Many people need to protect PowerPoint files from changes. There are several reasons for this:
- To send presentations for review only (but not editing)
- To maintain ownership of the creative content
- For legal reasons (for example, if the content has been approved by legal and financial counsel and may not be changed)
- To provide presentations for others to deliver but not modify
You can choose from a number of techniques, depending on your situation. Sometimes, you need to maintain animation for example; other times, you just need static slides. Here are some methods you can use.
Convert to images in PowerPoint 2003 and 2007
If you don’t have animation, you can convert the entire presentation to images, so that each slide contains an image of the original slide. Of course, people could still remove slides or images, but this method is easy and is often used for review and maintaining creative ownership. It also allows you to protect some slides and not others. This is useful if you want to allow people to change some of the slides. Follow these steps:
- Choose File/Office button> Save As.
- In the Save As dialog box, click the Save as Type drop-down box and choose the JPG or PNG option. You can change the file name if you want or keep the default name.
- Click Save.
- At the dialog box asking if you want to export every slide or the current slide, click Every Slide.
- Click OK at the dialog box that tells you were the image files were saved. PowerPoint creates a subfolder for them.
- Create a new presentation. You now need to insert the images, and there’s a shortcut, the Photo Album feature. Choose Insert> Picture> New Photo Album in 2003 or Insert tab> Illustrations group> Photo Album drop-down arrow> New Photo Album in 2007
- In the Photo Album dialog box, click the File/Disk button. Choose the images you created earlier and click Open. (You can press Shift and click the first, then the last image you saved earlier to select them all.)
- You’ll return to the Photo Album dialog box. In the Album Layout section, choose the Picture Layout you want. Usually, you’ll choose Fit to Slide or 1 Picture. Click Create.
- PowerPoint inserts one image on each slide and creates a title slide, which you can then delete. Save the presentation.
Convert to images in PowerPoint 2010 and 2013
PowerPoint 2010 and 2013 make this easier. Choose File> Save As. In the Save As dialog box, click the Save as Type drop-down list and choose PowerPoint Picture Presentation (*.pptx). That’s all there is to it!
Convert to PDF
Another commonly-used method is to convert the presentation to PDF format. You lose all animation, but people can’t change any of the slides, or even delete any. Some options:
- Adobe Acrobat
- A free PDF creator (such as PDF995 or PrimoPDF)
- An add-in from Microsoft (for PowerPoint 2007 only). If you use the add-in, you can then choose Office button> Save As> PDF or XPS
- In PowerPoint 2010 and 2013, choose File>Save & Send> Create PDF/XPS Document>Create PDF/XPS.
Convert to SWF, AVI, or another video format
Converting to video saves your animation either by converting it or simply displaying it as a video. There are many video formats. You can use this method to post your presentation on your Web site or YouTube, especially if you include narration. Some options:
- In PowerPoint 2013 and 2013, choose File, Export/Save & Send, Create a Video. PowerPoint 2010 creates a WMF video and 2013 creates an MP4 video.
- A list of software that converts PowerPoint to SWF
- iSpring Free, the best free tool that I know of, converts to SWF
- Video capture, including TechSmith’s Camtasia, SnagIt (in video capture mode). These tools convert to AVI, SWF, MP4 or other formats. There’s a free open source option, CamStudio.
Password protect for editing
PowerPoint 2007 and later allow you to add a password that allows people to open, but not edit, a presentation. This is a great way to allow some people to edit the file, but not others. But note the “gottcha” and the workaround at the end of this section.
Click the Office/button/File> Save As. In the Save As dialog box, choose Tools> General Options.
In the General Options dialog box, enter a password in the Password to Modify text box. Be sure to write this down! Click OK. You’ll need to re-enter the password. Then go ahead and save the file.
When you or others re-open this file, a dialog box appears asking for the password.
The problem with this method is that if people open the 2007 or later file in PowerPoint 2003, the file is no longer protected. However, funnily enough, if you save the file in 97-2003 format (in the Save As dialog box), you can’t edit the file, even in 2003. This workaround may be just what you need. Of course, some features of 2007 and later don’t work in 2003, which may be a problem if you want to give some people the right to edit the file.
Add a digital signature
PowerPoint 2007 and later let you add a digital signature to a file. A digital signature doesn’t prevent changes but lets you know if someone has changed the file, because the process of changing the file invalidates the digital signature. You need to purchase a digital signature service. In PowerPoint 2007, start by choosing Office button> Prepare> Add a Digital Signature. In PowerPoint 2010 and 2013, choose File> Info> Protect Presentation> Add a Digital Signature.
Mark as Final
If you have 2007 or later and don’t need to securely prevent changes, but just want to let people know that a presentation shouldn’t be changed, you can use the Mark as Final feature. In 2007, choose Office button> Prepare> Mark as Final. In 2010 and 2013, choose File> Info>Protect Presentation> Mark as Final. This turns off all typing, editing, and proofing commands. However, someone can go back to the same menu item and turn off the setting, so use this feature when absolute security isn’t necessary.
How do you protect PowerPoint files from changes? Leave a comment!