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Google Slides do not Play Videos

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This has been the most embarrassing thing lately, we have a great video embedded in Google Slides and it just won’t play. I have PTSD from the many PowerPoint presentations in the last century when you were all queued up to do this and something would just break. Well, this morning when it broke yet again, I finally dedicated an hour to figuring out what is going on. The good news is that basically every teacher in the world is trying to figure out exactly the same problem and here are some of the answers.

There are two unrelated issues:

  1. You cannot play videos in the edit mode of Google slides, yes, it shows a play icon on top, but that doesn’t work. But if you click on the box icon on the top, then it will go to Drive.google.com and you can check that the video works but you cannot see this play
  2. You need to be in `View/Present` mode to be able to play the video. I normally just edit slides and not present mode because it annoyingly goes full screen which is worse than useless in the age of Zoom. So instead of using that menu item, go to the Present icon at the upper right of the Google slides window and click on the arrow and there is a hidden entry call Presenter View this is really designed for Zoom and it does not full screen the video and you get the speaker notes too. Then you should be able to play your videos.

The second issue has to do with cookie blocking. You can tell have this problem if you are getting error 5 when you try to play or the video just hangs. There are two potential problems here:

  1. If you are sharing the slide deck to someone, they need permissions for the videos in addition to the slides otherwise this hangs. So assuming the video came from Google Drive, then you need to go there and click something more permissive. The easiest one is that anyone with the link can view the video. If these are really private, then you can also allow specific people view mode. And, yes it is confusing these permissions are different for the slide vs the videos, but the main thing to remember is that the videos are not copied into the slide deck, they are just links to Google Drive.
  2. The next possible problem  is that third party cookie blocking is the problem, so to fix, but the specific error is that in a slide, it will show the play button but not work or it will show error 5 in the window. If you click on the upper right, this brings you to a new tab which is run by google drive and if it hangs there then you probably have a conflict with privacy blocking since the playing needs googleapis.com enabled.
  3. On Google Chrome, when you go to https://google.com/slides you will see a funny icon in the address bar that looks like an eye with a cross through it. This is the cookie blocker, when you click on it, you will see a list of cookies blocked, there will be 15 or so. Click on site not working and show cookies and click on the Blocked tab and allow the google and youtube related ones. The particularone you need is googleapis.comenabled.
  4. On Safari, I haven’t figured out exactly how to do this on a per-site basis, the browser wide thing is in Settings > Privacy > Website Tracking > Prevent cross-site tracking.

So good luck to everyone trying to present and maybe the biggest message is test your deck (don’t be me!) before you present 😃

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