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Loop a PowerPoint presentation on an AppleTV

By Morgan Rowe | 01 Aug 2013

Despite everything an AppleTV can do, it's not possible to play a PowerPoint on it. Fortunately, there's a work around.

Before we start, let's make sure everything is in order. You'll need to ensure you have a spare computer lying around, Windows or Mac, that can act as a server for your AppleTVs. I'll be referring to this computer as the "iTunes server". Your AppleTV and iTunes server will need to be connected to the same network. You'll also need an AppleID in order to use Home Sharing. If you don't have one you can make one of these on Apple's website.

You'll need a Mac with PowerPoint 2011 installed in order to convert the PowerPoint into a format that the AppleTV works with. I haven't tested this with older versions of PowerPoint.

Create the PowerPoint

Open Microsoft PowerPoint 2011 on your Mac and create your presentation. Although not essential, now's the time to ensure your presentation's size is appropriate for the TV it's going being displayed on. Modern widescreen TVs have a 16:9 aspect ratio. Older TVs have a 4:3 aspect ratio. You can change the aspect ratio from the default 4:3 to 16:9 by going to File > "New from Template..." and change the "Slide Size" to "Widescreen 16:9".

If you've already created a presentation you can use that one instead.

Using special transition effects like crossfade and dissolve will cause the presentation to not playback properly on the AppleTVs. Make sure you remove any special effects when using slide transitions. I recommend applying a 10 second delay to each slide transition. You can configure this by clicking on "Transitions" and changing the "Advanced Slide" options to automatic with a 10 second delay. You can shorten the delay but I wouldn't recommend going below 2 seconds.

Save the PowerPoint

Save your presentation by clicking on File > Save As. This is important as when you export the presentation it won't be editable.

Export the PowerPoint

Once the presentation has been saved, click on File > Save As Movie. When the dialog box appears enable the "loop" and disable the "Show player controls" options. Click OK. Under the movie dimensions options select "Current screen size" unless you want to specify the movie dimensions. Change the playback option to "Quality" for higher quality playback. Click "Save" and choose a location for your movie. I usually save mine on the Desktop for easy access. I've called mine "reception_movie".

QuickTime X export into iTunes

Open the movie into QuickTime X by double clicking on it. If QuickTime 7 opens instead, you've likely done something wrong and you won't be able to go any further. This happened to me a few times when I accidentally used special effects on my slide transitions. After removing them and reexporting the presentation, I was able to open it into QuickTime X.

Once QuickTime X loads with your movie open, click on Share > iTunes. A dialog box will appear with exporting options. Choose AppleTV quality or higher.

Open iTunes and click on the "Movies" filter in the sidebar. You should be able to see your presentation.

Right click on the presentation within iTunes and choose "Reveal in Finder". You'll want to copy this file to the Desktop as this is the file you'll need to copy to your iTunes server. I've named mine "reception_movie_server.mov".

Copy PowerPoint to the iTunes server

Like I mentioned earlier, the iTunes server is a computer you've designated for streaming the presentation. You can stream it from the computer you're working on now if you want. If you do this you won't need to copy the presentation to the iTunes server and you can skip to "Convert presentation to music video".

Copy the presentation from your desktop to the iTunes server. How you do this is up to you but if you're not confident copying files from one computer to another, I would recommend using a USB drive.

Once the presentation is on the iTunes server, open iTunes. If you don't have iTunes because you're using a PC, you can download it from Apple's website. Drag and drop the presentation, reception_movie_server.mov, into iTunes. You should be able to see it in the "Movies" filter within iTunes.

Convert PowerPoint to music video

In order to get the presentation to loop on an AppleTV, we have to tell iTunes that the movie is a music video. To do this right click on your presentation and select "Get Info". Once the window appears, choose the "Options" tab and change the "Media Kind" to "Music Video".

We can also name our iTunes server. To do this go to Preferences > Sharing. Type in the name you want to use as your iTunes server. I called mine "iTunes Server".

Home Sharing

Ensure iTunes is signed into your AppleID. You can do this by clicking on "Store" and choosing "Sign in". Also make sure you've authorised that computer to use your AppleID. You can configure this by clicking on Store > "Authorise this computer". Just remember that you can only authorise your AppleID on five different devices so just make sure you have enough free authorisations.

Finally, enable home sharing. You can do this by clicking on File > Home Sharing > "Enable Home Sharing". In iTunes 10 or lower, the home sharing option was under Advanced > "Turn on Home Sharing".

To the AppleTV!

We need to configure our AppleTV.

First of all, sign into Home Sharing if you haven't already. To do this, go to "Computers" and follow the steps to enabling Home Sharing.

Go to Settings > Audio & Music > Repeat Music. Enable this option.

Now go to the main menu and go to "Computers" > "your_computer's_name" Music > Music Videos and select your presentation. It should now play but more importantly start to loop!

That's it. I was able to get five AppleTVs to play a presentation before I started getting issues. In OSX 10.8, you can use AirPlay Mirroring to wirelessly stream a presentation to an AppleTV.

You may also want to pair your remote with the AppleTV to stop anyone else from controlling it. You can do this by going into Settings > General > Pair Remote. Just make sure you don't lose the remote!