Join Garrick Chow for an in-depth discussion in this video Understand video and audio formats, part of PowerPoint: Audio and Video.
- [Instructor] When it comes to working with video and audio files in PowerPoint, it's important to understand or at least be familiar with some of the large variety of format types that these files come in. By format type I'm referring to the way in which the multimedia files you work with are saved. You've probably heard of things like WMV files, or QuickTime files, or MP3s and MP4s. Those are all examples of different file types. And although PowerPoint can accept a large number of different file types, it often does matter which type of file you use depending on what you intend to do with your presentation.
So let's talk about some of the most common types of file formats that you'll most likely want to stick with for your presentations. If you're on Windows, the most common format type you'll most likely encounter for videos is going to be the WMV or Windows Media Video format. WMVs are recognized by all Windows applications because it's a native Microsoft format. Most Windows movie editing applications save in the WMV format by default, and of course PowerPoint, being a Microsoft product, has no trouble playing files saved in this format. Another file you most likely have heard of is the MPEG or Moving Picture Experts Group format.
This is an evolving set of standards for video and audio compression. You've most likely heard of the MP3 format which is the most popular and famous format for saving audio files because of its ability to provide high quality sound at small file sizes. The MP4 format is similar but it's used for video files. MP4s will play on just about all computers and being a compressed format, it can give you good quality video while keeping the overall file size of your presentation relatively low. Another common video file type is the Apple QuickTime format. Movies generated through QuickTime on a Mac or a Windows machine are often saved in the .mov format and PowerPoint can play this format as well.
These three formats I've listed so far are probably your safest bets when it comes to making sure that video content will play properly in your presentations, especially if your presentation will be displayed on both Macs and Windows machines. PowerPoint has the ability to play other types of formats including another one you might have heard of called .AVIs but this format sometimes can be problematic. There are actually many different video file types that can have the .AVI extension and not all of them will play natively. Some require additional codecs, short for compression decompression software, to be installed on the computer.
So if you have a choice when it comes to selecting the format of your video files, try to stick with these first three here. Now let's look at some audio formats. One of the most common file types you'll come across is the WAV file. A WAV file is an uncompressed audio file type meaning you get the highest quality audio fidelity but at the expense of large file sizes. A similar format is the Apple AIFF format. It's also a high quality uncompressed format, usually generated on Macs, that sounds great but can also result in large file sizes.
The Windows Media Audio format, or WMA, is the default file format you'll come across on your PC. WMAs are recognized by all Windows applications because it's a native Microsoft format. It is a compressed format so it provides decent audio quality at a smaller file size. And as I mentioned, PowerPoint can also natively play the very popular MP3 format, as well as audio files saved in the MPG4 format. Now there are many, many more types of video and audio formats out there. If you're downloading files to use in your presentation, try to stick with the file types I've listed here to ensure compatibility with playback in PowerPoint.
If you're creating your own video and audio files be sure to save them in one of these formats as well. When choosing a format your main concern should be whether your media is going to play in your presentation on the computer you're going to be presenting it with. If you're working on your own Windows laptop and you know you'll be presenting on that same computer as long as the videos play as you're adding them, you can be certain they'll play when you're presenting. But if you're going to be copying your presentation to another computer, like a Windows machine that you might not get to check until the day of your presentation, you'll want to be more cautious about using more obscure file types. You don't want to get to the day of your presentation and find that you have to download and install a bunch of drivers or other software to make your presentation work.
Similarly if you're creating your presentation on Windows, but know that it will be presented on a Mac, you might want to stick with QuickTime compatible video and audio formats like .MOVs and .MP3s and maybe shy away from the WMV or WMA formats in case the Mac isn't equipped to present those types of files. The bottom line is to try to be aware of where your presentation will be used and try to plan accordingly. But again, as long as you stick to the formats I've mentioned here, you should be in good shape in the great majority of cases.
Note: This course was recorded on PowerPoint for Office 365. Most of the course contents will also be useful to those working with the most recent standalone versions of Office, including Office 2019 and 2016.
- Comparing linking and embedding methods
- Inserting videos in presentations
- Trimming video
- Cropping video
- Adjusting brightness and color
- Resizing video
- Applying effects
- Adding audio clips to presentations
- Looping video
- Triggering playback with objects
- Saving multimedia presentations