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PowerPoint Add-in FAQ


Add-ins are supplemental programs that extend the capabilities of Microsoft PowerPoint by adding custom commands and specialized features.

The PowerPoint add-in has an extension PPA. PowerPoint 2000/2002 support additional add-in types which have extension DLL or EXE. A special type of an add-in are the Wizard add-ins which have PWZ extension. Structurally they are exactly identical to the PPA file except for the fact that the extensions are different.

There are two types; the standard add-in which can be compiled within PowerPoint having the extension PPA/PWZ and COM Add-ins which are supported PowerPoint 2000 onwards and require either the Microsoft Office Developer or development products from the Visual Studio Suite of applications to create them.

Select the Tools | Add-ins menu option to bring up the list of installed add-ins.

The COM Add-ins menu option is not available by default. You need to add it to the menu bar by using the Customize feature.

1. Select  Tools | Customize...,  switch to Commands tab in the window.

2. From the Categories list select Tools.

3. In the adjacent Commands list scroll down to locate COM add-ins.

4. Click & Drag this Command button on to the Tools menu. 

The Microsoft knowledge base article below explains the steps involved in creating a PowerPoint  add-in (PPA).

Q222737 - PPT2000 How to Create a PowerPoint Add-In

To create a COM Add-in you need  Office Developer or a Visual Studio Development environment. There are several excellent articles that can be found in the Microsoft Solution Developer Network, search on the key word COM Add-in.

Creating  a Microsoft Office COM add-in

Yes, every developer should make certain that his/her intellectual capital is not easily pilfered and reused without permission. Though the security offered is not of the highest degree, it does make the task that much more difficult.

Though you cannot convert a *.PPA file into the original presentation, the source code of the VBA project within the compiled file can be obtained provided you have no password set or you know the password of the project.

To extract the source code within the PPA proceed as follows:

1. Ensure that PowerPoint isn't active. Start | Run | Regedit.exe, click on OK

2. Navigate to the following key in the registry:


(Note replace 8.0 with the version of PowerPoint you are using.

3. Locate the key name 'DebugAddins', double click on it. In the window for DWORD value data enter 1 and click on OK. If the key is not present, you will need to add one and then set it's value to 1.

4. Launch PowerPoint.

5. Press Alt+F11 to launch the Visual Basic Editor. In the project explorer window you will now see that the  add-in are also listed. You can double click on any of them to view the code. If they are password protected, you will be prompted for the password.

This error implies that your VBA project contains certain coding errors. To ascertain the cause of error, do the following. Open the project in the Visual Basic Editor and Select Debug |Compile VBA Project. The compilation will halt at the point of error. It could be syntax error like a missing bracket or a undeclared variable or an extra 'End Sub' etc. Proceed and resolve all compilation errors then Save as add-in.


1. Launch PowerPoint.

2. Select Tools|Add-in. In the add-in window, click 'Add new' and browse to PPA file in the installed folder and click on OK

3. If prompted to enable macros, click on Enable. Close the add-ins window. If however you do not find the add-in listed in the add-ins window then please refer to the next question.

For COM Add-ins (Read this first)

1. Launch PowerPoint.

2. Select Tools |COM Add-ins. In the add-in window, click 'Add new' and browse to DLL/EXE file in the installed folder and click on OK

If you cannot load an add-in in PPT2000 or later then check the macro settings (Tools | Macros | Security), if this is not set to at least Medium - the add-in won't load.

To resolve this...
1. Select Tools | Macros | Security on the security level tab, check MEDIUM.
2. Click on OK
3. Now load the Add-in as per the instructions.
4. Once the add-in has been loaded you can set the Security level back to HIGH

An add-in  is simply a compiled collection of sequential commands. These may be malicious in nature. Hence based on the security settings on your machine, you are prompted for permission to enable the macros. If the source is an unknown one, it is best advised to disable the macro. Signed VBA projects are supported by PowerPoint 2000 and above. This enables the developer to 'sign' his product with a digital signature which assures the user that the source of the add-in is a trusted one.

This happens because the add-in you are attempting to unload is being referenced by another add-in and hence is locked from being unloaded. First unload the add-in which is referencing this file.

If the PPA file name consists  of more that one decimal it will not unload and give an error every time you attempt to unload it. This is a bug. To remove the add-in, the registry needs to be edited to remove the reference. For example an add-in named "CustomShow Ver1.0.PPA" (note the additional decimals in the name) will throw an error whenever you attempt to unload it. 

Steps to clear it from registry:

1. Quit PowerPoint.
2. Start | Run | Regedit.exe
3. Navigate to the following key:
                                \CustomShow Ver1.0

4. Delete this key.
5. Start PowerPoint check in the add-ins list, the old add-in (CustomShow Ver1.0) will not be listed.

Two macros are fired automatically within an add-in. Auto_Open and Auto_Close. Auto_Open is fired when the add-in is loaded and Auto_Close fired when the add-in is being unloaded. You can use them to do preprocessing, creating menu items, setting up event handlers etc or performing cleanup upon exiting.

If you register your add-in under the HKLM hive of the registry, the add-in will not be listed in the add-ins window. PowerPoint only lists add-ins registered in HKCU hive.

The Microsoft knowledge base article below explains the steps involved in registering an add-in.

Q222685 - PPT2000 How to Auto Load a PowerPoint Add-In




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