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Audio in Google Slides

At last

Audio is enabled in Google Slides! For quite some time, I've been training teachers and students to do a workaround with Screencastify as audio was a significant feature missing from Google Slides. The process worked fairly well as the user would merely make their recording using Screencastify and insert the video from Google Drive (conveniently in the Screencastify folder). After inserting the video, the user could resize the video and make it completely inconspicuous in the corner of the slide. Then using "format options" while the video was selected, the user could set the video to automatically start with the changing of Slides while in present mode.

When presenting on this topic, I typically was doing so from the perspective of using Google Slides for the purpose of digital storytelling (see my slides). Digital storytelling is a powerful means for communicating learning and expertise on a topic. As a general rule, a digital story should be kept under four minutes, minimalistic in design, and focus heavily on the story itself. Images should merely enhance the spoken story. The fantastic thing is that digital storytelling is not at all limited to a narrative; students can use this format to tell about any topic in a variety of genres. 

Back in April of 2019, I created a couple videos on this topic when audio in Google Slides first popped up on my fake student account. (I use a fake account for testing various products and was excited when it popped up on in my toolbar.) What was really strange is that the insert audio option did not appear on my school account until last week when it was officially launched. Why some of the accounts on my school domain had this capability and others didn't, I'm not sure. All I know is I'm glad to see the insert audio option readily available for all users. 

Setting up Google Drive

Inserting audio in Google Slides isn't quite as simple as one might assume. First, you'll need a place to create audio clips or download royalty free audio files. Second, you'll need a place to store the audio files in Google drive.If a student is creating audio files, saving them in Google Drive and inserting them in a Slides presentation, this might pose a problem if it is an item that is going to be turned in as an assignment or for public display. Even if the Slides presentation is shared for others to view, it does not mean that the audio files are as well. The audio files must be made available for the audience to access in order for them to play in the presentation. A simple fix for this is to create a Google Drive folder and set up view access so that the audience could potentially enter the folder and hear the audio clips without the Slides. It is much easier to set up an entire folder in this manner rather than individually select the audio clips and set up view access to them. See the video for more information on how to setup a Google Drive folder for audio clips in a Slides presentation. 

Inserting Audio in Google Slides

Once the audio files are stored away in Google Drive and the proper permissions are set to access them, then users can begin inserting them into their Slides. This process is fairly smooth as the user merely needs to select "insert" from the toolbar and locate the audio option. Then the option to search your Google Drive files will appear and you are ready to start inserting. Once you have inserted a clip, an audio icon will appear and you'll have the option to select "Format options" in the toolbar. Following that, a toolbar will appear on the right side of the screen with an "Audio playback" feature. This menu will allow the user to then select if they would like the audio file to play automatically or work by clicking on the audio icon. Volume levels can be adjusted and the user can also decide if the audio clip should loop through the entire presentation or merely play on a single slide. See the video for more information on the process of inserting audio in a Google Slides presentation.
If you want to see an example of how audio can be utilized in a presentation, I recently created one for the teachers of MSD of Steuben County on a resource about their new Lenovo 500e Chromebooks. You'll notice the audio icon on the top-left corner on several slides. (All images taken from the Lenovo website.)

Isn't Powerpoint better?

I get the comment/question a lot about Powerpoint being better than Google Slides. There are still a lot of fans of Microsoft and admittedly I tell them that Powerpoint is a feature rich product and will do more than Google Slides. Google never created Slides to be a product to be like Powerpoint. The purpose of Slides was accessibility and collaborative spaces. If someone shares with you a Powerpoint file with audio clips embedded, those audio files will not likely work as they are based upon files that reside on the creator's computer. The beauty of audio in Google Slides is that as long as the audio files are shared openly, copies of the Slides presentation could be shared without the loss of the audio clips. I also admit that I have not been a Powerpoint user in the last four years and that it is possible that Microsoft has resolved this issue with their online version of Powerpoint that can be accessed via The last I checked, it was not present.