You’ve been working on a presentation for hours and suddenly you’re stopped in your tracks by a pop-up box. PowerPoint has crashed. The question is, did you hit save? Despite feeling that your world came crashing down with PowerPoint, there is hope! Read on to discover some common reasons PowerPoint crashes, and what – if anything – you can do to stop it.
Monstrous file size
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 retains the last autosaved version of your presentation, so all is not lost. Save regularly guys!
Reason: You probably have a mighty large file in your presentation. It might be a super-hi-res .tiff, or a high-def 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 images where possible, or convert .tiffs into .jpegs. If you’re using a video, add it at the last minute. If there’s no way of changing the content, a nice trick is to add a placeholder whilst you work on the presentation. 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 select Change picture to swap the placeholder out for your big daddy.
Solution for you: Try and reduce the size of your file by following our guide to compressing your PowerPoint presentation. Also, take a look at our PowerPoint masterclasses. They will help you keep up-to-date with PowerPoint hacks and shortcuts to make life just that little bit easier.
Too much open at once
Type of crash: 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 open, a crammed desktop, and 47 tabs on your web browser … it’s no surprise your computer’s RAM is not your friend.
Solution for your computer: Close any unnecessary tabs and windows to free up some of your RAM before your computer helpfully decides to close EVERYTHING for you. In particular, close any program that’s accessing the same media you’ve imported into PowerPoint, such as a Photoshop window with an image you just put into your deck.
Solution for you: Chill out my friend. Close some of those mental tabs, as well as the programs you aren’t using. Just keep your essential applications running to maintain a stress-free experience for both you and your computer.
PowerPoint is multitasking
Type of crash: Your screen goes transparent and you’re greeted by the unwelcoming ‘PowerPoint is not responding’ message.
Reason: This can sometimes happen when files take a lot of resources, are waiting for a response e.g. from a file server, or if you try and perform actions while another process is using PowerPoint.
Solution for your computer: Although PowerPoint may ‘appear’ crashed, if you wait patiently, things settle down and return to normal. If another process is using PowerPoint it will show up in the horizontal status bar at the bottom of the screen. Always take a moment to let the task in progress finish its job before attempting other actions.
Solution for you: Be patient with PowerPoint, restarting the program will mean you’ll be relying on the most recently saved version of your file. We recommend shutting down any unnecessary programs or tabs to help prevent other processes or resources interfering. If the problem persists, save all your work and restart your computer to free the resources again.
Add-ins adding issues
Type of crash: Another fun pop-up to ruin your day, ‘PowerPoint is running into problems with the example add-in’.
Reason: PowerPoint add-ins (application/VBA and COM types) can cause PowerPoint to crash either without notice or with the semi-transparent window we know so well.
Solution for your computer: Try starting PowerPoint in safe mode without add-ins to see if the problem goes away:
- Right-click the Start button and click Run.
- In the Run box, type the command powerpnt /safe, and click OK.
You can also start safe mode by starting PowerPoint with the Ctrl key held down.
- If the issue resolves and PowerPoint opens, go to File, click Options, and then click Add-Ins.
- Select COM Add-ins, and then click Go.
- Click to uncheck all the boxes or click Unload to disable the Add-ins in the list, and then click OK.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 but select PowerPoint Add-ins in the drop-down menu and repeat step 5.
- Restart PowerPoint.
If PowerPoint doesn’t immediately run into problems, begin to re-enable the add-ins, one by one, restarting PowerPoint after you enable each add-in. Keep going until you identify the culprit.
Solution for you: Check to see if the add-in can be updated, otherwise you may be better off uninstalling it altogether. Don’t let this put you off using add-ins, they have great productivity boosting benefits! If you’re after the ultimate PowerPoint add-in, download BrightSlide here; with its regular feature updates and bug fixes, there’s much less chance of interference with your PowerPoint files.
Poor internet connection
Type of crash: Built-in PowerPoint features (Icons, 3D models, Designer etc.) and Office Add-ins don’t work. Or, you experience upload issues or autosaving problems with PowerPoint files saved to SharePoint or OneDrive.
Reason: A fast and stable internet connection powers all these features. A weak or disrupted connection can limit your access to Get Add-ins as well as use of Office Add-ins and built-in PowerPoint tools. Poor internet can also play havoc with saving updates to OneDrive or SharePoint. Lots of people working on a single file on SharePoint can also cause saving problems.
Solution for your computer: Check your internet connection, is it sufficient for the features you’re trying to access? If you’re having saving issues, save a copy of the file to your computer and work on it locally. If you have to work on SharePoint, reduce the amount of people working on the same file at any one time.
Solution for you: Work around the online features for now, use them when you have a better internet connection. Try working on files locally, always remember to keep saving your work, and try uploading to your OneDrive or SharePoint system later.
Additional PowerPoint crash fixes
So, you’ve reduced your file size, shut down your 47 tabs, closed unnecessary programs, tested your patience and fiddled with your add-ins, but you’re still having issues?
First off, save your work! If your luck has run dry and you are having trouble saving check out this article for help.
Second, take a deep breath. It’s time to try some more fixes…
You’ve ignored updates, oops!
We’re all guilty of this one. I’ll do it later, I don’t have time, I just did an update! Whatever your excuse, it’s time to face the updates, however long they take. Downloading and installing recommended updates can often solve your problems by replacing out-of-date files and fixing vulnerabilities. You can find updates in PowerPoint by going to File > Account, and under Product Information, choose Update Options > Update Now.
Is your hardware having a hard time?
If you’re trying to run the latest version of PowerPoint on an old computer, your hardware may be the cause of your crashing conundrum. It’s worth checking to see if the version of PowerPoint you’re running has certain minimum requirements such as operating system, RAM, and available storage.
- Check what version of PowerPoint you’re running by going to File > Account and, under Product Information, go to About PowerPoint
- Find your version of PowerPoint and its system requirements here
- Find your own system details by going to Start and typing About your PC.
If your computer is struggling to meet these requirements, this may be the perfect time to treat yourself to that shiny new upgrade you’ve been eyeing up.
Repair Microsoft Office
The source of your issue may not be a problem with PowerPoint, but a whole Microsoft Office problem. Repairing your Office programs can help to resolve issues such as PowerPoint not responding.
To repair your Office programs:
- Close all Microsoft Office applications that are running.
- Click Start and type Add or remove programs into the search bar.
- From the list of installed applications, search to find your version of Microsoft Office, click and select Modify.
- Click Yes to allow the app to make changes to your device.
- You then have two options: Quick Repair and Online repair. Try Quick Repair first, but if you’re still having issues it’s worth trying the full online repair.
- Restart PowerPoint.
It’s important to keep your antivirus software up-to-date, especially if it’s integrated with PowerPoint, as this could be the cause of your PowerPoint performance issues. Disable all PowerPoint integration within the antivirus software or disable any antivirus software add-ins you have installed in PowerPoint – just follow the process described above (see section on Add-ins).
PowerPoint fixes check list
Hopefully one of these solutions will help you fix your PowerPoint crash. However, we recommend following the below check list even if you aren’t having issues:
- Reduce your file size
- Close unnecessary tabs, programs, and windows
- Check if PowerPoint is being used by another process
- Investigate your add-ins
- Save everything and restart your computer
- Install updates
- Repair Office
- Check antivirus software
It’s good practice to optimize your PowerPoint files and computer; preventing a PowerPoint crash could save you a whole lot of time and headaches!
Still having PowerPoint crash issues? Send feedback!
In Office 365 you can send feedback directly to the PowerPoint development team using the smiley face in the top right-hand corner of your screen. This brings up the Feedback tab where you can report things you like (everyone enjoys reading praise) but also things you don’t. To flag your PowerPoint issues, send a frown with a description of what went wrong – include any error codes, they’re important!
This feature can track all the system events that went into the PowerPoint crash and help Microsoft understand what went wrong and try to fix it. You can include a screenshot of what happened. Microsoft doesn’t track any of the actual content of your files, purely what the conditions were that led to the crash. Don’t include screenshots with confidential information in, but otherwise, you’ll be OK.
The PowerPoint development team really does look at this, and it’s a key source of bug fixes. What’s more, if your computer has completely crashed and restarted, you can still open PowerPoint and send a frown and it will track the data from any recent crashes. It’s frustrating that it’s happened to you, but at least you know you’re helping fix it for the future and sparing others from suffering the same issues.
If you’re using Office 2016 or 2019, on the File tab in PowerPoint, select Feedback. Click Send a Frown. The Feedback pane opens on the right side of the PowerPoint window. Describe the problem, and then select the Include diagnostic and usage data box. Sending diagnostic data to the Office product team allows it to analyze the context in which your problem occurred helping the team see what needs to be fixed in the software. Click Submit to transmit the feedback to the Office team.
Now we’ve shared all the ways we cope with PowerPoint crashes, and how we prevent them happening in the first place, your presentation creation process should be smooth sailing!Leave a comment
Principal consultant; View Hannah Harper's profile
Content marketing lead
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