You’ve been working on a presentation for hours and then out of the blue it comes. Literally out of the blue. The blue Screen of death. Your computer decides that it can’t face life any longer and the motherboard returns to the mothership. But readers, let’s fight back. Read on to find some reasons why PowerPoint crashes, and what – if anything – we can do to stop it.

Circle of doom

Type of crash: Semi-transparent screen ‘PowerPoint has experienced a problem and has to close’, with a spinning circle of doom (this is the kind of crash that will retain the last autosaved version of your presentation so all is not lost. Save regularly guys!).

Reason: You’re probably working with a mighty large file in your presentation. It might be a super-hi-res .tiff, or it might be a video. Whatever it is, moving it around PowerPoint is taking up a lot of your RAM.

Solution for your computer: Try to reduce the size of your images where possible, or convert .tiffs into .jpegs. If you’re using a video, add it at the last minute. And if there’s no way of changing the content that you have, a nice trick is to put a placeholder in there until the last minute. If you add in a smaller image as a placeholder you can even animate it. At the last minute all you have to do is right click and ‘change picture’ for your big daddy.

Solution for you: Have a look at some of our PowerPoint masterclasses to find out how to be more up-to-speed with hacks and shortcuts that will make life just that little bit easier.

Circle of doom 2

Type of crash: This is another reason for the semi-transparent screen ‘PowerPoint has experienced a problem and has to close’, with a spinning circle of doom.

Reason: You’re working with 17 different windows, a crammed desktop, and 47 tabs on your web browser.

Solution for your computer: You might just need to close some of that down to give your processor a little time to think about what it needs to do.

Solution for you: Chill out my friend. Close some of those mental tabs as well as the ones on your browser. This is my happy place.


Type of crash: PowerPoint is just a bit glitchy. Things move when they shouldn’t, they don’t retain the correct formatting: nothing to ruin your day, just make it a bit rubbish.

Reason: It could be that whatever presentation you have open was created in a different version of PowerPoint – probably an older version.

Solution for your computer: Sometimes PowerPoint gets a bit glitchy like this – there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with it, but if you’re migrating to a newer operating system, you might want to remake your template/relevant files in a more up-to-date version.

Solution for you: If you’re continuing to use the older version, you’ll have to be extra aware when you give your presentation the final check, because you might have missed something (it’s normally things like lines and outlines defaulting to black instead of the colour you choose – nope, I don’t know why either).

 Old technology 

Type of crash: PowerPoint closes unexpectedly, transparent screen and circle of doom etc. – there are several ways this can manifest itself.

Reason: Your kit is getting on a bit. Sometimes this happens because you’re using an old computer with an old OS or an old version of Office. It could also be that you’ve modified your PowerPoint with any of a number of really useful add-ins.

Solution for your computer: Like before sometimes, PowerPoint can’t cope with different versions, and software and add-ins that have been optimised to work with more up-to-date versions than the one you’re rocking are just making it work a little harder than normal. Try disabling add-ins (if you have them), or updating whatever you can to see if it helps. See if you have similar problems across other programs, because the gremlins might run deeper than just PowerPoint.

Solution for you: You can always treat yourself to an upgrade, or, because that’s not possible (or desirable) for everyone, look after older computers, don’t overwork them.

Blue screen of death

Type of crash: Colossal. Blue screen of death.

Reason: Just for the sheer fun of it.

Solution for your computer: It would feel really good to throw it out of the window, but that’s bad, so don’t. Try the good old turn it off and on again, because, let’s be honest, we don’t know why it crashed, and we’ve probably lost a load of work, but turning it on and off again somehow helps us mentally reset. The reason for the crash is probably linked to one of the other reasons, so things like clearing up your filing system, keeping your file size down, updating your computer hardware and software where necessary are probably going to help whatever the underlying cause of this upsetting situation.

Solution for you: Depending on the severity: a breath of fresh air, green tea, whatever you have open in your drinks cabinet, whatever you’ve been saving in your drinks cabinet.*

*BrightCarbon does not advocate the excessive consumption of alcohol in the face of extreme PowerPoint irritation, though sometimes we feel that it helps.

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Written by

Hannah Harper

Managing consultant

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Oct 2019

Microsoft has released Presentation Translator, a translation tool for PowerPoint. It’s part of the Microsoft Garage Experimental Project, so you can imagine it’s not perfect yet, but it promises big. According to the website, it is a PowerPoint add-in that allows you to add live subtitles to your presentation, and it will translate the text in your PowerPoint document. But – does it work?

  1. Image of Pam H. Pam H. says:

    good info. thanks very much.

  2. Image of Dabrien WIlliams Dabrien WIlliams says:

    NONE of this is what’s happening to me. What happens it i’m making a video in owerpoint, and boom, it just randomly closes as if it already saved. No warning or anything. And when I try to open it back up, it says It’s been Corrupted, and WHen I click repair, I works 0% or the time. 0/10000000000% or of the time. Actually NEVER works.. Why can’t it just run normaly? *WHY!?* Please help! ANd today please!

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