Solving the Sorry PowerPoint can’t read ^0 error

So there I was opening a PowerPoint file from my OneDrive folder when I got this error message: Sorry, PowerPoint can’t read ^0.

What was happening? Well first some background.

My iMac’s fusion drive had failed, I had it replaced and then reinstalled OS X before using the migration assistant to restore my iMac files, applications and preferences.

Well there I was thinking everything had gone so well. I had virtually no data loss, so was pleased I had managed to get things sorted. However I was annoyed when opening a PowerPoint file from my OneDrive folder I got an error message.

I got this error message: PowerPoint found a problem with content in <file name>. PowerPoint can attempt to repair the presentation. If you trust the source of this presentation, click Repair.

The word trust made me think that this was a permissions issue rather than corruption.

I clicked Repair and then this message appeared: Sorry, PowerPoint can’t read ^0.

I wasn’t sure what was going on.

As part of my back up back in April I had backed up the files from the OneDrive folder onto my external hard drive. I hadn’t updated it since, as far as I was concerned I didn’t need to back up the OneDrive folder as it was already backed up in the cloud.

Going through the OneDrive files I realised that virtually all the files I had created or edited since the back up weren’t working and “needed repair”. I was as you might imagine rather annoyed. What was worse was the files had also synced across the cloud and my laptop.

I did some Google searching for a solution, and to be honest it wasn’t too much help. I did try and reset OneDrive but this didn’t work.

I was convinced that this was a permissions issue rather than file corruption or data loss. The file sizes looked fine for example.

In the end though I did come up with a solution.

In Finder right click the file and select Version History.

Note that this option is only available for files on OneDrive.

As you can see I had two versions of the file with the same date and timestamp.

This reinforced my opinion that this was a permissions issue.

Right click the three dots.

Then select Restore (or Download).

This then creates a new version, which will open.

The file can now be opened normally.

I’ve not worked out how to do this for multiple files, so am having to do it for each file that doesn’t open.

This process also works on Windows computers as well.

This has demonstrated that despite having an online cloud and a physical backup there was still the potential for data loss after a hard drive failure.