- PowerPoint is a tremendously popular presentation software used from school projects to corporate meetings. It is part of the Microsoft Office suite.
- PowerPoint supports only a number of formats when it comes to audio and video files. Make sure you adhere to the restrictions and convert anything else.
- See other PowerPoint related articles on our site - we have news, guides, and more troubleshooters.
- For any other PC software related issues, check out the dedicated PC Troubleshooting Hub.
PowerPoint presentations combine a variety of media into slideshows. Most PowerPoint users will probably add at least a little audio and video to make the presentations more interesting.
However, PowerPoint doesn’t support every media format. So if the application isn’t playing audio and video in a presentation, that’s probably due to incompatible media formats or not having the required codecs for them.
What to do if you can’t play audio or video in PowerPoint
Table of contents:
- Set the Media Compatibility
- Use a different presentation software
- Check the codecs
- Make sure the video is supported
- Convert your audio or video file
- Set the link value
- Clear the TEMP folder
Fix: Unable to play audio or video in PowerPoint
Solution 1 – Set the Media Compatibility
The first thing we’re going to try is setting the proper media compatibility settings in PowerPoint. This option will set everything in place, allowing you to play the embedded media seamlessly.
Here’s how to optimize media compatibility in PowerPoint:
- Go to the File menu, and select Info.
- PowerPoint will detect if your media is incompatible with the program, and the Optimize Media Compatibility option will appear. So, select that option, and PowerPoint will optimize the embed media.
- Let the wizard scan the embed media. If the immediate solution is available, the wizard will resolve the problem automatically.
If the Optimize Media Compatibility option can’t resolve the problem, it’ll at least show you the culprit. Using that info, you’ll know what to do further. This brings us to our next three solutions…
Solution 2 – Use a different presentation software
We know that everybody uses PowerPoint to create and play presentations but why not try a different tool. A great software to make presentations that stand-out is Adobe Spark.
It is a pretty powerful tool that includes modern features as well. For example, you can also use the tool to create Social Media posts for your favorite networks. It shines with the large variety of professional typography to make your text stand-out and integrates with Dropbox, Google Photos or Adobe Creative Cloud to import any photos that you have and want to include in your presentation.
It’s a different approach, but one that just might work and help you be different and stand-out from the crowd.
Solution 3 – Check the codecs
If you don’t have the right multimedia codecs installed on your computer, you’ll have all sorts of problems playing audio/video. Including the PowerPoint problem we’re talking about here.
So, check your codecs, if you have any installed already, make sure to update them. If not, install them.
If you’re not sure which codec pack to pick, check out our list of the best audio and video codecs for Windows.
Solution 4 – Make sure the audio/video format is supported
We’ve come to the probable core of the problem. In fact, if you’re unable to play video or audio in your PowerPoint presentation, there’s a huge chance you’re using an unsupported media format.
When it comes to audio, PowerPoint 2010 mainly uses WAV files! So, if you’re using an MP3 file in your presentation, you may encounter some problems. Things are slightly better in PowerPoint 2016. In addition to .wav files, this version also supports .m4a files encoded with AAC audio. Any other format is not guaranteed to work.
As for videos, the range of compatible formats is also quite limited. Microsoft recommends .wmv files for PowerPoint 2010, while the 2016 version adds up .mp4 files encoded with H.264 video and AAC audio. Microsoft also notes that Flash videos might not work in the newer versions of PowerPoint (2013 and 2016).
Solution 5 – Convert your audio or video file
As we said, even though PowerPoint may support the current format of your video or audio, it’s always the best idea to simply convert it to .wmv/.wma.
Fortunately, there are dozens of tools that can convert your media in no time. And since the choice is quite broad, we compiled a list of the best audio/video converters for Windows. So, make sure to check it out.
Solution 6 – Set the link value
Although using .wma files is recommended, it might be impractical. Mostly because .wma files are larger than other formats. And since PowerPoint has a little thing called limited link value.
This option prevents you from including large files into your presentation. So, if your file exceeds the limit, you won’t be able to embed it.
The obvious solution to this problem is to simply increase the limit. Here’s how to do that:
- Go to Tools > Options.
- Select the General tab.
- Set the value for Links Sounds With File Size Greater Than to 500000 KB (or whichever size is larger than the file you’re trying to embed).
- Click OK to save the changes.
Solution 7 – Clear the TEMP folder
Tons of temporary files are stored in your TEMP folder, and that may affect PowerPoint. So, if you’re sure you’re using the right formats and have all the necessary codecs installed, try with clearing this folder. Here’s how to clean the TEMP folder in Windows 10:
- Press the Win key + R.
- In the Run window, enter the following path: %temp%
- Select all the files with the TMP extension.
- Delete the files.
- Restart your computer.
There you go, your TEMP folder is now clean like new. Hopefully, this will resolve the playback issues in PowerPoint.
So those are a few ways for you to fix PowerPoint presentations that aren’t playing video and audio. Make sure the media file formats are compatible with PowerPoint and have the required codecs.
FAQ: Learn more about PowerPoint audio and video
- What audio format does PowerPoint use?
Newer version of PowerPoint can use the following audio formats: .wav, .mp3., .wma, .midi, .aiff, .au, .mp4. The recommended format is an .m4a file encoded with AAC audio.
- What video format works on PowerPoint?
The recommended format is a .mp4 file with H.264 video and AAC audio. However, there’s support for the following also: .mpeg, .wmv, .avi, .asf or .swf. Check out our recommended converters to ensure maximum compatibility.
- How do I get a video to play in PowerPoint?
Go to Menu and select Insert. Choose Video and Movie from file. Select the file from your computer and then change the settings in the Video Format toolbar where you have options available to chose how and when it will play the file.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2016 and has been since completely revamped and updated in April 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.