August 6, 2020

Compatibility Mode

Microsoft PowerPoint is a very powerful tool used by lecturers far and wide. Initially released in 1987 as “Presenter,” the program has gone through a variety of changes throughout the years, adding features that allow teachers to engage their audience in new ways.

This progress, however, comes with a price. Because the program has existed for so long, there are multiple outdated copies floating around UAMS. This is an issue because not all versions are created equal.

The purpose of this post is to caution you against using older versions of PowerPoint. I had a client come into the OED Studio to record a narration for a PowerPoint. This faculty member has done this before and felt comfortable with the process.

When this instructor went back to their office and checked their work later, everything was gone. The speaker icon remained on the slides, but all the recorded audio had disappeared. They were at a loss and contacted me. What we eventually found out is that the original PowerPoint presentation had been created in an older version of the program, while the narration was recorded in PowerPoint 2016. When the client saved their progress, the entire presentation was reverted back to the older file format, which doesn’t support audio.

So, how can we prevent this from happening? There is an easy way to tell if you’re using an outdated file format: open it in PowerPoint. If you’re using an older version, then the program will display “compatibility mode” next to the file name at the top. This means that PowerPoint is bridging the gap between the new and old versions. Anything you do in this mode will be converted back to the old file format once saved, meaning that all your work will be deleted if it is not compatible with the outdated type.


So, we’ve identified the problem. How do we fix it?

First, navigate to the “File” tab, then click “Info” on the sidebar. This will bring up a page with a little information about the presentation, like who created it, when it was modified last, et cetera. What we’re interested in is the big “convert” button. Once pressed, this will create a copy of your file with the updated extension, .pptx. Type in the name, hit save, and PowerPoint will automatically open your file in the new version.