Journalists' Toolkit


A training site for multimedia and online journalists

Soundslides: A Brief Introduction

By Mindy McAdams Updated 18 Aug 2012

Soundslides is a simple tool that builds simple audio slideshows, with optional captions. That’s all it does. But that’s actually quite a lot — especially because Soundslides is truly “ridiculously simple” to use.

Soundslides does not produce video files, and you cannot import video into Soundslides. (If you have paid for your copy of Soundslides, see this page.)

Soundslides uses still photos, a single audio file (MP3 format) and text.

The Soundslides application can be downloaded here.

To see a good example of what Soundslides can do, watch this story from National Public Radio: Crafting China’s Future Champions (2008).

Before you begin

Soundslides cannot be used to edit photos, and it cannot be used to edit audio. This means you will need to have your photos selected and edited before you begin to work in Soundslides. You will also need to have a final, finished MP3 file with the correct audio settings before you begin to work in Soundslides.

  • Have all your photos for the slideshow cropped, rotated, toned, and stored in one folder with no other photos. They must be in the JPG file format. (You cannot edit the photos inside Soundslides.)
  • Have your finalized MP3 file. (You cannot edit the audio inside Soundslides.)

Note that the length of your MP3 file will determine the length of your slideshow. This is part of what makes Soundslides such a simple tool. If your audio lasts 1 minute and 25 seconds, then that’s how long your slideshow will be.

Timing and number of photos

You must consider whether you have too many photos, or not enough, to match the length of your audio.

A very good rule of thumb for audio slideshows is about 5 seconds per image. You can change this while working within Soundslides, but using this guideline helps you decide how many photos you will need to edit (if you know the length of your audio), or how long to make the audio — if you have very few photos, for example.

A 60-second slideshow needs about 12 photos, and a 2-minute slideshow needs about 24 photos. (If you have too few photos, the viewers will get bored!)

You do not need to be overly rigid about the 5-second rule, but do be aware that after 6 or 7 seconds on one single image, the viewer is likely to lose interest and quit. To the other extreme, seeing the photos flash past too quickly is also unsatisfying for people watching your slideshow.

Get started now

If you have an MP3 and a dozen or more photos (make sure the photos are isolated in one folder, and that they have all been edited to your satisfaction), you’re ready to go.

Launch the Soundslides application, save your new project, and choose your Custom Settings.

Then load your JPGs and your MP3 file.


The Soundslides Manual (free and online) should answer any further questions you might have.

The one-page Soundslides Troubleshooting Guide covers the most common errors made by new users of Soundslides.

Read the Soundslides FAQ (answers to frequently asked questions) to learn more about the application.

Soundslides Storytelling is a 27-slide PPT suitable for teaching.