If PowerPoint is displaying the “Sorry, PowerPoint can’t read” error whenever you try to open a PPT file, you’ve come to the right place. You’ll find fixes that will help you get rid of the problem for good in this article.

The error message tends to pop up whenever you try to open a PPT file that you downloaded from the internet or your email or that you’re trying to access from a shared network. Some users also see the error when they try to open a file created on their computers.

It’s unclear why this happens, but as the error message suggests, your antivirus program might be preventing PowerPoint from opening the file because it doesn’t trust its source. However, there are cases where the file is blocked by Windows.

How to Resolve the ‘Can’t Read’ Error in PowerPoint

These are the fixes that you’ll be applying:

  1. Temporarily disable your antivirus program
  2. Unblock the file via File Explorer
  3. Allow Protected View in PowerPoint

Temporarily disable your antivirus program

As we mentioned earlier, your antivirus program might be getting in the way of you opening the file because it is trying to protect your system from a security threat. It’s not a far-fetched possibility that the file you’re trying to open contains a virus, especially if you downloaded it from the internet.

That said, if you trust where the file is coming from, try disabling your antivirus program before you open it.

Disabling your antivirus program should be easy, but the process varies from application to application. We’ll be showing you how to disable some of the well-known antivirus programs.

Windows Security

  1. Go to the Start menu and click on the gear icon right above the Power icon to launch the Settings application. You can also open Settings by pressing the Windows and I keyboard buttons simultaneously.
  2. Once the home page of Settings appears, go to the bottom and click on Update & Security.
  3. After you see the Update & Security page, navigate to the left pane and click on Windows Security.
  4. Next, head to the main screen and click on Virus & Threat Protection under Protection Areas.
  5. When you see the Virus & Threat Protection interface, scroll down to the Virus & Threat Protection Settings section, and then click on Manage Settings.
  6. Turn off the Real-Time Protection toggle.
  7. Now try opening your PPT file.

McAfee

  1. Go to the far right of your taskbar and expand the system tray by clicking on the “Show hidden icons” arrow.
  2. Once the system tray expands, right-click on the McAfee icon, hover over Change Settings, and then click on Real-Time Protection.
  3. After the Real-Time Scanning interface opens, go to the bottom of the screen and click on the Turn Off button.
  4. Once the Turn Off dialog window pops up, go to the drop-down menu under “When do you want to resume real-time scanning?” and select how long you want to keep Real-Time Scanning turned off.
  5. Click on the Turn Off button, then try opening the PPT file.

AVG

  1. Go to the far right of your taskbar and right-click on the AVG icon.
  2. If you don’t see the icon, click on the “Show hidden icons” arrow to expand the system tray.
  3. Next, right-click on the AVG icon and toggle off the Protection switch.
  4. Click on Yes once the confirmation dialog window pops up.

Avast

  1. Go to the right end of your taskbar and right-click on the red Avast icon.
  2. If you don’t see the icon, click on the “Show hidden icons” arrow to expand the system tray.
  3. Now right-click on the Avast icon, and then go to “Avast shields control.”
  4. Disable “Avast shields control” and set a duration.
  5. After that, try opening the PPT file.

Kaspersky

  1. Go to the right end of your taskbar.
  2. Right-click on the Kaspersky icon. Click on the “Show hidden icons” arrow if you don’t see the icon.
  3. In the context menu, click on Pause Protection.
  4. Once the Pause Protection dialog window opens, you’ll have the options to pause for a specified duration, pause until you start the application again, or pause until you choose to resume real-time protection.
  5. After choosing the option you like most, click on Pause Protection.
  6. You can now try opening the PPT file.

If you don’t find the guide for your antivirus program, head over to the website of the app’s developer to find out how to temporarily disable it.

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Important tip: Turning off your antivirus program isn’t safe. You’ll be leaving your computer vulnerable and exposed to threats. We recommend that you go for another antivirus program that can protect your system while your main antivirus is turned off.

You can also prevent your antivirus program from blocking the file without having to disable it. Security applications come with features that allow you to exempt files, folders, and programs from real-time scans. This way, you’ll be telling the antivirus program that the PowerPoint file is safe.

The feature is named differently for each antivirus program, but you should look for Exemptions, Exceptions, Exclusions, WhiteList, and SafeList.

Follow these steps to add the file as an exception in AVG:

  1. Go to the right end of your taskbar or open the Start menu and launch the AVG interface.
  2. Click on Menu in the top-right corner of the window.
  3. Once the menu drops down, select Settings.
  4. On the Settings interface, select General and click on Exceptions.
  5. Click on the Add Exception button.
  6. On the next screen, click on Browse.
  7.  Navigate to the file, select it, and then click on the OK button.

Here is how to add the file as an excluded file in McAfee (if you use McAfee’s legacy user interface):

  1. Go to the Start menu, search for McAfee, and then launch the app.
  2. Once the program’s interface opens, click on PC Security.
  3. After the PC Security page opens, click on Real-Time Scanning.
  4. Next, click on Excluded Files.
  5. Click on Add File.
  6. Browse to the file and select it.
  7. Try opening the file.

Follow these steps if you use McAfee’s new user interface:

  1. Open McAfee.
  2. Go to the top-right corner of the screen and click on the Settings gear icon.
  3. Go to PC Settings and click on Real-Time Scanning.
  4. Next, head to Excluded Files and click on Add File.
  5. Browse to the PPT file and select it.

 Add the file as an exception in Avast:

  1. Go to the right end of your taskbar or open the Start menu and launch Avast.
  2. Click on Menu in the top-right corner of the window.
  3. Once the menu drops down, select Settings.
  4. On the Settings interface, select General and click on Exceptions.
  5. Click on the Add Exception button.
  6. Click on Browse on the next screen.
  7. Navigate to the file, select it, and then click on the OK button.

How to exclude the file from Kaspersky’s scan scope:

  1. Go to the Start menu and launch the Kaspersky Security software.
  2. Once the app opens, navigate to its Settings.
  3. Go to the left side and select Antivirus Protection.
  4. Head to the right side of the window and click on Settings under “Scan exclusions and trusted applications.”
  5. Click on the Add button once the Trusted Zone opens under the Scan Exclusions tab.
  6. Go to the Properties section of the Scan Exclusions window and select File.
  7. Click on Browse, then navigate to the PowerPoint file and select it.

Add the file as an exclusion in Windows Security:

  1. Go to the right end of your taskbar and click on the white shield icon to open Windows Security. If you don’t see the icon, click on the “Show hidden icons” arrow.
  2. After Windows Security opens, click on Virus & Threat Protection.
  3. Once the Virus & Threat Protection interface opens, scroll down to Virus & Threat Protection Settings and click on Manage Settings.
  4. Head to the Exclusions section and click on “Add or remove exclusions” once the Virus & Threat Protection Settings page opens.
  5. On the Exclusions screen, click on “Add an exclusion,” then click on File.
  6. Once the Select File dialog window opens, browse to the PowerPoint file and select it.

Unblock the file

Windows normally blocks certain file types that you download from the internet or your email as a safety precaution. You won’t be able to open the file until you unblock it manually. This could be the reason for the PowerPoint error you’re experiencing. Thankfully, there’s a simple solution to the problem. All you have to do is open the file’s Properties dialog window and unblock it.

Follow these steps:

  1. Launch a File Explorer window and navigate to the folder where the file is located.
  2. Once you see the file, right-click it and select Properties from the context menu.
  3. When the Properties dialog window appears, go to the Security description under the General tab and click on the Unblock button.
  4. Click on OK in the Properties dialog window.
  5. Try opening the presentation to check if the issue persists.

Enable Protected View for files originating from the internet

As it turns out, PowerPoint has its own security feature that blocks files that are considered unsafe. Most of the program’s security settings are in its Trust Center. You can choose to open the PPT file in Protected View, then save it as a new file on your computer.

The following steps will show you how to do that:

  1. Go to the Start menu and open PowerPoint.
  2. After the program shows up, click on Options on the start page. If the program opens a blank document, go to the top-left corner and click on File, then click on Option.
  3. After the PowerPoint Options dialog window opens, click on Trust Center in the left pane.
  4. Next, go to the right pane and click on the Trust Center Settings button under Microsoft PowerPoint Trust Center.
  5. Once the Trust Center dialog window opens, click on Protected View in the left pane.
  6. Now switch to the right pane and check the boxes for:
  • Enable Protected View for files originating from the Internet
  • Enable Protected View for files located in potentially unsafe locations
  • Enable Protected View for Outlook attachments

Click on the OK button.

You can also use the Trusted Locations option to make sure you don’t experience this kind of problem again. Trusted Locations is a PowerPoint feature that allows you to tell the program to trust any file that is in a particular folder. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Start menu and open PowerPoint.
  2. After the program shows up, click on Options on the start page. If the program opens a blank document, go to the top-left corner and click on File, then click on Option.
  3. After the PowerPoint Options dialog window opens, click on Trust Center in the left pane.
  4. Next, go to the right pane and click on the Trust Center Settings button under Microsoft PowerPoint Trust Center.
  5. Once the Trust Center dialog window opens, click on Trusted Locations in the left pane.
  6. Now go to the right pane and click on Add New Location.
  7. Once the Microsoft Office Trusted Locations page opens, click on Browse.
  8. Navigate to the folder and click on OK.
  9. Click on OK in the Microsoft Office Trusted Locations dialog window.
  10. Click on OK in the Trust Center dialog.
  11. Try opening the PPT file.

Conclusion

That’s how to fix the “Sorry, PowerPoint can’t read” error. If you have questions, suggestions, or thoughts about the error, let us know in the comments section below!