CPS100 • Introduction to Computers

Lakeland College • Japan Campus

Media: Sounds & Movies

Embeds vs. Links

When you add most objects into a PowerPoint presentation, they are "embedded," saved within the PowerPoint file. In PowerPoint 2010, this is automatically done with all media (photos, audio, movies) which are inserted in a PowerPoint file.

However, in PowerPoint 2007, because of the large sizes, Sound and Movie files were usually not kept inside the PowerPoint presentation. Instead, they were usually linked to the presentation. That is to say, when you added a large sound or a movie, the PowerPoint presentation remembered where the sound or movie was, and then went to get it when you played the presentation.

The problem with this is that the link is broken if you move the presentation file but not the media file. The Windows OS is sensitive to location; even if the presentation file and the media file are moved together, the link could still be broken because the higher directory (the volume, for example) has changed, and Windows can no longer follow the links because of it.

As a result, if your presentation has background music or video files, it is usually a good idea to keep the presentation and all media files on a USB Flash drive, preferably in a special folder--and don't move anything from the folder once it has been inserted into the presentation.

PowerPoint 2010 now embeds everything by default, avoiding that difficulty for the most part. However, if you wish to still link to a sound or movie file, you can do so. When you do an Insert, in the Navigation Dialog Box, there is an "Insert" menu button at the bottom; changing it from "Insert" to "Link," you can link to the file instead.

Media File Types

When you use audio and video files with PowerPoint, it is important that you pay attention to the type of file. While most (but not all) audio files will play in PowerPoint, the application is famously picky about video files. It usually does not like MPG or MOV files, and while it usually plays AVI files, one cannot count on that. The safest way to go is to use WMV files.

The trouble with WMV files is that if you make them using a Microsoft application, they often have built-in copy protection features, even if they are not commercial videos. Therefore, the best way to use video in PowerPoint may be to take a video of almost any type which you know is OK, then use a video encoding application to translate it into a WMA file.

You might want to try the application Any Video Converter to make the video into a WMV, although please note that I make no promises about the application--use at your own caution.

Insert Audio

After you prepare the media file, you will want to insert it into your presentation. When you use the "Insert" tab to put audio into your presentation, the audio file becomes an object. Most audio file formats may be used, including MP3, although PowerPoint likes WMV files as well.

As I warn above, it is best to have your sound files in the same folder as your presentation, all on a USB Flash drive. Make sure that you save the media file in the USB Flash, in the correct folder, BEFORE you insert it into your presentation.

Once the file is in the correct place, just go to the "Insert" tab in the Ribbon, go to the "Media Clips" area on the right side, and then click on the "Sound" button (click the top part--not the bottom, which opens a menu). A navigation dialog box will open; find the sound file, and insert it.

The sound will appear in a special placeholder:

Once the audio file is in place, if you select it, you will be able to see "Format" and "Playback" tabs in an "Audio Tools" area in the Ribbon:

The "Format" tab is essentially the same as the one for pictures.

However, the Playback tab has some useful features, many of them new to Office 2010:

  • Play: This will preview the sound;
  • Trim Audio: Shorten the audio clip by removing time from the beginning and/or end;
  • Fade Duration: Make the audio slowly fade (grow louder or softer) at the start and end, instead of starting and stopping suddenly;
  • Start: Choose for the sound to play when clicked, automatically, or to play continuously across slides.
  • Hide During Show: This prevents the sound icon from showing during your presentation;
  • Loop Until Stopped: This will play the video again and again unless clicked.


The "Play Sound" option has a very useful selection:

If you select "Play Across Slides," then the music will do just that: it will continue playing until the file comes to an end. If you do not set this, then the music will stop at the next sound or slide that is clicked.

Insert Video

Inserting video is very much the same as audio, except that the file appears as a still-frame ("Poster Frame") from the video:

When you select the movie, the "Video Tools: Playback" tab will appear in the Ribbon, with mostly similar tools to that for audio:

Note the special settings under "Video Options" on the right side.

Also note that many movie files will not play; if that happens, you will either see just a blank screen. Even with a blank screen, the sound may still play. This just means that your computer does not have the correct codec (similar to a "driver," but for movie encodings) to play the video type.

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