Thursday, December 04, 2008

QuickTime and a decompressor are needed to see this picture.

So you've been laboring over that PowerPoint presentation or Word document on your Mac for hours or even days.  When it was time for final delivery you opened it up on a Windows OS based computer under Office 2003 or Vista or some other version and found that wherever you put a picture the image isn't displaying and instead it just says
QuickTime and a decompressor are needed to see this picture.
QuickTime and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture.

Also note that the file compatibility toolbox on the Mac version will not warn you of this issue when that's the whole point of that toolbox.  As far as Office for Mac is concerned, the file will be 100% compatible with Office for Windows.

I'll first explain what causes this problem and then we'll talk about a fix.

So the only time you will see this is if you were woking in Office on the Mac, added pictures to your document via either drag and drop or copy and paste, and then open your document in Office for Windows.

Ok so what causes this issue?

The truth is it is a bug in how Office for the Mac supported drag and drop and copy and paste.  It used a Mac OS Specific way of embedding the image that Office for Windows can't understand.  Even if you install QuickTime in Windows, Office for Windows still can't make sense of the image information.  This bug was finally fixed with the Mac Office 2008 Service Pack 1 (12.1.0)

Great, what's the solution?

If you've created/edited the document using Office 2008 with SP1 (or a newer version since that one) you shouldn't have the problem.  If you've created the document in an older version of Office for Mac, then as long as you have access to Office 2008 with SP 1 or newer all you have to do is open and save the document in the newer version of Office for Mac and the problem will be fixed.  It says so here, and I've verified it worked.

Another solution that I've tested is to import images using the Insert menu instead of using drag and drop or copy and paste.  Yes that means if you are trying to use an image from the Web, you must save it from your web browser to your computer's disk first, then import it into Word.  In fact, you can safely drag and drop an image file from your computer's disk drive (from a window in the Finder) to Word and it works fine.  It's only if you drag and drop (or copy and paste) an image from your Web browser or another application and drop it into Word that causes the issue.  

Another solution is provided here by Stephen Rindsberg.  He provides some VBA code that you could run on a problematic document in Mac Office 2004.  I tried it and it worked...some.  I found it fixed about 70% of the images, but several were still not working in Office for Windows.  Also any image it fixed it brought to the front of the document, so for example, if you had a back ground image in a PowerPoint file, after running the VBA code, now it would appear in front of all of the text on that slide.

So the best solution seems to be to use the latest version of Office for the Mac 2008 or always import your graphics files from local copies on your computer's drive.  BTW If you need to use Office 2004 (for example you need support for VBA which was dropped in 2008) you will be happy to know you can safely install 2008 on a Mac that has 2004 (as I indicated in my previous blog entry about why I'm still using 2004), and at the end the installer will ask you if you want to remove 2004.  Just say NO and both 2004 and 2008 will exists happily together on the same Mac.  

This doesn't cover movie files, only images...
If you are searching you may find this Microsoft Support article: You receive a "QuickTime and a Video decompressor are needed to see this picture" error message when you try to play a movie in a slide view in PowerPoint  Although the description of the problem seems similar, it's a different situation and is specific to movie files and not images.


Aaron said...

awesome tips! thanks!!!

Rick said...

I experienced the same thing trying to open such a document in Open Office on a Vista system. Thanks so much for the info.

Anonymous said...

I am getting the same error, BUT I HAVE A MAC! I have the newest version of quicktime, the 2008 Office for Mac, etc.

cathski said...

You are a star - saved my bacon, thanks :)

www said...

great help! but somehow I dont have the access to a mac computer.. is there a third party converter program for the problem?

Tim said...

As people have touched on here, the really annoying thing is that I have a document created by an MS app (Word); I am trying to open it in the equivalent app; the image data is all there (because it will still work on a Mac), but there is no way I can see those images! (Unless I buy a Mac which isn't going to happen).

I didn't create the document, I really need the info, but there's no way.

One day we'll all use open formats...

Anonymous said...

I have been getting the same error on someone else's powerpoint file at work. And I even get the message when I am on a Mac! That doesn't make much sense to me.

Saran said...


i need a help to see the pictures in excel file.there was a picture but it says the sentence "Quicktime and decompressor are needed to see this picture"

i'm using windows os,and installed quicktime too,Kindly help me to view the pictures.


Aric said...

Hi Saran. Was the picture added using a Mac version of Office? If so my advice still applies. You need to open it and save it with the latest version of Excel 2008 on a Mac. Assuming it works just like MS Word 2008 (I haven't tested Excel) That should solve your issue.

becstarr said...

Thanks Aric - a very helpful and practical write-up!

Ken said...

I experienced this problem and fixed it by using the Mac clipboard and Preview app to create a JPG-2000 format file of each image, then using PowerBuilder's Insert Picture from File command, which, as you say, creates an image that is visible on both a Mac and a PC.

I have a PowerBuilder slide show with nearly 70 images and the conversion is very time consuming. My problem is, I can't look at a slide on my Mac and know whether it will be visible on a PC, I did find that Open Office displays the error message the same way a PC would, but it displays the image properly, as a PC also would, if the Insert is used rather that cut/paste or drag/drop.

But Open Office is slow as molasses, so my question is, "While on a Mac, is there any way to tell (without using Open Office) if the image on a given slide needs to be converted for PC compatibility?"

Millan said...

Excellent Tips about PowerBuilder and others . thanks for sharing this info .

Andrea said...

I experienced this when my coworker sent me a slideshow she'd done from her home computer and needed me to print it out. Since I only needed it for printing purposes, I had her save it as a pdf and resend it to me. Obviously this wouldn't work if you needed it to actually run as a slideshow, but it was a good quick fix for our purposes.

Thanks for the info. It helped to know what caused the prob!

April Davis said...

Thanks, this has been driving me crazy.

mathdad said...

I have old ppt files made using this tool so they all show the bug. I don't have the mac anymore so ... is there a way to get powerpoint of today to display the images?

Ken Marschall said...

Mac to PC PowerPoint issue -- blank/black slides.

I’ve searched everywhere and cannot find a solution to my particular PowerPoint problem – blank (black) slides appearing when played on a PC notebook. I could spend days combing through the hundreds and hundreds of posts and never find my problem addressed, so forgive me -- I’m posting a new question.

I have “PowerPoint X for Mac”, the latest copyright given being 2001. I know it’s antique, but even though I’ve upgraded my OS several times since then (I’m now on OS 10.6.8), it has copied over into my newer systems and continued to serve me just fine. Only last spring (April 2012) I created two very large and long PowerPoint presentations that played fine on a PC at the venue. And I’ve done several others in the past, all of which displayed all images using a PC laptop with no problem.

I have never tried loading video clips or doing any other fancy stuff aside from a simple title at the beginning and credits at the end (just text, no animations of any kind). I talk for 90-120 minutes, and often have over 200 images. The shows can easily be over 400 MB and take a loooong time to open, so I haven’t dared try to add video on top of that.

I learned long ago to greatly reduce the size of images before dragging and dropping into PowerPoint. I reduce all pics to 800-1000 pixels wide, the bare minimum, it seems, for any clarity in PPT. And still the shows are over 400 MB and take a long time to open.

Created on my Mac, burning a CD, they’ve always played fine on a PC laptop.

Trusting that everything would sail along smoothly as always, I labored for days on a new show to be presented to a large audience last Saturday. 247 images, carefully crafted title and credits over photographs at the beginning and end. As before, I used a variety of images – some .psd, some .tif, some .jpg -- but each image was methodically reduced in size as mentioned, one at a time, by hand, and resaved as a JPEG before dragging/dropping. What was loaded were therefore all simple, common JPEGs – no image was any different “kind” from another. As usual, no animations or videos.

Burned the PPT show to a disc. Played the disc on my Mac to double-check that all was well. All checked out perfectly. Clicked nicely through every image.

Then, show day. At the venue, I put the disc in a fairly new PC notebook loaded with PPT, which was hooked up to the projector. Then HORROR – the first slide had the title, but the photo behind was gone. All black. Then, it got worse. At least 80% of all images came up blank. Not white, as I read from other commenters, but black, with a tiny two- or three-line notice in the center. In my frustration I didn’t think to actually read the notice. I don’t know what it said. Very small and hard to make out, though.

One image (photo) would show up fine, then the next four or so, or even more – saved in exactly the same 800-pixel-wide JPEG format as all the rest -- would not. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to what would display and what wouldn’t. Absolutely maddening.

If this were my first-ever PPT presentation, I might understand; something I did wrong in prepping the show. But I prepped it exactly as I have several others, and there was never this problem.

If anyone knows where this issue has been addressed in Aric’s Tech Blog (or anywhere else), I would be grateful for a link that offers some help.

Thanks very much.


Ken Marschall said...


A colleague who was at the presentation says that the small notices in the middle of every blank, black slide were some kind of error message related to "QuickTime". Since I never load any video clips into my PPT shows, (everything is simple JPEGs), I can’t imagine what Quicktime suddenly has to do with it.

Any ideas?


Ken Marschall said...


A colleague who was at the presentation says that the small notices in the middle of every blank, black slide were some kind of error message related to "QuickTime". Since I never load any video clips into my PPT shows (everything is simple JPEGs), I can’t imagine what Quicktime suddenly has to do with it. Never got this notice before.

Any ideas?


Aric said...

I'm pretty sure your problem is the exact one I described on this blog post. You are running into an error that drag and drop causes in older versions (pre 2008 SP 1.

If you import your images using the Insert menu and loading the file instead of dragging and dropping or copying and pasting. The problem only appears if you do this and then load it on a Windows version of Office. I cannot explain why you weren't seeing the issue previously but it sounds like the one I describe in this blog entry.

One option is to reload the images from files by using the Insert menu. If you've got 400+ images that might not be a good solution.

Another option is to upgrade to the latest office 2011 (or 2008 with Service Pack 1) and simply load and save your document. It should fix the problem.

Lastly I'm not sure how you could send me a file that large or if you wanted to share something like that with me to but I'd be willing to load it into my version of Office 2011 and resave it and we can verify it fixed the issue.

Ken Marschall said...

Aric --

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my issue and answer me. I appreciate it!

< If you import your images using the Insert menu and loading the file instead of dragging and dropping or copying and pasting. >

I tried this just now. Several options appear -- "New Slide, Dupe Slide, Slides from File..., Slides from Outline..., Picture,..."

I assumed it had to be "Slides from File," so I clicked on that and eventually searched out a trial lo-res JPEG image on my desktop to see if it would load into the PPT show.

No dice. I get a PPT warning notice saying that "PPT cannot open the file Macintosh [title of file]. The file may be corrupt, in use, or of a type not recognized by PowerPoint."

I tried several images on my desktop. No joy. Same result.

And there's no way these images are "corrupt." Just simple JPEGs, and they open just fine.

So... how do I get an image into a "new slide" without dragging and dropping? If I can get that to happen, I gather my issue is solved. Guaranteed, right?

I understand from you that if I purchase a whole new Office for Mac suite (or somehow find the 2008 Service Pack 1 version), I can merely resave my show in the new version and all will be solved, but obviously I'm looking for a way to save myself a load of money right now, if I don't have to spend it.

< One option is to reload the images from files by using the Insert menu. If you've got 400+ images that might not be a good solution. >

"Only" 247. Of course it would be a huge pain, after I've so carefully adjusted and cropped each one, but at least it's not 400. And even with the hours involved, it might be better than spending $200 or whatever it is for a new version of Office for Mac. I seem to recall that last time I checked it was a pretty hefty chunk of change.

I'm very grateful for your kind offer to personally resave my show in the upgraded version of PPT, but it's over 400 MB, and before I reschedule the presentation I may want to make a few edits/improvements. So I really have to stand on my own two feet and solve this issue here, on my end -- now and for the future. ;-)

If you could just walk me through how I'm supposed to get the "Insert menu" to work, I would be grateful.

Thank you, Aric!!


Aric said...

Ok. I had to find an old copy of Office V.x to try out because the menus have changed and I'm running 2011 on my main computer. The menu you want is

Insert->Picture->From File...

I don't know why this was working for you in the past if you were using drag and drop or copy and past as this is a known problem. You imply it's never been an issue before. But either way if you use that menu item to insert your picture files that should create a file that is fully compatible with any Windows version of PowerPoint.

Aric said...

Actually I guess I should clarify this original blog post was regarding MS Word and I haven't experimented enough with PowerPoint to verify that it behaves the same way but it should.

Ken Marschall said...


Thank you, but no joy. File > Picture gets me seven options, all of which are grayed out - nonclickable. The top two say "Clip Art..." and "From File..." but are inaccessible.

I could send a screen grab of what I'm seeing if it helps.

So.... Now what?

< I don't know why this was working for you in the past if you were using drag and drop or copy and past as this is a known problem. You imply it's never been an issue before. >

Never. I started making PPT shows c.2005, using the same old version I'm using now (PowerPoint X for Mac, copyright 2001). Never did the laborious individual searching/clicking to import/insert images. Always just dragged and dropped. And PC laptops could play my shows fine.

Go figure.

All of a sudden ~80% of my images aren't showing up when played on a PC. I was thinking maybe it's because I was using older PCs before (which could read the older PPT), and last Saturday someone lent me a much newer one...and that one can't properly read the ancient PPT version.


Aric said...

Well I'm running out of ideas. I cannot figure out why the Insert->Picture->From File... is grayed out. Make sure if you are using the slide sorter view you've actually selected a slide to indicate which slide the file should be imported into.

Ken Marschall said...

Hi Aric,

Oh yes, I made sure of that. I have all the slides on screen in front of me, I went to the top menu and, under "Insert", clicked on "New Slide" which created a new, black rectangle. Then went to "Insert > Picture > From File...", but "From File" and all the others in that list of seven options is greyed out. Non-clickable.

I also tried clicking on the little "plus symbol" (+) slide icon, to the right, hoping that method of adding a new slide might make a difference. Nope. Options greyed out.

I could send you a screen grab showing what I'm seeing, but it sounds like you know what I'm talking about and don't need it.

I didn't want to have to spend the money, but it sounds like it's looking inevitable. If I get 2012 Office for Mac (or whatever the recommended version is... that SP1 thing), I can simply open my faulty, antique show in the new program and save it, and it should play fine in a PC from now on?

Thank you again, Aric, for lending me your time on this. I really appreciate it.


Aric said...

Yes simply loading the document, maybe make a minor change somewhere, and saving it should update it. The best price on Office is $90 at Amazon:

You don't have to save it in the newer PPTX format to get the benefit. You can keep saving in the older PPT format to be more compatible with older versions of Office for Windows (older than 2003.)

However, here is a 30 day free trial to see if it actually solves your problem (and to make sure it runs on your computer ok)

Ken Marschall said...

Thanks so much for all the help, Aric. I'm very grateful.

All the best,


krishna prasad said...

I found the following and it works !

Method to troubleshoot error method with Quicktime
Error: QuickTime and a TIFF (or JPEG) decompressor are needed to see this picture here is a list of steps to un-compress and then open the embedded Macintosh PICT images:
1. open the word or powerpoint file on your pc
2. "save as HTML" or web page, image files will be saved to a separate folder
3. find one of the *.pcz files
4. change the *.pcz extension to *.gz
5. open the file with a zip program like 7-zip
6. save the uncompressed file to your hard drive (there will be no extension)
7. add the *.pic extension to the file
8. open the file with quicktime

Brooke said...

This is great but how do you solve this problem on Keynote? (The Apple version of powerpoint). There is no insert menu; it seems like the only way to add pictures is to drag and drop.

Aric said...

Ok, if you are seeing this message in Keynote you are seeing something I've never come across before. If you are just concerned about the proper way to add images in Keynote, drag and drop will work just fine. This is a bug in older versions of Office. Keynote never had this issue (to my knowledge.)

Ken Marschall said...

Hi Aric,

It's Ken again, many months later. The reschedule of my failed November PPT presentation is coming up on May 4, and it would seem to be a perfect solution to get the Free Trial version of Office for Mac 2011 that you mentioned. You wrote:

< However, here is a 30 day free trial to see if it actually solves your problem (and to make sure it runs on your computer ok) >

I see no reference to any free trial at “” It just redirects me to “”.

Searching online, I find several references to this "free trial," including this one:

But clicking on their link gets me to the same page as above ( with no option or mention of any free trial.

How do I download this elusive Office for Mac 2011 free trial??

Assuming I can download this somewhere, I gather from your earlier posts that I need to then download the “Service Pack 1 (14.1.0)” before I resave my old PPT file in the 2011 version, correct?

Many thanks for your guidance!


Aric said...

Unfortunately on January 29th 2013 MS stopped offering the free trial in that way.

Now the only free trial is to sign up for their Office 365 monthly service. The first month is free and it appears to let you download Office for Mac, although I've not used this service so I cannot comment on how it works.

Sign up here, get a free month, cancel before the end so they don't charge you $10 per month:

Aric said...

Also regarding the service pack, that only applies to Office 2008. All versions of 2011 contain the fix.

Ken Marschall said...

Thanks so very much for the quick reply, Aric! You're such a help.

Take care,


ProCoro-KM said...

A huge thank-you to Krishna Prasad for his posted workaround -- genius! All best from Canada

ProCoro-KM said...

Many thanks to Krishna for his posted workaround -- genius!
All best from Canada

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