Compatibility mode prevents loss of editing functionality and makes it easier to collaborate with people who use earlier versions of PowerPoint. Loss of functionality can occur when text and objects, such as shapes or SmartArt graphics, are converted to pictures or bitmaps. Or, for example, if you have added an animation to text and then that text is converted to an image, the animation will be lost.

Note: To learn how to turn compatibility mode on or off, run Compatibility Checker, or convert a presentation to a later version of PowerPoint, see Use compatibility mode to work with different versions of PowerPoint.

Compatibility mode enforces compatibility between newer versions of PowerPoint and PowerPoint 97–2003 (.ppt) files by suppressing features within the newer version that could potentially add content, such as an effect, that is incompatible with PowerPoint 97–2003 files. Compatibility mode ensures that you will be able to open and save PowerPoint 97–2003 files without converting them.

In compatibility mode, you can open, edit, and save PowerPoint 97–2003 presentations, but you won't be able to use all of the new PowerPoint features. In recent versions of PowerPoint, compatibility mode is triggered when you do any of the following:

  • Open a file that was saved in PowerPoint 97–2003 (.ppt) format.

  • Convert a PowerPoint file format to a PowerPoint 97–2003 file format by using Save As.

  • Set PowerPoint to save all presentations in PowerPoint 97–2003 format.

When you save a PowerPoint (.pptx) file as a PowerPoint 97–2003 presentation (.ppt) file, PowerPoint automatically runs the Compatibility Checker to identify possible compatibility issues. The Compatibility Checker warns you about any content that may be incompatible with earlier versions of PowerPoint.

To learn how to run Compatibility Checker manually, see Use compatibility mode to work with different versions of PowerPoint.

How to tell if you are in compatibility mode

If you are in compatibility mode:

  • Compatibility Mode appears next to the file name in the title bar of the PowerPoint window.

  • Some options or commands are unavailable.

  • An "x" does not appear at the end of the file name extension.

Presentation components that behave differently in compatibility mode

The following is a list of presentation components that behave differently or aren't available when you work in compatibility mode.

PowerPoint component

Behavior in compatibility mode

Drop shadows

Soft, outer shadows are converted to hard shadows that you can edit.

Gradient outlines on shapes or text


Heading and body fonts

Heading and body fonts are converted to static formatting. If you then reopen the file and use a different style, heading and body fonts do not automatically change.

Levels of indentation

Some indentation levels are unavailable.

Multiple columns of text


Shapes in placeholders


Strikethrough and double-strikethrough on text




Text effects, such as shadow, reflection, and glow



Some themes cause shapes and placeholders to turn into images.

WordArt Quick Styles


Check a presentation for compatibility with earlier versions of PowerPoint

To ensure that your presentation does not have compatibility issues that cause reduced functionality or fidelity in earlier versions of PowerPoint, you can run the Compatibility Checker. The Compatibility Checker finds any potential compatibility issues in your presentation and helps you create a report so that you can resolve them.

Important: When you work on your presentation in compatibility mode in, where the presentation is in PowerPoint 97-2003 file format (.ppt) instead of the newer XML-based file format (.pptx), the Compatibility Checker runs automatically when you save your presentation.

There are two different types of Compatibility Checker messages:

  • The most common type of message informs you that you will lose edit functionality when you open your presentation in an earlier version of PowerPoint. For example, if you save a presentation with a SmartArt graphic to an earlier version of PowerPoint format, and then open that file in some earlier versions of PowerPoint, the SmartArt graphic is changed to a picture. However, if you open the file again in a newer version of PowerPoint without making any edits to that SmartArt graphic picture, you can continue to edit your SmartArt graphic. These kinds of messages have “in earlier versions of PowerPoint” in them.

  • The second type of message informs you that you will permanently lose functionality. For example, if you modify the placeholder text on a custom layout, that placeholder text is permanently lost.

For more information about the Compatibility Checker messages, see Compatibility Checker in PowerPoint.

To learn how to run the Compatibility Checker, see Use compatibility mode to work with different versions of PowerPoint.

Why is an option or command unavailable?

In most cases, if an option or command is unavailable, this is an indication that you are in compatibility mode. To be certain, confirm that you are in compatibility mode. After you determine that you are in compatibility mode, save the presentation in the current file type (.pptx) and then the option or command becomes available for you to use.

See also

Use compatibility mode to work with different versions of PowerPoint

Need more help?

Expand your skills
Explore Training
Get new features first
Join Microsoft Office Insiders

Was this information helpful?

What affected your experience?

Thank you for your feedback!