A woman wants to send a Power Point presentation via WhatsApp to her grandson, who is deployed overseas, but for some reason it just won’t work. Can our resident Geek help?

Q: Dear Mr. Geek, from a fervent reader, please I have an unusual question I am not sure is in your field but here it is. I made a set of Power Point slides which contain animated images .gif on some of the slides and also audio playing on the slides. I used the newest version Power Point program. Ultimately I made this for my family to view. They can view it only on my computer. Can you help me to send this set of slides to the "Whatapp" on a cell phone which uses WiFi with all slides intact including audio music which I used from my computer music folder? These slides work fine on my computer and that is o.k. for my family to view, but the reason I need to send to the "Whatapp" is because I want it to go to my grandson who is deployed to the middle east and can only use that communication type on his phone. Too much to ask of you?


– Patricia R., Fort Walton Beach


A: Your question is neither unusual, nor too much to ask of me, Patricia. That’s not to say I instantly knew the answer off the top of my head. Even though I’m “The Geek” I can’t possibly have experience with every piece of hardware or software, or know everything about every conceivable app. It is at times like this that I fall back one of my Geek super-powers. Specifically, the ability to coerce search engines to cough-up answers to questions on just about any topic. This super-power has earned me the distinction of being the sole holder of the Geekudan Black Belt in the mystical art of Google-Fu, and I’m only too happy to put my skills to work to assist my loyal readers.


First of all, I’m not so sure that WhatsApp can play audio embedded in PowerPoint files. The publisher of that app added the ability for it to process PowerPoint files back in 2016. However, I personally tested it, and, while it does a fair job of displaying the slide content, it did not play any of the embedded audio. Perhaps that is a feature for a future version of the software?


Now, you also said, “They can view it only on my computer,” and you also said that you are using audio “from my computer music folder” which implies to me that you are using .mp3 audio – something you purchased off the Internet, or perhaps ripped from a CD. Finally, you mentioned that you are using “the newest version Power Point program.” I can tell you from experience that in previous versions of PowerPoint, when embedded media files exceeded a certain size, they were not included within the .pptx file when it got saved. Instead, a reference to the file’s location was saved, and that file needed to be present, along with the actual .pptx file, on any machine attempting to render the presentation. This used to cause a lot of problems for people sharing PowerPoint files, to the point that Microsoft implemented a way to “package” all of the externally referenced files along with the presentation, so when it arrived on someone’s PC, everything needed was present. I thought that this limitation had been removed in the latest versions of PowerPoint, but perhaps that’s not the case. You could find out by making a single page presentation that contains a couple of the audio files you’re talking about, then check the size of the saved file. If it’s substantially smaller than your media, then you aren’t actually embedding them in the file.


I don’t fully understand the limitations on communication that your deployed grandson has to endure. However, having done 20 years in the Air Force myself, I can believe they have locked things down in the forward deployed area. So, let me offer you one possible way that you can get your media to him via WhatsApp. PowerPoint allows you to convert a presentation to a video, which you should be able to send to him, as long as it doesn’t get too big. To begin, load your presentation into PowerPoint, then click on the File tab, and then “Export.” Select “Create a Video” and adjust the Presentation Quality to “Low Quality” to keep the size to a minimum. Adjust the other controls as you see fit, then click “Create Video”. Experiment with it until you find something that works for you.


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