PowerPoint Media Compatibility

PowerPoint Icon

This Friday I will have the opportunity to present a workshop on making videos out of PowerPoint presentations.  Beginning with the 2010 version of PowerPoint the tools for converting a narrated version of presentations were built in to PowerPoint.  Beginning with the 2013 version, more media types are supported, and the output video format is the more universal mp4 rather than the older WMV format that was used through Office 2010, but we will still be using the 2010 version in our workshop.  That will not affect the topic to be discussed below, however.

Our topic is, what will happen to media that I have already linked from my older PowerPoint presentations when I make them into videos using PowerPoint 2010 or 2013?  The old method of playing videos (and longer audios) within a presentation (versions 2007 and before) was to link them to the slide on which it played.  That meant that the media file had to travel along with the presentation file so that the link could be maintained when the presentation was given anywhere except on the computer on which it was created.  The justification for this approach was that it made for smaller PPT files.  The down side was that the presenter would have to remember to place media files within a folder that retained its relationship to the presentation as they built it,  and also remember to take this folder along to the presentation.  Microsoft invented the Package Presentation for CD option to help solve this problem, but it never caught on. In fact the problem of non-playing media proved to be so problematic for presenters that Microsoft shifted gears with the 2010 release of PowerPoint and changed the file format strategy so that it would by default embed all media within the PPTX file.  This made for large presentation files, but they were guaranteed to work anywhere, and the presenter did not have to remember to carry along a copy of their media files.  They already had a copy within the presentation.  (Note, it is still an option to link, rather than embed media, but that is another topic).

The question before us in this post is: If I already have an older PowerPoint presentation, with linked media files, will the files play using the newer (2010 and above) versions of PowerPoint?

The answer, as always, is it depends.  In fact, it depends on the format of the original media.  If is an embeddable media type yes.  This excludes media types that are by default linked, like YouTube videos, and media types that take special operations to “embed” them, like Flash objects, ActiveX components, or other special types.  If it is a plain old wmv or wma file, or any of the other supported file types, then yes, it can easily be embedded.  Here’s how.

1.  Open the older presentation with the new version of PowerPoint.  In the illustrations below I have opened a presentation created with PowerPoint 2007  in PowerPoint 2010.

2.  Click on the File tab, select Info, and click on the Convert button.  This will convert your old media files to the new PowerPoint format:

Convert Button

Note that in the sample file I am using here, two brief videos were linked in the 2007 version, and the presentation had a file size of 645K.  After conversion, the two videos were embedded in new presentation which had a file size of 104MB.

3.  Now, in order to gain back some of the file size sacrificed to embedding, PowerPoint gives us the option to compress our embedded media.  Click the File tab > Info > Compress Media.

Compress Media Button

Please note that media quality can suffer after compression.  To avoid nasty pixellation or other artifacts choose the highest compression quality in the dialog box that appears after clicking Compress Media.

Media Quality Option

A compression dialog will appear with a status indicator showing the compression operation progress on each of your media files.  When done you can close this dialog.  In the case of the sample presentation I used the file size was decreased from 104MB to 35MB, with very little loss of quality.  Your mileage will vary, of course, depending on original encoding compression, resolution, and other factors.

That’s it.  Now you have a current XML-style PowerPoint file (with the extension PPTX rather than PPT, with its media compressed and embedded.

2 thoughts on “PowerPoint Media Compatibility

    1. The option to convert will only apply if you are using PowerPoint 2010 or 2013 and the presentation you are working with was created with PowerPoint 2007 or before.

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