Apple Keynote and Microsoft PowerPoint — you can hear raves and rants about both of them — and comparisons are inevitable. Also inevitable is that you end up hearing stories of which one is better from people who are actually using just one of these programs — needless to add, those verdicts are biased and one-sided. That’s why I bring you opinions from Rob Griffiths of MacWorld, who uses both the programs — to get you a balanced opinion in this Indezine exclusive conversation.
Rob Griffiths founded macosxhints.com in 2000; since mid-2005, the site has been part of MacPublishing, publishers of Macworld magazine. Rob serves as a Senior Editor for Macworld, responsible for content on macosxhints.com, as well as regular articles and reviews on macworld.com, and a column in the print magazine each month.
Geetesh: How do you find Keynote compared to using PowerPoint — give me both your rants and raves, and what is that you really like about Keynote.
Rob: Keynote’s strengths are its interface and the professionalism of the bundled themes. I love the way the program works, though there was a definite learning curve in migrating from PowerPoint — the concept of a master slide is completely different between the two programs, for instance.
In Keynote, I love the way you can work with transparency and shadows, and I find the Inspectors to be a logical way to work on objects in my presentation. The inclusion of a new “light table” in the 2006 version of Keynote solved one of my long-standing grudges (no easy way to sort large presentations), but it still needs some work (I’d like to be able to choose the size of the slide images on the preview table).
The way Keynote handles tables and charts also seems to work much better for me; I always struggled to get just the look I wanted in PowerPoint. In Keynote, I spend much less time trying to “design” my presentation than I do just creating the slides I need. I find the default color schemes for each template work quite well, so I seldom spend time tweaking things.
PowerPoint is still more powerful when it comes to doing animation and builds, though Keynote has more options, and more ways of using those options, than does PowerPoint. The 2006 release of Keynote added the ability to build individual bullets, and have activity build between bullets, which was a welcome addition, but PowerPoint still does more.
Geetesh: How easy is it to co-exist in a Keynote-PowerPoint world — for tasks like exchanging presentations.
Rob: In theory, it’s transparent. In practice, things like alpha-channel graphics and embedded movies don’t carry over well at all between Keynote and PowerPoint. As such, I have both programs on my machine, and I no longer try to view one’s slides in the other. If someone sends me a PowerPoint presentation that I need to work with, I’ll just do it in PowerPoint (that way, I won’t accidentally add something that doesn’t work in PowerPoint).
I have, however, created presentations in Keynote and exported them as PowerPoint slides. I then open the converted presentation in PowerPoint, tweak as necessary, and send to friends who use PowerPoint on their Macs or PCs (being careful to stick to cross- platform fonts). This lets me use some of Keynote’s nice themes in PowerPoint presentations.