MS PowerPoint has been around for a long long time and has become the staple presentation program for most business leaders and employees. It is used so much, that we have become accustomed to the various templates and styles offered as standard within the package, including transitions and custom animations.

Apple Keynote is a younger application, originating from graphic design genius, rather than programmer-design. It is less common than MS PowerPoint, which is directly related to the fact it was built for OS X, with mobile app versions for iOS.

There are some other amazing apps out there to work on your presentations, like Prezi for animated, nonlinear presentations, and Canva for creative presentations.

I believe, historically, because MS Office and iWork used to be included as standard software when buying a PC or Mac, everyone learned how to use one or the other, or both. I spent years training PowerPoint 97 (released with Office 97) right up to the newer versions. PowerPoint began the industry standard, and compatibility issues made it very difficult to work with and share other types of presentation files. Thankfully these are now mere historical facts!

So back to our two most commonly used apps: PowerPoint, and Keynote:

The key differences between PowerPoint and KeyNote

1. Popularity and ease of use

PowerPoint is more commonly used, and more commonly known. Right up to version 2007, the Master Slide was not very intuitive. Setting up a Master Slide for consistency was clunky as best. Things have improved immensely by the way, and you can now create a master for each slide layout, with an overall Master (of masters!)

Logos - PP vs Keynote

However, for a beginner Keynote tends to be more user-friendly than PowerPoint. Users will be able to create a more polished and professional presentation with Keynote in less time. It is versatile, intuitive, smooth and accessible for any skill level.

2. Interface

The Interface of Keynote is less cluttered but built differently than PowerPoint. For MS users, Keynote can be challenging, to begin with. When I first worked with Keynote, I actually found it quite difficult to find where the usual tools were located. However, when using Keynote for the first time, you don’t have the conditioning of PowerPoint to confuse the learning.

3. Tools available

Both apps allow creativity with text manipulation, shapes, backgrounds, and colours. Keynote also provides some lovely 3D Graphs. However, if you are coming to Keynote from PowerPoint you will become frustrated. Even something trivial like removing a bullet can seem impossible without significant exploration.

That said, you can achieve more or less anything, you just need the patience to learn to work with Keynote. Once you learn how to do things, life gets much easier, and your presentations become much prettier, professional looking, and unique.

4. Slide transitions

Both apps provide multiple transition options. Keynote provides the “Magic Move” slide transition, PowerPoint doesn’t. It’s the ability to smoothly maintain and move objects from one slide to another. Although both applications have hugely improved their transitions and animations, Keynote still wins out for me every time with the visual look and feel.

5. Custom shows

PowerPoint has this, Keynote doesn’t. A custom show allows you to create and store multiple variations of a slide show from a complete larger presentation, choosing which slides are shown, and in what order. So out of a generic presentation, you could create a custom show for Accounting, another for Sales, another for Exec meetings, all from the one presentation, without creating multiple copies.

6. Custom animation

PowerPoint has Path animation, Keynote doesn’t. Path animation directs an object to move around the screen on command. The direction and speed controlled by you.

7. Background fill

PowerPoint allows you to fill an object with the slide’s background image. This is very powerful for certain types of effects. Keynote doesn’t provide this option.

8. Random slide jump during the presentation

PowerPoint allows you to do this using onscreen commands or the mouse. Keynote doesn’t have this functionality. It comes in very handy during interactive presentations. Check out how to do this very task on our great free video – Using The Right Click during a Slideshow.

9. Built-in templates and themes

PowerPoint is making progress by adding new templates with each version, but Keynote still wins hands-down. Not only are the Apple templates better designed, they are visually more compelling. Multiple 3rd party websites offer professional templates for both applications; it’s just a matter of price.

10. Cost

MS PowerPoint 2016 can be bought alone for $109.99 or as part of Office 365 Personal, Home, or Home & Student. The cool thing about Office 365 is that it can be purchased as a monthly subscription.

Office 365 includes the following fully installed 2016 MS Office applications – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. It also includes Outlook (PC and Mac), Publisher (PC only), and Access (PC only). There are different options to buy full downloads (one-time purchase) of MS Office for PC and MS Office for Mac.

Keynote used to be purchased as part of the iWork package but can now be purchased alone for $19.99 for OS X or $9.99 for iOS (iPhone OS.)

Apple OS X or Windows?

I could write a full blog post on the why and who. Over the years, I have seen two main reasons for choosing Windows (PC or laptop): price and comfort zone. For Apple iMacs and laptops, the two main reasons are security and user experience (UX.) I would never dream of trying to coax someone to buy one over the other, but I have been a dedicated Apple user for 12 years 😉
Ironically, most (95%) of the IT training I provide has been with Windows OS and MS Office applications. So I do have to admit to owning a Netbook purely for training (and learning) purposes. You can find some free videos on my YouTube channel. However, I love nothing more than training someone how to use Keynote, after years of using PowerPoint. Training is part of the many services I offer at The Smart VA
If you ever need to make the transition, I can relieve the pain and frustration of moving from one platform to another. I can also introduce you to great little hacks to improve your workflow and create more exciting slides and presentations. Simply give me a shout!

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