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Theme Builder Anomalies: Themes Incompatible with PowerPoint 2010 and 2011

Be aware that Themes saved in Theme Builder may not be compatible with PowerPoint 2010 and 2011. This is just some information that will keep you prepared.

We have seen strange things happening with Theme Builder and how it plays with PowerPoint 2010 (and PowerPoint 2011 for Mac). Try these steps:

  1. Launch PowerPoint 2010. Access the Design tab of the Ribbon, locate the Themes group, and select the More button next to the Themes gallery so that the Themes gallery opens in drop-down mode. Now select the Save Current Theme option. This brings up the Save Current Theme dialog. Provide a name (we named New Theme.thmx), and location for your new Theme file.
  2. Try applying this Theme file (New Theme.thmx) in various PowerPoint versions. We tested it and have seen that it works well in all Theme aware versions of PowerPoint known as of today: PowerPoint 2007 and 2010 (Windows) and PowerPoint 2008 and 2011 (Mac).
  3. Explore these individual links if you don't know how to apply Themes:
  4. Applying Themes in PowerPoint, Word, and Excel 2007 for Windows
  5. Applying Themes in PowerPoint, Word, and Excel 2010 for Windows
  6. Applying Themes in PowerPoint, Word, and Excel 2008 for Mac
  7. Applying Themes in PowerPoint, Word, and Excel 2011 for Mac
  8. Now, launch Theme Builder and open this Theme file (New Theme.thmx). Make some change, maybe just change the Theme Name as shown in Figure 1 (highlighted in red). Choose File | Save As, and save to a new file (we saved as New Theme Edited.thmx). Close Theme Builder.

  9. Figure 1: New Theme opened in Theme Builder
  10. Try applying this edited Theme file in various PowerPoint versions. It works well in older Theme aware versions: PowerPoint 2007 (Windows) and PowerPoint 2008 (Mac). But it refuses to work in PowerPoint 2010 (Windows) and 2011 (Mac).
  11. In Figures 2 and 3, you can see the error messages that come up when applying the Theme we saved in Theme Builder.
  12. Figure 2 shows the error message in PowerPoint 2010, and Figure 3 shows the error message in PowerPoint 2011.

  13. Figure 2: Error message displayed in PowerPoint 2010 while applying the Theme saved in Theme Builder

  14. Figure 3: Error message displayed in PowerPoint 2011 while applying the Theme saved in Theme Builder
  15. As you can see, PowerPoint 2011 provides a better explanation. But that indicates a newer version of Theme Builder should have been released? Ironically, the Theme Builder home page says that this product is compatible with Office 2010 (see Figure 4).

  16. Figure 4: Theme Builder Home page displaying the compatibility of Theme Builder

So what is the solution to this problem? You can actually apply the Theme in PowerPoint 2007 or 2008, and then save that Theme from within PowerPoint. Then it works in PowerPoint 2010 and 2011. Go figure! Don't know how to save Themes from within PowerPoint 2007 and 2008? These links will help:

Also want to know what info Theme Builder throws away and ends up confusing the latest versions of PowerPoint? Look at our Theme Builder Anomalies: Removed Content from Themes page.