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Sounds/Movies don't play, images disappear or links break when I move or email a presentation


You create a presentation that includes linked images, sounds or movies. Everything looks perfect, so you email the presentation to someone else, burn a CD of it or just move it to a different folder on your own computer.

And now nothing works. Powerpoint displays a missing graphic icon instead of your pictures or it won't play your sounds and movies.

One way around the problem is to use PowerPoint 2010 (or 2011 for Mac), both of which enable you to embed movies and sounds. Embedded vs. linked movies/sounds means no links to break. Of course, if you're sending your presentation to someone else, they'll need PowerPoint 2010 or 2007 (with SP2) or Mac PowerPoint 2011 to be able to play the embedded movies/sounds.

Assuming that you (or the people you're sharing with) don't have the latest version of PowerPoint, or you don't know what version they have. What then?

If you need to mail a presentation and preserve links to sounds and movies, read about PFCExpress (a free PowerPoint add-in). Take your time. We'll wait right here.

Protect movie and sound links: quick summary
To avoid sound and movie linking problems:

Quick Fix for WAV Sounds

Quick Fix for MP3 Sounds
MP3s are generally much smaller than WAVs but can't be embedded. They're always linked. Luckily, there are a few tricks up the virtual sleeves:

Thanks to PowerPoint MVPs Jean-Pierre Forestier and Enric Mañas for this method of using CDex (download it here and install it first). Then:

By adding this RIFF-WAV header, we obtain a WAV file that's the same size as the original mp3.

Once you've used CDEX to "WAVify" your MP3s you can insert them using the Quick Fix for WAV Sounds instructions above and they'll be embedded, not linked. And if they're not linked, the links can't break.

There are other utilities that perform similar functions. PowerPoint MVP Michael Koerner reports will also do the job.

Michael also notes that this trick may not work in all versions of PowerPoint under all operating systems. For example, it doesn't work in PowerPoint 2002 under Windows 98 but works fine under Windows XP.

PowerPoint MVP Tohlz, proprietor of PowerPoint Heaven - The Power to Animate recommends Free CD-DA Extractor 4.8. and explains that "To convert mp3 into wav format, users will need to drag the sound file into a panel or click Add file. Then, select the appropriate format and output folder. Finally, click Convert to finish the conversion."

Quick Fix for Movies and Sounds other than WAV and MP3
For each non-WAV sound or movie in your presentation

QuickFixes for Mac users
Quick Fix for WAV Sounds

If you have more than just WAV sounds linked into your presentation, try this instead:

NotSoQuickFixes - Links in detail

If the suggestions above don't solve your problem, or your presentation contains so many links that these "quick fixes" would be too slow, read on.

Why images, movies and sounds go bad
There are two main reasons why images, movies and sounds might work on your computer but not on others:

If you use a Mac, read this page and the linked pages for some important Mac-specific info.

Before we delve into the murky muddle of multimedia, let's look at linked images. They're fairly straightforward.

Avoid linking images if possible. If you already have linked images in your presentation, PC users can use the free demo version of PPTools FixLinks to fix image links or embed the images so they won't break when the PPT file and images are moved to another computer.

Read more about it on The PPTools Site or download it at

Movies and Sounds
Movies are always linked in PowerPoint. So are all sounds but WAVs.

WAV sounds are linked if they're above the maximum embedding size you specify in Tools, Options. But not always. See below.

To avoid linking problems:

By following these steps, you force PowerPoint to create "pathless links" -- links that point to just the linked file name, not the path. When PPT sees these, it looks for the linked file in the current folder, which is almost always the one where the PPT file itself lives. Result: the links don't break.

It won't work to copy the sounds/movies to the folder with the PPT file after you've inserted them.

If you've already added sounds and movies, either delete them then reinsert them from the folder where the PPT file lives or (if you use a PC) check out PPTools FixLinks, which will de-path the links in your presentation automatically.

PPTools FixLinks converts your links from fully pathed ones (for example links that point to C:\My Documents\Images\MyPhoto.JPG ) to pathless/relative links ( MyPhoto.JPG only, no path or drive).

When PowerPoint runs into one of these pathless links, it looks for the linked file in the current operating system path, just as it does with links to files you've inserted following the instructions above.

Note: this is NOT necessarily the same as the location of the current PowerPoint file, though it often is. In order for your links to work, you need to understand where PowerPoint will look for them, even if you've ensured that they're relative. Here's what we've learned about it:

When you: PowerPoint sets current path to:
Start PowerPoint; choose File, Open; choose a PPT or PPS file Same folder as PPT/PPS file
Start PowerPoint; choose Open An Existing Presentation Same folder as PowerPoint's main EXE file or ???
Start PowerPoint; choose file from Most Recently Used list Same folder as PowerPoint's main EXE file or ???
Doubleclick a PPT/PPS in Explorer Same folder as PPT/PPS file
Start a PPT/PPS from command prompt Current drive/folder
Start a PPT/PPS from a shortcut Shortcut's Start-In folder, if set; otherwise, the same folder as the shortcut file

We've posted a test file in both PPT and PPS formats here (DRIVEPATH.ZIP, 18kb) Open it using whatever method you want to test, click the Click Me button and it shows you the current drive and path.

Keep link paths short
If you don't need to make relative links (ie, you'll always run the presentation from your own computer) you should still make sure that the full pathname to the linked file is less than 128 characters (including the drive letter, punctuation, spaces and slashes). If links are too long, you may run into any of the following:

When is a link not a link and when is it?
Say what? Well, yeah, that sounds like gibberish, but it's the kind of thing that PPT leaves us wondering all the time. Take sounds, for example.

If you Insert, Sounds, From File and choose a WAV file of say 50kb, it will be linked to your presentation.

But if you first went to Tools, Options and set Link Sounds With File Size Greater Than: to more than 50kb, PowerPoint would embed the WAV and you wouldn't need to worry about the link breaking because there'd BE no link.

BUT: If you set Action Settings to Play Sound and choose a sound file other than the default built-in sounds PowerPoint shows you, the sound will always be embedded in your presentation, no matter what you've set Link Sounds With File Size Greater Than: to be.

The same is true of sounds you attach as page transitions.

Though PowerPoint will ordinarily only embed WAV sound files, a user on the PPT newsgroup has discovered that if you bring sounds in at least some other formats into the Clip Organizer first and then move them into PowerPoint, the sounds seem to be embedded. Our tests suggest that this doesn't work with MID files, but it may with other sound formats. If you have any further info about this tecnique, we'd love to hear about it.

Other things that make links break
Grouping: If you apply links and action settings to shapes in PowerPoint 2000 (or later) and then group the shapes, the links still work in slide show view. When you play the same presentation back in PowerPoint 97 or the 97 Viewer, the links don't work. Neither PPT97 nor the Viewer can "see" links within groups.

Publishing a PPT to the web: When a visitor to your site clicks on a PPT or PPS link, their browser downloads the PPT/PPS file to a temporary folder on their computer and uses PowerPoint or the viewer to open it from there. Linked sound and movie files don't get downloaded (and you can't create sound/movie links that point back to your site) so the visitor's computer can't play back the linked files. No sound, no movies.

To put PPT on the web, consider using PowerPoint's Save As Web Page feature and publish the resulting HTML (and support files) rather than publishing the presentation file itself.

If your linked sounds or movies won't play on another system, it might be that you're using a file format or CODEC not supported on the other system. A CODEC (COder/DECoder) is software that compresses sound and movie files. The ones you use on your system to create the files must also be present on the system that plays them back.

See The Myers Multimedia FAQ by Austin Myers (PowerPoint MVP) for detailed troubleshooting information.

This article on Indezine has plenty of good solid information about codecs as well.

STOIK Video Converter is Austin's recommendation for an inexpensive converter you can use to solve some video problems.

Viewer Bugs
The 2003 Viewer will not automatically play audio or video if the presentation was created in PowerPoint 97 or 2000. You'll need to use the PowerPoint 97 viewer instead OR open and resave the presentation in PowerPoint 2002 or 2003.

See Sounds do not play automatically when you use the PowerPoint Viewer 2003 to show a presentation for more information.

Search terms:links,break,broke,media,sound,movie,image,path,pathname,file,filename,too,long,limit

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Sounds/Movies don't play, images disappear or links break when I move or email a presentation
Last update 07 June, 2011