microsoft networks.
If you're working with a file on the network, use Windows Explorer to copy it to your local hard drive and work with it from there. Save it locally then copy it back to the network when you're done.
If you're printing to a network printer, install a local printer driver instead. See How to install a local printer driver for more information.
Check the network vendor's site for known issues with PowerPoint. Novell in particular seems to get along badly with PowerPoint. Visit the Novell searchable knowledgebase and search on "PowerPoint" for a list of issues.
If all else fails, reinstall
If nothing else solves the problem, try uninstalling then reinstalling PowerPoint (or Office).
If that doesn't clean things up, try running a registry cleaner after uninstalling and before reinstalling.
For more info on registry cleaners, see Completely uninstall Office - Office Erasers / Registry Cleaners
General Windows or Office Troubleshooting Sites
MVP Hans-Georg Michna's Windows Problem Solver has all sort of useful tips.