How (and Why) to Start Microsoft PowerPoint from the Command Prompt

Opening PowerPoint from the Windows Command Prompt (also known as the Command Line Interface or CLI) allows you to access features and functionality not available through the normal graphical user interface. Here are some key reasons why you might want to launch PowerPoint from the command line:

Automation and Scripting – The command line allows you to script and automate PowerPoint tasks. For example, you could write a batch script to open a PowerPoint file, export slides as images, then close PowerPoint automatically. This is very useful for bulk processing slides.

Troubleshooting – Starting an application like PowerPoint from the command line often provides more detailed diagnostic information if there are issues launching or using PowerPoint properly. This can help troubleshoot problems.

Additional Options – Certain command line switches give you functionality not available through the standard PowerPoint interface, like appending slides from multiple presentations or running a custom slide show.

IT Administration – Network administrators and IT professionals often need to deploy applications like PowerPoint in corporate environments. Using the command line for this allows more control and scalability.

In summary, the command line brings scripting, automation, troubleshooting help and extra options to PowerPoint. Even casual users may find it handy on occasion.

How to Launch PowerPoint from the Command Prompt

Launching PowerPoint from the Windows command line only takes a few simple steps.

Here is the overall syntax:

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\root\Office16\POWERPNT.EXE" [switches/arguments]

The key pieces are:

  • The full executable path and program name POWERPNT.EXE
  • Optional command line switches or arguments

Follow these steps to start PowerPoint from the command prompt:

  1. Open the Windows Command Prompt
    • Click the Windows Start Menu and search for “cmd”
    • Choose the “Command Prompt” desktop app
  2. Navigate to the PowerPoint Folder
    • Enter this command to change to the default PowerPoint install folder:
    cd C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\root\Office16
  3. Launch PowerPoint with the EXE
    • Now launch PowerPoint by running the POWERPNT.EXE program:
    "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\root\Office16\POWERPNT.EXE"
    • PowerPoint should open normally

And that’s it! PowerPoint is now running from the command line rather than the graphical interface.

PowerPoint Command Line Switches

You can also add command line switches when launching PowerPoint to access additional functionality.

Here are some of the most useful PowerPoint command line options:

| Switch | Description | Example |
| /s | Run PowerPoint in Slide Show mode automatically | POWERPNT.EXE /s sales.pptx |
| /f | Open PowerPoint in full screen mode | POWERPNT.EXE /f |
| /o | Create a new blank presentation | POWERPNT.EXE /o |
| /m | Combine multiple PowerPoint files into one | POWERPNT.EXE sales.pptx marketing.pptx /m |

For example, this would open the sales.pptx presentation in slideshow mode automatically:

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\root\Office16\POWERPNT.EXE" /s sales.pptx

See Microsoft’s documentation for all available PowerPoint command line switches.

Automating PowerPoint from the Command Line

One of the most powerful features unlocked by the command line interface is the ability to automate PowerPoint tasks with scripts.

For example, you could create a Batch file (.bat) to:

  1. Launch PowerPoint
  2. Open a particular presentation
  3. Use SendKeys to navigate slides and export images
  4. Close PowerPoint

Here is an example .bat script to automate some actions in PowerPoint:

@echo off

:: Launch PowerPoint
start "" "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\root\Office16\POWERPNT.EXE" 

:: Open a file
timeout /t 5
SendKeys "o{ENTER}"
SendKeys "c:\presentations\sales.pptx{ENTER}"

:: Export slides as PNG images
SendKeys "^p{ENTER}"
SendKeys "e{ENTER}" 

:: Quit PowerPoint 
SendKeys "%{F4}"

This shows the type of simple but powerful task automation that is possible from the command line!

Troubleshooting PowerPoint Issues

Another benefit of launching apps from the Command Prompt is getting detailed error message outputs.

For example, if PowerPoint crashes or fails to launch, the Command Prompt may show diagnostic details that help troubleshoot the problem:

PowerPoint Diagnostic Error Output In Command Prompt

IT professionals can also use the command line to test launching Office apps that are deployed across a corporate network.

Some ways to troubleshoot PowerPoint issues from the command line:

  • Launch PowerPoint and monitor app behavior and output
  • Test different command line switches
  • Check error logs such as the Windows Event Viewer

Overall the CLI provides much more troubleshooting information compared to double-clicking an app icon to open it.


While launching PowerPoint from the command line is less common than simply opening it from the Start menu, the command prompt brings scripting, automation and troubleshooting power to the table.

It takes just a few simple steps to start PowerPoint from the CLI, allowing usage of powerful switches and options you can’t access otherwise.

Even average users may find themselves launching PowerPoint from the command prompt to automate repetitive tasks or troubleshoot issues with the help of detailed technical output.