Author: Jeremy Wong, with contributions from Johnson L.
The short end:
- Sometimes you should still just stick to PowerPoint – PP solves some problems, but has its own quirks.
- The essential features of the software will do the job. Extra features like ‘sync’ can be problematic. Have backups.
- The Mac version is proven, but not perfect. However the Windows version definitely has more issues.
- You NEED GOOD graphics for PP5 and BETTER graphics for PP6. Integrated Intel graphics likely will be bad.
- Test things before going live.
This post was published in June 2017. As of October 2017, Windows version 188.8.131.52 has cumulatively seen a big improvement in performance 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. Quite frankly we’re such tech nerds 🙂
I will be revising the post when I have time. Just be aware that some points I made in this post are out of date – the slide editor is much better now. However, I still believe that ProPresenter 6 Windows has reliability issues. e.g. The inbuilt crash reporter does not function. Go checkout the official forums before you buy.
The Windows version of ProPresenter 6 (PP6) is unfortunately 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, as my church has been busy planting new congregations and working to develop different ministries, I’ve been learning how to operate and manage the Audio/Visual team for my service. I’ve also been approached to volunteer for several (inter) church-related gatherings.
Part of this has involved learning ProPresenter myself. We use ProPresenter 6, because it was recommended from the AV team leader of a different service, who’s been using it all the way since PP5 (so we have both licenses). We switched from previously using PowerPoint, at some point in 2017 when I first made this blog post. I’ve prior also used PP5 Win and Mac at a conference way back in 2014.
Admittedly this blog post is a bit of a rant, but it’s good to ‘get it out’ as I figure out how to best do things well.
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 ProPresenter 6 on integrated graphics.
- Tested on: Intel HD Graphics 5000. Very bad idea – even for text-only slides. If this is what you’ve got, stick to PP5 (see end of this blog post). It onced crashed in the middle of a song, but fortunately it was only a rehearsal for a large evangelism night.
Did you know? More “RAM“ is not the same as more “video memory”. ProPresenter is a 32-bit only application, so will not utilise more than 2GB of memory (in theory). Therefore it is advisable to upgrade the video card rather than adding another RAM stick.
2. The slide editor is very slow
- Tested on: Surface Book with dGPU
- 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. Fixed in recent updates by smart software engineers 🙂
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. (Delicate things like a funeral, you really must keep it simple).
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 first 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.
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.
- 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%.
Sync is weird
We’re using the local sync mode, pointed to Google Drive.
I dunno man. Sometimes templates get cleared, sometimes playlists get duplicated, or error messages such as the above. It’s all the weird edge cases which make sync algorithms hard!
In practice, this makes editing slides from home a bit tricky. I’ve found it better to just point the entire Library Folder to your Google Drive folder, etc.
User error: ‘Plus’ button doesn’t do anything.
4. A tip to import PowerPoint presentations
TLDR; 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).
- Open the msi in SuperOrca, and CTRL+F search for
- Right click the match, and select Drop Row
- Save the MSI.