Combining Slide Audio and 'Play Audio'


This short blog post is meant to answer another question on the Adobe forums. It is at the end of this thread:

This was the goal:

  1. Slide has narration as slide audio
  2. There are multiple shapes used as buttons, which should trigger an audio clip using 'Play Audio' command; those shapes have no pausing point.
  3. When a shape button is clicked the audio clip should play, but the slide audio should pause, and resume after the audio clip ends.
  4. There is at least one more interactive object pausing the slide towards the end. Idea is that the learner can still listen to the audio clips after the slide audio has finished.

This learner tried to solve this with simple actions, using the feature 'Pause slide audio when clicked'. It cannot be solved that way however.

Example project

Watch this short project created to double-check my proposed workflow with a shared action for the shape buttons. After the Title slide you'll see a slide with a Next button to pause the slide, and a shared action triggered by each of the shape buttons. A copy of the Timeline panel can be found on the third slide. I used some slides from the Aspire Quick Start Project.

You can open a rescalable version using this link or watch the embedded version below:


You could see the slide audio (narration) in the Timeline panel. The audio clips for the shape buttons were imported to the Project library, and their exact duration was checked, because it will be needed in the shared action. Have a look at the shared action with its two parameters (name audio clip and duration clip):

It has two parameters:

The command Pause in the action will pause the slide audio automatically, contrary to a pausing point of an interactive object. You don't have to change any setting in the shape button Properties. The Continue command which will be done at the end of the audio clip will take care of resuming the slide audio.

Do not bother about having two clips playing at the same time. If the learner clicks another shape button before the first audio clip ends, that first clip is stopped automatically. No need to add a command like 'Stop triggered audio' which is only needed when you want to stop a playing clip without playing a new at the same time.

The user is concerned that applying the shared action will take more time than the approach he tried out with simple actions. However, since you don't have to change settings in the shape button Properties panel, the shared action approach needs even less clicks. Check it out. There is no danger of choking Captivate which could happen if you use duplicate advanced actions since you are using instances of one shared action (ecologically).


The previous solution works fine until the learner has reached the pausing point of the Next button. At that moment, the Continue command in the shared action will override the pausing and the playhead will continue until it reaches the end of the slide and moves to the next slide. It is necessary to cope with that different situation. The Delay command nor the Continue command take into account possible pausing points. 

There are two different situations, each needing a different workflow:

  • Learner clicks a shape button before the narration has ended. In that case the slide audio needs to be paused, and to resume after the end of the triggered audio clip.
  • Learner clicks a shape button after the narration has ended. You need to maintain the pause which occurs at the pausing point of the Next button.

This screenshot shows the Timeline panel, illustrating the two situations. Situation 1 in red, situation 2 in blue.

This needs apparently a conditional action for the shape buttons. You have to figure out which situation is valid. For that reason you need to know when the narration has ended. It is easy to see its duration in the timeline, in this case it was 28secs. To calculate the frame number at the end of the frame I used micro-navigation. If you are new to this type of navigation, please have a look at this blog post:

Intro to Micro-navigation



You need two user variables:

  • v_start: will store the frame number of the first frame of the slide with the narration and shape buttons
  • v_stop: will store the frame number at the end of the narration

Contrary to the timeline panel where seconds restart on each slide, the frame numbering continues throughout the project.

Shared Actions


This shared action will be triggered with the Slide Enter event, and is meant to calculate the value of v_stop. Have a look:

The first frame number of the slide is stored in v_start. The duration of the narration is converted to frames, by multiplying with the system variable cpInfoFPS. The only parameter is that duration.


The former standard action has been transformed to a conditional action:

Same parameters as before. The condition checks if the learner clicked the shape button before or after the end of the narration. Only when the narration hadn't been finished it will need to resume. That has been done with the Delay command and Continue. That is not necessary after reaching the end of the narration, because the pausing point of the Next button needs to be kept pausing, and the narration doesn't need to resume.

This shared action is needed for each of the interactive objects used to play an audio clip.  In the project I used shape buttons. They are visible in the timeline screenshot as SB_Topic1…. SB_Topic4.

By using shared actions instead of duplicate advanced actions, you avoid choking the project if you need lot of those actions which was the case for the user asking the question. Moreover multiple instances of the same shared action also will result in a smaller file size. Of course they are also very easy to transfer to future projects. You can learn more about using shared actions in these videos:

Use Shared Actions: Lesson 1 (crash course)

(re)Use Shared Actions: Lesson 2 (crash course)

Tips: adding Audio to QSP-slides (ready-to-go slides)


In some previous blogs I have warned to be careful with using the Switch to Destination Theme feature, have demonstrated an alternate but safer workflow to embed ready-to-go slides in a course with a custom theme. Because the themes in the responsive and non-responsive Quick Start Projects are not identical, I added a third post explaining the possible issues in the responsive version. That last post offers a free table with the names of all the master slides (including the most recent Alliance project).  It is an important resource if you want to avoid issues when embedding a ready-to-go slide. Issues occur when your present custom theme and the theme of the embedded slide have identically named master slides.

Only two QSP projects have audio in the Library: Rhapsody and Wired. The clips are used on the Podcast slide, triggered with the Play Audio command. As you all know, adding good Narration (VO) to an eLearning course will enhance the efficiency of that course considerably. Designers of the QSP’s have taken care of an easy replacement of graphical assets for you, but if you want to add narration or other audio to the course, you get no help.  This post will try to help you with some tips. It will not handle the creation of the audio clips, whether you use the TTS feature or a real audio recording. Only tips to avoid frustration when adding audio to the slides. Since the Closed Captioning feature of Captivate is limited to slide audio, the post will not explain how to add other types of audio. At the end you’ll find some more links which could help you in that case.

Adding audio clip

My usual workflow for inserting an audio clip as slide audio is:
  • Import the audio clips to the project Library
  • Drag the audio clip to the timeline of the slide (or to the stage, be careful not to drag to an object on the stage). Originally the slide timeline on most QSP slides is 3 seconds. If the audio clip is longer, a dialog box will appear. Choose the first option to extend the slide timeline.
  • Audio timeline appears below the slide timeline. I will increase the slide timeline duration manually bit more, so that I’m able to move the audio clip to leave a small gap before and after the audio.
  • You see in previous screenshot that all the object timelines have been extended automatically.  Reason is that most - but not all  - slides in the QSP are timed for the 'Rest of the Slide'. Check Timing Properties. Have also a look at Tip 1 below.

  • Test the audio, not by using Play Slide but by using a real Preview. This means for a non-responsive project that you need to use F11, Preview HTML5 in Browser. For responsive projects any Preview is fine. The three following tips are meant to fix problems detected during previewing.

Tip 1: Fix when objects disappear

In many slides, objects are timed for the Rest of the slide. Result: when the slide duration is increased to fit the audio clip, all object timelines will follow that example. However there are some exceptions, as seen in this screenshot:

In this slide (12 from Aspire) some objects have a timeline keeping the original duration of 3secs. When playing that slide in Preview, those objects will disappear after 3 seconds.

How to fix?

Select those objects which are not correctly timed. This can be done by clicking their timelines in combination with CTRL (or SHIFT for sequential timelines) key. TUsing the shortcut key ‘CTRL-E’ will change their timing to ‘Rest of Slide’. You can use the Timing properties of course.

Tip 2: Pause commands on slide events

Many slides in the Aspire project have the setup as shown in this screenshot.

This setup will prevent the audio clip on the slide from playing because the Pause command on the first frame will pause also slide a udio.

You have to take out that pause. You can safely replace it by ‘No action’ which is the default setting both for On Enter and On Exit slide events Result will be that the slide will not be paused, but the playhead will move seamlessly to the next slide when the audio has finished. That is IMO the most logical situation. If you want to mimick a presentation, where each slide is paused at the end and needs learner intervention, you can change the On Exit action to ‘Pause’ or add a button ‘Next’ to pause the slide. However do not forget that this may not be the best practice.

Many slides in the other QSP projects have set the On Exit event to Pause, to imitate  a Powerpoint presentation.  It is a personal liking, of course, but I prefer largely to have the playhead proceed to the next slide without learner action. If you share that idea, just take out the Pause for the On Exit event.

Tip 3: Pausing points

Contrary to the Pause command (see tip 2) a pausing point will not pause slide audio, although the playhead will be paused and so will all graphics assets/effects which are running or appear later.  By default, all pausing points will be set to occur at 1.5secs, either on the slide (for Quiz slides and Drag&Drop), or after the start of the interactive object timeline.

In most cases the increase of the slide duration due to inserting an audio clip will not cause problems, when the pausing point is due to an interactive object like a button. Reason is that the button will often trigger an action jumping to another slide, or revealing some content. The frames after the pausing point (inactive part) are not important in that case.

Possible issues can occur on quiz slides, if you insert an audio clip.  Here is an example (T/F slide 23 in Alliance):

You see the pausing point on the slide timeline at 1.5secs. Some smart shapes are not timed for the rest of the project (see Tip 1). However since the slide is paused at 1.5secs, before the end of those shape timelines, you’ll not be bothered by that while the audio continues playing (not paused). However, if while testing that slide, you have to wait a long time after the Submit process, and you see the shapes disappearing, that is due to the Actions setup in Quiz Properties. They were set in this slide as shown here:

Both actions are set to ‘Continue’, which means that the playhead is released. It will have to move through all frames after the pausing point (inactive part), and only moves to the next quiz slide after reaching the last frame. Not exactly what you want. Two possible fixes:

Fix 1: 

As is the case for other quiz slides in the QSP projects, replace the action ‘Continue’ by ‘Go to Next Slide’. You don’t have to bother about the wrongly timed smart shapes in that case.

Fix 2: 

Move the pausing point on the quiz slide with the mouse (not possible in Timing properties) to place it near the end of the slide. In that case you have to extend the smart shape timelines as explained in Tip 1. This workflow is recommended over the first fix,  if you expect slow connections with the LMS.

Similar problems can occur on Drag&Drop slides but will not expand on that. Know however that the pausing point is not visible on D&D slides in the Timeline panel as is the case for quiz slides.

Some links

If you are want some more information about the tips explained above. Not surprising, they all link to understanding the Timeline (priority 1 for each Captivate user). Maybe this blog (one of a sequence about the Timeline) can help you:

Pausing Captivate’s Timeline

For quiz slides, the Submit Process is explained in detail in this post:

Submit Process

If you want to add audio clips from another type than slide audio:

Pausing Timeline and Audio