How to Make a Slideshow on PowerPoint

Whether for work or private, you can use slideshows to get your message across

Image of people watching a slideshow
People watching a slideshow.

Hero Images/Getty Images

When you're ready to present your PowerPoint slides to others, look no further than PowerPoint's slideshow feature. You can rely on this for all kinds of slides, but those containing photos work best for most viewers. These instructions work for all slides but focus on those with photos.

Note: These directions apply to the PC and Mac versions of PowerPoint. You cannot create photo slideshows with music in PowerPoint Online.

Before You Begin

Before you create slides for your slideshow presentation, decide how long to make the slideshow, how it should flow, and the pictures you’ll use.

  • Length: A slideshow can be as long or as short as you need. Keep in mind the length of the slideshow should be appropriate for the topic and for your audience’s attention span.
  • Outline: It’s always smart to start with an outline; it helps you visualize your slideshow. An outline can be as simple as the list of topics you want to cover.
  • Pictures: Choose photos that are clear and tell a story.

How to Make a Slideshow on PowerPoint

With PowerPoint's Photo Album, you select the pictures and PowerPoint creates the basic slideshow. Fill your slides with informative text and harmonizing background music, then turn your collection of slides into a self-running photo slideshow with music that can play as a video or be stored on a CD.

When you’re ready to make a photo slideshow with music, PowerPoint gets you up and running quickly. To get started, select Insert > Photo Album > New Photo Album.

A screenshot of the Photo Album in PowerPoint
Settings for the Photo Album in PowerPoint.

Here’s how to add and format pictures for the slideshow using the Photo Album:

  1. Add pictures: Select File/Disk and select the images you want in the picture slideshow.
  2. Enhance photos: Place a checkmark next to the picture you want to enhance and change the orientation, contrast, and brightness. You’ll see the changes in the Preview window.
  3. Add text boxes: If you want to add a slide for text, select the image in the album list you want the text to follow and select New Text Box.
  4. Rearrange slides: Place a checkmark next to the picture you want to move and select Move Up or Move Down.
  5. Choose a picture layout: Select the Picture layout drop-down list and choose how you want the pictures to appear in the slideshow.
  6. Frame the pictures: Select the Frame shape drop-down list and choose a frame style. You’ll see a preview in the Album Layout area.
  7. Select Create when you’re finished.

Your photo slideshow is created in a new file. Add text to the slides and use the Design Ideas pane to change the look of each slide. Save the file with a descriptive name so you don’t lose your work.

How to Play Music During the Slideshow

You can play music in the background during your slideshow. The background music starts automatically with the slideshow and plays during all the slides.

To add background music to your presentation, select Insert > Audio > Audio on My PC, choose a music file, then select OK.

A screenshot of a background sound for a slideshow in PowerPoint
Settings for a background sound in PowerPoint.

The audio icon appears in the middle of the current slide. To move it, drag it to a different place on the slide. When the audio icon is selected, the Playback tab appears. Select Play in Background and make changes to the audio file. Here are some suggestions.

  • Preview the music: Select Play to hear what the music will sound like during your slideshow.
  • Shorten the duration: Select Trim Audio to remove parts of the beginning and end of the music file.
  • Adjust the volume: Select Volume to make the background music louder or softer.

How to Set Up the Slideshow

Once your slides are finished, it’s time to set up the slideshow. Start by deciding whether to show the slideshow in a window or full screen.

A screenshot of the set up settings for a slideshow in PowerPoint
Setting up a PowerPoint slideshow.

To set up the slideshow, select Slide Show > Set Up Slide Show and choose one of the following:

  • Browsed by an individual (window): Run the slideshow automatically and inside a window. This option works best when saving the slideshow to a CD.
  • Browsed at a kiosk (full screen): Run the slideshow automatically and at full screen size. This option works best when converting the slideshow to a video.

Select OK when you’re finished.

How to Add Timings to Each Slide in the Slideshow

Now it’s time to decide how long each slide will appear in the slideshow. To begin, select Slide Show > Rehearse Timings. The slideshow displays in full screen with a Recording toolbar and a timer.

A screenshot showing the Recording toolbar to create timings for a PowerPoint slideshow
Add timings to slideshow slides.

While timing your presentation, use the Recording toolbar to navigate through the presentation.

  1. Select Next to go to the next slide when the desired timing has been reached.
  2. Select Pause to start and stop the timing.
  3. Select Repeat to restart recording the time for the selected slide.
  4. When you’re finished and have set the time for the last slide, close the Recording toolbar.
  5. Select Yes to keep the recorded slide timings.

How to Edit Timings on a Slide

If you need to increase or decrease the time for your slideshow, you can change how long slides appear during the slideshow.

A screenshot showing how to change the timing for a slide
Change the timing for a slide.

To change the timing for a slide:

  1. Select View > Slide Sorter.
  2. Select Transitions.
  3. Select a slide.
  4. In the Advance Slide After text box, enter how long the slide should appear in the slideshow before proceeding to the next slide, then press Enter.

How to Create a PowerPoint Video Slideshow

The easiest way to distribute and play your slideshow is in video format. This way, anyone can view your slideshow no matter what computer or device they use.

A screenshot showing how to create a video from a slideshow in PowerPoint
Create a video from a slideshow in PowerPoint.

To convert a slideshow into a video:

  1. Save the file.
  2. Select File > Export.
  3. Select Create a Video.
  4. If you want a smaller file size, select the Full HD drop-down list and choose a lower quality.
  5. Select Create a Video.
  6. Navigate to the folder where you want to save the video and give the video a descriptive file name.
  7. Select Save. It may take a few minutes to process the file and create the video.

How to Save a Slideshow to a CD or Other Removeable Media

You can also save the slideshow to a CD or copy it to a folder. When you do this, all of the files linked to the slideshow are packaged together.

A screenshot showing the Package for CD dialog
Copy a slideshow to a folder or to a CD.

To create a presentation that can be watched on any computer and can be stored on a CD or other removable media:

  1. Select File > Export.
  2. Select Package Presentation for CD > Package for CD.
  3. Type a name for the CD.
  4. Select Copy to Folder or Copy to CD and follow the on-screen directions.
  5. When you’re finished, select Close.