Best Photo Slideshow Software of 2018

Rebecca Spear ·
Updated
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We spent 40 hours evaluating and researching 10 photo slideshow programs to discover which offered the most creative possibilities while remaining easy to use and facilitating easy sharing. ProShow Gold 6 came out on top because it’s one of the simplest programs to use, and it offers a wide range of creative features and sharing abilities. This program has the most transition effects of any we tested. It features all the output formats you can want and offers the tools needed to truly personalize your slideshows. 

Best Overall

ProShow Gold

This program is the best overall due to its extensive editing and creation tools, which make it easy to personalize your photo slideshow – from timing controls and adding text, all the way to audio options and animations.
Best Value

PhotoStage Slideshow

PhotoStage Slideshow is an inexpensive program that comes with all the editing tools you could want. This software is also easy to learn and can help you make beautiful slideshows.
Best Special Effects

SmartSHOW 3D Deluxe

SmartSHOW 3D Deluxe specializes in adding animated effects to your photos. There are 120 transition effects, 86 backgrounds, tons of animation options and several 3D effects you can use to spice up your photos.

Our Test Results

Product
Price
Overall Rating
10
9.5
8.8
8.7
8.3
8.1
7.9
7.7
7.5
5.5
Editing & Creative Tools
10
9.8
9.4
9
8.8
8.3
8.5
9
8
7.5
Output Formats
10
10
9.4
8.1
9.4
7.5
8.1
6.9
6.3
2.5
Sharing Capabilities
10
8.1
6.3
8.1
6.3
8.1
6.3
6.3
8.1
4.4
Help & Support
10
10
10
10
7.5
8.8
7.5
7.5
7.5
8.8
Windows 8
Windows Vista
N/A
N/A
N/A
Mac OSX
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Windows 7
Undo Tool
N/A
N/A
Add Text
Timing Control
Drag-and-Drop Positioning
Photo Editing
N/A
N/A
N/A
Voice Narration
N/A
Animation Options
N/A
Transition Effects
427
250
35
72
120
31
60
130
50
50
Import Wizard
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Ease of Use Score
100%
85%
95%
75%
100%
80%
75%
90%
80%
85%
Embellishments & Clipart
N/A
Unlimited Images
N/A
Audio Track Limit
2
7
1
1
Unlimited
1
Unlimited
2
1
2
Backgrounds & Themes
8
132
None
27
86
7
None
450
300
26
Import Video Clips
N/A
YouTube
N/A
Twitter
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Facebook
N/A
Email
N/A
N/A
N/A
Mobile Devices
N/A
Windows Media
N/A
Widescreen
N/A
DVD
QuickTime
AVI
N/A
Slideshow Quality
100%
100%
95%
95%
100%
85%
90%
75%
70%
85%
Interactive CD
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
MPEG-2
N/A
MPEG-4
N/A
HD
N/A
N/A
Video Tutorials
N/A
N/A
N/A
Email Support
FAQs
N/A
Free Downloadable Updates
N/A
N/A
User Guide
Phone Support
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Best Overall

ProShow Gold

ProShow Gold 6 offers all the basic slideshow features necessary to make beautiful projects. With 427 transition effects, this program has the most transitions available out of all the programs we tested.
Some slideshow programs limit the number of photos you can use in each video, but with this software you can add as many of your photos as you want. This software is very easy to use and features audio and captioned instructions to help you learn the various features. Since this program has so many capabilities, it might take a while to learn to make use of all the features. Experienced users will find all of these tools useful when making professional-level projects. ProShow Gold is compatible with the major slideshow export formats, including MPEG2, MPEG4, DVDs, interactive CDs (CD-i), AVI, QuickTime, Windows Media and HD files. You can also share your finished projects via YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or email. It is compatible with smartphones and other viewing devices, but you must pay additional money for the proper plugins.
Pros
  • This program is very easy to use.
  • It offers the most transition effects of the software we tested.
  • You can fully edit and customize your slideshow.
Cons
  • There aren't a lot of backgrounds.
  • This software isn't Mac compatible.
  • It is one of the most expensive slideshow programs.
Best Value

PhotoStage Slideshow

While PhotoStage Slideshow doesn't offer as many feature options as ProShow Gold 6, it is less expensive than other programs, and it offers a decent library of features and effects. Most of the basic editing and creating tools are available through this software.
You can add video clips, clip art, music and voice recordings. It even has a built-in audio file mixer to help you perfect the music and recordings you use. However, it doesn't offer any backgrounds, themes or animations. This program has some of the best input and output compatibility and can help you create interactive CDs (CD-i), DVDs or Blu-ray discs. It is also compatible with MPEG4, MPEG2, AVI, QuickTime, HD and Windows Media files. In addition to running on Windows operating systems, this program is also available for Mac computers. You can also save your photo slideshows so that they are compatible with iPhones and other mobile devices. After you have edited and perfected your slideshows, you can share your creations with family and friends via Facebook and YouTube. If you need assistance, you can contact a representative by email. Unfortunately, if you want comprehensive help, you have to purchase a technical support plan.
Pros
  • This program is inexpensive and has an easy-to-use interface.
  • It’s compatible with all of the most common file types.
  • It is Mac compatible.
Cons
  • You have to pay extra for comprehensive technical support.
  • There are no animation options.
  • It doesn't provide backgrounds or themes.
Best Special Effects

SmartSHOW 3D Deluxe

SmartSHOW 3D Deluxe offers several tools to add special effects to your slideshows. There are 120 transitions to choose from, and you can add animation overlays over your photos, such as falling leaves, snow or hearts.
You can even decide the sizes of these falling shapes as well as the locations and speed at which they appear.Although this program gives you the best control with the animated effects, you cannot add video clips to your slideshows or edit your photos. There are more than 60 photo templates and 86 backgrounds and themes to choose from, so you can find the perfect match for your pictures. You can have as many audio files as you want overlaying or playing through your slideshows. This program has the capabilities to design beautifully detailed slideshows, but it can also be used to quickly create a project when you're in a hurry. However, this program doesn't feature an undo option, which can make some of these processes a little more complicated than is necessary. You can convert your slideshows into several different file types, including AVI, MP4, 3GP, MKV and WMV. These slideshows can be specially made for your tablet or smartphone, or you can even make an HD-formatted DVD. Should you need to contact a customer representative, you can do so via email.
Pros
  • You can use as many audio files at once as you want.
  • It has a lot of special effects options.
  • The slideshows are of top quality.
Cons
  • You cannot incorporate videos into your slideshows.
  • You cannot edit your photos.
  • There is no undo option.

Why Trust Us?
We've been testing photo slideshow software for the past 12 years. This year we spent 40 hours comparing 10 programs, paying particular attention to editing abilities, creative features, audio options, ease of use, and sharing and formatting compatibilities. Our testers were provided photos and videos to use as they assembled their own slideshows complete with audio and animated transitions. Programs that gave us more features and that allowed us more flexibility during assembly and export scored higher.

We understand that the editing tools and output formats available within a slideshow program are integral to determining its usefulness. For this reason, we made a list of the most important editing tools, file formats and sharing capabilities to see if the software covered these areas. Programs that had more file options, editing features and sharing capabilities scored higher. 

How We Evaluated
We determined our ease-of-use score by evaluating the cleanness and intuitiveness of the interface. Programs with helpful learning features scored higher. Programs that offer the option to undo previous changes are easier to use, so programs that did this scored better.

Since flexibility and creative options are such important parts of slideshow software, we gave more points to programs that offered more features and gave more control. Some of the most important features included the number of transition effects, backgrounds and themes offered, as well as the number of audio tracks you can use. Since some programs limit the number of photos you can use, we gave more points to programs that had no limits.

We determined slideshow quality by evaluating how well each program rendered our pictures and incorporated transitions. The speed and quality of the animation effects were also factors we considered. Part of what makes a slideshow satisfactory is whether it can be exported in the file type or manner of your choosing. Programs that offered more export options scored higher.

Sharing and help capabilities are also important. We gave programs more points when they made it easier to share our final creations via social media sites, as well as email and mobile formatting. Companies that offered more options to contact representatives also scored better. 

Choosing a Slideshow Creator
A picture slideshow program should be simple to use and should offer a variety of features to help you personalize your slideshows. This includes having a range of backgrounds, themes, transitional effects and audio options. The best photo slideshow software doesn't limit the number of photos you use, and it allows you to control the length and type of transitions you use in your projects. It is nice to be able to use more than one audio file so that you can play meaningful music and also include voice narration.

Some slideshow programs allow you to import video clips and even help you edit photos. These editing tools should at least include red-eye removal, cropping and the ability to add text. Advanced editing tools that allow you to adjust brightness, contrast, color and clarity can really help make your slideshows special.

It's important to find a program that uses the file types and sharing abilities you plan on using. The most common file types include MP4, MP3, AVI, QuickTime and Windows Media. The ability to create DVDs, Blu-rays or interactive CDs can help you share your creations with others. Programs that allow you to directly share to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube add a measure of convenience.

Help and support options are valuable with nearly any type of softwate. Look for companies that make it easy for you to contact them by providing several contact points, whether that be email, live chat or phone. FAQs pages and video tutorials can also help you learn and understand the program better. 

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