Quick Fixes for PowerPoint Sound and Photo Problems

Businesswoman giving a presentation
Daniel Koebe / Getty Images

One of the simplest fixes and perhaps the most important one is to make sure that all of the components that are required for this presentation are located in the same folder on your computer. By components, we are referring to items such as sound files, a second presentation or different program file(s) that are linked to from the presentation.

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Keep All Components for the Presentation in One Place

Keep all components for the presentation in the same folder
Keep all components for the presentation in the same folder. Screen shot © Wendy Russell

Now that seems simple enough but it is surprising how many people insert a sound file for example, from another location on their computer or network, and wonder why it does not play when they then take the presentation file to a different computer. If you place copies of all components in the same folder, and simply copy the complete folder to the new computer, your presentation should go off without a hitch. Of course, there are always exceptions to any rule, but in general, keeping everything in one folder is the first step to success.

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Sound Won't Play on a Different Computer

Fix PowerPoint sound and music problems
Fix PowerPoint sound and music problems. © Stockbyte/Getty Images

This is a frequent problem that plagues presenters. You create a presentation at home or at the office and when you take it to another computer -- no sound. The second computer is often identical to the one you created the presentation on, so what gives?

One of two issues is usually the cause.

  1. The sound file you used is only linked to in the presentation. MP3 sound/music files cannot be embedded into your presentation and therefore you may only link to them. If you did not also copy this MP3 file and place it in the identical folder structure on computer two as on computer one, then the music is not going to play. This scenario takes us back to item one is this list -- keep all your components for the presentation in the same folder and copy the entire folder to take to the second computer.
  2. WAV files are the only type of sound files that can be embedded into your presentation. Once embedded, these sound files will travel with the presentation. However, there are limitations here too.
    1. WAV files are generally very large and can even cause the presentation to "crash" on the second computer if computer two is not of at least the same caliber in terms of its components.
    2. You must make a slight modification in PowerPoint to the limit of the allowable sound file size that can be embedded. The default setting in PowerPoint to embed a WAV file is 100Kb or less in file size. This is very small. By making a change to this file size limit, you may have no further problems.​
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Photos Can Make or Break a Presentation

Crop photos to reduce file size for use in PowerPoint
Crop photos to reduce file size for use in PowerPoint. Image © Wendy Russell

That old cliché about a picture being worth a thousand words is a great tip to remember when using PowerPoint. If you can use a photo rather than text to get your message across, then do so. However, pictures are frequently the culprit when problems arise during a presentation.

  • The most common cause is that the pictures you inserted into your presentation were huge. Many people insert their photos just as they came off the camera. The problem there is that you created the photos at the highest resolution to get a great shot. That is the choice to make for printing those pictures. If you are using those photos in a presentation software, or on the web, that quality of the image is not necessary. You need to first optimize your photos to crop extraneous items out of the picture and to also reduce the overall file size.
    If you tend to paste your photos from other sources into PowerPoint rather than insert them, surprisingly, this causes a larger file size.
  • All is not lost if you have made both of the mistakes listed above. You can compress the photos in the presentation using a tool in PowerPoint. The previous two suggestions are preferable, but this will help immensely, especially if time is crucial to get the presentation created.