Loops are like buses. You wait ages for one then a bunch of them arrive at the same time! In our last looping article you discovered how to create infinite Motion Paths in PowerPoint. Now you’re going to learn a simple technique to loop sequences of animations in PowerPoint.

Animation effects in presentations aren’t just decorative, they’re a great way to pace your content so you can explain your story step-by-step. We’ve got lots of articles about how to use simple animations effectively (like this beginner’s guide to Morph and this introduction to PowerPoint animation), but today we’re going to look at something a little more sophisticated. Sometimes you might want to play a sequence of animation effects in a loop, over and over again to illustrate a particular point. PowerPoint allows you to loop a single animation effect but not a sequence of multiple effects. Our neat hack solves that limitation and, as an added bonus, gives you a warm fuzzy sensation because you know loops inside out.

How to loop one animation effect in PowerPoint

Let’s start at the very beginning as I’ve heard it’s a very good place to start! If you’re sitting there thinking, ‘Hang on a second, I have no idea how to loop a single animation!’ – fear not! Take a look at the slide below. Let’s say you wanted the computer icon in column E to blink repeatedly until you move to the next slide.

Screenshot of a PowerPoint slide with several vertical bars on it labelled A to H. The bars have small icons at the base.

To do this you would add the Blink emphasis effect from the Animations tab (Animations > Add Animation > More Emphasis effects…). Then open the Animation Pane, right click on the blink animation you just added and select Effect Options. Then set up the animation as follows:

Screenshot of the effect options for the Blink animation in PowerPoint. The option to repeat teh animation until the end of the slide is selected.

How to loop a sequence of animation effects in PowerPoint

Okay, one animation successfully looped! But what would you do if you wanted a sequence of animation affects to play in a specified order and then repeat, as in this example:

This is just one PowerPoint slide with a fairly complex animation sequence used to show the production line process. This is what the Animation Pane looks like:

Screenshot of the animation pane in PowerPoint. There are lots of different animations running one after the other,

You can download this file to see how the animation sequence was created: Download looping animation file. What we want to do now is to set this whole sequence to repeat until the next slide. How? With our audio bookmark hack!

Step 1

Hover your mouse over the last animation effect in the sequence and make a note of the time it ends. In our example, it’s 13.5 seconds.

Screenshot of the PowerPoint animation pane showing that the sequence of animations stops at 13.5 seconds on the timeline.

Step 2

Record a sound file that’s a bit longer than the time you just noted down. This may seem odd but stick with it! To do this, go to the Insert tab in PowerPoint and – way over on the right-hand side of the ribbon – click Audio followed by Record Audio.

Screenshot of the Insert Ribbon in PowerPoint showing the record audio option selected.

Top tip: Name your recording using the target time so you remember when to stop recording!

PowerPoint Record Sound dialog

If you want, you can mute your microphone. Otherwise, keep completely silent and press the record button. Wait until the recording is the right length, then press the stop button.

Wait! Hold the phone. Why are we telling you to record a silent audio file?! All will become clear.

Step 3

Select your new audio file then set it up in the Playback tab as follows:

  1. Click Add Bookmark (this will add a bookmark at 0 seconds)
  2. Click Volume > Mute
  3. Click Start > Automatically
  4. Click Loop until Stopped
  5. Click Hide During Show

Your audio file options should now look like this:

Screenshot of the audio file options in PowerPoint showing all the settings selected as described in the text.

Finally, click the Trim Audio button and set the End Time to the exact time you want the animation sequence to repeat. In our example, the sequence lasts 13.5 seconds so we’ll set the audio end time to 14.00 seconds.

Note: in some versions of PowerPoint this may cause an auto transition to be added to the slide. Check in the Transitions tab and deselect this check box if that happens:

PowerPoint screenshot showing the transitions tab and Advance Slide After check box

Step 4

Open the Animation Pane (download our free quick access toolbar customisation for Windows or macOS to open the Animation Pane with just one click). Then select the first animation effect in the sequence, hold down the shift key and select the last effect in the sequence. With the whole sequence selected, go back to the Animations tab and in the Advanced Animation group, click the Trigger menu followed by On Bookmark and then Bookmark 1.

And you’re done! You should now see two zones in the Animation Pane. The top part in the main timeline sequence just has the audio file in it, set to start automatically and repeatedly fire its single bookmark trigger event every 14 seconds. The main animation sequence has moved to what’s known as the interactive or trigger sequence. This sequence will now start every time the bookmark in the audio file is reached.

Screenshot of the animation pane in PowerPoint showing the two sections as described in the text.

And as the audio file is set to loop until you advance the slide, the animation sequence will repeat from when you start the Slide Show until you move to the next slide or quit the show. And it doesn’t stop there. Imagine what effects you could achieve by adding different sequences to different audio files with multiple bookmarks. One audio file triggering another that triggers a sequence of effects that triggers another audio file. Welcome to mind-blowing PowerPoint that makes your brain ache and your heart sing! No? Just us then!

Got a thirst for PowerPoint loops?

If you’re now looping mad, then you might want to check out this blog post: How to create infinite Motion Paths in PowerPoint. And our free BrightSlide add-in for PowerPoint includes lots of new ways to enhance your creativity, including some very cool animation tools that’ll have your boss, colleagues and audiences jumping for joy. Download BrightSlide!

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Written by

Jamie Garroch

Principal technical consultant

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  1. Image of Kedar Kedar says:

    Absolutely brilliant! Thank you for sharing

  2. Image of Napa Napa says:

    Thank you very much, It’s very useful.

  3. Image of Chris Chris says:

    Very useful. Worked like a charm

  4. Image of Mohammad Alhusban Mohammad Alhusban says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this knowledge!

  5. Image of Jp.LI Jp.LI says:

    Brilliant! Thank you so much

  6. Image of Michael Michael says:

    Thank you – works like a charm. I would never have thought that I’ve have to record an audio to make a animation loop!

  7. Image of Dan Helgerson Dan Helgerson says:

    Great idea!

  8. Image of Robin Robin says:

    had to repeat list of animations on a slide – this works perfect! Thanks much for sharing

  9. Image of Ryan Ryan says:

    It doesn’t loop. It just plays once even though I have “loop until stopped selected”. I applied all the steps you suggested. What am I doing wrong?

    • Image of Crashedfiesta Crashedfiesta says:

      I’m having the same problem! I’ve followed this guide a few times with no problems but this time I just can’t get it to work.

      The most bizarre thing is that a previous slideshow I did still works perfectly and I’ve compared all the settings and all the checkboxes and they all match. But the new slideshows just repeat once and stop. Very annoying. I suspect there’s been an ‘improvement’ by Microsoft – that’s normally what breaks useful things in the office apps!

      • Image of Nils Kaczenski Nils Kaczenski says:

        It seems that in current versions of Office 365 there is a strange bug. I just ran into the same problem, but I figured out its cause and a solution. Here’s how:

        Apparently, PowerPoint adds a slide transition timer when you add the audio. It is set so the exact duration of the audio. So when the loop is ready to repeat the transition kicks in and switches to the next slide.
        To solve it just go to the Transitions tab and clear the check box next to the slide timer (usually the last item on the ribbon).

  10. Image of Michal Michal says:

    Works perfectly! I looked for this option for a while and finally learned how to do it.
    It is explained easily step by step.

    Thank you!

  11. Image of Gangadhar Gangadhar says:

    Thank you so much.

  12. Image of JD JD says:

    Where in the heck is the Playback tab? I recorded the video but it’s nowhere to be seen. Clicking it in the Animation pane just brings up Animation options. Why do these articles skimp on screenshots? Be better for us dumb ones.

    • Image of JD JD says:

      Found it–have to select the “recording” icon dead center in the slide. Missed it because I had assets masking it. Seriously–screenshots are signposts for your readers. Shouldn’t have to explain that for technical content.

      • Image of Jamie Garroch Jamie Garroch says:

        Thanks for the feedback JD. Which step(s) do you believe requires additional screenshot(s)?

  13. Image of HC HC says:

    All the options I need to do this are greyed out. How do I make them so I can actually click on them?

  14. Image of Gabriel Gabriel says:

    Really appreciated the effort to put this tip up, and also for the correction on comments on how to fix on Office 365 – just made it work on 7th July 2024 after removing the auto-transiction!

  15. Image of JF JF says:

    works like a charm! thank you for explaining so clearly

  16. Image of Jamie Garroch Jamie Garroch says:

    Thank you everyone for the feedback. It appears that there may be a Microsoft regression bug in the way that audio files set to loop until end of slide behave (irrespective of the slide transition setting). We’ve reported this to Microsoft.

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