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I have to include a video file in Microsoft Powerpoint format, and make it compatible for both Mac and PC. I found that wmv works best for PC and mov/mp4 works best for Mac, but none of them works for both without extra plugin.

I have to send the Powerpoint file and I don't know if the recipient uses Mac or PC, or has some codecs/plugins; I don't know even who the recipient is.

Any suggestions?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Without any additional codecs installed, Windows and OS X don't share a lot in common.

In the order of popularity and age:

  • MPEG-4 Part 10 / H.264? Pass. It's too new (2003) and would need a codec pack on older Windows versions, and it has some licensing issues.
  • MPEG-4 Part 2? Won't work as well. This is the codec that needs DivX or XviD installed.

Both of the above should work in Windows 7, but there's of course Vista and XP as well. Now we're talking old:

  • MPEG-2 is still problematic, although it's from 1995. Why? Not every Windows Media Player can just play it.
  • MPEG-1 could work. It was developed in 1988.

Yes, I'm not joking. This is the least common denominator. You can find a list of supported video codecs for Windows Media Player under Windows XP from Microsoft. It basically says: "Only Microsoft-specific stuff". Here's what they have to say:

There are hundreds of audio and video codecs in use today. Some have been created by Microsoft, but the vast majority of codecs have been created by other companies, organizations, or individuals. By default, the Windows operating system and the Player include a number of the most popular codecs, such as Windows Media Audio, Windows Media Video, and MP3.

Emphasis mine. I won't add any further comment to that, but you can guess that it's just wrong to say that Windows Media Video is among the "most popular codecs".

On the Mac, it's not a big issue to decode most of the above mentioned, I'm pretty sure that only Windows Media Video can't be played back on a recent Mac (running 10.5 and above) without additional codecs.

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Needless to say that if you just target PowerPoint, you don't have a lot of choices. Link to a Flash video (Flash is installed on more than 90% of all computers), or bundle VLC player and the raw video files. – slhck Nov 24 '11 at 17:24

You can only embed videos in Windows PPT 2010 (and possibly Mac 2011 ... not sure of that one). In order to play a PPT with embedded videos back, you'd need PPT 2007 SP2 or later. Earlier versions won't know what to do with the embedded video.

Pre-2010, you can only link videos, not embed. The videos have to travel along with the PPT file. There are tricks to adding them so that the links don't break. Yell if you need to know.

While there can be problems getting Flash to embed on some versions, it may be the best all-around reliable way to add movies to PPT.

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