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Design 101: 3 Hacks to Compress Giant PowerPoint Files

PowerPoint. You might dread it, but your client more than likely absolutely LOVES it. So inevitably, you’ll probably find yourself working in it. Okay, so you’ve finished your masterpiece design work and this presentation looks amazing… until you have to save it. Yes, Microsoft is notorious for saving extremely large PowerPoint file sizes. Well… now what? You could save it as a PDF, compress it and send it through. What happens if your client needs it in a .ppt or .pptx file? Here’s 3 compression hacks you’ll need to know so you can compress your file inside the PowerPoint application rather than from an external compression solution.



Compression Hack #1: Use PowerPoint like InDesign

I had no idea this was possible, but yes like InDesign, you can import images into your file by having them embedded as linked objects rather than directly embedded images. The only con, like InDesign, is to make sure that wherever your images are in your computer stay put. If you move them, change folders or file paths, etc. you will break the link. The pro to this compression hack is that according to wikiHow, “…inserting it as a linked file means it will not become a part of the final presentation file.”



Compression Hack #2: Compress Your Images

A big reason why your PowerPoint file is so large is due to images. Furthermore, even scaling or cropping your images won’t affect file size because, “…inherent size information of the original image is still held within the file.” With that being said, here’s how you can compress all of your photos with one trick inside PowerPoint.

  1. While your PowerPoint file is open, go to File > Reduce File Size…
  2. In the pop-up window, you can change the pixels per inch (PPI) for all of your photos from the drop-down menu labeled “Picture Quality:”
  3. (Optional) You can remove cropped picture regions as well by checking or unchecking the box
  4. Finally, make sure that “All pictures in this file” is selected in the “Apply to:” option.

I would advise you to try keeping the PPI at 150ppi or above to make sure your pictures don’t look too terrible. After following the steps above, just click “OK.” Now all of the pictures in your presentation are compressed!




Compression Hack #3: Format & Crop Images Outside of PowerPoint

Though this might seem like a “no-brainer,” it takes time and patience. The last and final hack I have for you is to simply take the time to format and optimize/compress each picture individually in your favorite design program. If you want to fine-tune your images for smaller file sizes, use the 2-up view as you tweak settings when you “Save for Web” so you can see the picture quality next to the original and can monitor the file size as you tweak image optimization settings. Not sure what these optimization settings mean? Here’s your full guide to understanding image optimization. If you want to do a mass export of photos, just follow these pro tips below.


Illustrator Pro Tip: If you love Illustrator and just want to do a mass export of 300,150, or any other custom ppi compression, open a new Illustrator file and pre-set the number of artboards to the amount of photos you’ll need optimized. From here, place your first photo in the first artboard, add a clipping mask to it and copy & “paste in place” (Shift + Command + V or Edit > Paste in Place) inside each following artboard in the first row. Now select all photos in the first row, and click inside the last artboard of the second row. Do a paste in place here and your whole row will be filled. Repeat until all artboards are filled. Now, rather than adding a clipping mask to each photo, you can click on a picture, go to Window > Links, click the link icon and place your photo. Simply double click your clipping mask to adjust the picture inside the non-destructive crop area! Finally, Go to File > Export > Save As…, make the format PNG or JPEG, select “Use Artboards” as well as “All” and click “Export.” From here, change your image and/or resolution settings and you’re done!

Photoshop Pro Tip: If you love Photoshop, simply record an action to make sure each photo gets the same optimization! Watch this tutorial video if you’re not sure how to create actions or batch commands.


PowerPoint can be frustrating, but luckily there are ways to work with it. The next time your client asks for a PowerPoint file, you can resort to these 3 compression hacks to help you reduce your file size. Try these hacks out yourself before you actually use them for a client, though, so you can find the settings that work best for you. No longer will you have to suffer extreme file sizes from PowerPoint!