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How do I extract and identify the music in a Powerpoint presentation?

Question: I’ve received a PowerPoint presentation with music attached. I’d like to 1) rip the music and be able to save it to a different name and 2) I’d like to be able to identify the artist. My operating system is Windows 7 and this is PowerPoint 2010.

You may not be able to grab the audio out of the PowerPoint file, but I can show you one way to try.

As for identifying the music, there’s an app for that.

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Retrieving inserted files

First, let’s talk about the PowerPoint presentation. If you’re able to open the presentation in PowerPoint so you can edit the presentation, then you should be able to locate the inserted audio file and save it to disk separately. That’s perfect because you get the audio file with its original fidelity.

Now, PowerPoint does support a format that is not editable. In other words, it opens simply a read-only version of the presentation file. I’m not certain if there’s a way to extract any of the components if the presentation is not editable.

PowerPointEvery other approach that I can think of involves playing the audio file and recording it at the same time through some various machinations. It’s not easy and I don’t think you end up with as good fidelity.

Identifying the artist

But you may not need to do this if you have access to a smartphone and can download an app called Shazam.

Shazam is pretty amazing technology. What you do is you start playing the music on your PC and then open the app and press the Touch to Shazam button. The app listens to the music for 10-20 seconds, matches it to a database that it has, and displays the title of the song and the artist who recorded it.

I’ve done this in crowded restaurants with background noise and it actually does a pretty amazing job of identifying the music that was playing over the PA system at the time.

Now, Shazam doesn’t know everything. You can’t sing into Shazam to identify a song. A song has to be commercially released; if the song in this presentation is something a marketing department created in-house or looped from a company that creates background music, Shazam might not be able to find it.

But if there’s a commercial recording out there of the music or the sound that you have, then the first thing that I would do is hold up Shazam and see what it does. If the song is out there, you may have a chance to purchase and download the original.

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11 comments on “How do I extract and identify the music in a Powerpoint presentation?”

  1. If a Power Point file is set to read only, it can be easily changed to editable this article from MS Office help explains how:
    Remove Read-only protection from a PowerPoint presentation
    There may be ways to really lock the file from editing, but I think this should work in most cases.
    Many times, it’s simply enough to change the extension of the PowerPoint file from .pps or .ppsx to .ppt or .pptx to cause it to open in editable form providing you have MS Office with PowerPoint installed on your machine. .pps(x) usually defaults to opening the file in read only mode where .ppt(x) defaults to opening the file in the edit mode.

  2. If the Powerpoint presentation is a .pptx file (that is, one of the “new” formats from Powerpoint 2007 or later), it can be extracted using any standard unzipping program (like 7-zip). The extracted files will have everything that was contained in the original Powerpoint. For the audio files, go to ppt->media. This works whether the file was marked “read only” or not, or if it is a .ppsx file. However, it won’t work for older .ppt files, or .pptx files that have been password protected.

    If it is a .ppt file, you can record audio directly from the sound card using something like Audacity, which isn’t difficult at all and the quality will be excellent (as long as the original audio is good quality).

    • Actually, by recording from the sound card there will be some loss of fidelity as Leo suggests. The amount of loss will depend on the quality of your sound card.

      Now is the loss something that you can actually hear? Well that’s a whole different discussion (see the discussion about the loss of fidelity with MP3 files).

  3. Better off to just hire a talented banjo player to listen to the song and create their own rendition. It will sound cooler too.

  4. I was for sometime using an add on called “Freecorder” which had the
    option to record any audio that is being played on the speakers. The
    audio was picked up from the audio section of the motherboard as I
    understand it.

    I had to forego this as the add on was not compatible with Mozilla Firefox
    updated versions. Now I understand that a new version of the add on
    has been released which is compatible with later Firefox edition.



    • Unless I’m greatly mistaken, DAK (Remember them? They’re back!) has a Windows app for that — I think it’s called the “Forbidden Song Grabber.” Go to and search for it there. Good luck!

  5. And of course the other consideration in all this is, is it legal for you to break the PowerPoint file and grab the music from it?

    • James,
      I agree. That’s why Leo’s suggestion to identify the music and obtain it legally is really the best idea.

      • Leo wasn’t quite as obvious about the legal aspect like he usually is (probably because he was so excited to tell us about Shazam :) which is really why I mentioned my point.

        New Canadian copyright law (which I understand is based on new US law) does not allow you to break a digital lock. I don’t really know what constitutes a digital lock for copyright law purposes, but if someone has gone to the trouble to protect the PowerPoint file, wouldn’t that be a digital lock?

        So even if the music is free and legal to obtain, breaking open the PowerPoint file might still be a copyright violation. If I had a phone, I’d probably try Shazam.

        • Actually it’s grayer than that. Consider:

          The music in the powerpoint presentation may, itself, already be in violation of copyright. (Did the creator get permission? Pay royalties? It’s not enough to just own the song, you need to license it for redistribution and republication.)

          I’m not sure the legal terms (I am no lawyer), but my understanding is that encryption is where things get all legally. Decrypting an encrypted DVD, for example, is a violation of one law or the other as I understand it. Now if the powerpoint file simply has a flag that says “don’t copy me”, but is otherwise unencrypted, or the file is simply renamed, as others have suggested, then we’re probably in the area of legal hair-splitting.

          As Connie pointed out the Shazam approach is blissfully legal – ID the song, and go buy your own copy.


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