Pictures comprise a huge part of most PowerPoint presentations. While they can improve the presentation’s appeal, they can also increase the file’s size. If your presentation slows down or is too large to easily manage or distribute, check the file’s size as follows:

  • 2003 and earlier: Choose Properties from the File menu and click the General tab.
  • 2007: Click the Office button, choose Prepare, and then Properties. In the Document Properties pane, choose Document Properties and then Advanced properties. (Why are so many things so much harder in 2007?)

Anything larger than 7 MB will be hard to transfer via email, which is probably the most common method for sharing files. It doesn’t take long for a presentation to grow well beyond that benchmark. If distributing the file via email is your only problem, compress the file (using WinZip or some other compression software) and send it on its way. PowerPoint 2007 has zip compression built in, so compressing a large 2007 presentation file won’t help much (if at all).

You can build a slimmer presentation from the get-go, if you know how. When creating the presentation, reduce the size of images before you embed them. Although you have more control over the finished product, this route isn’t always practical. You might not have the right software or the expertise or perhaps the sheer number of pictures might make that solution burdensome.

Regardless of why your file is large, you need a quick solution, and PowerPoint’s Compress Picture tool just might be it. This tool will reduce the size of your presentation by reducing the size of the embedded picture files. Before launching this tool, save your presentation. Then, do the following:

  1. Right-click on any picture in the presentation and choose Show Picture Toolbar. In PowerPoint 2007, click on any picture to activate the Picture Tools tab.
  2. Click Compress Picture (the fifth icon from the right on the toolbar).
  3. In the Compress Pictures dialog box, choose the most appropriate settings. You can compress just the selected picture or all the pictures in the presentation. To reduce the size of the presentation, you should reduce all the pictures. The resolution setting will depend upon your needs but the Web/Screen setting will reduce the pictures the most. Use the Print or No Change options only if you really need to retain a higher resolution. A Web or screen presentation doesn’t require a higher setting.
  1. Click OK. When PowerPoint warns you that compressing might reduce the quality of some pictures, click Apply. Usually, the reduction is inconsequential to the viewer, but check the reduced format before distributing the file.

If the file is still too large to email, try — it handles larger files than other providers.