Remove Notes from Powerpoint (PPTX)

PowerPoint lets you add notes to each slide that are not visible when you play your PowerPoint as a slide show. Let’s say you want to remove all of those notes — e.g. so you can distribute the PowerPoint file — and don’t want to manually remove this all by hand.

If you’re using one of the newer versions of PowerPoint on a PC, this is straight-forward enough. You just pull up the Document Inspector and tell it to remove notes, along with other possibly sensitive metadata. Here’s how to do it in PowerPoint 2007 and PowerPoint 2010.

But let’s say you’re using a Mac. As far as I can tell, there’s no way to remove notes in PowerPoint for Mac 2011 (if there’s a way to do it, please let me know in the comments). You may be able to use some VBScript macros, but explaining scripting to someone with little technical experience can be difficult.

So I took the liberty of packaging this as an Automator app for OS X, and as an .exe for Windows. If you’re interested, you can download my Python source code as well. It takes advantage of the fact that PPTX files are really nothing more than zip archives of XML files.

Just drag your PPTX file onto the app or .exe, and it’ll generate a “clean” version of the file in the same location as the original.
Some caveats:
  • These scripts only work with PPTX files. Don’t try it with PPT files.
  • If you have PowerPoint 2007 or 2010, use the Document Inspector instead of this script. It has the ability to remove other metadata in addition to notes.
  • I disclaim any warranty, liability, etc. in the event these scripts blow up your computer or delete your files. Back up your data.

Edit (2013-01-05): LZB found a bug which prevented PPTX notes from being subsequently entered after being cleared. I’ve since fixed the code. Let me know in the comments if any of you encounter said bug.