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by Ray DeCosta

Q.  People often send me emails with PowerPoint presentations attached to them.  I find that I can't see what they sent me because I don't have the proper program. What can I do?

A.  A PowerPoint program is typically used to create and show a business presentation to a bored audience.  But it is also often used to make a slideshow of pretty pictures or educational material to send around on the Internet.  To create a PowerPoint show, you will need to purchase the PowerPoint program from Microsoft or get the free "Impress" program from OpenOffice.

But if all you want to do is open a PowerPoint presentation which someone has sent to you, all you need to do is obtain a free PowerPoint viewer from Microsoft.  Because this particular URL (Internet address) is extremely long, the easiest way to obtain the viewer is to Google "PowerPoint viewer" and go to the first link which lists Microsoft in the address.  (Ed. note: or go here.)  That way, you will be downloading the file from a trusted source.

It's a fairly large file (26 MB) but once it's downloaded, just click and run the program to install it.  From then on, you should be able to view any PowerPoint presentation you receive.  A PowerPoint slideshow is usually distributed with either a .PPT or a .PPS file extension.  In large measure, these files are interchangeable.  If for some reason a presentation doesn't play properly, simply rename the file to the other extension and try again.

Published: Courier 12/6/09 - Page 5C