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Working in Compatibility Mode

What is compatibility mode?

In short, PowerPoint is telling you that the document uses an older file format created in PowerPoint 2003, 2002, or 2000. Because that file format does not include the new features in PowerPoint 2007 / 2010 those features are either turned off or modified so that they resemble an older version of Word. Compatibility Mode ensures that no new or enhanced features in Office PowerPoint 2007 / 2010 are available while you are working with a document, so that people who are using previous versions of Word will have full editing capabilities. You will be working in Compatibility Mode for most of the time.

How do I know I am in compatibility mode?

When you open the document in Compatibility Mode, the title bar will have the name of the file followed by (Compatibility Mode)

In the example shown above, an older PowerPoint 2003 document was opened in the new version of PowerPoint. Notice that the title bar includes (Compatibility Mode). And as you can see, the Choose a SmartArt Graphic dialog box doesn't appear at all  the Diagram Gallery appears instead. In fact, this Diagram Gallery is just like the one in PowerPoint 2003 and has the same range of functions.

If you were using PowerPoint 2007 and clicked Insert / SmartArt icon, the following screen would display:

These new SmartArt Graphics options are not available in older versions; therefore, they do not display. The compatibility mode will automatically direct you to the Diagram Gallery available in earlier versions of Word.

It's a good idea to stay in compatibility mode if you know you'll be sharing your documents with a lot of people who are using older versions of PowerPoint. That way, what you see is what they see. And you will be able to anticipate what they can and can't do in their version of PowerPoint.

When you save the Compatibility Mode file, it will be saved in the same version as the original document.


Created:  July 05, 2012

Sr. Arlene Callahan
Training Manager
Rivier University
Nashua, NH 03060

E-mail: acallahan@rivier.edu