How to Shrink Your PowerPoint Files

There are many resources available to help you manage large PowerPoint files. The cost of thumbdrives has dropped while their sizes go up. Many web sites offer free file sharing services so you can share large files with others without emailing them. The space available on corporate networks grows.

So why bother with software that optimizes and shrink PowerPoint files? Some reasons might be:

  • You need to email the presentation. Other storage methods aren’t an option.
  • Your company provides you with a max amount of storage space and yours already holds too much.
  • Your presentation file contains extraneous and/or imported data that don’t need to be there.
  • Every optimized and reduced file takes a load off the network and computing resources.

Corporations benefit from optimizers. Consider a 10,000-employee company having an average of 100 files per employee at an average of 50 MB each — those bits and bytes add up especially in PowerPoint with graphics and charts included.

Consider your experience with PowerPoint and other graphics-extensive applications. You often have to wait while the program opens and loads the file. Technology has spoiled us to the point that we expect things to open in an instant. Optimizers help with speed.

So what do you do to keep your file sizes small?

The main thing you can do is to never add anything to a PowerPoint file that is a higher screen resolution than what you need.  Many photographs are created for print and are saved at 300 dpi (dots per inch), which is way more than what you need for a computer screen.  You’re usually fine with using a 72 dpi resolution in PowerPoint, or 96 dpi for a little better quality.

While cropping an image makes it smaller, the entire picture still lives on in the presentation — just not visibly. PPT FAQ has instructions for getting the most out of PowerPoint’s performance.

The Format Pictures tool in PowerPoint comes with a compression feature for photographs:

Compress Picture

To access PowerPoint’s Compress Pictures option in 2003, select the image and select the Compress Pictures icon. The options available include:

  • Apply to: You can apply the compression to the entire presentation or only selected pictures.
  • Change resolution: Select Web/Screen to reduce the resolution to 96 dots per inch (dpi), Print for 200 dpi, or No Change.
  • Options: Compress pictures throws away data it thinks your picture doesn’t need. Delete cropped area out of pictures saves you the trouble of doing it yourself.

Before you use any compression features, consider saving the file with a new name or add “compressed” to the file name. This way if you need original images or anything, you still have them safe in a different file.

Commercial PowerPoint optimization and compression software also automates things so you don’t have to compress every time you use PowerPoint. They also tend to perform better in terms of size, speed, and data handling.  We’ll take a look at some of them in upcoming posts.

How large is your usual PowerPoint file size?  What do you normally do when the file is too large to handle?  Add a comment and let me know!

P.S. In addition to the weekly eLessons, Cliff now offers BBP Open Office Hours to members where you can get his help with a story template and ideas. Get the details on becoming a member of the BBP Online community.

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6 Responses to “How to Shrink Your PowerPoint Files”

  1. Gareth Robins says:

    Another trick I often use to compress file size is right click each picture and choose save picture as. This saves a PNG or JPG copy at the size displayed on screen. Then re-insert the picture from the file you saved. I did this to a 55Mb slidedeck and reduced it to under 1Mb. Compressing the images only got me down to 5Mb. It’s time consuming if you ahve a large deck, but worth it on the long run if you rely on email to distribute your deck

  2. James says:

    It’s funny how much space some of these files can take up these days. I usually compress my files into a zip file, but I really like your suggestion as it will help the presentation load faster (which is important on some equipment). I had never heard about that feature before so I’m glad I came across your post.

    Thanks for sharing,

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  6. powerpoint templates says:

    Similar advise on Excel files would be excellent; there is often formatting in unused cells, etc. which additionally bloats file sizes.

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