Friday, February 27, 2009

PC to Mac Powerpoint Conversions - what a nightmare!

I completed that 50 slide Powerpoint presentation yesterday on my PC and took it over to the client's house to load it on their Mac laptop. I had saved all of the pieces in a folder that contained subfolders for Images, Music and Video that I had copied to a thumb drive (the presentation was over 2 Gb with all the related files). I copied to the Mac's desktop, then launched Powerpoint to see if everything kept its links and the fonts mapped properly.

The first problem was one of the fonts was not on the client's laptop. The client said just use the other font I used in the rest of the presentation - Lucida Calligraphy. At least that font mapped to the one on the Mac.

The next problem I ran into was the Mac did not recognize the Windows file hierarchy. Each embedded multimedia element wouldn't play and if I double clicked on it in the editing mode it said it couldn't find the file E:\MLCIT\... The E: drive was my working drive on my computer at home - ???. So I had to remap all of the multimedia elements to the files on the client's Mac.

Then when I had everything remapped, we went into View Slideshow and even though the .wmv movies played properly in edit mode (The client's tech support had installed Flip4Mac), only the audio played in View Slideshow mode and only the black box of the embedded video element placeholder was displayed.

So I transferred .mov versions of all the videos to the client's MLCIT folder and reinserted all of the videos. Everything seemed to play fine and I spent time with the client teaching her how to navigate and activate the multimedia elements that were not set to auto play. She loved the presentation and paid me on the spot although she gulped a bit at the final bill (with all the scanning of photos, image enhancements, ripping of CD music files and file conversions of both audio and video files, font installs and assembly, onsite conversions and training, it was over $1,000). I drove home and went out to dinner.

When we got back there was a frantic call from her on the voice mail. I called her back and discovered that after she closed Powerpoint and relaunched it again, the audio files would not play again and the program was prompting for them to be remapped even though I had been careful about saving all file changes. I talked her through remapping one of the audio files, had her do a File save, and close Powerpoint. When she reopened the file, Powerpoint was again prompting for the audio file we had just remapped!! So I talked her through deleting and reinserting the audio file, saving the file again, closing the file and reopening the file and this time it remembered the file location. I told her I would come back into town today and reinsert the audio files at no charge but she said if I would talk her through it we could do it together over the phone. So I talked her through reinserting the rest of the audio files and saving the file. I then had her close Powerpoint completely, relaunch it like she will do in Tulsa, and reopen the presentation and View Show. FINALLY, it played flawlessly.

This morning I did a little research on the problems I encountered and discovered (a bit late unfortunately) that this website ( says to avoid link breaks when you transfer a presentation to another location (apparently any other media - even a CD), it says you should place all objects in the same folder as the presentation. Here I was trying to be methodical and organized the presentation folder like I would a web site with subfolders for the various component types! They recommend embedding objects but admit that mp3s and movie files cannot be embedded. Powerpoint only links to them (because of the size probably). They suggest using .wav files that are then compressed with some third party utility to make them smaller (can you imagine how big the bill would have been if I had taken the time to individually convert and manipulate all the music files in addition to ripping them off of the CDs?) It still doesn't explain why the file remappings would not stick when remapping a Windows version inserted object. As for Flip4Mac, it might play .wmv files directly and even when Powerpoint is in edit mode but as soon as you switch to Slideshow mode, it fails. The website suggests ( that you use .AVI or Mpeg but my Powerpoint 2003 (on my computer at home) would not allow me to select Mpegs. So I would have had to use .AVI and with the number of videos we used I probably wouldn't have been able to fit the whole presentation even on a DVD! I'm afraid I am less than impressed with the cross-platform capabilities of Powerpoint. Filemaker has Microsoft beat hands down! I have never had any issues with transferring a Filemaker file from PC to Mac except to be aware of graphic format selection issues and slight font size variances. Never anything like this.
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