Red X Instead of Picture on a PowerPoint Slide

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What Happened to the Picture on a PowerPoint Slide?

Picture is missing on shape on PowerPoint slide
Picture is missing on shape on PowerPoint slide. © Wendy Russell

Most of the time, when you insert a picture onto a PowerPoint slide, you have no problems in the future with that presentation forever showing that picture. The reason is that you have embedded the picture into the slide, so it will always be there.

The down side of embedding your pictures is that this may cause your resultant file size to be quite large, if your presentation is "picture heavy". To avoid this larger file size, and still use a high resolution for your pictures, you can link to the picture file instead. However, that method can have has its own unique problem.

Where Did the Picture Go?

Interestingly enough, only you, or someone else who uses your computer, can answer that question. What has happened, is that the picture that had been linked to, has been renamed, moved from its original location or simply deleted from your computer. Therefore, PowerPoint cannot find the picture and instead places either a red X or a picture placeholder (containing a small red X) in its place.

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How Can I Find the Original File Name of the Missing PowerPoint Picture?

Rename the PowerPoint file adding .zip to end of file name
Rename the PowerPoint file adding .zip to end of file name. © Wendy Russell

What is the File Name of the Original Picture?

Hopefully, the picture file was simply moved to a new location on your computer. But, if you don't know that that file name is, you still have a problem. So there is one way to find out the original file name and perhaps you still have that picture file. This is a multi-step process, but the steps are quick and easy.

Start By Renaming the PowerPoint File

  1. Navigate to the folder containing the PowerPoint presentation file.
  2. Right click on the file name icon and select Rename from the shortcut menu that appears.
  3. The file name will be selected and you will type .zip (or .ZIP) onto the end of the file name. (Letter case is not an issue so you can use capital letters or lower case letters.)
  4. Click off the newly named file or press the Enter key to complete the renaming process.
  5. Immediately a cautionary dialog box will appear to warn you about changing the file name. Click Yes to apply this change.
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Locate Missing Picture File Name in PowerPoint Presentation

Open the ZIP file to locate text file containing info about missing PowerPoint picture
Open the ZIP file to locate text file containing info about missing PowerPoint picture. © Wendy Russell

Where Do You Find the Picture File Name?

Once you have renamed the PowerPoint presentation, you will see a new icon for that file. It will look like a file folder with a zipper. This is the standard file icon for a zipped file.

  1. Double click on the zipped file icon to open the file. (In this example, my PowerPoint file name is text Yours will be something different.)
  2. Open these folders (the file path) in succession -- ppt > slides > _rels.
  3. In the list of file names shown, look for the name that contains the specific slide that is missing the picture. Double click on the file name to open the file.
    • In the image shown above, Slide 2 is missing the picture, so I would open the file named slide2.xml.rels. This will open the file in the default text editor program that is set up on my computer for this type of file.
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Missing PowerPoint Picture File Name Displayed in Text File

Find file path to original picture on the PowerPoint slide3
Find file path to original picture on the PowerPoint slide3. © Wendy Russell

Look For Missing Picture File Name

In the newly opened text file, you can see the full file path and name of the missing picture file that should be appearing in your PowerPoint presentation. Hopefully, this file is still present somewhere else on your computer. By doing a quick search of files, you will locate the new home of this picture file.

  • Once you locate the picture file, you have two options.
    1. Move the picture file back to its original location.
    2. Insert the picture once again onto the slide, using the new location of this file.

And Finally...

Once the picture is back safe and sound, you need to rename the .ZIP file back to its original PowerPoint presentation file name.

  1. Use the steps on page two of this tutorial and remove the .ZIP from the end of the file name.
  2. Once again, click Yes when cautioned about changing the file name. The file icon will revert back to its original PowerPoint icon.

The Bad News

If the picture file had actually been deleted from your computer, it will never appear in your presentation. Your options are:

  • Find a copy of the picture and either re-insert it, or place that copy of the picture in the original file location.
  • Choose a new picture and insert it instead.

Related Tutorials
Insert a Picture Inside a PowerPoint Shape
Insert a Picture Inside Text on a PowerPoint 2010 Slide