Avoid Blurry Photos in PowerPoint

How often have you opened up a PowerPoint, started the slideshow mode, only to be stopped in your tracks by a photo that’s blurry?
We’ve received many desperate emails from clients asking, “Can you do something with the photos? Why are they so blurry and fuzzy?”
A rose is a rose…

What happened? Most likely the user pasted a very small photo into the PowerPoint file and scaled it as large as they could:

Scaled-up tiny image

The result is almost invariably blurry because there just aren’t enough pixel data in the tiny photo to look good at a larger size. The user is understandably frustrated and wonders if maybe Bluewave could work some magic on the image to fix it.
Unfortunately, the answer is no. The image quality for a small image cannot be improved unless we have the original high resolution version to work with. Only then can we make the image look high quality—with a high-quality source image at the correct size without scaling.
It’s also possible that a perfectly good image, at an appropriately-high resolution, was inserted in the PowerPoint file, but the next time it is opened the image looks fuzzy. In this case, the document’s author (or someone who has edited the presentation and passed it on) has likely set the file to compress images each time it’s saved. Follow these steps to fix the problem:

  1. On the File menu, select Options > Advanced. Under Image Size and Quality, you can tell PowerPoint (2013/2016 and Office 365) to compress all images in the file or not, and by how much.

Print (220 ppi): excellent quality on most printers and screens (this is PowerPoint’s default ppi setting)
Screen (150 ppi): good for Web pages and projectors
E-mail (96 ppi): minimize document size for sharing

  1. To stop PowerPoint from compressing images, select “Do not compress images in file.” Alternately, you can leave this selected and instead choose a higher target output ppi settings (the larger the number, the better the resolution and image quality).
  2. Now, when you add a high-resolution photo, PowerPoint will not compress the image–leaving you with the sharp, great-looking image you chose.

It’s true that larger images can significantly increase file size, but there are ways to deal with this and still retain optimum image quality. See our previous blog entry for tips on image compression in PowerPoint.

And subscribe to our blog to get more troubleshooting tips, like where to find high-resolution, royalty-free imagery!

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