We spent 40 hours evaluating and researching the latest photo slideshow programs to discover which ones make sharing easy, offer the most creative possibilities and have the most seamless workflow. We found Photostory Deluxe to be the best photo slideshow software, because it truly allows you to customize your projects, while giving you plenty of tools and effects to work with.
This slideshow 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. Read on for our pick of the best photo slideshow software right now.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Widest Design Selection
PhotoStage Slideshow is an older software, but the program's basic design and simple interface make it super easy to use.
Since this is barebones slideshow software, we recommend it to anyone who isn't going to use all of the flashy graphics and transitions offered by other programs. There are no backgrounds, filters or themes, but there are roughly 30 transition effects to choose from. This includes more elaborate transitions like fading into the next image in the expanding shape of a heart or simply scrolling from one side of the screen to the other.
You can make simple edits such as cropping and rotating your photos, and adjusting contrast, hue and brightness. We found the slideshow playback to be crisp and of good color quality in our tests. This software handles the most common audio and video formats, so you can spice up your slideshows with mixed media. The area where this slideshow software really falls short is in the help and support. You'll need to buy one of three different support plans if you need it. But honestly, this program is so easy to use that you likely won't need to contact anyone at NCH for help.
Easiest to Use
|Product||Price||Overall Rating||Price||Editing Creating||Output Formats||Sharing Capabilities||Hidden Category||Ease of Use Score||Slideshow Quality||Transition Effects||Filters, Backgrounds & Themes||Audio Track Limit||MPEG-4||DVD||Blu-ray||YouTube||Windows 10||Windows 8||Windows 7||Mac OS 10.8|
|Photostory Deluxe||View Deal||4.5/5||$69.99||10||10||7||10||95%||100%||313||378+||7||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||-|
|ProShow Gold 9||View Deal||4.5/5||$69.95||9||10||10||8.3||90%||100%||427||31||2||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||-|
|Photostory Easy V2||View Deal||4.5/5||$39.99||7.3||9.8||9||10||95%||95%||36||None||2||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|CyberLink MediaShow 6 Deluxe||View Deal||4.5/5||$34.99||8||8||9||8.3||100%||100%||59||None||Unlimited||✓||✓||-||-||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|PhotoStage Slideshow Home Edition||View Deal||4.5/5||$49.95||7||9.8||7||10||90%||75%||130||450||2||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Movavi Slideshow Maker Personal||View Deal||4/5||$39.95||9.3||5.5||5||6.8||100%||100%||105||165||2||-||✓||-||-||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|SmartSHOW Deluxe 9.15||View Deal||4/5||$59.50||8.3||7.5||7||5||80%||85%||31||7||1||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||-|
|DVD Slideshow Builder Deluxe 6.5||View Deal||4/5||$69.95||7.7||9.3||7||6.8||75%||95%||72||27||1||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||-|
|PicturesToExe Essentials 9||View Deal||4/5||$69.00||6.3||9.3||7||8.3||100%||95%||131||177||Unlimited||✓||✓||-||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||-|
|Microsoft PowerPoint 2016||View Deal||3.5/5||$129.99||8.3||6.3||5||8.3||85%||100%||48||140||Unlimited||✓||-||-||-||-||✓||✓||✓||✓|
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.
How Much Does Slideshow Software Cost?
Depending on how many features, design elements and options you want, the best slideshow software can cost anywhere from $40 to $70. Typically, the more you spend, the more filters, themes, backgrounds and transitions you'll get. You'll also tend to have more audio, and video options as well as more control over your slideshows if you are willing to pay a little more.
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.
Tips For Making a Good Slideshow
Here are some pointers for making slideshows for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, funerals or other events:
- According to Memories Renewed, when it comes to slideshows 10 to 12 images are typically displayed within a minute. This means that a 100-image slideshow will likely last 10 to 12 minutes. Take this into account when creating your slideshows.
- For an elegant slideshow, don’t use distracting transitions. Stick with a simple fade between images.
- Choose music and images that are appropriate for the event. You don’t want to play raucous music or have disrespectful photos at a funeral, for example.
- Know how the slideshow will be used. If it’s going to play in the background it can go on forever. However, if you’re going to draw everyone’s attention to it as a special presentation, keep it short and simple – three to five minutes. People typically don’t have long attention spans.
- Add statements from loved ones, when appropriate, to make it extra special.
- Make sure you run through the slideshow beforehand to make sure everything works properly. Fix any problems. This includes the transitions, graphics and music.
To make a beautiful slideshow, it helps to have good photos. Here are some helpful photography tips:
- Spend time perfecting the lighting and camera settings. The more work you do up front, the less editing you'll have to do later.
- To capture the most detail in your subject matter, get as close as you can while keeping the shot in focus.
- Even the best equipment won’t fix the harsh sunlight in a family photo. To prevent unwanted shadows, take advantage of cloudy days, shade and the "golden hours" - the perfect lighting period just after sunrise and before sunset when the lighting isn’t as harsh.
- If you can’t avoid shooting on a sunny day, counteract the harsh shadows with light boxes, reflective and diffuser panels, and shade.
- Take time to understand and internalize shutter speeds. For instance, if you want to capture fast-moving subjects, like birds in flight, you’ll need a shutter speed of 1/500 second or faster.
- Landscapes can be striking if done correctly. One nifty trick is to include a foreground, middle ground and background in your image. This image depth will make your photo more interesting.
- If you want to specialize in portraits, wedding photos or family photos, learn how to make your subjects feel more comfortable. A joke can go a long way in making people feel at ease. You’ll find that a relaxed subject is more likely to use authentic expressions and body language.
- Play with various lenses and camera settings; you'll get better if you take the time to practice and experiment.
- Never overedit your images. Too many effects will make your photos look unskilled, or even tacky. Sometimes, it’s hard to know if you’ve gone too far; we suggest taking a 10-minute break from your editing before finalizing the changes.
- Always keep the original copies of your photos, which you’ll appreciate if you ever make accidental changes to your work.
- Learn as much as you can. Use the many online resources available to get tips, learn lighting tricks and ask questions.
- You’ve most likely seen how expensive photography equipment is. But you don’t need the best equipment to make beautiful art; you can do a lot by honing your skills. Additionally, many camera stores allow you to rent lenses and other equipment. Rent what you need, and you can slowly acquire gear as you go.