Free PowerPoint Viewers, Viewer Capabilities
Follow the links below to download free PowerPoint viewers. Note that in most cases, you're downloading the installer for the viewer, not the viewer itself. When asked, save the file to a convenient location (your desktop's a good choice) then after it's downloaded, double-click the newly downloaded file's icon to launch the installer and install the viewer itself.
And have a look at MVP Jim Gordon's How to get PowerPoint for Free page.
PowerPoint 2010 Viewer
The PowerPoint 2010 Viewer "lets you view full-featured presentations created in PowerPoint 97 and later versions with full fidelity. This viewer also supports opening password-protected Microsoft PowerPoint presentations. You can view and print presentations, but you cannot edit them in the PowerPoint Viewer."
A big step forward from the previous 2007 viewer (that was really a 2003 viewer plus a converter pack), and this time MS has released it simultaneously with Office/PowerPoint 2010. Thank you, Microsoft.
Trial version of PowerPoint 2007
If you'd like to try a full version of PowerPoint rather than one of the free Viewers, you can order/download a time-limited trial of Office 2007.
PowerPoint Viewer 2007 for Windows 2000 Service Pack 4; Windows Server 2003; Windows Vista; Windows XP Service Pack 1
The PowerPoint 2007 Viewer is an updated version of the earlier PowerPoint Viewer 2003 plus the Office conversion pack, which allows it to convert PowerPoint 2007 format files to a 2003 format the viewer can open.
Powerpoint Viewer 2003 for Windows 98SE and Later
If you have Windows 98SE or later, you'll probably want the PowerPoint 2003 Viewer (Windows)
If you give presentations away from your own office, have a look at Autorun Presenter by Udo Schreiber, which lets you install your presentation and the PowerPoint 2003 Viewer files on a USB "pen drive" and run directly from it (using the computer's copy of PowerPoint 2003 if present or the USB drive's copy of the Viewer if not).
Earlier Windows versions
If you have one of these versions of Windows, you won't be able to install the PowerPoint 2003 Viewer. You can use the PowerPoint 97 Viewer on Windows 95 and up, but Microsoft removed the PowerPoint 97 viewer from its site as of early February, 2006.
If you need the PowerPoint 97 viewer, try searching for it on Google. We found several download sites by searching on
powerpoint "viewer 97"
Or if you have a friend with PowerPoint 2000 or earlier, they have the viewer on their Office CD. If we find an easier alternative, we'll post it here.
Microsoft used to have a PowerPoint 98 Viewer for Mac, but it's no longer available.
If you don't mind viewing presentations online, try Google Docs. Start here.
Current wisdom: the best free PowerPoint player for the Mac is Open Office.
You can also view PowerPoint presentations in Gmail or Google Docs.
Here are some more detailed notes about the capabilities and system requirements of some of the free PowerPoint Viewers.
About the PowerPoint Viewer 2003
PowerPoint Viewer 2003 supports the new animations and many other features introduced in PowerPoint 2002 (part of Office XP) and continued in PowerPoint 2003.
PowerPoint Viewer 2003 works with these versions of Windows:
- Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition. Important: NOT Windows 98. It may install in Windows 98 but it won't work unless it's Windows 98 SE
- Windows Millennium Edition
- Windows 2000 with Service Pack 3
- Windows XP
- Windows Server 2003
If you're not sure which Windows version you have, see What version of Windows / PowerPoint is it?
There are some 97-2002 viewer features that the 2003 viewer no longer supports (or perhaps these features are just undocumented so far):
- Run Program links - no longer supported (for security reasons)
- Object model not exposed to external programs - by design
PowerPoint Viewer 2003 Command Line Switches
The PowerPoint 2003 viewer supports a different set of command line switches than the older PowerPoint 97 viewer did.
Command line switches for PowerPoint Viewer 2003:
- /L -- Read a playlist of files contained within a text file (see below). Example:
\pptview.exe /L "Playlist.txt"
- /S -- Start without splash screen.
- /P -- Print the presentation. Example:
\pptview.exe /P "Presentation.ppt"
- /D -- Prompt the Open dialog box to appear when slide show ends.
- /N# -- Open presentation at a specified slide number "#". Example:
/pptview.exe /n5 "presentation.ppt" would open at slide 5.
The playlist file is simply a list of presentation filenames (preceded by path as needed). PowerPoint plays these files in the order given in the file. You can't use command line switches within the playlist.
Features no longer supported include:
- Loop continuously switch. Each presentation will loop or not loop depending on how it was saved by the author (set up show dialog) this includes not being able to loop/repeat the contents of a playlist (the contents of a playlist are shown just once).
- Kiosk password dialog switch. Viewer will display presentations in kiosk mode if specified by presentation author (set up show dialog) but you cannot specify a kiosk slide show password that prevents stopping of show without entering a password.
- Cannot specify a slide range to show. Viewer will display the range of slides specified by the author (set up show dialog).
- Force automatic advancing of slides. Viewer will automatically advance slides if timings and slide show settings have been specified appropriately by the author (set up show dialog)
- Virus protection warnings cannot be enabled/disabled by choice.
PowerPoint Viewer 97
PowerPoint Viewer 97 is no longer available from Microsoft but you may be able to find a download on the web.
PowerPoint Viewer 97 is compatible with PowerPoint features through PowerPoint 97 only. Here's a partial list of features supported in PowerPoint 2000 or later, but not in the PowerPoint 97/2000 Viewer. Other than Macros, VBA and ActiveX controls, most of these things are supported in the 2003 Viewer mentioned above:
- Macros, VBA, and therefore, add-ins
- ActiveX controls
- Animated GIF's
- Hyperlinks on grouped objects
- Screen Tips
- Picture bullets
- Automatic numbering
- Exit animation effects
- Emphasis animation effects
- Motion path animation effects
- Animation timing settings
- Animation speed settings
- Simultaneous animation
- Multiple animations per object
- Non-sequential animations
- Animation triggers
- Diagram animation
- Organization Chart animation
- Excel Graph animation
- Custom shows
PowerPoint 98 Viewer for Macintosh
PowerPoint 98 Viewer for Macintosh only runs under MacOS 9.x or earlier, or in Classic mode under MacOS X. The latest version of MacOS X, Panther, doesn't include the copy of OS 9.x required to support Classic. To run the Viewer in Panther, you'll need to get OS 9.
Unfortunately, if you have a computer that does not support the Classic environment (such as an Intel-based Mac), there is no PowerPoint Viewer you can use in the Mac OS. If you need to distribute PowerPoint presentations to Mac users who may not have PowerPoint, consider saving as a QuickTime Movie and then distributing that.