Adding Flash to PowerPoint

We’ve recently added the ability to download Adobe Flash files (.swf) from our PowerPoint animations.  The Flash file format allows for higher quality animations to be used in PowerPoint.  Unfortunately adding a Flash file to PowerPoint is not as easy as adding a standard .GIF animation.  But once you’ve done it, it becomes really easy.

In this tutorial I will show you how to add a Flash animation to your presentation.  I will be using PowerPoint 2007 but the general idea can be used for both 2003 and 2010.

One important thing to keep in mind – Flash files are not saved with your presentation, it is important that the Flash file is in the same file folder as your finished PowerPoint presentation.  If you ever transfer your presentation to another computer, the flash file needs to be transferred as well, or your presentation will “loose” the animation.

Step One.

Click on the Developer Tab in the PowerPoint Ribbon (Tool Bar).

If you don’t see the Developer Tab, you can unhide it in the PowerPoint Options. Check “Show Developer tab in the Ribbon”  See illustration below.

Unhide PowerPoint Developer tab

Unhide PowerPoint Developer tab

Step Two.

In the Developer Tab, click on “More Tools” in the Controls area.

More Tools Developer Tab

Step Three.

From the menu that appears, select “Shockwave Flash Object” and click “OK”.  (Note: If you do not see the Shockwave Flash Object, you will need to install Flash Player on your computer.  It’s best to use Internet Explorer to install Flash as this will insure the that Active X controls also are registered for use in PowerPoint.  You also may need to uninstall Flash and reinstall with IE if you already have Flash Player.)

Select Shockwave Flash Object

Step Four.

Click and Drag anywhere on your slide to create a box on your PowerPoint slide, you don’t need to worry about the exact size at this point, you can resize it later.  The box will have a big black x in it, that is normal.

Add the Flash Control to your PowerPoint slide

Step Five.

Right click your mouse on the new box and select “Properties”

Selecting the properties of the Flash object in PowerPoint

Step Six.

In the Flash Properties Panel you will need to change two things.  In the “Movie” area you need to add the full file path and name of the Flash file you wish to insert.  If you have saved the Flash animation in the same directory as your final presentation, you can just type the name of the file here, for example, flash_file.swf.

In the scale area, you should change “ShowAll” To “ExactFit”.  This isn’t necessary but will result in a much cleaner end result.  The ShowAll function tends to leave a black border around some of the edges of the Flash animation.

Editing the Flash Object Properties in PowerPoint

Step Seven (Optional)

Finally you should change the background color of your PowerPoint slide to match the background of the Flash animation, this makes a nice seamless look to your slide.  When you downloaded a .SWF Flash file from PresenterMedia, you could have chosen a colored background.  If you did, follow this section to mach the backgrounds.

Selecting a background color for your flash animation.

In PowerPoint, select “Format Background”, found by right clicking on the slide background and choosing it from the menu that appears.

Choose a Solid Fill, select “More Colors” from the Color Menu, and finally under “Custom” you can enter the RGB values from above.

Matching the background color to the Flash file

Step Eight

Save your presentation, making sure that your Flash file and final presentation are in the same directory or File Folder.

Save your presentation and any Flash files in the same file folder.

Step Nine.

Play your presentation.  Wow – Flash in PowerPoint!

  • Hi Everyone.

    Thanks a lot. I was just working with some material yesterday where I needed a flash presentation and thought I would have to relearn some of the HTML that I so easily forget. Now I can just move on. Another thumbs up for all of you.

  • Charles


    I’ve tried to do this, but I can’t even click on the “more tools” button in the Controls box. It’s driving me insane, can someone help me?

    • Art Holden

      Can you tell me which version of PowerPoint you are using? I’ve tried to duplicate the problem in PowerPoint 2007 and have not been able to do so. It may have something to do with ActiveX as the controls are ActiveX controls. I disabled ActiveX in PowerPoint, but I was still able to at least click on the “more tools” button.

      • Raja


  • Truly of the Yard

    This used to work in PowerPoint 2007, but PowerPoint 2010 doesn’t display the Shockwave/Flash (or anything similar) option in the Controls dialog. I clicked the button to register a custom dll, but there was no obvious choice.

    • Art Holden

      The option is still there for me in the beta version of PowerPoint 2010. Most likely it’s not showing up for you because the flash player control is not registered. Try downloading and installing the Flash player from Adobe’s site.

  • bobby

    couldnt wait for your reply, was very keen to subscribe to this gr8 site. well, i can see the developer tab & i can go & choose the shockwave option, but, when i cllick OK nothing comes on. i’m attempting to do the same on a blank unsaved presentation.


    • Art Holden

      Hi Bobby, after clicking OK, you should be able click on your slide and drag out a box for the Flash content.

  • Azlina Uyub

    Thanks a lot ! It’s really works !. Like a magic when see my Power point presentation in flash mode.

  • Sotong

    Thanks, but I want put the .swf in back, mean I want put the text box in front the flash, but text box always behind the flash, can I put the text box in front the flash? (Sorry my bad english)

    • Art Holden

      Hello Sotong, Unfortunately Flash content will always play in the foreground. This is due to the fact that PowerPoint is using the external Flash Player to play the .swf file. You can still achieve some nice effects by offsetting your text boxes so they do not overlap the Flash files.

  • JV

    I am able to follow instructions perfectly and run the flash, but when I start my presentation, my font does not appear on the title slide (where the flash is also)???? What am I missing?

    • Art Holden

      Hello JV, Unfortunately Flash content will always play in the foreground. This is due to the fact that PowerPoint is using the external Flash Player to play the .swf file. You can still achieve some nice effects by offsetting your text boxes so they do not overlap the Flash files.

  • Truman Milito

    Hello – I must say, I’m impressed with your site. I had no trouble navigating through all the tabs and information was very easy to access. I found what I wanted in no time at all. Pretty awesome. Would appreciate it if you add forums or something, it would be a perfect way for your clients to interact. Great job

  • shahram

    how can merge flash file inside powerpoint to make a single file ?

    • Art Holden

      Hello Shahram, there are several 3rd party products that will convert a PowerPoint presentation to flash. I haven’t used any of them enough to know if they can combine Flash and a PowerPoint presentation into a single file.

      Perhaps a screen capture program, like Microsoft Expression, would allow you to capture both the flash file and presentation into a single video file.

  • O’Rear

    Hi, great information, but having a problem. Like another poster before me, I cannot access any of the controls in the developer tab. Everything is greyed out except the macro security button.

    Background: I have Office 2003 but installed PowerPoint 2007 (leaving existing Office 2003 programs intact. I started PowerPoint 2007 without registering with MS just to look around. i noticed that lots of features were not available. I then registered with MS and restarted.

    I was able to add the Developer tab but, again, the controls are greyed out and not usable. I have another computer with the same setup and the controls are accessible there.

    Do you have any ideas about why the controls would not be accessible?


  • O’Rear

    OK, solved my own problem, but in case others experience the same issue, here’s the fix.

    During the MS Office install, if you’re not installing the whole application set, make sure the two common modules at the bottom of the install list are checked to install.

    Apparantly they are need to provide functional controls in the Director tab.

    Works great when you install the program right!


  • shelbo

    Do i have to drag the flash file (swf) inside this box?
    I already did all the steps you stated, but still didnt show anything, only showing white blank box. What program shall i use to play the swf file, I am using flash movie player.
    by the way, the swf file I have is showing 3D view
    Thank you

  • Art Holden

    @Shelbo, It sounds like you don’t have the .SWF file in the same directory as your presentation. To be absolutely sure that PowerPoint is looking in the right place, first save your presentation in a directory, move the .swf file to that same directory, then do the process above to add the SWF file to your presentation. Hope this helps.

    Art Holden

  • Wim Tomassen

    I am using powerpoint 2010
    when inserting a swf file its plays well
    after restarting the powerpoint the swf blocks
    I click the swf file go tot properties change the setting tot auto play
    the swf runs wel. save en restart the powerpoint and I must do the same action. go tot properties from the swf ………..

    its a swf from
    when it blocks I only sea a bar loading that is there for hours

    How can i solve this problem?

    Wim Tomassen

    • Art Holden

      @Wim I’m not sure what is happening for you, but it may be the activeX security settings in PowerPoint 2010 are preventing the SWF file from initializing properly. In PowerPoint 2010, click file, then choose Options, then click Trust Center, open the Trust Center Settings, then click Active X settings. Select “Prompt me before enabling all controls with minimal restrictions.” Click OK to accept this settings. Hopefully this will fix your problem.

      Art Holden

  • Terri M

    How can I get the swf file to restart each time I come back to the page? Thanks!

  • Matt

    Excellent tutorial. It is hard to find such high quality tutorials on the Net these days.

    One question though. When I try to save my presentation as a pdf, the swf file is replaced by a simple image, i.e. the animation effect is lost.
    I am sure there is a way of embedding the swf file into the pdf, and that would be a great way of resolving the ‘always keep the swf in the same folder issue’.
    Are you familiar with this? Any idea on how to do it? Does it require the Pro version of Acrobat?


    • Art Holden

      Hi Matt, As far as I know it is not currently possible to save a flash SWF in a presentation as a PDF directly from PowerPoint. I believe it can be done using Acrobat X Pro.

      I’d be interested to hear if anyone else has experience with Flash in PDF files.

      Art Holden

  • jordan

    I adjust the properties, but they won’t save. the properties I adjust are
    exact fit
    and loop.

    I’m using powerpoint 2003.

    • Art Holden

      Hi Jordan, I tried to duplicate this in 2003 but the setting would save for me. Is the SWF showing up for you when you view your slideshow? and then the settings are gone after you save and open?

      Art Holden

  • rajesh

    Great. to the point.
    I was trying to do this for couple of days but all i was getting – a white box. Only when i changed the flash filename to name with extension swf as mentioned by you, it worked

  • James

    I have embedded a swf into my powerpoint presentation. In the properties I have the play set to true. It plays fine the first time through, but when I return to the page, it will not run. When I check the properties, it has changed back to false. What can I do to keeo from having to change the properties back to true each time the swf runs? Thanks for you help.

    • Art Holden

      Hi James, I’ve done a bit of research on this and I can’t seem to duplicate the problem. Have you checked that you are running the most recent version of Flash? Maybe the Shockwave Flash Object Active X control in PowerPoint needs to be updated.

      Art Holden

  • Tim

    Unlike ppt 2003 the embedding of flash .def files is not obvious in 2007 and 2010. In the properties of the shockwave flash object set embedmovie to true and then save as pptm not pptx only saving as a macro enabled PowerPoint will the file be embedded. This makes it very difficult to extract the swfs from your PowerPoint slides

  • Christina Zampitella

    do you have a tutorial for a Mac owner by chance?

    • Judd Albrecht

      Hi Christina,

      Unfortunately, Mac PowerPoint and Keynote does not support the flash technology. Hopefully Microsoft and Apple will work to add this support.

      All the Best,

      Judd Albrecht

  • Todd

    Why does the .swf not play when I go a second time to play the show? If I add the .swf it will play the first go round but not again. I’m sure it’s a setting in the properties, not sure which one. I use PP2010 and sometimes 2003 on an older computer. Thanks!

    • Hi Todd,

      I am having the same issue – were you able to resolve it?

      • Graham:

        Are you using PowerPoint 2007 or 2010? Or 2003? 2003 won’t handle Flash the same way as 2007 or 2010/2013. Also, please make sure your shockwave player is up to date (as well as Flash player). Let me know if you need any additional assistance in this matter.


  • Zoe

    Hi! It doesnt give me the shockwave player option i’ve installed adobe shockwave player but it still doesnt give me the option on the tools, it only shows shockwave activex control

  • Mike

    My problem is that animations don’t play when a swf file is in ppt file A and that file is linked to ppt file B as a Slide Master.

    I read somewhere that the ActiveX control required is the one that is installed against Ineternet Explorer, so make sure you are not just installing the stand-alone shockwave player, but download the latest ActiveX for IE (10.3 I think).

  • Himanshu

    My “Shockwave flash object” is missing from more controls….what is the way to get this shockwave flash object file………..

    • Art Holden

      The Shockwave Flash control is typically installed when you install Flash in Internet Explorer. If it doesn’t appear, you may need to uninstall the Flash Player, and then using Internet Explorer, reinstall it.

      Hope this helps.

      Art Holden

  • Himanshu

    My “Shockwave flash object” is missing from more controls from Powepoint 2007….what is the way to get this shockwave flash object file……

  • Karyn

    Hellp! We can’t even get as far as drag a box in step 4 – where are we dragging it from? We’ve clicked on every icon in the Developer ribbon.

    • Karyn

      And never mind – it’s now working even though we’re doing exactly the same steps!

  • Hi I have just subscribed. Your efforts reflects your passion and interest. Keep it up.

    Meanwhile I would like to know how to embed an interactive swf into the templates of Powerpoint? I plan to use it for test/quiz in swf.

    Can we use the same method to embed? Can we get 100% interactivity?

    • Art Holden

      Hello Suresh, You can add an .swf Flash file to any of our templates just by using the built in tools in PowerPoint as explained in this tutorial. Any interactivity would be self contained within your Flash file and would not be affected by PowerPoint.

      If you are asking if the Flash file can interact with other elements or animations in the template, that is not possible since the Flash file cannot directly control any of the features of PowerPoint.

      I hope this helps, and thank you for subscribing.

      Art Holden

  • Lee

    Hi there, I have the issue where in Powerpoint 2007 I am having the “greyed out” issue within the developers tools. Any idea please, I am trying to add SWF files to presentations. Thnks in anticipation.

    • Art Holden

      Lee, If the developers tools are greyed out, that usually means when PowerPoint was installed, it was not installed with all the extra features. You will need to revisit the setup program for PowerPoint 2007 and install VBA under Shared Features. You can get to the setup for PowerPoint 2007 from the Add/Uninstall programs in your control panel.

      Art Holden

  • David Backhouse

    flash file added fine, and picture works OK. However the audio in flash file starts playing as soon as presentation started, not when I get to the relevant slide.
    Is there a site which clearly describes all the Flash properties settings (PowerPoint 2007)?

  • Elizabeth

    Thank you so much! I couldn’t see the Shockwave Flash Object in the Developer tab and your tip to use Internet Explorer to install Flash was great! I was using Mozilla and it seemed impossible to solve the problem. Thank you again from Brazil!

  • Lauren

    I am able to add .swf files to my powere points, they play well and work for a while. However after a few days the .swf disappears from the ppt. In properties the file name is blank. I’ve tried clicking embed movie, and again it works for a few days then disappears. Any ideas?

    • Lauren:

      Are you using any other add-ins within PowerPoint such as Captivate, Articulate Studio/Storyline etc? It seems to be a problem with those particular file types. It sounds like it happens when the file gets moved or changed at all, or if the swf is saved to a network drive it can cause problems.

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  • Nagendra

    Thank you for the tutorial – very clear and to-the-point. I embedded a .swf file in one of my presentations. The page works great but the only problem is that once I start clicking through the animation steps, I am not able to use any Powerpoint controls (e.g., go to next page by clicking the down arrow) in the presentation mode. I have to get out of the presentation mode, go to the next slide and then get back into the presentation mode.

    Any fix to this issue?

    Thanks in advance

    • Nagendra:

      You could apply a timing to the slide itself, to auto transition after 10 seconds etc. by using the Transitions option on each slide in PowerPoint. PowerPoint does not like Flash very much unfortunately, so it takes a bit of working around to make it work.

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