Best Free Photo Slideshow Software

In a Hurry?
Go to details...  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide

 
Introduction

Photo slideshow software allows you to create a slideshow of your favorite or memorable photos from your collection and turn multiple images into a standard video file for playback on your PC or other media devices.

Although the following reviews relate mostly to the technical aspects of the programs, remember that the best reason for using the programs is to tell a story in an interesting way.  A lot of very basic programs will allow you to present photos in a singular linear fashion, similar to whipping out a handful of snapshots and handing them to a usually disinterested spectator (family, relatives, or friends)!  However, a more memorable slide show uses the more complex features (motion, music, narration, titles, transistions, etc) to help tell a story about the photos without the distraction of out-of-sequence and poor photos.  Also, keep most show durations to under 15 minutes (the maximum for most audience attention span) unless you are doing a "Ken Burns" type historical epic.

  In recent years, and probably due to the vastly increased use of picture-taking "smartphones", the path of the slideshow world has forked into one of virtual scrapbooks and the other into the more traditional storytelling format.  The word "slideshow" hearkens back to the 1950's era of cameras using the transparent 35mm film to produce mounted "slides" for projection onto a screen for viewing with little or no ability to modify or animate the pictures.  The "slideshow" evolved from the simple linear sequential viewing to the present dvd or video format for viewing on TV or devices such as ipads and smartphones.
  Many "slideshow" programs have been developed in recent years, many of which have used "Wizards" to simplify the generation of the presentations, for better or worse depending upon the user's wishes or requirements.  I don't wish to denegrate out of hand the wizard or template approach since in some higher end programs, such templates may be used as a basis for user modification and control.  However, the advantages of user control using elements such as keyframing and other motion and transition control cannot be ignored for creating a much more interesting experience for the viewers.
 

If this has been what you're looking for then check out one of the free applications reviewed here. You might find it pretty useful in creating an impressive multimedia slideshow of your photos for sharing with your friends and family.

  Since the advent, a few years ago, of the picture taking smartphone, the market for Point & Shoot cameras has plumeted, along with the desire for post shoot printing and print distribution.  In addition, uploading smartphone pictures to the internet has promoted a rise in photo slide show wizard type programs.  As a result, interest in PC based slide show programs has decreased.  In line with this photography "sea change" I would welcome comments and recommendations for free on-line web-based slideshow programs.  I've also found that many of the "for profit" programs now have included  simplified free on-line wizard versions to their product aimed at the smartphone picture collections and distribution.  Please let me know your thoughts on this subject!
 
 
Discussion

Photo StoryPhoto Story is my top recommendation in this software category. It is rich in features and yet powerful and easy enough for most average users to create a slideshow of photos.

The program comes with a wizard-driven interface, leading you step by step, to enable importing and arranging of your pictures on a film strip; adding titles on the selected pictures; narrating your story by clicking the record button or adding background music to a set of pictures and finally, saving your story or slideshow.

What's more you can add panning and zooming effects to your pictures with various transition effects. Better still, you can even remove black borders by selectively cropping your pictures and creating music customizable with properties from the library of the program. In each step of preparing a project you can save it in a proprietary wp3 file format for further editing or backup.

When you're done with the project, you can save it with a profile supporting a video size from 320x240 pixels up to 1024x768 pixels for playback on your PC: or with other preset profiles for playback on mobile devices. The bit rate, aspect ratio and frame rate are also optimized for you based on the chosen profile.

I find that creating compelling slideshows from digital images is most intuitive and enjoyable with this program, but on the flip side, it saves your video file in wmv format only and doesn't support burning videos to a DVD or other optical disks.

Other than Photo Story, also try Windows Movie Maker 2.1 (for XP) which can also be used to create a slideshow of photos with music, background and transition effects and can be saved in wmv format; although the program is mainly designed for making home movies.

The latest version Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 (for Vista and 7), which is a module in Windows Live Essentials, can do the same things but with more advanced features such as high definition support.

A slideshow saved in wmv format can then be burned into a DVD using Windows DVD Maker included in some versions of Windows.

DVD slideshow GUIDVD slideshow GUI is a user interface for various great tools needed to make your own slideshow of photos. It is not as easy and intuitive to use as Photo Story but it's packed with more features favored by more experienced users.

Not only can you import photos and soundtracks with the program, you can also add to your project additional media types such as videos in avi or avs format, and presentation files in ppt or odp format.

Useful tools are ready for you to pan, zoom or rotate photos with a variety of transition effects and motion backgrounds as well as adding and editing borders and subtitles. It's also appealing to users because high definition videos up to 1080p are supported in project settings.

You can save your project file in dsg format for backup or export your result into popular video formats including: mp4, mpg, flv, avi, avs, etc. Further, you can author and burn a project file to a DVD for playback on a player or just save an iso file to your hard disk.

While running the current version of this program, I encountered some issues such as the system exception error when a project was previewed in Media Player Classic, but when the project was exported to an mpg file it played back smoothly on the same player.

Socusoft Photo to Video Converter (Free Version)Socusoft Photo to Video Converter (Free Version) is another easy-to-use program for making your slideshows in four quick steps: add photos; select transition and music; preview and output video.

What I like most about this program is its drag-and-drop feature. Not only can you drag-and-drop photos from your folder to a slideshow, you can also drag-and-drop transition effects between images with pan and zoom functions. This makes creating slideshows a lot easier.

On top of that, you can record your narration or add your favorite background music with optional in/out fading and loop audio. A project can be saved in its proprietary format while a completed slideshow can be saved to popular mpg format for playback with a video size up to a maximum of 720x576 pixels. Various audio and video options are available for adjustments by users as well.

Sadly, adding text to slides, more output profiles and other advanced features, such as burning slideshows to a DVD disc, are only available in the commercial Pro version.

ffDiaporamaffDiaporama Video Sequence Builder is a highly capable open source program on the level of some high end commercial products. As such, its complexity requires a steep learning curve and can be quite daunting to users looking for a simple drag and drop slide show builder.

However, if the user is looking for a key-frame type of image manipulation, this program will be a good candidate. Style sheets are available as samples of image motion manipulation (ala "Ken Burns" effects). The program is complete with a wide variety of audio and video output choices and DVD formats. Image inputs may be of photos, video, or animated clips. Some image editing is also available.

To be reviewed:
  • PhotoFilmStrip
  • Smile Box
  • Web oriented programs such as Ezvid, LibreOffice, Animoto, Onetrue Media and Kizoa
 
Other Free Photo Slideshow Software

Several other free photo slideshow applications were not rated in this review. I am listing some of them here with brief descriptions and links to their sites for ease of reference.

  • Picasa, a well-known digital photo organizer provides some basic slideshow making functions. No black border control is available unless full frame photo crop is applied. It also lacks more powerful features in other programs designed solely for generating slideshows.
  • Both XnView and IrfanView are widely used image viewers which allow users to create a basic slideshow of photos with background music saved in a self-running exe or screen saver file, but are short of some other useful features available in the recommended products.
  • MemoriesOnWeb, based on the same engine as the commercial version MemoriesOnTV, offers only basic photo slideshow features. Video output in avi or mpg format, but no user settings for profiles or video sizes were noted.
  • PhotoLapse is a small program for converting a large sequence of jpg still images to an avi movie but it lacks a lot of features available in other photo slideshow software.
  • Bolide Slideshow Creator is a good, easy to use, but very basic program.  I am in the process of evaluating the program and will write a critique article in the near future.  It is a Windows desktop program with capabilities for incorporating photos, audio, transitions (limited to about 30), text, adjustable timing for photos and transistions into the slideshow.  However, it is limited to one simple pan and zoom effect and a 4:3 format output in avi, wmv, or mvw .  More info later.
  • Comslider (Comslider.com) is a free slideshow creation program strictly for generating an HTML insert to a person's website.  It is an interesting variation of  slide show creation programs, with a limited set of features as compared to standalone programs, but may be of limited interest and use for most of our readers and users,
 
Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

 
Quick Selection Guide

Photo Story
5
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Intuitive and easy to use, rich in features, panning and zooming with various transition effects, crop black borders, add text and soundtracks.
Save video file in wmv format only, no burning video to CD/DVD is supported.
3
5.1 MB
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows XP to 7

This product is available at Softpedia here with no WGA validation required.

Socusoft Photo to Video Converter
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Easy to use, drag-and-drop feature, pan and zoom functions, transition effects with background music or voice, save results in popular mpg format, support video size up to 720x576 pixels.
Adding text, more output profiles and other advanced features, such as burning slideshows to a DVD disc, are only available to the commercial Pro version.
8.07
27.8 MB
Feature limited freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows
DVD slideshow GUI
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Packed with more features, useful tools to pan, zoom and rotate images with a variety of transition effects, motion backgrounds, borders and subtitles, export to popular video formats, support HD videos, authoring and burning to optical disks.
Not as easy and intuitive to use as Photo Story. Some errors encountered when running the program with over 100 images or greater than 50 MB audio files. Since the program is a shell for several open source programs (ie DVDauthor, Imagburn), user may have to seek more information for effective use.
0.9.5.4
28 MB
Open source freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows XP, Vista
ffDiaporama
3
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
A highly capable open source program on the level of some high end commercial products.
Complex to use with a steep learning curve.
1.6
35.7MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Open source freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows XP/SP3, Vista, 7 and Linux

 
Editor
This software category is maintained by volunteer editor StahlSS. Registered members can contact the editor with any comments or questions they might have by clicking here.
 
Tags

best photo slideshow, best photo slideshow software, best photo to video, best image to video, best photo story, multimedia slideshow, best image slide show, best photo to dvd program, converter, photo movie creator.

 

Share this
3.98485
Average: 4 (66 votes)
Your rating: None

Comments

by Alexid1 on 15. July 2013 - 16:58  (109278)

Hi,

Try free Perfect Photo Show - www.perfectphotoshow.com
It's a simple software to create slideshows.

No watermarks, no ads/toolbars.

by StahlSS on 17. July 2013 - 17:49  (109344)

Hi Alexid1

Thank you for bringing Perfect Photo Show to my attention.

I downloaded it and tried it with some test images and music I use for program evaluation.

I found the program easy to use, but quite limited with only two transitions (Dissolve and Mosaic), limited animation (None and Zoom In/Out), two aspect ratios (4:3 or 16:9) and only AVI or You Tube outputs.

In my opinion, the program seems to be a teaser/introduction to the commercial version.

Thanks again. I hope to see more of your evaluations and comments.

Don Stahl

by MikeR on 2. July 2013 - 16:14  (108907)

Thought I'd drop by as there seemed to be a refresh of this report -- good to learn that Bolide Slideshow Creator has been updated, I'll DL it now and give it a test run.

I'm unsure why Photostory 3, the proprietary output of which can't be quickly and easily burned to DVD and is in any event a CRT-era parade of 4:3 images, is still topping the charts here.

I'm even less sure about the DVD Slideshow GUI. I've just tried it out but it's proved a big disappointment all round. 'Tutorials' flagged up in its Help menu are non-existent while a mind-numbing 20-minute YouTube offering fails to address primary concerns (how does pan and zoom functionality work then?) though is probably a good cure for insomnia.

The front end repeatedly hiccupped in operation and stalled terminally with errors arising from a mismatch with Media Player Home Cinema, with which it's bundled.

Frames per second duration rather than split seconds duration prove a tedious way of setting image on-screen time while the GUI itself -- which is actually the whole point of this software: a front-end that reputedly offers the best in user interfaces -- is in reality as perversely unintuitive now as it was when first released: video production work cries out for lateral left to right image editing with audio track running laterally beneath. . . but this still stacks the images vertically.

Ah well. Hopefully Bolide is going to be freeware's answer to the commercial challenge out there.

by StahlSS on 2. July 2013 - 21:05  (108926)

Hi MikeR
Thank you for your comments on several programs, and your remarks are well taken. I am new to this category and am in the process of downloading several of the programs myself to run and evaluate, so I have not yet changed the previously issued articles and comments.

However, I agree that DVD Slideshow creator has some problems. First of all it is a shell containing several opensource programs (such as DVDauthor) each with individual characteristics, manuals, etc. Others have commented on the crashes with over 100 images and large audio files.

I've done some testing of Bolide and it seems promising as I have commented in the general articles section of this category.

Thanks again for the info.

Don Stahl

by Stamimail on 20. February 2013 - 15:41  (105608)

Hi,
I'm looking for software would behave like PhotoScreensaver.scr, But letting me to set which folders would be displayed.

by Larry7 (not verified) on 28. November 2012 - 13:52  (103020)

I have found another Free Photo Slideshow Software.
It's "Free Photo Slide show".
http://www.graphicregion.com/freephotoslideshow.htm

by #humancrazzy (not verified) on 13. September 2012 - 2:09  (99183)

Thanks buddy this is what I have been looking for I think I m going to like the community.

Regards

by Max Smirnoff (not verified) on 30. May 2012 - 8:14  (94181)

Bolide Slideshow Creator 1.4 was released today. Now with pan&zoom effect :)

by stst (not verified) on 20. April 2012 - 18:37  (92338)

I have used Photo Story 3 for Windows for many years with Windows XP. Apart from a considerable time lag in the burning process to DVD the program has worked with no real problems.
I have, however, recently changed to Windows 7 and downloaded the latest Photo Story 3 to my new computer. I now find that there is NO option to burn to a DVD, merely to a computer and to share with friends using Facebook, etc.Has anyone found a way round this?

Thanks.

by MikeR on 18. April 2012 - 17:05  (92257)

Not wishing to put a damper on any of this, but. . . Windows Photo Story was created by Microsoft back in the days of the 4:3 ratio CRT when home DVD players were unheard of. It was one of the best products ever developed by Microsoft and its early abandonment was, and so remains, inexplicable.

Slideshows created via PhotoStory 3 are the equal of professional productions authored in [commercial software name edited out] (which costs a small fortune, but is well worth paying.) Or rather, it would be well worth paying were it not for the fact that PhotoStory was and still is. . . Free.

I have used PhotoStory 3 a great deal, and though agree with the comment that it's fairly 'intuitive' I'd point out that even a quick browse around the Net would show just how many many users have struggled, and are still struggling, to cope with it. Some of them can't even sort out the image cropping to widescreen, still less the hoops that have to be jumped through to get the output right and then the format transcoding.

But help aplenty does exist -- if one is prepared to spend the time (and yes: it takes a LOT of time) to read it and absorb it. (Google for Papa John, probably the world authority on Photo Story 3.)

As for being unable to output to DVD. . . Wrong. It's perfectly capable of being output to DVD. I have dozens of DVDs featuring Windows Photo Story 3 slideshow productions. (And no: I've never used Windows Moviemaker to produce these slideshows, either.)

I'd therefore encourage everyone to at least give PhotoStory 3 a try, but would counsel that the information given here isn't entirely accurate: DVD burning is perfectly possible (to be honest, I wouldn't even bother recommending any slideshow software that couldn't produce something capable of being viewed on a large screen TV; were that true, then I'd seriously question how such a program as deficient as that could top this Gizmo list.)

But "intuitive" ain't entirely accurate where this particular software is concerned, either: it takes time, and it'll involve a fair few failures, before one finally gets the hang of it.

When that happens, then there is no difference -- stress: no difference -- in the finished, outputted and TV-viewed quality of a Windows PhotoStory 3 slideshow from a multi-megabucks professional TV production.

How ironic that what is still, after more than 13 years since it first hit the coding boards, the best, the most feature rich and the most polished professional software of its type was abandoned by Microsoft. The ways of Redmond are mysterious indeed.

NOTE: Photo Story 3 ran slowly but well enough on Windows XP. When Vista came out, there was an initial consensus that it wouldn't work at all. Wrong. Photo Story actually works better on Vista than XP. I've no idea how well it runs, if at all, on later Windows OSs because I don't have 'em; XP and a Vista stripped of all its useless UAC and administrator rubbish is all I need.

I also have no idea if someone, somehwere out there, has finally penned the *definitive* Photo Story 3 user tutorial -- I really, really wish someone would. As it stands, information has to be gleaned here, there and everywhere; there exists no single straightforward step-by-step manual which will take a user through issues such as image cropping, image resolution, profilin g and codecs, recording and output parameters or even disc management (Photo Story 3 is very, very resource intensive.)

I'd be over-the-moon if such a resource does exist though, so if anyone has come across it, please post here -- thanks! As things stand, I have a number of friends who'd love to create polished, pro-am DVD slideshows with Photo Story 3 but sadly, I don't have the time to sit down and spend several hours showing them how.

PS: Anyone who uses Photo Story 3 may be tempted to install a Microsoft-endorsed plug in, from Sonic, to enable DVD burning. The plug in is expensive. In my experience, it is a complete waste of time and money. (And my experience is by no means unique.)

PPS: apologies for these postscripts, but I see that Bolide Slideshow is mentioned here. For some reason, its developers appear to think that a slideshow continually disrupted by in-yer-face 'transitions' is the way to make a pleasing production. It isn't. Candidly, just about any software developer can 'create' these so-called 'transitions' -- but why bother??? When was the last time you ever saw a movie or TV production where each scene shot sideways or off the screen or spun and exploded? A transition is just that: a smooth non-invasive change from one scene to the next. The standard dissolve / fade is all that's needed -- anything else, and a slideshow looks like the demented creation of a frustrated fireworks manufacturer. And pure 100% Amateurville, too.

I'd be interested to see a techsupportalert review of Bolide's offering but the developer's website holds little hope, given that there's no mention of pan-and-zoom but instead a notable hyping of 'transitions'. But no amount of 'transitions' are ever going to add up to just one pan-and-zoom Ken Burns Effect shot, and it's a shame that even today, 13 years after Photo Story 3, so much slideshow software is marketed (free or paid-for)without the one facility essential to the true 'movie' experience that all these developers blather on about.

It's almost as if these developers -- of which there are very many -- hope that the abence of the very thing which makes for that true 'movie' experience won't be noticed by users utterly gob-smacked at their ability to insert spinning sliding shooting explosions between every scene of Granma's 90th birthday party. . .

by Anupam on 19. April 2012 - 6:52  (92277)

You can post the points about Bolide Slideshow Creator on its thread in the forum. The developer himself posts on that thread, and so the points can be helpful for him to further develop the product. He can also answer to your points/queries/criticism.

by Anupam on 13. February 2012 - 12:02  (88769)

Bolide Slideshow Creator : http://slideshow-creator.com/

Suggested on forum by the developer, here :

http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/software-suggestions/9267...

by weeeka (not verified) on 5. February 2012 - 23:47  (88369)

thank you 4 your efforts

by Jim Carter (not verified) on 28. December 2011 - 1:53  (86103)

Microsoft doesn't not mention Photo Story being compatible with Windows 7. Several people who posted on a Microsoft blog confirm this.

by Enlightened (not verified) on 19. January 2012 - 11:33  (87406)

Hi, I used Photostory on Windows 7 with no problems at all. Does anyone know if there are any free backgrounds for your photos to be inserted into in order to make a slideshow. Example a holiday theme background?

by FINDER (not verified) on 6. April 2012 - 12:21  (91702)

Yeah, that is also my question. I've been looking for a slideshow with a baby theme because I have been doing a stuff for my nephew's christening. Kindly recommend some great FREE softwares for this feature. I need it so badly. Thank you... hope someone replies to this.

by Jojo Yee on 28. December 2011 - 2:07  (86104)

Thanks Jim Carter for the info. I tried it on Win7 and it worked for me.

by Anupam on 21. December 2011 - 5:54  (85555)
by Jim Van Damme (not verified) on 9. February 2012 - 0:26  (88547)

Works on Linux!

by alinus (not verified) on 24. September 2012 - 15:30  (99692)

Yes but also works on Windows.

Great !

by Anupam on 19. December 2011 - 7:23  (85271)

Another suggestion.

PhotoFilmStrip : http://www.photofilmstrip.org/1-1-Home.html

by rochester (not verified) on 19. December 2011 - 4:01  (85267)

Thanks for the site, Jojoyee - the recommendation for PhotoStory is worth its weight in gold. By the way, cnet also has a download that doesn't make you go through the Microsoft validation rigamarole.

I'm surprised you gave Socusoft a 7/10 rating. I'd give it about a 5, primarily because it claims to support pan and zoom but there is no apparent way to control it - the program just picks some random pan by itself. And although it has a zillion transitions, all but the crossfade are cheesy shape wipes from the 1980's. Something a little less dated, like page curls or swirls, would have been nice.

by skibida (not verified) on 15. July 2011 - 17:17  (75558)

Do any of these or other slideshow products allow you to create a DVD that permits manual control of pictures? In other words I want each picture to remain on the screen until I hit the select button or something to advance to the next picture. Like a Powerpoint presentation.

by wmgoat on 21. February 2011 - 21:56  (66882)

need a freeware program that allows me to create a photo slide show and then doesnt make me jump thru hoops to transfer the show to a self-playable cd/dvd. (something like you get when you go to a Costco and put your photos on a cd, it comes with a player that cycles thru the photos).

Most of these descriptions dont say if burning for a DVD player is capable, and some dont support burning at all. I can burn ISOs using Roxio but I dont know what formats are readable by a DVD player. And if I dont have to use multiple sw apps to accomplish this, Im happier.

My intended recipient is my MIL, who is barely capable of turning on her pc, TV, or dvd player. (she has a sheet of paper outlining the steps to take and she uses this guide EVERY TIME because she still hasnt got the hang of it, even after 2 years.) If I can put photo slideshow on a cd/dvd and give it to her, all she should have to do is drop it in her dvd player and it ought to work, same thing for her pc.

Ive never created a slide show before, never needed to. Now I do, and it has to be able to be read using a DVD player as well as a pc.

Suggestions?

by Jojo Yee on 8. March 2011 - 2:56  (67623)

Photo Story is most instuitive and easy to use but unfortunately it doesn't support burning to DVD for playback on a DVD player, but as mentioned in this article, you can use Windows DVD Maker to do it.

As an alternative, DVD slideshow GUI can also be used to author and burn a project file to a DVD for playback on a player, exactly as what has mentioned in the article.

Hope this helps.

by speedlever (not verified) on 17. February 2012 - 15:16  (88967)

So to be clear, I can use PhotoStory to create the slideshow and then use Windows DVD Maker to burn a DVD playable DVD?

BTW, I tried the latest version of DVD Slideshow GUI and while it seemed promising, the DVD it burned would not verify with ImgBurn nor would it play in a DVD player.

Similarly, when I selected various images and used Windows DVD Maker, I received an error msg near the end of the process and the DVD it produced wouldn't play either.

This really shouldn't be that difficult, and yet it is.

by Lektor on 30. January 2011 - 8:32  (65502)

Does anyone happen to know if any of these free versions allow you to set the duration a slide shows to 0? I had a corrupt video file that i could not manage to fix for the life of me. (on top of being corrupt it was recorded on an ipod so the video played sideways) (movie maker crashes when preparing the dvd) anyway... I downloaded UMPlayer recently and found a cool little screenshot feature. I was able to rotate the video and skipped past a very buggy spot and got about 9,000 screenshots of the movie almost making it frame by frame. I have socusoft and i set the preferences to 0 for panning in and out, no transitions, and 0 for slide duration and 0 for transition duration. Yet it still pans in and out ans it still displays each slide for about 2 seconds before switching slides. I am basicly looking for something that will instantaniously go from slide to slide without any panning / zooming. Thanks

by Anonymously short (not verified) on 6. September 2010 - 7:34  (57339)

Another thing you can do is make the slide show with visual effect and music. save in a wma format. Now open the wma in the windows movie maker, add you special sound effects, and credits plus title, and short music loop for the credits. It turns out great.

by EdP (not verified) on 1. September 2010 - 12:33  (57099)

Irfanview does a great job creating a slideshow. The problem is that it can save the show only as an executable (.EXE, .SCR), so I doubt if gramma's email program will let it pass.

by oblivion on 20. August 2010 - 11:07  (56408)

It might also be worth mentioning that Irfanview (more normally associated with graphics viewing) can make slideshows in the form of standalone executables.

It may not have all the capabilities of some of the other products mentioned here, of course!

Gizmos Needs You

Gizmo's Freeware is Recruiting

 We are looking for people with skills or interest in the following areas:
 -  Mobile Platform App Reviews for Android and iOS
 -  Windows, Mac and Linux software reviews       Interested? Click here