24+ hours with ProPresenter 6 on Windows

Editorial note:

This post was published in June 2017. As of October 2017, the latest and greatest release, ProPresenter Windows, has cumulatively seen a big improvement in performance and reliability (I always crash it in the end) since the initial article was published. It is actually now usable on my laptop (in the post below I previously wrote that it was not). Currently I do have a ticket open for a bug report, but the development team has done some good work here. We’re such tech nerds 🙂

I will be revising the post when I have time. Just be aware it is out of date in places – the slide editor is much better now. However, I still believe that ProPresenter 6 Windows is very behind the Mac counterpart and don’t think its reliable enough as a piece of software. Currently the inbuilt error reporter doesn’t seem to actually work? Anyways, go checkout the official forums before you buy.

The Windows version of ProPresenter 6 (PP6) is unfortunately quite extremely buggy, much more so since the last time I used the version 5 on Windows, in 2014. PP6 seems to slow to a crawl constantly, which is a problem when live as disrupting a large audience in worship is extremely distracting.

For some context, this year I’ve been learning how to operate the Audio/Visual desk at my church (and other gatherings), which has been busy planting new congregations (some of the experienced guys who purchased the PP6 license are now serving over at the other congregation). As a side note, another new congregation will start next year!

1. It needs LOTS of video memory

Video memory of less than 1GB is a bad idea and will cause major cause of instability.

Do not run PP6 on integrated graphics. Intel HD Graphics 5000 is a very bad idea – even for text-only slides. If this is what you’ve got, stick to PP5 (see end of this blog post).

2. The slide editor is very slow

  • Tested on: Surface Book
  • Tested on: Desktop with i7 860, NVIDIA GTX 950 2G, with 20GB RAM (!!!)

The Slide Editor in particular seems to cause the most trouble for me. Opening the Slide Editor can take about a minute, as you sit waiting and wondering if it has completely locked up. Once in the editor screen, ProPresenter seems to become unresponsive very quickly. I’ve also had exceptions been thrown whilst interacting with this screen.

The performance on the desktop is not much better than the Surface Book, so clearly this is not a issue of hardware performance.

Sometimes PowerPoint is still the way to go. With things like funerals, just clone all the main and stage displays.

Did you know: The Mac version of PowerPoint does not have slide editing capabilities during live mode; only the Windows version does.

3. A couple of remedies

Here’s some fixes to some problems I’ve been experiencing. However if you’re after the multiple display and stage display features of ProPresenter 6, in all honesty I vote getting a Mac (sorry). I’ve personally had too many bad experiences with this Windows version.

If ProPresenter freezes on start…

When prompting for the registration key, ProPresenter just freezes. Force quit it and start it again.

There’s also another case I’ve run into a few times:

Enable write permissions for the Everyone group for C:\ProgramData\Renewed Vision Media

If ProPresenter does not license because the Bonjour service is not running…

If the Bonjour service is crashing when you manually try to start the service, try uninstalling your current version of Bonjour, then installing https://support.apple.com/kb/dl999.

If ProPresenter freezes during service..

First thing to try is pressing the ESC key. If you have… an interesting monitor set up with different DPI’s… sometimes dialogs don’t appear onscreen. Set your DPI to 100%, then log out and in again. This is not a great solution for the QHD+ laptops.

A strange empty white dialog box kept popping up,

Other times, it’s actually frozen. The best you can do is ‘freeze’ the projector display, and restart PP6 – this takes about 4 minutes between killing the program, waiting for it to restart, and waiting for the presentation to load.

You can also try looking at the PP6 log, found under the start menu folder. If you have time, try send a bug report. Unfortunately I’ve found this to be largely impractical (I’ve tried) as I the steps to reproduce can be very specific, or it was simply a random crash.

Example crashes:

  • Once, video playback froze 3 seconds in (this was with a live school audience). –
  • ProPresenter also crashes sometimes after simply starting it 🙁
  • Crash when changing slides during a song (text only slide elements)
  • Hanging blank white dialog

The stage display doesn’t fit on the monitor.

If your external monitor for stage display is 1080, setting your laptop display to also match 1080 seems to make it work. Again, make sure your DPI is set to 100%.

‘Plus’ button doesn’t do anything.

Whoops.. you know how that pane usually has two columns? Turns out the person before me had resized the splitter such that one side was completely hidden 🤣.

4. A tip to import PowerPoint presentations

Always choose “Import All Slides as JPEG Images” (the second option), unless your doing something special.

The other options have their purposes too, but likely lead to… surprising slides.

The first option (“Import native PowerPoint slides (all layers and animations)” doesn’t actually import the PowerPoint presentation at all – instead, it uses runs the actual PowerPoint application. This “should just work”, but I haven’t really tested this option myself. (Having worked with the ugly PowerPoint COM API myself; I even found such COM related errors logged by PP6).

Picking #3 and #4 will require some time to go through and fix slide elements after import:

  • #3. – If the pictures were cropped in PowerPoint (i.e. you inserted an image to the slide, then cropped it), when ProPresenter imports the presentation it ignores the crop. Many of the shapes, lines, arrows, etc. created in PowerPoint also don’t actually import as they should. Thus, things can go missing or won’t look right. This is therefore not very useful and is best to avoid, from personal experience.
  • #4. – Useful if you want to import text-only slides (e.g. confessions and other liturgical things). But don’t use if during service time as you will need a bunch of time to fix things up: fonts, resizing text areas, etc.

5. Final note… installing ProPresenter 5 on Windows 10

Compared to its successor, ProPresenter 5 generally runs pretty well. It certainly runs acceptably with my integrated Intel HD Graphics 5000, so that’s a good sign.

To get it to install on Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, there’s a little trick required to bypass this blocking setup error: “You do not have Microsoft .NET Framework 4.5 installed and it is required. Do you wish to download it now from the Microsoft website?”

The problem here is that installer is searching for a specific (range?) of .NET version numbers, and the most recent version number is now greater than that hardcoded value (a common trap).

I couldn’t actually find the exact registry entry which the installer was searching for, but there’s another way: we can disable this .NET version check altogether.

  • Grab yourself SuperOrca (freeware).
  • Extract ProPresenter5.Setup.msi from ProPresenter5_Setup.exe using 7-zip.
  • Open the msi in SuperOrca, and CTRL+F search for NET45INSTALLED
  • Right click the match, and select Drop Row
  • Save the MSI.