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PowerPoint 2010 Audio Problems with Sound or Music

The Music Will Not Play. What Did I Do Wrong in My PowerPoint Presentation?

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This is probably the most common problem with PowerPoint slide shows. You have the presentation all set up and for some reason the music will not play for the colleague who received it in an email.

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What Causes Audio Problems with PowerPoint Music?

Image © Wendy Russell
PowerPoint sound problems Image © Wendy Russell

The easiest explanation 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.

However, that may not be the only problem. Read on.

What Do I Need To Know About Sound Files?

  • Firstly, music or sounds can be embedded into PowerPoint presentations only if you use a WAV file format. This means that a file name of yourmusicfile must contain the file extension .WAV , thus making the complete file name yourmusicfile.WAV.

    MP3 files will NOT embed into a PowerPoint presentation so a file name such as yourmusicfile.MP3 would only ever be linked to the presentation and must always accompany the presentation file when emailed to a colleague or if the slide show is to be played on another computer.

    As a result, the easy answer is to only use WAV files in your presentations. The down side of that solution is that WAV files are huge and would make the presentation far too cumbersome to email. However, we will address that issue later in this article.

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

Now, on to the fix for the most common audio problem.

Step 1 - 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. (PowerPoint is just picky and wants everything in one place.) Also note that 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 2 - Download a FREE Program to Assist with PowerPoint Sound Problems

You need to trick PowerPoint 2010 into "thinking" that the MP3 music or sound file that you will insert into your presentation is actually a WAV file. Thanks to two PowerPoint MVPs (Most Valuable Professionals), Jean-Pierre Forestier and Enric Mañas, you can download a free program they have created that will 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 ... 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 1.
  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 MP3 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 3 - Find Your New WAV File On Your Computer

Time to double-check the saving location of the music file.

  1. Check that your new music or sound WAV file is located in the same folder as your PowerPoint presentation. (You will also notice that the original MP3 file is still there as well.)
  2. Open your presentation in PowerPoint 2010.
  3. Click the Insert tab on the ribbon.
  4. Click the drop down arrow under the Audio icon on the right end of the ribbon.
  5. Choose Audio from File... and locate your newly created WAV file from Step 2.

Step 4 - Are We There Yet? Will the Music Play Now?

PowerPoint sound problems
© Stockbyte/Getty Images

You have tricked PowerPoint 2010 into "thinking" that your converted MP3 file is really in a WAV file format.

  • The music will be embedded into the presentation, rather than simply be linked to the music file. Embedding the sound file ensures that it will always travel with it.
  • The music is now disguised as a WAV file, but since it is a much smaller resultant file size (the WAV file), it should therefore play without complications.

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