PowerPoint and video - worth another try

PowerPoint has supported video within slides for many versions. Like many things in Office, the promises took many years to become a practical and easy reality.  Here’s how to try again … with PowerPoint 2013 or 2016 for Windows. 

Easy Video Insert

On a blank slide you’ll see the insert icons and there’s one to Insert Video

Then there’s a range of video import and link options:

From a file

The easiest and the most reliable option because it doesn’t rely on an Internet connection.

Click on Browse and choose the video file.

PowerPoint supports many video formats, so many that tooltip from the Open dialog can’t really cope and often runs off the edge of the screen.

Microsoft has an official list of supported video formats for PowerPoint 2013/2016 for Windows.  It recommends .mp4 videos encoded with H.264 video.

The default is to Insert, meaning to copy the video into the presentation file.

However, there’s also ‘Link to File’ which keeps the video as a separate file.  Be careful of this choice if you move or copy the presentation.  The video won’t play unless it’s also copied and kept in the same relative position as the presentation.


Facebook logins

Login to your Facebook account (and authorize a link with Office on the first time), choose a video and allow time for download.


Choose a video from the OneDrive account and it’ll be downloaded into the presentation.


First, type in a YouTube search

PowerPoint will show you a list of results to choose from.

Click on the link at bottom left to open the YouTube web page for that video.

The YouTube option isn’t very good.  It’s great for Microsoft demos and so the company can boast about YouTube support … but little else.   There’s no way to quickly choose a video you’ve already selected (which is the most common situation).  No way to quickly see the video length, quality or rights issues.

Most importantly, this option only provides a link to the online video.  To playback you’ll need an Internet connection that’s fast enough and reliable enough.

From Video Embed Code

The last option is Video embed – now in PowerPoint 2016/Windows   Some video services (including YouTube) provide web code that lets you embed a playable (streaming) video link into a web page.  You can copy that same link into the ‘Paste embed code’ location and it will show up in your slide.

Like the YouTube option, ‘Paste embed code’ is merely a link to the Internet.  The video isn’t copied into the presentation.

Cautious presenters don’t like relying on Internet access for their presentations.  The net will fail at the moment of maximum inconvenience … which means just when you need it.  There are programs available that will ‘rip’ embedded video from web sites to a separate video file on your computer.   You might want to consider using one of those utilities to get a reliable local video file.

Insert Tab

Way over on the right of the Insert tab is a Media button, under that Video and then two choices:

  • Online Video – opens the same options as above except ‘from a file’.
  • Video on My PC – opens a File select dialog on your computer.

Video editing

Click on an inserted video to see some useful video editing options on the Format tab

And others on the Playback tab.

Note:  for an embedded video (not saved in the presentation) then most of the Playback options won’t be available.

Some of the more useful options are:

Poster Frame – change the still image that you see when the video isn’t playing.  Instead of a blank screen or title card, you can have a more interesting image from later in the video.  Or even import a separate still.  For example, here’s the default look for a video:

Play the video and pause at the point you want to use as the poster frame the choose ‘Current Frame’.

Now there’s something more interesting on the slide before you hit the play button.

Video Shape lets you put the video into an unusual frame – actually one of the many drawing shapes available in Office.  If the video suits, you can have a very unusual shape but normally it would be a rectangle or oval.

Trim Video – is very useful.  Often you only want to show a snippet from a longer video or the video has ‘bits’ at the start & end you can do without.  This option lets you remove those parts from the presentation copy of the video.

Bookmarks – easy clickable points within a video that you can jump to.  Pause the video at the right place, click Add Bookmark.  They show up when you play the video in a presentation.

Fade in / out – lets you ‘ease into’ a playback instead of a sudden beginning or end – which can happen if you’ve trimmed the video.

Start – the video can start when the slide appears or only when you click on it.  There’s no way to start automatically after a delay unless you add the delay by externally editing the video to add ‘blank’ seconds at the start.

Also worth considering are ‘Play Full Screen’, ‘Hide While Not Playing’ and ‘Rewind after Playing’.