Welcome, to our guide for adding a custom animated countdown timer to your PowerPoint project or Live Presentation without the need to download third party plug-ins, or fiddle with complex animation setups. Read on below as we guide you through the process from start to finish.
Microsoft Office is commonplace in most business environments, and with PowerPoint files also being self-contained it makes it easy to transfer your presentation to different devices and locations without needing to worry about compatibility, linked files, or folder structure. PowerPoint is also a very versatile program and tool suite, along with its stability, it works on a variety of both Desktop and Mobile operating systems.
We use PowerPoint here at Giraffe and Elf to design and create our motion graphics and animations for live streams, stage performances, and digital signage. The software also allows us to easily export to a multitude of different formats which streamlines our process when transferring our presentations to even more Desktop, mobile, rack, and other unique display systems.
One thing PowerPoint doesn’t have a tool for, is a countdown timer. It offers ways to construct an arbitrary timer, animations of a filling bar or shrinking circle are simple to create but cannot display specific numbers without complicating the number of required animations, layers, and elements needed.
Within PowerPoint, creating an animated count down from 10, it isn’t too difficult. But from 30, 60, or more, adds an excessive amount of time and complexity. Utilising plug-ins or paid third party solutions limits the versatility of what can be displayed, where it is positioned, the font used, and the method to get it started. Everything we’ve tried in the past was restricted to stale blocky fonts or had huge ‘GO’ buttons that couldn’t be removed. None of them offered an elegant result.
Our solution is simple and uses an animated GIF. It has great support within PowerPoint, has no required scripting or macro knowledge, and is not limited to only work within MSOffice software. With some tinkering in Adobe Animate, a template was created and a multitude of styles has been exported for a series of timers that count down from 30 minutes. Thirty minutes is a good maximum and below we guide you through cutting out frames to shorten the time for your custom needs.
Start by heading to GiraffeAndElf.com/Powerpoint with your internet browser and locate the article featuring a variety of countdown timer styles. All styles are available in both black and white versions, and you can click on each link to preview the timer in motion.
Once you have decided on the style you’d like for your project, Right-Click, or Command Click, and select ‘save image as’.
Then choose and save it to a location on your local device. Once you have the GIF file saved, you can add it to your presentation, or cut down the timer to suit your specifications. Read on below for instructions on both, cutting the timer length down to your custom duration, and adding it into PowerPoint.
For our example we are going to cut 30 minutes down to a 5 minute timer. For your use you can specify any time under 30 minutes, the method for cutting it is the same.
An online GIF frame cutter has given us the best success when trimming the animation. We use the site Online GIF Tools, and although successful when trimming files, the site isn’t without some caveats. Firstly, the 30 minute animated countdown GIF file is large and may take time to upload. Secondly, each GIF file is large and may also take time to download. The site may prompt that it is “unresponsive” and ask if the you would like to wait, be sure to select “wait” and be patient.
Open up a web browser and head to, onlinegiftools.com/cut-gif. The site presents you with a select image box under the word ‘GIF’ with a variety of ways to upload your countdown timer GIF file. Locate the file on your device and upload it to the site.
The countdown timer GIF files are large, (especially for a typical GIF file) and the website may prompt that it is “unresponsive”. It will ask “if you would like to wait?” be sure to select “wait” and be patient. It may ask this multiple times, depending on your internet connection. However, keep selecting “wait” and it will eventually upload.
Once the file is uploaded and made available for editing it is time to trim the frames for your custom time, this part requires a little math. Each frame of the countdown timer animation is one second. You’ll need to cut the time you desire in remaining seconds from 30 minutes.
For this example, I want to output a 5 minute timer. As the frame count is in seconds I will need to multiply each minute by 60 seconds for my required frame count. I’ll start by multiplying 5 x 60, for the number of frames I’ll need to keep, which is 300.
Next, I need to subtract 300 that from the total animation frames, this would be 30 x 60 + 1. This is also shown on the Online GIF Tools site under “Input GIF, total frames”. The +1 is an extra frame added to the animation to start the countdown at the whole number. Typically, a 5 minute timer would start at 4:59, and if you want an accurate timer you can do that. For our application, this is more of a visual aid, and it looks nicer by starting at 5:00.
The input GIF total frames is 1801 (30 minutes), minus our 300 (5 minutes) frames is 1501. This number is what we insert into the GIF cutter options box. Select “Cut a frame range”, and input 1501 into “start frame”, and input 1801 into the “end frame” options boxes.
The preview, or “cut GIF” preview will now show a 5 minute timer counting down from 5:00, all the way to 00:00. When you are happy with the resulting GIF select “save as” under the “cut GIF” preview and then select “Download”, and save it to a location on your device.
The site may prompt you to, “be patient”, and again may also prompt a series of unresponsive warnings. Click “wait” on these, and eventually the “Save As” dialogue will appear. Save the file locally, and you are ready to insert it into your presentation.
Now that you have the custom animated countdown timer you can add it into any software that supports animated GIF’s. Below we will guide you through adding it into a PowerPoint presentation.
Start by opening up PowerPoint, and select a blank presentation.
With the first slide open, add your desired style elements, and background colour to it. In our example we are going to make a holding slide for a live stream. We are going to add in a stream name, and notification message.
Next, we will add in the countdown timer and position the size to where we want it. There are some options we can use in PowerPoint, to further customise the countdown style beyond the simple black and white colours. With the GIF selected you have the option of selecting “Picture Format” on the top ribbon.
While all options are available, most of them will prevent the GIF from animating, some examples are.
Under the “Colour” menu, you can add a shade to the GIF, which gives you allot more colour options for styling.
Under the “Picture Effects” menu, you can also add Glow and Reflection stylings.
However, these depend on your operating system and version of PowerPoint so your best way forward is to test the animation with each change. Add your desired effect and then run the presentation to test that it still animates if it plays you are in luck, if not you’ll need to undo the last change, or select “Reset Picture”.
For colour edits, the black base will give you more saturated options, the white base will give you more pastel options. Combined it covers a large variety of custom colours.
Once you are happy with the style of your countdown timer the slide is ready to use. The timer animation will start as soon as the slide is presented, and the animation will pause during any transition or animation effect. To mitigate this, continuously test your slides and, if need be, put in a buffer slide if you want more control over your timing. Depending on your software, the timer may also loop once it reaches 00:00.
To avoid this in PowerPoint, we suggest automatically setting an animation to remove the countdown graphic when it reaches 00:00 so you are not having to precisely time your slideshow clicks with the clock on screen. When using a transition or animation, setting the duration to less than a second hides the pause in the countdown timer.
That’s it, you should now have your custom countdown timer styled with the slide ready to use. For further details we have a YouTube video available that shows the entire process we’ve just explained. Follow the links in the article, to find and use everything that we’ve written about in this guide. I hope we’ve helped you with your future presentations as much as these timers have helped us here at Giraffe and Elf.