PowerPoint File Size Limitations: how big can my PowerPoint files be?
How big can I make a PowerPoint file before it explodes, fails to load or simply becomes too fat to be able to get up on its own?
First, understand that these are theoretical limits. We can promise you trouble if you exceed them, but you may well run into other unexpected/untested issues with much smaller files. And there are plenty of very good reasons not to get anywhere close to the limit. See below.
PowerPoint 97-2003 / PPT binary format files
For the binary (PPT) format, call it 2GB.
There's a hard limit at 4GB because the offsets and record lengths are 32-bit. Because there is often some trouble w/ signed and unsigned ints, anything over 2GB is susceptible to potential issues.
PowerPoint 2007 and up / PPTX format files
For the new PPTX format, your PC is the limit.
PowerPoint uses ZIP-64 (for both 32-bit and 64-bit versions), so the file sizes have no theoretical size limit. Well, ok, there is a limit: 16 Exabytes (2 to the 64th power).
But unless you have that much memory on your PC (real RAM and, with a severe performance hit, virtual memory) you won't be able to load, view or edit files that big. The real limit is your computer, it's RAM, the operating system version and file system (NTFS vs FAT).
For all practical purposes, assume that the limit is the amount of physical RAM you have in your system. And when measuring the PPTX file size, keep in mind that it's a ZIP that must be unzipped before use. To get a better idea of its real size, unzip the contents of the file to a folder and look at the folder's properties to see how much space the unzipped files occupy.
OK, that was the theory. Here's some practical advice.
It's better to break large files up into smaller units, even if you later combine them into one big file for presentation purposes.
- If a huge file gets corrupted, you've lost all of your work. If a smaller file representing just a section of your presentation gets corrupted, you've still got the rest of the show, safe and sound.
- Small files load faster and are quicker to work with and navigate through. You'll save a lot of time by working with smaller chunks at a time.
- You can hand off parts of the show to several people to work on if the show is divided up into multiple presentations.
- If you're distributing the show to people who don't have powerhouse PCs, you can create a set of linked smaller files that has all the same slides as the big version but take far fewer PC resources to load and run.
- If you need to email files, you're going to run into mailbox size limits long before you even start to make PowerPoint stretch. Some people still can't send/receive files over 2mb. If your file's broken into reasonable size chunks, you can mail them a few at a time and make it work.
- If you re-use slides by inserting them from older files into new presentations, it's far faster if you insert from smaller files.
- And suppose you have a 5GB PPTX file that, by some miracle, actually works ok on your PC. But you need to save it as PowerPoint 97-2003/PPT format so someone with PowerPoint 2003 can use it. That's not going to work.