Best Photo Slideshow Software of 2018

Rebecca Spear ·
Digital Photo Editing & Small Appliance Writer
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We spent 40 hours evaluating and researching 10 photo slideshow programs to discover which ones make sharing easy, offer the most creative possibilities and have the most seamless workflow. Photostory Deluxe came out on top because it truly allows you to customize your projects while giving you plenty of tools and effects to work with. This software has a bit of a learning curve, simply because there are so many tools. But once you become familiar with them, the large toolset and intuitive interface can help you create professional-looking slideshows.   

Best Overall
Photostory Deluxe
Photostory Deluxe 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.
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Best Budget
Photostory Easy
Photostory Easy, a simpler, less expensive version of Photostory Deluxe can help you create polished slideshows. There are plenty of graphics, animations and transitions to get you started.
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Best for YouTubers
Movavi Slideshow Maker
Movavi Slideshow Maker is a modern slideshow program that features classy graphics and transitions. It is one of the easiest programs to use, and it can even help you create YouTube videos.
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Best Overall
Photostory Deluxe offers all the basic slideshow features necessary to make beautiful projects. With over 300 transition effects and more than 370 backgrounds and filters, this gives you the most effects to work with out of any software we tested.
You also get access to an in-store app where you can purchase additional graphics, music and transitions. There is no limit to the number of photos you can add to your projects, so you can do just about anything you want. This software also gives you some of the best hands-on options. You can specify exactly where an image will move during a transition or use the advanced editing tools to make your photos stand out. Beginners might feel a little daunted by all of the options, but they will soon learn to create professional-looking edits and effects once they get the hang of these straightforward tools. Photostory Deluxe lets you export your slideshows in HD for specific devices like smartphones, tablets and TVs. Additionally, you can burn your projects to DVD, interactive CD or Blu-ray to share with others. Or you can share your creations directly to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or email from within the program. Should you need help, you can find it on the company’s FAQs page, official user forum or video tutorials. If you want specific technical support via phone, you will need to purchase a support voucher, which is not standard with all the software we tested.
  • You can play voice recordings and music tracks at the same time.
  • It offers the most backgrounds, themes and filters of any software.
  • It comes with advanced photo editing tools.
  • This software isn't Mac compatible.
  • It is one of the most expensive slideshow programs.
  • You have to pay extra for phone support.
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Best Budget
Photostory Easy is a simplified version of Photostory Deluxe. The simple interface is straightforward to learn. Since it isn’t as comprehensive as some other programs, this software isn’t as expensive.
With only 72 transition effects and 27 backgrounds, there isn’t a ton of variety, but there are enough options to let you customize your slideshows. The program doesn’t boast as many editing tools, but you can still adjust the hue, saturation, brightness and contrast of your images. As far as audio editing goes, this program simply lets you record audio or fade music in and out. You can have audio tracks and music playing at the same time and can specifically control the volume levels of each. As with Photostory Deluxe, there is an in-store app with a huge library of effects that you can add to your images, including fun decorations like bunny ears, sun glasses and party balloons. Some of these effects are even animated to add more fun to your projects. There are also specific text templates that can help you create animated titles and captions for your slides. The import wizard makes the creating process fast, and you can add as many photos as you want to your slideshows. When you are ready to share your creations, this program can help you burn them to DVD, Blu-ray or interactive CD. You can also post your projects directly to YouTube, Flickr and Facebook from within the program. It does not allow you to post directly to Twitter. While Magix offers a user forum, FAQs page and video tutorials for you to learn from, you have to pay an extra fee to get technical support via phone. Also keep in mind that this program is not Mac compatible.
  • This program is inexpensive and has an easy-to-use interface.
  • It’s compatible with all of the most common file types.
  • It can burn to both DVDs and Blu-rays.
  • You have to pay extra for comprehensive technical support.
  • You cannot post your slideshows directly to Twitter.
  • It has fewer transitions and backgrounds than some other software.
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Best for YouTubers
Movavi Slideshow Maker is the most modern photo slideshow program in our comparison. It comes equipped with the tools you need to polish photos and add enhancements to your projects. In addition to providing voice recording tools, it also comes with basic video editing tools so you can create and edit video recordings to enrich your slideshow.
This program features 105 transition effects. While this isn’t the most we’ve seen, the transitions are classy and professional looking. This software doesn’t supply any backgrounds or themes, but it does include 165 chic photo filters. This allows you to add a special feel to your photos without drawing attention away from them. We found this program easy to use since the interface is extremely intuitive. If you want additional help, you can rely on the import wizard to set your slideshows up quickly. Movavi also provides email support, a FAQs page and video tutorials to help you, but there is no user forum. There are only a few graphics, mainly arrows and other shapes that help draw attention to specific areas of your images or videos unlike other programs that offer a lot of 90s-style clip art. As it is modern software, this program has done away with the ability to burn slideshows to Blu-ray, DVD or interactive CD. Instead, it makes it very easy for you to post your projects directly to YouTube or to save them as a specific media file, whether that be for smartphones, tablets, or HD and 4K Ultra TVs. Unfortunately, this program cannot help you post slideshows directly to email, Twitter or Facebook. It is available for both Mac and PC users and will most likely be a program preferred by millennials and computer savvy users due to its modern, minimalist style and video options.
  • It is Mac compatible.
  • This program lets you record video if you have a USB camera connected to your computer.
  • The slideshows are top quality.
  • You cannot burn slideshows to DVD or interactive disc.
  • This program doesn’t allow you to post projects directly to Twitter, Facebook or email.
  • There is no official user forum.
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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 spoke with Carina Zhdanova, PR manager for Movavi, and Katherine Paz, Marketing Coordinator for Photodex, to get a better understanding of each company’s software and slideshow software in general. We also contacted a local professional photographer to see how she used these programs and to learn what tips she could give from her 10 years of experience for anyone new to the software.

How We Tested

We downloaded all 10 programs and created slideshows complete with music and voice recordings to see how well each one worked. We determined our ease-of-use score by evaluating the cleanliness and intuitiveness of the interface and our experiences using the software. Programs with helpful learning features like import or slideshow wizards scored higher.

Since flexibility and creative options are such important parts of this software, we gave higher scores to programs that offered more features and gave us more control. Some of the most important features include 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 higher scores to programs that had no limits. Programs that have more audio and photo editing tools also scored higher.

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. 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 as well as the ability to burn projects to DVD and Blu-ray received higher scores.

Sharing and help capabilities are also important. When programs make it easier to share your final creations via social media sites, as well as email and mobile formatting, we scored them higher. Companies that offer more customer support options also scored favorably. We especially appreciate user forums and video tutorials since these can often be the fastest and best ways to learn from others. Companies that offered phone and email support scored higher than companies that did not.

You can use the editing tools in your software to fix any dark or off-color photos before sharing your slideshow with others.

Choosing a Slideshow Creator

A picture slideshow program should be simple to use and offer a variety of features to help you personalize your slideshows. We contacted representatives from both Movavi and ProShow Gold to ask what were the most important aspects of their slideshow programs. Both representatives told us that ease of use was what their companies strived to create. For Movavi, this meant having a Slideshow Wizard that allows you to create finished projects in as little as 10 minutes without having to master the software. ProShow Gold pointed out that the ideal program offers the flexibility to manually take control and bring your creative ideas to life. This includes having a range of backgrounds, themes, transitional effects and audio options.

We also asked Briana, a local professional photographer, for slideshow tips. “People have short attention spans,” she told us. “If you aren’t using the slideshow to completely fill up a time slot, keep it under three minutes – a minute and a half is good. Make sure the combination of music and visuals adds to the other.” This advice is especially helpful in a professional setting, but it also applies if you plan on posting your slideshows to social media for wider audiences to watch. As Brianna said, the average person has a short attention span. Of course, if you’re showing photos at a wedding or family reunion, the reel can be as long as you want.

What Features Should I Look For?

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.

One of the best and easiest ways to enhance your photos and videos is to pair them with complementary music. Most slideshow programs give you the ability to add music and voice recordings to your projects, and sometimes these programs come with a library of songs and sound effects. But the best programs don’t just allow you to add music; they also allow you to record yourself and edit what you’ve recorded to make it fit your slides perfectly.

It's important the program you choose has the file types and sharing abilities you plan on using. The most common file types include MP4, MP3, AVI and Windows Media. 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 software. Look for companies that make it easy for you to contact them and have FAQs pages and video tutorials to help you learn and understand the program better.