A Tools Faceoff! Google Slides VS Microsoft Powerpoint-Which is Best for Closed Captioning?

Did you know that Microsoft Powerpoint and Google Slides do live closed captioning during presentations? Last year was the first time I used the feature in a presentation and I’ve been hooked on using it ever since. Why?

  1. I talk fast sometimes.
  2. My southern accent comes out on certain words (pen, roof, pain). My husband’s favorite words to hear me say are “hill” and “ten”.
  3. Often times people may not be able to hear and miss out on key points.
  4. It’s helpful for English language learners to see subtitles.
  5. It can provide a more accessible experience for attendees
  6. It can provide a way for folks on a webinar to watch without audio.
  7. I think it makes me a better presenter as I’m not as likely to say silly things or sailor words while I have closed captioning on.

There are other benefits as well but those are some of the reasons I like to use it. I’ll never forget the magic of the first time I used this technique. Attendees wanted to know how I was doing the live closed captioning so, of course, I shared how I use Google Slides.

More About Google Slides Live Closed Captioning

I first became aware of Google Slides live closed-captioning in October of 2018. The minute I saw it, I knew I had to try it. Google Slides works on any type of system since it’s cloud-based. I also love the fact that it takes just two clicks to get it active. See it in action in the video below:

If you’d like to try it for yourself, here is a Google slides presentation for you.

Pros and Cons of Google Slides


  • Easy to use
  • Device agnostic
  • Keeps up with speaker pace for captioning


  • Only captions in English
  • Cannot save .txt file of captions
  • Audience cannot control the translation language

More About Microsoft Powerpoint Live Closed Captioning

Soon after I became aware of Google Slides closed-captioning, I learned about Microsoft Powerpoint offering the same service. Powerpoint offered new options such as letting the audience control the language they see and allowed presenters to download a text file of the captions. To use this, you have to use Microsoft 365 Powerpoint and download a plug-in that you must configure before you use. For a while, this only worked on a PC and didn’t work on a Mac. A few months ago they rolled it out to Macs too.

Once configured, you can choose from a few different languages it will live closed-caption including English, Spanish, and Chinese. Here’s where it gets a little bit complicated. Each presentation you use this on, you are given a code that is displayed as a URL in the presentation that audience attendees can go to and select the language they want to receive captioning in. I admit this feature is pretty robust as it supports more than 60 languages. This takes a bit of education on the part of the speaker for the audience to understand how to use it. Also, it requires the audience member to have a device in their hand to watch the closed-captions on. The presentation only supports one language closed captioning during the presentation (from the presenter’s screen).

Here is an example of how the subtitles look in presentation mode on a PC. You can see in the upper right-hand corner the URL to access local control of the subtitles.

It also looks different on a PC vs a Mac. Here are some screenshots I took from my PC:

Once the plug-in is enabled, you will access the captioning feature under the “Slide Show” option on the ribbon.
You have the option on PC to have this go in front of your title slide to encourage audience members to have control of the language captions on their own device. I did not see this option for a slide on the Mac version.
Here are some of the options for the way the closed captioning will be displayed in Powerpoint.

Want to see this in action on a Mac? Check it out!

Want to try it? Don’t forget you have to install this plug-in and be using Microsoft Office 365 Powerpoint. Here is a Powerpoint presentation for you to test it out.

Pros and Cons of Microsoft Powerpoint


  • Provides an option to mute the audience so it is only picking up primary speaker
  • Supports multiple languages for captioning
  • Saves captions as a text file for future captioning use


  • Doesn’t keep up with the speaker’s voice as quickly as Google Slides (in my experience)
  • Takes extra time to educate the audience about set-up and usage
  • Must install an extra plug-in, it isn’t native to the software.

Who wins the face-off? Ultimately it is up to you to determine which best fits your needs. I’m biased towards Google Slides but I appreciate the additional features in Powerpoint.

So there you have it, two tools you can use for live closed-captioning. Let me know if you’ve used these features before in the comments below.


2 thoughts on “A Tools Faceoff! Google Slides VS Microsoft Powerpoint-Which is Best for Closed Captioning?

  1. Hi Cara,
    Thank you for sharing this information with the addition of the video clips. I was not aware of any of this on Google Slides and PowerPoint.
    Much appreciated.

  2. Great post! I’m filing this link in my “Accessibility” folder. I loved that with PPT, you could chose to have the “sub”titles show up ABOVE the slide. As a vertically challenged human, often subtitles on the bottom of a screen are behind someone’s head!

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