If you’re experiencing an issue in PowerPoint that is unrelated to fonts (see previous blog) – we’re here to help, since it would be horrific letting one bad experience dissuade you from the most versatile design program on the market.

Issue 1: Mac vs PC Compatibility

A common troubleshooting problem is the transferring of files from PCs to Macs and vice versa. When we get client queries or troubleshooting questions that we can’t figure out the next question we often ask is “Are you using a Mac?”. While Macs can use most of PowerPoint’s capabilities that PCs can, their minor differences can cause a host of problems when trying view or edit PowerPoint files.

Since PowerPoint is made by Microsoft, it makes sense that the program works to its full potential on Windows PCs. PowerPoint on Mac works fine as well (for the most part), but the program tends to be behind on several features, which makes cross-compatibility with PC users finicky.

The differences can compound since PowerPoint continues to update on both Macs and PCs, but besides general differences in the user interface, tools and buttons may be in slightly different places, Macs are also behind on several Animation editing tools, such as animation trigger functions and video trimming.

The Zoom function – which allows you do zoom into, preview and hyperlink into slides – is also missing on Macs. Other than this, various macros don’t work properly, which can hinder more advanced users who rely heavily on these shortcuts to speed up their work process. Lastly, the Sharepoint feature is not as well supported on Mac as the Windows version, which can make sharing and viewing documents on Mac difficult.

If you’re having problems with any of these features and are using a Mac, try opening the file on a PC. It could just be a Mac issue.

Issue 2: PowerPoint Version

PowerPoint is continually updating, fixing bugs, and adding new features. While opening older PowerPoint files on an up-to-date PowerPoint program will work fine most of the time, problems can occur when trying to open or edit a file on an older version of PowerPoint. Older versions of PowerPoint are not fully equipped to handle the latest PowerPoint features, which can make the file appear peculiar or not view correctly.

In this case, best practice is to make sure both parties are on the most up-to-date version of PowerPoint. To check for updates, go to the File tab in the top left, then to Account near the bottom left. Where it says Office Updates choose Update Now from the Update Options button. This will ensure you are both using the most up-to-date version of PowerPoint.

If a user cannot update to the latest version of PowerPoint, then you can save the file as an older file version (.ppt file instead of .pptx file) for PowerPoint 97-2003. In the Save dialogue box, click on the Save as file type drop-down menu and select the 97-2003 ppt file instead. Just be wary since the older version of PowerPoint may not offer all the functionality from more recent versions.

Issue 3: Slides Cannot Be Edited

When sharing a PowerPoint document with multiple users, you will often find yourself trying to edit another person’s work. Since everyone works in different ways, you may find yourself struggling with how a person managed to embed an image or object in a certain way, or why you can’t edit a textbox that should be on the slide.

First, try selecting the object or textbox you want to edit. If you are unable to do this, it could be buried under layers of other objects on the slide, which makes it difficult to select or edit. You can manually move the objects on top of it to the side to get to the layer you want, or use the Selection Pane to pick out the object you need (see Selection Pane video). You can bring it to the top of the layers through the Selection Pane when you want to edit and send it back where it was afterwards if need be.

The other reason may be because it is in the Slide Master view, and not on the slide itself. Hop into the Slide Master view through your View tab and you should open the view to the exact Master slide your current slide is drawing from. You can edit the object here or Cut and Paste it from the Master to the Normal slide view to continue editing.

The third avenue people sometimes insert images is through Slide Background. You can check this by right-clicking on the slide background and selecting Format Background. Under the Fill section, Picture or texture fill will be checked if an image has been set as the background. In this circumstance, you can change the background to anything else, but you won’t be able to move or save the image.

Issue 4: Text Cannot Be Edited

Again, if you cannot edit it in the Normal slide view, check the Master Slide View. If it also isn’t there, then click on the text again and look at your toolbar. If the Shape Format tab does not pop up, then it may not even be a textbox itself, but a picture or some other graphic. In this case, the text cannot be edited – you will have to re-type the text in a new textbox and either delete or layer over the original.

Issue 5: Video Or Audio Won’t Play

This is a common problem that happens when opening the presentation on a different computer from the one it was created on. Check the video or audio file has been embedded rather than linked – links will often break when transferring files or when there’s no online connection. Also check in the Animation Pane to how the media file is set to play. Is it set to play on click or on a timer or missing the play animation entirely? Be sure to double-check before presenting or exporting your slideshow.