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How to make a slide show

Learn how to make a slide show with photos, videos, music, and custom settings using a slide show maker.

Learn how to make a slide show with PowerPoint

Discover how to make a slide show with photos, videos, music, and custom settings using a slide show app like PowerPoint.

What is a slide show maker?

To create a slide show, you’ll want to use a slide show maker—or slide show app—which is a software program or online service that enables you create digital slide shows with text, photos, videos, music, and other special effects. The full range of slide show features and functionality varies from program to program.

Once you’ve created a slide show, it can be published on the internet or shared with others as a video file. Additionally, you can use slide shows to create dynamic, interactive content on websites.

Slide show software can be used for a variety of purposes, such as creating presentations for work, school, and even your personal life. For instance, slide shows are often used to:

  • Display photos during an event

    Slide shows are a great way to share photos and videos with guests at a wedding, birthday, or other special event.

  • Create a digital photo album

    Some slide shows are created for personal reasons, such as sharing important memories with family or friends.

  • Highlight products or services

    Businesses can use slide shows to showcase their products, promote special offers and sales, or pitch their services to potential clients.

  • Enhance teaching, training, and public speaking

    Slide shows can also provide helpful visuals in educational settings, classroom presentations, and public speaking forums.

What you need to make a slide show

When it comes to creating a slide show, there are a few things you'll need to get started. First and foremost, you'll need a device equipped with presentation software or access to an online slide show app. Secondly, you’ll need a way to display your slide show, which usually means connecting your device to a projector or big screen TV. Beyond that, you’ll need some visual aids and other media to bring your slide show to life.

Explore each of these slide show requirements in more detail:

Devices and equipment—To create a slide show, you’ll use a computer or other device—such as a tablet or mobile phone—with PowerPoint or a similar program installed. You will also need a way to project the slides onto a screen or wall. This can be done with a projector, but if you don't have one available, you can use your TV or computer monitor. Simply connect your device to the TV or monitor using an HDMI cable and select the correct input. Your slides will now be projected onto the screen.

Media—Of course, creating a slide show requires media that adds visual and even audio elements to your presentation. This can be anything from photos and videos to music and text. You can use search engines to find copyright-free media to use in your slide show.

Another option is to purchase royalty-free stock footage, images, and audio files from online media libraries. This could be a bit more expensive, but it guarantees that you have the legal right to use the media in your presentation.

Finally, you can also use your own videos, images, and even music. While this can be a time-consuming process, it does allow you to create custom content specifically for your slide show.

Slide show creator—To bring your slide show together, you’ll need a slide show creator. The slide show software you choose will depend on your presentation requirements and preferences. There are many slide show makers on the market, with Microsoft PowerPoint being one of the most popular and widely used programs globally.

How to choose a slide show maker

When choosing slide show software, it's important to consider the features and specifications that are most important to you. Some of the questions you might ask when choosing a slide show maker include:

  • How easy is the software to use?
  • Is the software Mac or PC compatible?
  • Can I access and edit my slide show on the cloud?
  • What kind of slide shows can be created with the software?
  • How many photos and/or videos can be included in a slide show?
  • Can text and other elements be added to slide shows?
  • Are transitions and effects available for slide shows?
  • Is music accompaniment an option?
  • What are the options for saving and sharing your slide show?

Building a slide show doesn't have to be difficult. With the right software, you can create an engaging presentation in no time.

Six steps for creating a slide show

  • 1. Plan your slide show

    Before getting too deep into your slide show project, it’s a good idea to select and save the photos and videos you want to use. This helps you create a slide show more efficiently and purposefully, ensuring a better outcome.

  • 4. Import media

    Start adding photos, videos, and other desired media to your slides. You can upload these from your device or online media libraries. If you planned your slide show in advance, you should have all your media saved in one place.

  • 2. Launch your slide show app

    Once you’ve decided on a slide show maker, you’ll want to launch the app from whatever device you’ll be using to create your presentation.

  • 5. Add text, music, and transitions

    After you’ve arranged the visuals in your slide show, you can provide additional information and communicate sentiment using custom text, music, and timed slide transitions.

  • 3. Choose your theme

    Most slide show software offers a variety of pre-set themes, colors, and designs. You can choose one that best suits your slide show or create a custom theme using the program’s various tools and features.

  • 6. Record, save, and share your slide show

    Now you’re ready to record your slide show, which can include a voiceover or Cameo. Once your slide show is complete, you can save it as a video to your device or to the cloud, such as OneDrive. You can access your saved slide show at any time to display at events, use in meetings, share online, or send directly to other people.

How to make a slide show with photos

Adding photos to your slide show is a great way to enliven your presentation and make it more visually interesting. Here are a few different ways you can add photos to your slide show in PowerPoint.

A user adding photos to their PowerPoint presentation

Add photos from your device

Whether you’re using a computer, tablet, phone, or other device, you can use photos that are saved to your device to create your slide show. In PowerPoint, simply select “Insert” then “Pictures” from the program menu, then choose “This Device.” This will open your photo library and allow you to find the photos you want to use. Once you’ve selected the photos that you want to import, just click on the "Insert" button and they will be added to your slide show. If you’re using a pre-made theme, you can also right-click the image in the slide show and select “Change Picture.” Again, you will choose “This Device” to access your photo library. After inserting your photo, you can reposition it on your slide or resize it however you like.

Two people looking at a laptop and pointing at the screen

Use stock photos

Another way to add photos in PowerPoint is to follow the same process you would when adding photos from your device, but when prompted to choose your photo source, select “From Stock Images” instead of “This Device.” This will display a library of photos that you can use in your slide show without worrying about copyright infringement. There are thousands of stock images available in most slide show maker programs. Once the library is open, you can explore existing photo categories or use keywords to search for photos that fit your needs.

Two people in a conference room viewing a slideshow in PowerPoint on a large display

Explore online photo sources

Online photos are images you can insert into a PowerPoint slide show directly from the internet, as opposed to using those you have saved on your device. This is a convenient option if you don't have photos already prepared for your slide show, or if you can’t find the right kind of photo in the stock image library. However, there are some potential risks associated with using online photos, namely that you must be careful to use royalty-free images so not to infringe on any copyrights. In PowerPoint, there is a filtering option to ensure your search results only show royalty-free photos. Inserting photos from online sources follows the same process as the previous two methods, but this time, you’ll select “From Online Sources.”

How to add videos, music, and text

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How to add videos to PowerPoint slide shows

Adding videos to your slide show involves accessing videos from your device, a stock video library, or online video sources—just as you would when adding photos. In this case, however, you’ll navigate to the menu in PowerPoint and select “Insert,” followed by “Media,” then “Video.” Once your video appears on your slide, you can resize or reposition it to fit your presentation needs. You can also set your video to play automatically in the slide show by selecting “Playback” on the menu and choosing “Start Automatically.”

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How to add music to PowerPoint slide shows

Much like adding videos, you can add music to individual slides in PowerPoint by navigating to “Insert” on the menu, then “Media,” and finally “Audio.” You can then import music from your device, or you can record your own audio directly in PowerPoint. However, if you want your audio to play across multiple slides in your presentation—for example, as background music for a slide show—you’ll have to take a couple of extra steps. Once you’ve imported your audio file, select “Playback” from the menu and choose the “Play in Background” option. Your music will now play across all slides. You can set one song to loop for the duration of the slide show, or you can add more songs to play continuously throughout the slide show.

A person using a pen and tablet to add text to a PowerPoint presentation being displayed on a desktop monitor

How to add text to PowerPoint slide shows

Premade themes in PowerPoint make adding text slide shows easy. On slides that already have templated content, you can simply click on the text and begin editing. In addition to changing what the text says, you can resize, recolor, reposition, and add special effects to the text. Of course, you can also change the font—or style—of the text. Most of this can be done from the “Home” tab on the menu while certain effects, such as shadows, can be found on the “Shape Format” tab. If you’re designing your presentation slides from scratch, or want to create additional text, find “Insert” on the menu, then choose “Text Box” or “Word Art,” depending on your desired text effect.

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Discover custom slide show settings

Add even more effects to your PowerPoint slide show with custom settings like timing, transitions, and looping.

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Set slide show timing

Adding timing to your slide show is a great way to control the pacing and flow of your presentation. To add timing in PowerPoint, go to the "Transitions" tab on the menu and find the "Advance Slide" area. Make sure the box next to “After:” is checked, then input the amount of time you’d like each slide to appear on-screen. The slides will automatically advance, creating a movie-like effect that’s great for events and special occasions.

Three people in a conference room using tablets and laptops and a presentation is displayed on a large screen on the wall

Create slide show transitions

Now that you’ve added automatic timing to your slide show, you can make it more visually appealing by creating slide transitions. Transitions are special effects that allow you to animate the way your slides change from one to the next, and there are a variety of different transitions in PowerPoint that you can choose from. You can add these transitions to your slide show from the "Transitions” tab. From there, you’ll select the transition you want to add. To preview the transition, simply click on it. You can click “Apply To All” to automatically add the same transition to every slide in your slide show, or you can manually add different transitions to different slides.

A person standing over their desk and looking at a PowerPoint presentation being displayed on a desktop monitor

Loop your slide show

If you want your slide show to play continuously until you choose to turn it off, you can set your PowerPoint presentation to loop. This will ensure your slide show automatically starts over from the beginning once it reaches the end. To get started, navigate to the “Slide Show” tab on the menu and select “Set Up Slide Show.” When the settings window opens, check the box next to “Loop continuously until ‘ESC’” and then click “OK.” When you’re ready to turn your slide show off, simply press the Esc key on your keyboard.

Slide show template and theme tips

Search themes and templates online

With numerous slide show themes and templates available, it’s easy to find one that fits your needs.

Customize your design

If you can’t find the perfect theme or template, you can change things like colors and fonts.

Build a custom template

If you want a blueprint to use with future slide shows, you can create your own template.

Add new slides

If you need more slides, you can choose a specific layout and your theme will be carried over.

Edit your slide layouts

Even when using a theme or template, you can rearrange slide content to highlight key information.

Add photos, videos, and text

Themes and templates make adding media easy since most slides have designated content areas.

Change or resize your fonts

If your theme’s font is too small, you can resize it or choose a new font to make it easy to read.

Reorder your slide show

Some themes and templates have a predefined sequence, but you can reorder slides to meet your needs.

Create your own slide show

Slide shows are a great way to engage your audience and present important information. Whether you're creating a slide show for personal or professional reasons, slide shows are an essential tool for anyone who wants to share information in a visually appealing manner.

Discover more ways to improve your slide show

What options are available to create a slide show?

Slide show makers come in many forms. Some slide show software can only be used on specific devices, while other slide show creators can be accessed via the cloud from any device at any time.

It’s a good idea to evaluate a variety of slide show makers to ensure that you find one with all the features you need. For instance, some slide show software skews toward business use cases and others toward personal.

Microsoft PowerPoint is a popular slide show app that allows you to save presentations to your device or the cloud, and is widely used for personal, professional, and educational purposes.

Frequently asked questions

  • Slide show apps and software are used to create and share slide shows. Slide show programs are typically used to communicate information, diagrams, plans, or processes. They can also be used to display photos and videos at events or retail stores. Usually, slide show makers have a range of built-in features and layouts, making them easy to use, regardless of technical skill levels.

  • An effective slide show should be engaging, visually appealing, and informative. To achieve this, you'll want to make sure to include the following elements:

    1. A catchy headline or title. This will help grab your audience's attention and set the tone for the rest of your presentation.
    2. A variety of images. Don't just rely on text—incorporate photos, illustrations, or even video to maximize viewership.
    3. Bullet points or short blocks of text. Keep your slide content concise and easy to digest; too much information will only overwhelm your viewers.
  • There are a few different ways to make picture slide shows. You can use online programs, or you can create a slide show directly on your computer, phone, tablet, or other device using slide show software. Some programs, such as Microsoft PowerPoint, can be accessed on your personal device and on the cloud.

  • The length of your slide show will depend on several factors, such as the topic of your presentation, the audience you're presenting to, and the amount of time you have. That said, slide shows are generally between five and ten minutes long.

  • Here are a few tips to make your slide show more engaging:

    • Add images, videos, and music to bring your slide show to life.
    • Use a font that is easy to read from a distance.
    • Try not to use too many words on each slide.
    • Use custom transitions and timing to make your slide show flow.
    • Ensure a cohesive slide show by using a theme or template.
    • For live presentations, practice with the Speaker Coach feature.

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