How to Fix Audio Playback Issues in PowerPoint Presentations

Having trouble with sound or music with a presentation? Try these tips

Music or sound won't play in PowerPoint
Music or sound won't play in PowerPoint. © Wendy Russell

The music or sounds play fine on your computer, but when you email the PowerPoint presentation to a friend, they hear no sounds at all. Why? The short answer is that the music or sound file was likely linked to the presentation and not embedded into it.

PowerPoint cannot find the music or sound file that you linked to in your presentation and therefore no music will play. No worries; you can easily fix this.

What Causes Sound and Music Problems in PowerPoint?

First, music or sounds can be embedded into PowerPoint presentations only if you use a WAV file format (for example, yourmusicfile.WAV rather than yourmusicfile.MP3). MP3 files will not embed into a PowerPoint presentation. So, the easy answer is to only use WAV files in your presentations. The downside of that solution is that WAV files are huge and would make the presentation far too cumbersome to email.

Second, if many WAV sounds or music files are used in the presentation, you may even have difficulty opening or play the presentation at all, especially if your computer is not one of the latest and greatest models on the market today.

There is an easy fix for this problem. It is a simple four-step process.

Step One: Getting Started to Fix Sound or Music Problems in PowerPoint

  1. Create a folder for your presentation.

  2. Make sure your presentation and all the sound or music files you want to play in your presentation are moved or copied to this folder. All sound or music files must reside in this folder prior to inserting the music file into the presentation, or the process may not work.

  3. If you have already inserted sound or music files into your presentation, you must go to each slide containing a sound or music file and delete the icon from the slides. You will reinsert them later.

Step Two: Set Link Value

  1. Open your presentation in PowerPoint.

  2. Select Tools > Options.

  3. Select the General tab.

  4. Set the value for Link Sounds With File Size Greater Than to 50000 Kb. (This value will likely be larger than any sound or music file that you would insert into a PowerPoint presentation).

  5. Click OK.

Step Three

You need to trick PowerPoint into thinking that the MP3 music or sound file that you will insert into your presentation is actually a WAV file. You can download a free program to do this for you.

  1. Download and install the free CDex program.

  2. Start the CDex program and then choose Convert > Add RIFF-WAV(s) header to MP2 or MP3 file(s).

  3. Click on the ellipes (...) button at the end of the Directory text box to browse to the folder containing your music file. This is the folder you created back in Step One.

  4. Click the OK button.

  5. Select yourmusicfile.MP3 in the list of files shown in the CDex program.

  6. Click on the Convert button.

  7. This will "convert" and save your music file as yourmusicfile.WAV and encode it with a new header, (the behind-the-scenes programming information) to indicate to PowerPoint that this is a WAV file, rather than an MP3 file. The file is still actually an MP3 (but disguised as a WAV file) and the file size will be retained at the much smaller size of an MP3 file.

  8. Close the CDex program.

Step Four

  1. Double-check that your new music or sound WAV file is located in the same folder as your PowerPoint presentation.

  2. Open your presentation in PowerPoint.

  3. Choose Insert > Music and Sounds > Sound from File to insert this new music file into your PowerPoint presentation. The music will be embedded into the presentation, rather than simply be linked to the music file because:

  4. It is now disguised as a WAV file.

  5. You had increased the limit to the file size back to Step Two.