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I am looking for a solution how to read .ppt files (the old type, NOT .pptx) using preferably the programming language R. If there is none, other solutions (e.g. using Python) would be welcome as well. I basically just need the text in the .ppt file.

I'm mainly looking for libraries, but any simple open-source solution would be helpful.

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Too long for a comment, so I will post as an answer, although it is not exactly what you ask for, parts of this should be acceptable.

If you do not get a solution, which seems likely, because MS tended to keep their proprietary binary formats very private, don’t give up.

Just do what I would have done in the first place anyway; unless there is some incompatibility problem, which is unlikely, take a copy of the file, import that into PowerPoint, let PP convert it to PPTX and save. Process that with R or Python (you can also automate the import/save as operation).

If you don’t have access to PowerPoint, Libre Office has a good chance of getting the job done.

If that fails, I regularly buy Windows and Office license keys on eBay. Last month, I paid US $12 for MS Office Pro.

If that’s too expensive, it is easy to sign up as a Microsoft developer, you just have to propose a project that you want to develop using their tools and they will give you free Office 365 for a year (probably easily renewable).

If none of that works, then you are SOL and no worse off than when you started :-/

HTH, good luck :-)

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I found a solution which works good enough for me. It is not super fast if you have a large number of documents but at least it works. It converts ppt files to pdfs and, then you can use any programming language to extract the text. Further information can be found here https://community.esri.com/thread/179174

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