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How do I copy a picture out of a PowerPoint presentation?


A friend has sent me a beautiful collection of slides from Switzerland which I can only open using PowerPoint Viewer. I would like to use one of these pictures on my desktop in the center with all the usual icons around it on a black background. However, PowerPoint does not let me send one of the pictures by e-mail to myself in order to reduce it and then use it on the desktop. I checked everything I could to find a solution without success. Would you have any idea on how to do this ?

The good news is that anything you see on your screen can be copied, so absolutely we can do this.

How you do it depends on whether or not you have PowerPoint yourself.

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There are typically two types of PowerPoint presentations that are forwarded around: “PPT” and “PPS”:

  • PPT (for PowerPoinT) files are the original PowerPoint presentation. Double click on that and if you have PowerPoint it will open in edit mode.
  • PPS (for PowerPoint Show) is a file that can be produced by PowerPoint that, when opened starts PowerPoint or the PowerPoint Viewer in slideshow mode for immediate viewing.
“… anything you see on your screen can be copied…”

The easiest approach is to open the files in either PowerPoint or OpenOffice’s “Impress”, which is both free and compatible with PowerPoint (download as part of OpenOffice).

Simply open the presentation, and navigate to the slide containing the picture you want. At that point, you should be able to right click on the picture and select “Save as Picture…”, or copy it to the clipboard and then paste it into Microsoft Paint or another image editing program.

That should get you the highest quality copy available of the original image.

Another approach that is an example of that “anything you see on your screen can be copied” statement is this: while viewing the slideshow, preferably full screen, when the slide appears that has the image you want, press the PrntScrn button on your keyboard.

You’ve just taken a screenshot. You’ve just taken a picture, a copy, of your computer screen and
placed it into the clipboard.

Now fire up Microsoft Paint, or your favorite image editing program, and paste that image into the program and then save it in whatever format is appropriate (probably .jpg).

This is actually a pretty handy way to take copies of things that aren’t easily copy-able, but still easily visible. In fact, it’s one reason that all the techniques to prevent copying images on the web are pretty futile, since a single screen capture can do the job.

The downside is typically quality: a screen shot is a picture of the screen. If you have a 1024×768 screen, then your copy will be 1024×768, even if the original picture, had you been able to access it, were much higher resolution.

But with today’s larger screens, and depending on what your intended use it – like, say, a desktop background – this limitation is often acceptable.

Do this

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16 comments on “How do I copy a picture out of a PowerPoint presentation?”

  1. In the “Save As” menu, you can also change the file type to a variety of image formats, including .jpg, .gif, and .tif among others. You can also choose to export either the current slide or the entire presentation, which comes in handy if there’s more than 1 or 2 you want to save.

  2. Since this article mentions the use of the Print Screen key to capture the screen, most people don’t realise that when you press print screen NOTHING APPEARS TO HAPPEN. Very often people say “I pressed print screen and nothing happened”. When you press print screen, something did happen, the screen display was “copied” ready to be pasted somewhere else, but there is no visible indicator that this happen. It is absolutely correct that nothing appears to happen when the print screen key is pressed. The procedure still works.

  3. One thing that Leo didn’t mention is that .pps files and .ppt files are identical except for the extension name. When people send me power point files they usually send .pps files which when opened open in slide show mode. By changing the extension from .pps to .ppt opening the file (usually by double clicking) opens the file in Power Point or Impress edit mode and you can save, change or add pictures to the file.

  4. Ah, Leo…I have two H-P keyboards, one desktop, one laptop, but neither has a “PrntScrn” key. What am I to do? Have I overlooked some alternate somewhere? May I send the screenshot to Picasa?
    …thanks in advance..

    I’m not aware of keyboards that have NO Print Screen key, but I know that they do often hide them in obscure ways. Be sure and look for abbreviations from PrtSc to PrntScr to Print Screen. All the same key. (And if you want to shoot me a picture, upload it to your favorite sharing service and just include the URL in the form.)

    – Leo

  5. My guess is if you don’t see “PrtSc” on any of your keys…it COULD be the “Sys Req” button.(Mine say both on them).
    I wonder if this key and function are available and utilized similarly in Unix or linux…any comments?

  6. Leo…I found the “prt sc” in the smallest possible font as a sub-title to the “home” key in the upper right group with the numbers keys. I post this as irritation #952,000 on the subject of keyboard design.
    I sympathize with all like me who follow suggested advice literally, and then don’t find what one is supposedly searching for. I guess we lack imagination, but I think that that is the keyboard designers’ problem, and not ours.
    (….cheers, as usual to you personally…)

  7. …Thank you, “snail”…as it happens I have also a “sys rq” in a miniscule font size as a subtitle on a key marked “end”. I’ll play with both of these and see what happens. I won’t take up space again on this subject, please accept a “thank you” plus a big ;-) from me. Off now to see my optometrist.

  8. I have used the PrtScr method for a long time. Another handy trick is to use ALT+PrtScr to copy just the active window to the clipboard. I use it for creating instruction manuals and tutorials for my own software all the time.

  9. There is no difference between PPS and PPT files other than their file extension. Rename the PPS file with a PPT extension and it will open for editing in PowerPoint (or Impress). You can then right-click any photo and save it to disc.

  10. An addition to Mark’s and Al’s comments: If you have PowerPoint installed, you don’t need to change the extension from PPS to PPT. Just open PowerPoint, drag the PPS file into it and you’ll have the file in edit mode. Maybe this works with OpenOffice’s Impress too.

  11. Another way to retrieve multimedia files from a PP file is to open it with PowerPoint and save it as a Web page (not single file). This will create an HTML file itself plus a folder with all its content related files, such as images, sounds, etc. Then one can keep or ditch the ones they want, then delete all the rest.

  12. Leo, thanks for the simple “recipe” for capturing the pictures out of Powerpoint presentations. The extra challenge I presented myself was realizing where to click on my original slide to capture the portion of it I wanted to save. Though the slide looked like a single “page”, the moment I clicked on the slide the various elements became evident. After playing with the slide for a moment I was able to capture just exactly what I wanted. Excellent guidance!

  13. How can I make a disc of an email of a very long Christmas card I received in power point, it has video and sound,I’ve tried everything I can think of. When I open it up it starts right away to play. I’ve tried to click right but no luck when it is playing. Any help would be helpful. Thank you Mary

  14. It should be pointed out that photographs are copyrighted works of art, and other aspects of Powerpoint presentations may be copyrighted as well. Copying them is illegal without permission of the photographer / author, unless the use falls within the “fair use” guidelines of copyright law. Just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should.


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