For those familiar with our blog, PowerPoint needs no introduction. Keynote is Mac’s native slide-based design program. Obviously, we’re going to encourage you use PowerPoint over Keynote, especially when you consider the versatility and simplicity of the program. However, Apple users may be more familiar or comfortable using Keynote. Let’s put these slide-based design programs head-to-head.

Advantages of Keynote

Compared to PowerPoint, Keynote offers a clean and simple interface. It provides a variety of built-in templates that give the slides a fresh look that are easy to customise and complete with themes, animation effects, and transitions. Also, since PowerPoint’s significantly older, it’s default templates, shapes, and fonts can look dated comparatively.

Keynote allows users to import QuickTime files for conversion to YouTube and – being an Apple product – it integrates easily across its range of devices, allowing you to design and switch easily between MacBook, iPad, and iPhone seamlessly.

For those completely new to presentation design, Keynote’s stripped-back interface and simplicity may be preferable. PowerPoint’s extensive features creates a steeper learning curve for newcomers compared to Keynote.

Keynote’s multimedia capabilities are extensive. The program is specially designed to naturally integrate images, sounds, videos, and other multimedia files, offering the user-friendliness and simplicity you commonly see in Apple products.

In the same way Keynote’s templates provide a fresh look to presentation, the program’s animation and transition effects look more polished than PowerPoint’s, which consequently create more impactful viewing experiences for audiences. However, PowerPoint does offer more capabilities and options for animation – particularly in 3D animation.

While we’re huge fans of PowerPoint here, it’s easy to admit that image editing and cropping is significantly easier in Keynote.

Disadvantages of Keynote

A critical disadvantage of Keynote is the program’s exclusivity. Keynote slides don’t work with Microsoft systems and while you can export your slides into PPT, it won’t guarantee that everything will be presented the same way. Exported files lose bits and pieces of the graphics or animations used.

As someone who’s been using PowerPoint since primary school, there is a learning curve to picking up Keynote. Using PowerPoint has gotten me accustomed to certain functions, design habits, and capabilities that don’t translate when using Keynote.

Advantages of PowerPoint

PowerPoint offers more formatting and design options available than Keynote. You have significantly more control over the customisation and minute design details using PowerPoint.

PowerPoint providers a wider range of shapes and shape-formatting options. Keynote basically only has 15 shapes (shown in the Basic tab) while the rest are vector icons.

While Keynote’s animation and transition effects look cleaner, PowerPoint offers far more flexibility and customisation options. Animating can be more cumbersome in PowerPoint, but there are far more options and possibilities compared to Keynote.

PowerPoint’s ability to make universal changes just by editing the slide master is an absolute life saver for designers. This is especially important when dealing with a large number of slides in your presentation, allowing you to set consistent elements and streamline your work process.

PowerPoint offers a significantly larger number of file types you can convert your PPT to, making it a more universally recognised and compatible choice, particularly when presenting your work to others (through file sharing on live presentation). However, I must give credit to Keynote for at least being able to open PPT files, since PowerPoint can’t open Keynote files. But obviously it’s not Microsoft’s fault Apple has locked Keynote within its exclusive ecosystem.

With more customisation and formatting options, PowerPoint also makes it easier to visual elements such as charts and graphs. The convenience of its drag and drop feature means it’s simple to reorder slides or integrate other visual resources, such as Clipart or other files.

Other Microsoft elements from Word and Excel integrate seamlessly so you can add, edit, and animate documents, spreadsheets, graphs, charts, and tables with ease. This makes data visualisation and animation much easier, particularly using built-in Excel integration.

PowerPoint’s Notes function converts slides to handouts that work nicely for sharing your slides and presentation notes with audiences.

PowerPoint also makes presentation easier as users can enter simple keystrokes or timing controls to change slides in presentation mode, meaning you won’t have to break eye contact with audiences.

Furthermore, the intelligent feature such as PowerPoint Designer and Presenter Coach makes it easier to design and rehearse your presentation with intelligent suggestions, tips, and pointers.

The global PowerPoint community is well established and continues growing. As more and more designers creating PowerPoint templates, the PowerPoint community is making it easy for newcomers to get the insights and resources necessary for a streamlined design process.

Collaboration across Microsoft’s applications makes it easy for teams to work on shared PowerPoint files in real time – particularly for those using Microsoft Teams for sharing and communicating.

Disadvantages of PowerPoint

A lot of the problems people have with PowerPoint stem from its age, it’s impact of presentation design, and the subsequent habits we’ve collectively developed from using the program. While we would rarely encourage people to use bulletpoints, PowerPoint does make it incredibly easy to incorporate them, which can make your design look generic and negatively impact on audience attention.

With PowerPoint’s abundance of features, designing can be a complicated experience – particularly for newcomers. The simplicity of drag and drop also encourages users to saturate slides with multimedia files. However, as we always say, keep it simple.

Compared to Keynote, cropping and photo editing can be quite tedious and cumbersome.

You have to buy the software, even if you have the program installed on your PC, Office 365 subscription is a different story and has to be paid for if you want to access intelligent online sharing and integration features – such as PowerPoint Designer.

PowerPoint Wins

We are forever faithful to PowerPoint. Anyone who has seen what we can do in terms of graphic design, animation, and interactivity understands why we recommend more people adopt PowerPoint into their business, school, or personal designs.

PowerPoint is generally the best option in a team environment where people collaborating on slide decks are used to PowerPoint, which is most people born between 1970 and 2000. I’m not sure how many schools are teaching on Macs (most likely the private ones), but PowerPoint has been a stable for schools, universities, and businesses for decades. It’s been the go-to option in non-Mac environments and remains the more flexible, versatile, and functional option compared to Keynote.