Use embedded and linked sound files in PowerPoint

Applies to
Microsoft Office PowerPoint® 2003
Microsoft PowerPoint® 2002

Whether you're pitching your ideas at a company meeting or creating a special, presentation-based photo album for the family reunion, using sounds or music can spice up your Microsoft PowerPoint presentation. When you're adding sound and music to a presentation, it's important to understand the difference between embedded and linked objects.

The differences between linked and embedded objects

The term "object" in this article refers to a sound (including a piece of music). An object can be the sound itself, or it can be the file that contains the sound.

The main differences between linked objects and embedded objects are where you store them and how you update them, if need be, after you place them in the destination file (in this case, your presentation).

Linked object     A linked object is created and stored in a separate source file, and then it is linked to the destination file. Because the two files are linked, when you make changes to one file, the changes appear in both the source and destination files.

Embedded object     An embedded object is created in a separate source file too, but then it is inserted into the destination file, becoming part of that file. If you make a change to the original source file, the change will not show up in the destination file.

Linked and embedded objects in a document

1 An embedded object

2 A linked object

3 The source file that contains the linked object

How to choose the best file type

Let's say you've created a presentation to which you've added several music files that act as a soundtrack. You've set up all the transitions and timings and such, and it works like a charm on your computer. Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself before considering this project finished. In fact, you can save yourself a lot of time if you think about these things before you add your sound files.

How big is each sound file?

Use these criteria to choose a file type based on size:

  • If each individual sound or music file is 50 megabytes (MB) or less, you can insert it as either a linked or embedded object. (Note that embedded objects larger than 100 KB may slow down the performance of your presentation, however.)
  • If your file is more than 50 MB, it should be linked — it won't play in your presentation if you embed it. The default setting in PowerPoint for the allowed maximum size of embedded objects is 100 kilobytes (KB), but you can change it to a maximum of 50,000 KB (50 MB).

How do I change the maximum size allowed?

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. On the General tab, increase the Link sounds with file size greater than ___ Kb setting to a size just larger than your largest sound file, up to 50,000 KB (50 MB).
  3. Click OK.

Will you use the same computer to create and show the presentation?

Consider the following:

  • If you plan to show your presentation using the computer you created it on, you can insert either embedded or linked files (assuming your linked files are within the size limits described above).
  • If you plan to show your presentation on another computer, you must be careful about using linked files. Make sure that the source file that contains your linked sound files, as well as the folder it's in, are saved on the computer you're using to present. Otherwise, the sound files won't play because the presentation won't know where to link to — the source files will be on a different computer.
  • If you're saving your presentation on a floppy disk or CD-ROM, one way to ensure that your linked files go with you to the new computer is to use the Package for CD (PowerPoint 2003) or Pack and Go Wizard (PowerPoint 2002) feature.

ShowUse Package for CD

If you want to run your presentation, distribute it on CD, or save it to a folder or network share, you can use the Package for CD command on the File menu. Package for CD copies your presentation along with any supporting files either onto a CD or to a single folder or network share. When you package your presentation, you can make your slide show play automatically. Also, the Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003 Viewer is included by default, which means the computer that plays the CD does not need to have PowerPoint installed. For more information, see the Help topics About packaging and copying a presentation to CD and Package a presentation for CD.

ShowUse the Pack and Go Wizard

The Pack and Go Wizard can package your presentation by putting all the required files into one file, so you can copy the file to a disk or network location. From there, you can unpackage the file onto the destination computer or network share and run your presentation.

Use the Pack and Go command on the File menu to quickly copy your presentation along with any supporting files to a disk or network location. You can also include the Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer 97 if you will be running the presentation on a computer that doesn't have Microsoft PowerPoint installed. For more information, see the Help topics About packaging a presentation to run on another computer, Package a presentation to run on another computer, and Unpackage and run a presentation on another computer.

Will you need to change the objects after they've been added to the presentation?

If you want to update the objects after adding them to your presentation, think about these points:

  • If you plan to make changes to the source file, use linked objects. When you make changes to the source file, the changes will be recognized in the presentation because the files are linked.
  • If you don't plan to make any changes to the source file, you can use embedded objects. When a file is embedded, information in the destination file doesn't change if you modify the source file.


You can usually get away with using either linked or embedded sound files if your sound files are 50 MB or less (for embedded sound files) or if you present and create the presentation on the same computer (for linked files). Below are a few guidelines to consider when including music and sound in your presentations.

Type of file When to use it
Embedded file
  • Your files are 100 KB or less. This is the recommended maximum size. You may embed files that are up to 50 MB, but it may slow down the performance of the presentation.
  • You want all the pieces of your presentation contained within that presentation.
  • You don't plan to make any changes to the source files.
Linked file
  • You plan to use the same computer to create and display your presentation.
  • Your files are large.
  • You plan on making changes to the source files.

 Note   If the path name of a linked file exceeds 128 characters, Microsoft Office PowerPoint is not able to find and play that linked file. In such a case, you can either rename the linked file, or shorten the path name by copying the linked file into the folder where your presentation is located. Then either update links automatically by using the Package for CD feature, or update them manually by removing the sounds from the presentation and then adding them again.

Applies to:
PowerPoint 2003