How to Extract Images from Powerpoint Files

I work with a lot of scientists, who when asked for print quality images for publication in a paper or magazine often send me a Powerpoint slideshow or an Adobe PDF file. Occasionally, I’ll receive a half inch Gif they saved from their website at 72ppi. Such images rarely print properly, A half inch 72ppi Gif file will screen print at less than an eighth of an inch across, which is generally useless, irrespective of the fact that a Gif is also limited to 256 colors. Anyway, I digress.

Some of the Powerpoint (PPT) files I receive are huge and this beggars the question – are there image files within that might be extract at print quality resolution? The answer is almost certainly. yes. So, how do you extract high resolution images from a Powerpoint file?

The obvious approach is to open the File menu and choose “Save as…”, switching the “presentation” file-type to “TIFF” (or one of the other available graphic formats listed, such as JPEG. Powerpoint will then ask if you want to save the current slide or all slides, you pays your money and you takes your choice. But, there’s a serious downside to this approach: you won’t retrieve print quality graphics, these will be low resolution images exported from the slide.

There is a tool – PPTools – that allows you to up-rate the resolution on images you export from a Powerpoint file, but many users will be unwilling to pay for such a program. The basic program is a few dollars but if you want a batch processor that’s going to set you back $750. So, are there any alternatives? Thankfully, the answer that question is also, yes.

Instead of choosing to “Save as…”, you can choose to “Save as Web Page…” via the File Menu. But, before you do that, make the slide as big as possible and drag the corner of the graphic you wish to print to make it as large as possible within the slide. Then, choose that option and you are presented with yet another dialog box. Below the explorer window in that dialog is a button labeled “Publish”, click this and you are presented with yet more options and another button “Web Options”. Click this and, you guessed, it yet more options, select the Pictures tab on that dialog box and change the “screen size” to the highest value (1920×1200). In this case, screen refers to the computer monitor rather than a lithographic print screen. No matter. Next click OK in that dialog and Publish in the next.

The result will be a clutch of new files in your folder, a static website based on the original Powerpoint slideshow. Go to the web page files folder and open it. In this folder you will find a large-ish png file, which will hopefully have pixel dimensions of 1920×1200, which is perfectly adequate for printing at about six inches width screening at 300 dots-per-inch (not to be confused with desktop printer resolution, by the way), this is print for screened publications such as newspapers and magazines.

Anyway, I hope I’ve covered all the steps adequately, give it a try and let me know how you get on.

Author: David Bradley

Freelance science journalist, author of Deceived Wisdom. Photographer and musician.