How Do I Know Which Viewer To Use

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Tip 47: A quick way to find the Viewers

If you don't feel like searching the Microsoft site for the Viewers, check out PowerPoint MVP Steve Rindsberg's PowerPoint FAQ site. Links to the to Viewers can be found there on this page:

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Before sharing presentations, download and install the correct Viewer from Microsoft's site. Go to and do a search for "PowerPoint Viewer." One of the links will bring up the download page for the PowerPoint Viewer 97 and another for the 2003 Viewer. Download the one needed and install it in a folder on the hard drive. Write down the name of this folder for later use.

PPT Version

Which Viewer?

How to Pack



2003 Viewer

Package for CD

Can copy directly to CD (Windows XP required) or to folder on hard drive. Will not run embedded presentations


2003 Viewer

Pack and Go. Don't include Viewer

Creates setup.exe and PPZ file. Recipient must unpack. Audience will need to download and install 2003 Viewer from the web. Viewer shows all 2002 animations and transitions. Will not run embedded presentations


2003 Viewer

Manually add files and 7 Viewer files to Staging folder.

Recipient doesn't have to unpack. Use best practices with regard to linked files or use third-party utility such as PowerLink Plus or FixLinksPro to resolve links.
Will not run embedded presentations


97 Viewer

Pack and Go. Include Viewer

Creates setup.exe and PPZ file. Recipient must unpack. Viewer won't run animated GIFs; won't show picture bullets


97 Viewer

Pack and Go. Include Viewer

Creates setup.exe and PPZ file. Recipient must unpack.

No matter which viewer you are using, there are a few things to know before using it:

  • The 2003 Viewer does not let you activate embedded presentations. It will allow you to activate linked presentations. If you need to use embedded presentations in a distributed presentation, use the 97 Viewer.

  • Neither Viewer supports VBA or PowerPoint macros. If the presentation needs macros to run, the people receiving it will need the full PowerPoint application in order to run any code included in the presentation. Microsoft determined adding support for VBA to the Viewers was a security risk.

  • The 2003 Viewer supports password protection at multiple levels. This is a good thing for developers who want to protect their proprietary slide shows. If you do share a password-protected presentation, send the password to allow the presentation to be opened, even if you don't want to share the modify password. You can have different passwords on each of the presentation files.

    The 97 Viewer does not support passwords, so if the presentation needs password protection, use the 2003 Viewer.

  • Both Viewers need to be installed once they are downloaded from the web. Once installed, they can be used on the computer or you can copy the files to a CD, USB drive or other device and run them.

    If distributing a presentation on CD, you can include the files created when the Viewer is installed. This way, those receiving the CD do not need to install the CD on their computers.

  • The 2003 Viewer will run on Windows XP (any version), Windows 2000 (Service Pack 3), Windows 98.SE, Windows ME or any Windows Server product from 2003 on. If the recipients of the presentation are running an older version of Windows, they will not be able to see the presentation.

Kathy Jacobs On PowerPoint
Kathy Jacobs On PowerPoint
ISBN: 972425861
Year: 2003
Pages: 166 © 2008-2017.
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