Dragging or copying images only make links

I recently discovered what I think is a flaw by design when editing a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation file (*.ppt) in OpenOffice Impress: When you drag and drop or copy and paste an image into your PowerPoint presentation, Impress only makes a symbolic link to the image file on your hard drive instead of making a hard copy of the actual image. This is good for keeping the size of the ppt file small but becomes disastrous if you transfer your ppt file to another computer for viewing. In the latter case, your presentation will show up with its images missing and replaced by red crosses that indicate broken links!The reason the links are broken is that they point to files on the computer where you made the presentation in the first place! This can lead to some very embarrassing situations where you show up with your presentation on a memory stick and only then discover that all the images are

I am uncertain if this problem pertains to OO Impress only or happens when using MS PowerPoint as well.

Problem solution

To fix the problem you have two options:

  1. Post hoc solution: Click on Edit –> Links… in Impress to see all image links. For each of the images, click on Break Link to ensure that a hardcopy of the image is used instead of a link. Note that this will increase the overall file size.
  2. Proactive solution: Do not use drag and drop or copy and paste of images into Impress. Instead, use Insert –> Picture –> From File… and make sure that Link is not checked.

Default behaviour should be changed

In my opinion, the default behaviour should be to make a hardcopy of the image. At the most, Impress could make a suggestion about using links to reduce file size but if so underline the dangers of missing images if copying the ppt file to a different computer.

Surely there are thousands of people out there, particularly less computer savvy ones, who will not understand why the images are missing and how to fix it.

Note that the same problem may occur for other media files, such as sound and video files. I also suspect that the problem may occur in OO Writer/MS Word and possibly email clients such as Outlook.

When to use linking

Finally, keep in mind that in some cases, such as dealing with lots of media files in your presentation, you may actually want to use file linking instead of inserting the actual media files. If so, you could keep all your media files in the same directory, or a subdirectory, as the ppt file. When you need to transfer your presentation to a different computer, you must transfer the entire directory, not just ppt file. Note, however, that apparently there may still be linking errors due to Impress/PowerPoint using absolute file paths (see below for solutions to this)!


You can check out these resources for other workarounds and more details:

  1. Linked pictures in a PowerPoint presentation are missing
  2. Sounds/Movies don’t play, images disappear or links break when I move or email a presentation
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