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Why Won't Music Start to Play on First PowerPoint Slide?

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Music File is Inserted on First Slide but Won't Play Until Slide Four or Five
Music won't start playing from first PowerPoint slide

Music won't start playing from first PowerPoint slide

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The reader's PowerPoint music problem

A reader has a multi-faceted problem with a PowerPoint presentation. At first glance it seems that the first music file is the problem. But the issue goes deeper than that -- at least in my opinion, without having access to the actual presentation file.

The presentation -- or rather several linked presentations -- (several presentations were linked from one to the next due to the huge file size if it remained as one very large presentation) -- is filled with scanned pictures from the family history. Each picture had a resolution of approximately 640 x 480 pixels. Secondly the reader has embedded several music files into each smaller presentation file.

Originally, she had used MP3 music files averaging around 5 MB each in size, but found that this did not work when the presentations were played on another computer.

A side note - MP3 files will not embed into a presentation. MP3 files are simply linked to the presentation, so must also be copied to the second location (or emailed) with the presentation file. Only WAV file format files can be embedded. Even then, there are issues with WAV files and different versions of PowerPoint. These articles below will help you to resolve some issues with sound or music files in PowerPoint.

Once the music files had been converted to small WAV file formats and embedded into the presentation, the reader found that even though a sound was inserted on the first slide, it did not begin to play until several slides later. She had checked the settings and the playback was set correctly to "Play across slides" and the music should have begun on the first slide. This is in a perfect world, of course.

So the problem was a condundrum for her.

What did I think was the problem?

My thoughts about this are several -- and are only suggestions without having access to the presentation.

  1. I believe that the music does not start right away because of the large photo file sizes in addition to the large music file sizes. Any web or screen presentation really does not need high resolution photos -- those are needed for print quality. A mistake many presenters make is to use photos that come directly off the camera.

    Who would think that a single photo could be approximately 16 MB in size -- even with today's high resolution cameras available for very reasonable prices? Multiply that by a couple of hundred photos and you can see that the poor computer has quite a job to do.

  2. It also matters how the pictures are added to the slides. Believe it or not, if you paste them in, rather than using the Insert feature, the resultant file size of the whole presentation will be bigger -- for what reason, I have no idea, but it happens sometimes.

  3. When you are inserting the photos, are you then resizing them onscreen to make them smaller? Most people do not realize that resizing a photo on screen does not reduce the file size. The presentation is still loading the larger photo, then reducing it before it is shown on the slide. As a result, more resources are needed to load this large picture and then shrink it down before you see it. This makes for a slower production.

  4. The reader's music files are also somewhat large. A 5 MG file for a single, complete song is not too bad by itself, but multiplying this by eight or nine music files (as was indicated in the original question) is too much. If your show had only a few pictures and songs, then that would not be critical, but it can be in a larger presentation.

  5. By using music files with a large file size, what happens is that the computer is trying to load up everything behind the scenes. However, the presenter (not being aware of this), may start the show before it has had enough time to do so -- hence the delay in playing the music.

  6. Lastly, we have another Microsoft mystery. For some strange reason, each time you save a PowerPoint presentation, more times than not, the file size will bloat up for no reason. You may only have changed a text box and your file size has grown by leaps and bounds.
    The workaround for this issue: - Start a brand new presentation and then copy over all your existing slides to the new presentation. You might be surprised at the reduced file size (but of course there are always exceptions and this may not happen). It is just something I have noticed in the past.

How would I try to remedy the problem?

  1. Try creating a new presentation and simply copy over the existing slides and see if the file size is smaller. If not ...

  2. Crop unnecessary features out of photos. Usually, no one is interested in the ceiling or people's feet.

  3. Optimize the original for file size, not for resolution specifically, and reinsert them. I am assuming that the reader is using JPGs or PNG files and not TIFF (which are huge). This can be done in a batch using free photo software. I like Irfanview for this -- quick and easy. Available free at irfanview.com.

  4. Use the Insert feature to add your photos rather than pasting them into the presentation, (if you had done this before).

  5. Reduce the music file size music to the smallest acceptable size. By "acceptable" I mean that it sounds just fine when played back. (See the links at the top of this article for help with reducing the music file size.)

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