home Pricing & Packaging FAQ Help Center Upload Center Other Services

Adding Flash to PowerPoint

This article applies only to PowerPoint 2002 and above on Windows XP.

In today's broad spectrum of do-it-yourself multimedia presentations and web-ready demos, it is not uncommon that somewhere down the line one would desire to integrate the practicality of PowerPoint with the cunning speed and aesthetics of Flash. Though the concept in itself may seem simple, Macromedia and Microsoft products do not always necessarily play well with each other. By no means does either program go out their way to make this a "click-choose-complete" process.

Since a Flash movie (.swf) is not actually a standard video format (mpg, wmv, avi, mov), applying the "Insert Movie Object" function in PowerPoint will leave you with an unsatisfying error message. So if PowerPoint doesn't want to recognize an .swf as an acceptable movie, how could you get that great looking Flash animation- that you just gave up a weeks worth of sleep to create- to burrow itself comfortably within the walls of your PPT slide show? The answer: ActiveX.

ActiveX - The Great Denominator

What exactly is ActiveX you ask? Put simply, ActiveX is a Windows-based technology that permits various functions to act within another program independently and simultaneously. It has been become a favorite amongst developers to bring together the perplex and scattered universe of the Personal Computer and it's never-ending catalog of software.

Applications of ActiveX involve a wide range of uses. One of the most common being the ability to view a Flash animation right inside a webpage (sound familiar?). We're going to apply the very same fundamentals to allow us to correctly place a SWF inside a PowerPoint presentation. Don't worry, you need not be a coding expert to accomplish this seemingly tedious task; the good people at Microsoft has made it possible for virtually anybody to apply the goodies of ActiveX to PowerPoint!

The Right Ingredients

Before we get started, it's important you have all the necessary components. Though scarce, you must have the following installed on your PC: Internet Explorer; PowerPoint (97+ for Windows); and the Shockwave Flash ActiveX control.

Windows and Internet Explorer should already have the the Shockwave Flash ActiveX control included. If you do not have it for whatever reason, download the control free of charge from Macromedia.

PowerPoint's Shockwave Flash Object

Now that you're sure you have everything required, we're all set to add that Flash animation to your PowerPoint Slide Show! The Following steps will show you how to insert an ActiveX Shockwave Flash Object.

IMPORTANT: Neither the PowerPoint viewer nor any Macintosh versions of PowerPoint support the use of ActiveX controls. Only Microsoft PowerPoint 97 and later can use ActiveX controls.

  1. In order for PowerPoint to find and remember the location of your animation, place a copy of the SWF file in the same folder as your PPT presentation.

    flash powerpoint

  2. In PowerPoint, insert the Shockwave Flash Object by opening the Control Toolbox (Click "View > Toolbars > Control Toolbox").

  3. Once the Control Toolbox is displayed, press and hold down "More Controls" for a list of other options (located on the bottom-right corner). Select "Shockwave Flash Object". Note: If you cannot see this option, the ActiveX Shockwave Flash control is not installed on your computer.

    ppt swf

  4. The mouse cursor will now turn into a cross-hair. To place the object, drag out a rectangle anywhere on the slide. The size and location of the object rectangle isn't crucial at this stage; this will be set momentarily.

  5. Open the Object's properties window by right-clicking the Shockwave Flash control and selecting "Properties".

  6. After the Properties options box pops up, click the field next to "(Custom)" and press the button with the three dotted lines to bring up a more simplified set of options.

  7. In the field next to "Movie URL", type the name of the SWF movie (i.e. "my_flash.swf"). This links the Shockwave Flash object to your animation provided it's in the same folder as the PPT file (you may also put a full URL address within this field to play an SWF from the internet).

  8. Click "OK" and make sure the "Playing" property is "True". If you preview your slide show, the Flash animation should start to play within the presentation.

Voilà! Thanks to ActiveX, you can now see your beautiful Flash animation playing delightfully within your slide show! Done, right?- Wrong. The animation is playing but it probably looks horrible. Unless by random luck, your Flash movie is stretched, shrunk, enlarged, off-center or distorted.

Let's go about fixing this minor complication...

Picture Perfect

These final steps will assure your Flash animation is nested inside PowerPoint just right. All we have to do is further adjust the Shockwave Flash Object properties:

  1. Again, open the Object's properties and click the button labeled as "..." next to "(Custom)".

  2. Pay specific attention to the "Scale" options. This is the setting that decides how your animation will be displayed in the slide show. Which option you choose will depend on how you would like your Flash movie to be viewed. I'll briefly cover how each option will effect the animation's display:

    ShowAll: No matter what the Shockwave Flash Object's box dimensions are on the slide, the entire animation will be displayed while maintaining it's original proportions. The movie will scale itself up or down accordingly to assure it can fit in it's entirety within the object box. Note that the area of the object box not used will be filled with animation's background color (which was originally set in Flash). You can simply change this color by entering a numeric color value in the "Background Color" field (i.e. white is #ffffff).

    NoBorder: This option proportionately scales the Flash animation to fill all of the Shockwave Flash Object box. The areas of the movie that cannot fit (the center being the focal point) will be cropped.

    ExactFit: Stretches the animation to fit the Object box exactly without attempting to preserve the original proportions. Distortion of the movie will most likely occur.

    NoScale: Exactly what it says! No attempts will be made once so ever to scale or distort the Flash movie. It will play using it's original dimensions within the Object box. Though if the Object box is not big enough to accommodate the animation's size, like the NoBorder option, unfitted areas will be cropped. On the other hand, if you make the object box too large, the results can be just as undesirable: Pieces of the original Flash movie that were not intended to be seen (graphics left outside Flash's stage area) might become unpleasantly present.

  3. And there we have it! You probably want to slightly adjust the last of the options so that the Flash animation plays to your liking (Play, Loop, etc.). Remember to include the SWF in the same directory of the PPT file if you plan on viewing the slide show on other computers.