PowerPoint Bulk Image Import

PowerPoint sucks. I don’t think there is much of an arguement about that. It is slow, bloated and difficult to use and even when you do get it working, the presentations tend to be somewhat lacking. Nevertheless, it has become the defacto standard (much like Word and Excel) and it is pretty much unavoidable in the business world.

A few years ago, I was working full time as tech support and graphic designer for a company whose boss gave a lot of presentations.  Coming from a background of transparencies and slide projectors, most of her presentations were composed of lots and lots of full frame images. It often fell to me to import all these images into the PowerPoint presentation, a process that consisted of creating a new slide, inserting the image on to the slide, sizeing it to fit and centering it. Repeat until dead. I knew there had to be a better way, but the few bulk import plugins I found online were 1) commercial and 2) windows only. It didn’t seem like it should be that hard a problem, so I set about trying to automate the process myself using Applescript. It turned out to be a little more complicated then I thought, necessitating a crash course in Visual Basic for Applications and way to much digging around in Microsoft developer documentation, but I am pretty happy with the end result.

I figured other people might be in the same boat, so I have cleaned it up a little and am posting it here for your downloading pleasure.

PowerPoint Bulk Image Import [zip]

Usage Instructions:

  1. Unzip file (you should have an Applescript executable called PowerPoint Bulk Image Import)
  2. Launch PowerPoint
  3. Launch PowerPoint Bulk Image Import
  4. Choose the folder containing all your images
  5. The script will make a new PowerPoint presentation and import all the images, one on each slide
  6. Now that you have a bunch of spare time, go watch the latest video over on loadingreadyrun.com

Requirements:

  • Mac OS 10.3 or higher
  • Microsoft PowerPoint X or higher (tested with PowerPoint X and 11)

One really cool use of this script that I realized afterwards is in compressing an overly large presentation. Depending on your computer, PowerPoint tends to crap out when presentations get over 300 MB or so. It will crash more often and every slide will take much longer to load. Since PowerPoint for Mac (at least every version I have used) does not have a way to downsample images to the slide resolution, loading up a couple of hundred high res jpgs can quickly put you over this limit. I cool trick I have found is to set the presentation up how you want it and then go to Save as… and save it as a series of jpegs at whatever resolution you are showing the presentation. You will now have a folder full of downsampled jpegs at the perfect resultion. Use the bulk Import script the re-import all the images into a new presentation and you should have saved a lot of space. Using this technique, I have turned a 500MB presentation into a 75MB presentation without any oss of quality when projected.

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