Invisibly control when a sound plays on a slide

Here’s the situation…

You want to play a sound, let’s say a recording of a manager explaining a situation that needs to be rectified. You don’t want the sound to play right away; you want to explain the point on the slide first, then play the recording to validate your point.powerpoint-tips-invisibly-control-sound

But, when you insert the sound, there’s that ugly sound icon and you would rather not have it show up.

If you want a sound to play automatically, you can drag the icon off the slide and it will still play. But if you want to control it, normally you have to click it, so it needs to be on the slide.

Here’s the technique to use if you want to control when the sound starts without keeping the sound icon on the slide. In the process, you’ll learn something about animation and triggers!

  1. Insert the sound. In PowerPoint 2007 and 2010, choose Insert tab, Sound or Audio, Sound from File or Audio from File. PowerPoint 2007 uses “Sound” and 2010 uses “Audio;” I have no idea why.
  2. Click the audio icon to select it. On the Playback tab that appears, check that the start is set to On Click. It should be, since this is the default. If you go into Slide Show view now, you’ll see that you have to click the audio icon (or its Play button) to start playing the sound. That’s what you need to change.
  3. Click the Animations tab. In 2007, click the Custom Animation button. In 2010, in the Advanced Animation group, click the Animation pane button. This opens the (Custom) Animation pane.
  4. powerpoint-tips-invisibly-control-sound-2You’ll see the sound listed in the pane. Many people don’t know that sounds and videos are listed here, but that’s how PowerPoint determines the order in which they play; they are part of the animation sequence. You’ll also see the word “Trigger” above the listing. A trigger requires you to click an object to make something (usually animation) happen. In this case, you must click the audio icon to make the sound play. Hover over the listing, click the down arrow and choose Timing.
  5. In the Trigger section, choose Animate as Part of Click Sequence. This means that you can click anywhere on the slide to make the sound start.
  6. Click OK
  7. Now, drag the sound icon off  the slide.
  8. Go into Slide Show view. Click anywhere on the slide to start the sound. If you have other animation on the slide, the sound will play in the order that it shows in the Animation pane.


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3 comments to Invisibly control when a sound plays on a slide

  • Ronell


    Thank you for the tip on hidding the audio/play button and how to get the audio file to play on any kind of click process (anywhere on the screen, pressing Enter, Page Down, etc.) without the need to click on the actual Play button of the audio icon.

    I did notice an option to hide the audio button in PP 2010 so it does not need to be moved off the screen. After selecting the audio icon that you insert to the slide, the Audio Tools ribbon is activated. Under the Playback tab is an Audio Options group. Within this Audio Options is a box that can be checked to Hide During Show. Checking that box leave the icon on the middle of the slide but it does not appear during the slide presentation.

    Ronell Crossley

  • Francis Burchell

    A note on hiding the sound icon. You don’t have to drag it off the slide (at least not in PowerPoint 2003) if you right-click the speaker icon and goto Edit Sound Object there is a tick box to Hide the object when the PowerPoint is playing!
    I normally line up all the sound icons I’m using at the bottom of the slide in the order they’re being used so that I can modify them as necessary when editing the slideshow but they are invisible when the show is played.

  • Laverne

    This was very helpful to me. I am a facilitator for an online class and this is the unit they are studying. I have a special needs student that I help on a one on one bases so I like to know a little something about what he has to do before he comes to class. This also helped me to learn even more about this option myself for use in the future.

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