Skip to content

PowerPoint video audio compression tricks and traps

PowerPoint offers compression embedded video and audio files, reducing the overall file size. But these options aren’t where you might expect to find them, aren’t selective and need to be used with care.

There is compression option for media files (video or audio) to a suitable quality level and make it compact. This feature will not only help you in improving the video/audio playback performance but will also save disk space.

You’d expect compress options to appear on the special ribbon tabs like Video Format or Playback or audio tools, but they’re not. Instead go to File | Info | Media Size and Performance.

This is a PowerPoint feature that hasn’t changed in many years. Here’s the same options in PowerPoint 2010 where the only change is the labels on the three choices were less specific.

Compress media.jpg image from Compress Video/Audio Files in PowerPoint 2010 at

Three media size compress options explained

Here you have three options to compress the media file:

  • Full HD (1080p) / Presentation Quality – This helps in saving space while at the same time maintaining the overall audio and video quality. Use this for big screen presentations that you want to appear at their best. Keep in mind that higher quality video needs a more powerful computer to playback smoothly and well.
  • HD (720p) / Internet Quality – Here the quality of the video after compression will be comparable to the video which is mostly streamed over the internet. It’s enough for most situations including online events.
  • Standard (480p) / Low Quality – This option as the name suggests produces video of low quality hence can be used when file size is more important than video quality. Since Internet connections and online storage are so much better these days, it’s not as commonly used as it once was.

Beware compression!

The compression options will not only reduce the quality of video it will also remove any cropped/edited parts of the video.

It will also remove subtitles linked to a video and also alternate audio tracks on a video file (e.g multiple languages).

ONLY compress media in a presentation if you have an original video/audio saved separately, either in another version of the presentation or as separate media files. I always keep original / best resolution videos safely separate from anything in a PPTX file — just in case.

All video/audio or nothing

These compression options apply to all the media in a presentation. There’s no option to compress some files (e.g. higher quality video or audio) leaving other media unchanged.

To selectively compress media files you have to edit them separately then import into PowerPoint in the smaller form.

How much space is used?

A PowerPoint presentation file (PPTX etc) can get much bigger when audio and especially video is added. You can see how much extra space is used from File | Info | Media Size and Performance and look for the little bullet-point item.

In this case, a single video has expanded a presentation file from a mere 5MB to 55MB! Not a lot by modern standards but still a big increase.

Choosing HD (720p) shrunk that video down by more than 40MB

PowerPoint shows the new size (50MB down to 8.8MB) and has the option to Undo the change.

Undo compression

You also have the option to revert back to the original file after compressing it. For this click on “Undo” option. While Undo is handy, we suggest you keep the original full resolution video/presentation and compress a copy.

When you choose any one of the above mentioned compression options, “Compress Media” window pops open which will show the status of the compression in progress.

About this author

Office Watch is the independent source of Microsoft Office news, tips and help since 1996. Don't miss our famous free newsletter.