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PowerPoint Links and Link Problems

Monday, August 02, 2004
posted by Geetesh on 5:32 PM IST

Have you ever inserted an audio (sound) or video (movie) clip on your PowerPoint slide only to discover that while the media clips do play on the computer where they were inserted, but not on any other computer? Or did you add hyperlinks to Excel sheets, Word documents, and PDFs from within your PowerPoint presentation, only to discover that those link also do not work on any other computer, other than where they were linked!

As we learned from the above paragraph, PowerPoint creates links from two types of files:

  1. Media Files: These include audio and video clips -- common formats can be identified by file extensions such as AVI, WMV, MPG, MP3, WMA, WAV, etc.

  2. Other Files: These are documents such as Word documents (DOC, DOCX), Excel sheets (XLS, XLSX), Acrobat (PDF), etc.

The reason why these links do not work is because PowerPoint typically "links" these files -- so the linked files are not contained within the PowerPoint presentation file at all. When you are playing your slides, and PowerPoint encounters a linked file -- it fetches the file from its original location and plays it or shows it -- depending upon what type of file it is.

Now whatever we explained is true for all versions of PowerPoint other than the latest versions: PowerPoint 2010 for Windows, and PowerPoint 2011 for Mac -- these newest versions actually include all media files within the PowerPoint presentation file itself -- but they continue linking to any other file such as Word and Excel stuff.

Whenever you insert a media file or link any other file within PowerPoint 2007/2008 and earlier, it is invariably linked to the presentation. In fact, PowerPoint avoids embedding any files within the presentation -- that's probably sound reasoning in the first place because embedded movies would balloon up PowerPoint file sizes like nothing else! PowerPoint 2010/2001 and newer though are not too scared of ballooned file sizes, and they now contain the media file right within the PowerPoint file itself -- but even these versions, continue to link to other files.

Now for the bad part -- PowerPoint is not too good at remembering link locations. As far as the presentation and the linked files are on the same system, you will not face any problems. However, if you decide to move or copy the presentation to another computer system, you'll discover that PowerPoint cannot locate the linked files -- it won't even offer to find the links for you. The solution is quite simple -- assemble all your to-be-linked files in the same folder as your presentation even before you insert them into PowerPoint. And yes, only insert or link files for a presentation that has been saved at least once.

So what do you do about existing presentations with links already made? For those files, you can change links with a third-party PowerPoint add-in from Steve Rindsberg called RnR FixLinks Pro.

Also, some versions of PowerPoint, such as PowerPoint 2003 include a neat Package to CD feature (File | Package to CD). You can also use the Package to Folder option in that feature to copy the presentation and all linked files to a new folder. Both these options copy all linked files to the CD or new folder.

Related Link: Sounds/Movies don't play, images disappear or links break when I move or email a presentation has more detailed information.

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PowerPoint 2007 has a new "Edit Links to Files" feature that can drastically improve this process. But it doesn't appear to be fully functioning, and it's kind of buried.


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