Microsoft is making PowerPoint better for those of us who always have subtitles on

Microsoft powerpoint presentation on laptop
(Image credit: Shutterstock / monticello)

Your online presentations could soon be significantly more engaging following a new update from Microsoft PowerPoint.

The company has revealed another stage in its accessibility push by bringing videos with subtitles and closed captions to PowerPoint for the web, meaning your presentations can now be accessible to more viewers than ever before.

Alongside the boosts for users who may be deaf or hard of hearing, Microsoft also notes that the update should benefit all viewers, helping participants engage more with your presentation.

Microsoft PowerPoint captions

"More people than ever are watching TV, movies, and streaming services with closed captions or subtitles on all the time," Peter Wu, a Principal Software Engineer on the PowerPoint team wrote in a Microsoft 365 Insider blog post announcing the news.

"It is one of the many inventions, originally designed for people with disabilities, that is benefiting so many more people... Everyone has their reasons for enjoying more videos and understanding them better with closed captions or subtitles on. Adding videos with closed captions and/or subtitles to your presentation will allow you to both connect with your audience in the format they are familiar with and enjoy while also being inclusive of people who are deaf or hard of hearing."

Users looking to add in a video with captions simply need to create a new PowerPoint presentation via its online platform. Then, select Insert > Video > Insert Video From: This Device, and select the video file you want to upload. Then, select Video > Insert Captions, and choose the captions file in WebVTT format you would like to insert.

Once a video is playing, just select the Captions button in the lower right corner of the video player and select the captions track you want. The words should then appear on the screen as the video plays.

Closed captions files need to be in the WebVTT format, which can be made with a caption-creation tool or with a text editor like Notepad, and users can include more than one captions file for the same video, ideal for including additional languages for global audiences.

Users can also access the captions menu for a video by pressing Alt+J on Windows or Option+J on Mac when the focus is on the video.

The tool is available now for all PowerPoint for the web users.

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Mike Moore
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Pro

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.