Summary: This blog introduces best free slideshow makers with music and effects in the first part. For more control over the effects, themes and templates, there are another 6 pieces of freemium slideshow making software to play with.
Are you aware of how many photos are taken and then forgotten in the storage card? Photos of cute babies, 4-leg friends, birthday parties, weddings, and more. Using a photo slideshow maker can breathe life into those still photos.
In fact, any fully-baked video editor (NLE) can be used as a slideshow maker, the only drawback is the amount of time and effort required if you are new to non-linear editing software. That's why the market of dedicated and easy-to-use slideshow makers blossom.
A slideshow maker might have some or all of these options:
- Add transitions
- Add filters and adjust colors
- Add background music
- Add text and captions
- Add video layovers such as stickers and PiP
- Record your voice to add commentaries
The difference lies in the degree of customizability each program allows, and that makes sense because those programs aim at different markets (for users at different skill levels).
Free slideshow maker offers essential functions enough for a simple video, and you can use Instasize Photo Editor to enhance your photos before making photo slideshow. If you don't mind spending a penny, there are freemium programs that offer more templates and controls to get design-y. We cover both types in this blog for different editing needs.
Best Free Slideshow Makers for Windows and Mac
The default video editor for windows 10 is one of the best free slideshow makers for beginners. It is pre-installed, and comes with basic transition and motion effects enough for a quick making of photos slideshow with music. The best thing is, you can directly pick photos and videos already stored in the photos library, or import media from iPhone and Android mobiles. With each photo or video inserted to the storyboard, you can trim it or adjust duration, add captions, transitions and music.
- Pre-installed app, easy to use
- Lightweight for low-performance computer
- Barebones for power users looking for highly customizable solutions
If you are looking for the best free slideshow makers for Mac, iMovie ranks top on the list. Developed by Apple, this video editing application works nicely for slideshow making. You don't have to train yourself to get design-y, the themes and text styles in iMovie keep up with Apple's aesthetics. You can add enormous numbers of photos and video clips into the timeline, as long as the finished video falls within 60 minutes.
- Various stylish themes for quick slideshow making
- Countless YouTube tutorials to guide you through slideshow making
- Option to add and edit background music for the slideshow
- Changing the aspect ratio of the video is less straight-forward
The interface of ffDiaporama does admittedly look a little dated at a first glance. But it is free and open source software, hard to beat that! You can create decent photo slideshows with music.
This program has basic transition built-in, including commonly seen slide, zoom, fade, etc. Transitions can be applied between each photo, with the option to change speed.
- Option to quickly rearrange photos by dragging them
- Support editing background music in the slides
- Only provides some basic functions
- No templates or storyboard to use
If you want an automatic photo slideshow wizard, 4K Slideshow Maker does the magic. It automatically creates a video from photos you imported, and apply random but nice transitions and effects to the photos. Popular effects such as ken burns will be added, giving you a view of panning and zooming to breathe life into still photos. It also allows you to adjust the duration of photos and transitions.
- Ready-to-use profiles to export video as the best format for iPhone, YouTube, Facebook, 4K
- Directly import photos from Instagram to create IG photo show
- Option to use face detection tech to keep people in the frame
- All the things you prefer to manually done is not possible in this program
- No option to trim and cut background music and videos
- Cannot add text or stickers to the video
Bolide Slideshow Creator is a lightweight free slideshow maker, with a merely 9MB installation package. The interface is archaic, with a design aesthetic from the Windows 7 era. All the basic needs can be fulfilled: add multiple photos to the storyboard, insert transitions between photos, add one piece of background music, and apply animated titles. It works nicely if you only want to showcase photos with simple transitions. There is no photo college tool to stylize photos in each frame.
- Lightweight and easy-to-use, suitable for low-spec machines
- It supports up to 18 languages
- Option to randomly arrange photos you added into the storyboard
- 1-click make all photos landscape or portrait by cropping, zoom in, or letter box
- Doesn't support 4K or higher resolutions
- Cannot add and merge multiple pieces of music to one video
- The output format is limited to AVI, MP4, WMV, MKV and FLV
Best Slideshow Makers with Music, Effects and Templates
Photopia Creator is a professional slideshow maker with templates, stock music, caption pre-sets, and a myriad of advanced functions. You can add an image masking layer, adjustment layer and keyframes to create a stunning video. For non-techie users, there is are plethora of slide styles (templates) to use, with options to make custom adjustments. For instance, you can color grade or resize a photo to fit in the template.
- Option to adjust brightness, contrast, hue, saturation of the photo within the software
- 950+ built-in effects and 250 tracks of royalty-free music library to use
- Option to group several slides together for better organization
- Subscription-based software with a 21-day free trial
- Less suitable for occasional users
IceCream Slideshow Maker is a no-brainer choice for beginners to quickly create animated slides with still photos. With a straightforward interface and clear guidance, you can simply import photos and apply transitions in between.
It is similar to how you add animation in PowerPoint slideshow, except that IceCream SlideShow Maker will turn it into a video in the end. You can add transition like cross-fade, fade to black, fade to white, pixelate, flip over, wipe, stretch, zoom etc. If you want a photo to stay on the screen for a while, you can change its duration.
IceCream also allows you to add text layover on your photos, you can select font, color and position of the captions. There are some handy effects for text too. It offers basic functions to add audio, and sync audio with the photos.
- No learning curve for beginners
- 20+ transition effects to apply in 1-click
- Real-time preview of the end product
- Only supports 20 photos per slideshow in the free version
PhotoStage has an interface that resembles regular video editing software, with effects, animations, text and transitions tabs clearly displayed in the working space. It allows you to combine photos and videos into a new video, and apply one of the 47 transitions to smooth out image switch.
PhotoStage has a sound effects browser baked in, you can select them by categories, including whoosh, sport, scifi, nature, etc.
- Record and add narration to the slides directly within the program
- Smooth real-time preview of slideshow video with effects and music
- Templates for text look out-dated
- Less intuitive to deal with photos of different frame sizes
MediaShow offers a powerful solution to organize photos and create slideshow from them. It also allows you to add video clips into the slides.
Unlike other programs that focus on slideshow creation, MediaShow is more of a combination of Lightroom and video editor. You can tag and grade photos, use AI face-recognition tech to better organize photos. With photos and videos ready, you can make a slideshow with background music. There is a dazzling array of designs, text effects and transitions to apply.
- Create slideshow with photos from Instagram and Dropbox
- Support adding videos and 3D photos
- User-ready themes to apply for slideshow videos
- Overblown if you only want a photo slideshow maker
Magix Photostory Easy has a very neat interface. Once you imported photos into the timeline, you shall see a plus icon between each photo, and that's the place to add a transition.
There are some high-quality intro and outro templates to make the process easier, and it offers you decorative elements as video layovers. In addition to this, Photostory is also packed with image optimizer to enhance your photo slides.
- Beginner friendly and easy to navigate
- Export settings including burn to DVD and publish online
- Option to record your voice for the slides
- Fewer customization choices if you want to add a personal touch to the slideshow video
11. SmartShow 3D
SmartShow 3D is a dedicated slideshow maker to spice up your photos and videos. As its name suggests, you can add 3D animation effects for photos and captions. It also provides you with a wide range of tools, 150+ transitions and animation effects and 30+ video output formats.
Though it is less expansive as a typical video editor, it offers you slides templates designed by professionals to use instantly, with themes like wedding, vacation and Christmas. You can add music and voiceover to the slides too.
- Stylish 3D effects to display multiple photos in one scene
- Make animated photo collage styled slides
- Less option to use your own stickers
12. PTE AV Studio
PTE AV Studio 10 is a successor of PicturesToExe 9. If you are looking for something complete with effects control, this program might be the best slideshow makers for you. You can fine-tune effects and motions of the picture slides, to the extent of using professional NLEs.
As for templates and transitions, there are nicely designed presets, such as Brush strokes, 3D album flipping effects, and photo collage to display your pictures and videos. The audio control is powerful too, you can drag curves to control the volume of background music, commentary voice over and sound effects.
- Highly customizable with easy-to-understand parameter settings
- Export 4K video to display high quality photos
- Option to create Executable (.exe) shows for PC
- Require some learning curve for a non-techie person
Best Photo Slideshow Makers Online
Canva Slideshow Maker offers a streamlined experience to create a slideshow online. It certainly benefits from a huge array of stylish graphic designs and other visual assets on this platform. You can import videos and still photos to replace examples in the presets. The best thing is, you can click on individual graphic in the template, and change its color schemes.
Kapwing Slideshow Maker is an easy to use online tool to convert photos into videos for free. The minimalist design is consistent throughout the platform and caters to people with the same taste. You can choose a desired aspect ratio including 1:1, 9:16, 16:9, 4:5, 5:4, and custom size. Using the placeholder, you can also place Emojis over your photo slideshow.
15. Google Photos
Google Photos has built-in slideshow and Collage makers. Combining these tools properly, you can churn out fantastic photo slideshows on the fly. You can select desired photos and let Google create the slideshow for you automatically. The only drawback is, it cannot create slides for photos from different albums. You need to go inside one album, and click the three-dot icon to call out the Slideshow option. You can create an album specifically to make slideshows.
It is true that most of the dedicated slideshow makers have a limited free trial, while free slideshow makers fail to provide more templates and styles (except iMovie).
If you are serious about making photo slideshow with music and effects, and you are not satisfied with the limitation imposed by simple programs, there are more than 10 pieces of free non-linear video editing software to choose from, including Shotcut, VSDC, HitFilm Express, Lightwork, DaVinci Resolve, Kdenlive, etc.
Unlike dedicated slideshow maker, everything is highly customizable. It would be bliss for customization and curse for non-techie beginners. You can make your own templates, creating PNG files with Photoshop, and import it into the program. Or you can purchase professionally designed templates, with motion graphics and title styles ready to use.
Wishing you all the best with the slideshow project.