PowerPoint vs. Keynote: Presentation Tools Compared

By on Oct 18, 2016 in Business
PowerPoint vs. Keynote: Presentation Tools Compared

Creating a presentation is a common task for students and workers alike. It’s basically a rite of passage. Somehow, somewhere, at one point in your student or professional life, you’ve slaved over charts, pies, graphs, and slides to present in front of a bunch of people. Thanks to the internet, people no longer need to actually draw or cut clippings to make an eye-catching presentation.

Nowadays, there's a lot of commercial software available for creating awesome slides and engaging documents. But when it comes to it, people often choose between two options: Microsoft’s PowerPoint (PPT) and Apple’s Keynote. Sure, there are tons of up-and-coming programs that actually offer great features, but it almost feels like you’re doing something wrong if you don’t use either of these programs. They’re just the go-to tools when it comes down to presentation-making… and for good reasons.

PowerPoint and Keynote: What They Offer

For the longest time, when someone is asked to make a presentation, the automatic response is to use PowerPoint. Microsoft’s program is basically synonymous to ‘presentation.’ But, for quite a while now, Keynote edges to be the first choice among Apple users. It certainly is becoming PowerPoint’s biggest competition.

Both programs have their sets of pros and cons. But, before we delve deeper into them, let’s see what makes PowerPoint and Keynote stand out from the rest.

The Nitty-Gritty

PowerPoint and Keynote are both features of office suites and standalone software. PowerPoint is included in MS Office and is available for PC and Mac. Keynote is part of Apple iWork and is exclusively for Mac. Both are commercial software, although a free PowerPoint viewer is available. This means you can run or view a PPT presentation, but you can’t edit the slides.

The Objectives

Both programs are specifically created for presentation-making. They have their own sets of themes and templates to make the process easier and faster. PowerPoint and Keynote’s default layout allows you to directly edit slides.

The Features

The two programs allow you to create either autorun or manual slides. You can also incorporate multimedia elements like images, music, videos, and sound effects. It’s also possible to import charts and graphs you’ve made using a different program. You can use fonts you’ve downloaded online or the pre-installed ones on your computer. The use of bullet points and text boxes is also available on both programs.

The Conversion and Import Process

PowerPoint and Keynote include a feature where you can import documents straight from other software. But the conversion and import process differ from one program to another. PowerPoint accepts imported PDF files and some types of media files. This is not the case with Keynote. If you’re using Apple’s office suite, you must first save the file in PPT format to open it using an MS program. On the flip side, you’re able to easily import a PowerPoint file into Keynote.

PowerPoint and Keynote: The Pros and Cons

Now, let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of both programs. Checking their pros and cons can help you decide which one is better suited for the kind of presentation you need to make.

Microsoft PowerPoint

Arguably the best thing about PowerPoint is its usability. It is somewhat like an “institution” because it certainly has been around way longer than Keynote’s first appearance in the market. It’s also the most popular program for presentation-making. All of these make it a familiar tool for everyone who have made a presentation before. In fact, even those who haven’t made one are still aware of MS PowerPoint. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the program can be used on either a PC or a Mac.

PowerPoint’s popularity is its main selling point. It can also conveniently add animations and graphs that make the slides richer in context. PPT slides can be exported to YouTube without stress. The program is also designed to manage different text formats so it’s ideal for text-heavy slides.

Advantages of Using PowerPoint

  • User-friendly – The program’s features are easy to understand and master. They can make you look ready and organized even if you feel otherwise.
  • Bullet points – The use of mighty bullet points drive your message to the point. Bullets make it easy to highlight the key messages and topics of the entire presentation.
  • Eye-catching slides – PPT offers templates and themes you can use or tweak to create visually-appealing slides. You don’t need to know a lot about graphic design to pull this off.
  • Easy to tweak – PowerPoint slides are easier to edit than other visuals like charts, graphs or posters.
  • Drag and drop – It’s easy to reorder slides using the program’s drag-and-drop feature or its special keystrokes.
  • Easy to integrate – The program enables you to add spreadsheets and/or documents on the slides.
  • Viewer’s consideration – PPT slides are easy to see and read even by the people at the back of the room.
  • Presenter’s consideration – It’s easy to present the slides using the keystrokes so you won’t have to break eye contact with the audience.
  • No handouts needed – With PPT slides, you don’t have to make hard copies of the presentation to distribute to the audience.

Disadvantages of Using PowerPoint

It should be noted that most of these cons are essentially reasons why using PowerPoint can be a disadvantage, and not necessarily the weak points of the program.

  • Design fluff – PowerPoint can give an illusion of coherence and control even if there’s little substance or context to the slides.
  • Convenient props – The slides can sometimes turn into convenient props if you are unprepared and unfocused. You may just simply abbreviate topics and messages on the slides and get away with it rather than give an actual presentation.
  • Overgeneralization of topics – The direct-to-point aspect of PowerPoint makes it tricky to expound complex subjects. The bullet points can force you to condense issues into a listicle.
  • The abundance of feature – If unchecked, you can get carried away with how easy it is to add multimedia files on the slides. This can result in an abundance of sound effects or animations that can shove the main topic out of the way.
  • Equipment required – To fully optimize PowerPoint, you must have both a computer and projector in place to present the slides.

The Bottom Line

PowerPoint is the safe option when it comes to presentation-making. It’s the ideal program to use if your slides are more into context than design. People creating slides for the first time can appreciate the program’s straightforwardness.

Apple Keynote

Keynote features a neat, eye-catching design. It presents a variety of built-in templates that give the slides a modern perspective. The program also provides engaging themes, cool animation effects, and streamlined transitions. Apple's presentation-making program can create high-quality output.

Keynote also features easy exports using QuickTime files to be converted for YouTube viewing. It’s also media-based and delivers easy integration of multimedia files. And since it's an Apple product, it offers unfussy synchronization with the company's flagship gadgets, particularly the iPhone and the iPad.

Advantages of Using Keynote

  • User-friendly - The program features a simple interface that even newbies can navigate.
  • Theme options – Keynote offers a wide range of eye-catching themes to create a more engaging presentation.
  • Position-ready – It allows you to easily align and position elements with basic setup options.
  • Multimedia-friendly – The program is specially designed to naturally integrate images, sounds, videos, and other multimedia files.
  • Magic Move – Both the animation and transition effects of the program are show-stoppers.
  • Straightforward preview – The program provides an easy-to-use formatting toolbar and inspector window for instant preview and tweaking.
  • Product integration – Keynote’s integration with other iPhones, iPads, and iPods is100% smooth.
  • Transparency effects – It allows you to smoothly blend an image’s background into the slide’s background creating a transparent effect.

Disadvantages of Keynote

  • Exclusivity – Keynote slides don’t work with Microsoft systems. Although you can export your slides into PPT, it won’t guarantee that everything will be presented the same way. Often, exported files lose bits and pieces of the graphics or animations used.
  • Time-consuming – If you’ve used PowerPoint before and have now switched to Keynote, the learning process can be time-consuming and, at times, frustrating.

The Bottom Line

In some ways, Apple’s Keynote is PowerPoint 2.0. It’s the more sophisticated and design-driven version. Keynote the ideal program if you want to create slides that are complex-looking or “techy.”

PowerPoint and Keynote: So Which is Better?

PowerPoint versus Keynote. Would you go for the old one that is tried-and-tested? Or choose the new one that seems better, but with some glaring exclusivity hitches? The answer is whatever is best suited for your needs. It boils down to what you need to make and how you want the slides to be created.

If you’re more familiar with PowerPoint, then stick with it, especially if you don’t have ample time to make a presentation. You can just explore Keynote when you have some spare time. On the other hand, if you have a Mac, it’s better to use Keynote. Also, try the Apple program if you want your slides to have a little more edge in design.

Keep in mind that when you’re creating a presentation, you have to choose the program that offers you convenience, versatility, and high-quality output. If you’ll look closely, PowerPoint and Keynote offer parallel features. Both can be used to create a topnotch presentation. So, it’s up to you to decide which one is more up your alley.


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5 Comments

  1. PowerPoint feels like dinosaur relics in compared to Keynote, and I would doubt how user friendly it is. What takes 5 clicks in PPT can easily be 2 in Keynote

  2. @Seva Latin - have you ever used PowerPoint on a pc instead of a mac?

    I have been using both, Keynote and Powerpoint (the ladder on both mac and pc) for a long time and frankly, powerpoint 365 is a much stronger choice for 90% of all presentations - by far (on pc - the mac version is horrendous)

    And for the remaining 10%, the design demand is so advanced, frankly keynote remains a poor choice and indesign is clearly the better tool.

    Across all, keynote's relevance pretty much remains for people in love with a certain brand but objectively, it is software that has no more edge nor purpose really.

    PS: I felt the need to add this as people have really warped perceptions on this, especially people trapped in the apple world

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