I answer questions on my website about Macs and OS X and recently had a reader ask about using Microsoft’s PowerPoint on a Mac. And because many artists and arts organization I know use Macs and OS X, I thought my answer about the difference between PowerPoint on Windows and PowerPoint on a Mac would be useful here.
Many people find themselves at one time or another giving public presentations using Microsoft’s PowerPoint. PowerPoint is a generic term, like Xerox or Google, and we toss the term around to mean a computer screen presentation.
Many people use Apple computers and Apple and Microsoft are competitors in most parts of the high-tech market. (Apple’s market share is growing rapidly, but still small compared to Microsoft.) But Apple and Microsoft-based PCs are not entirely at odds with each other when it comes to PowerPoint.
So there are some things to know concerning PowerPoint and Apple’s Keynote, the program that makes the same sort of presentations on Macs, especially if you’re making a presentation to take to a conference, or have been required to send a PowerPoint to an organization.
Keynote is Apple’s equivalent of PowerPoint, and it’s part of the iWork group of programs (which includes Pages for word processing, and Numbers, which is a spreadsheet program) and only runs on a Mac. So if you have a Mac and need to make a PowerPoint, you have two choices.
One option is to buy Microsoft Office for the Mac. Even though Microsoft and Apple have always been competitors of one sort or another, Microsoft does make a version of Office for the Mac. That version of Office contains PowerPoint, and a PowerPoint made on a Mac is fully compatible with PowerPoint on Windows on a PC. So you can make a PowerPoint with Office for the Mac, put it on a CD and it will play when using PowerPoint on Windows.
The other option is to buy Apple’s iWork, which costs less than Microsoft Office. What makes this work is a feature in Keynote that allows you to make a PowerPoint-compatible presentation: it has the option to export your Keynote as a PowerPoint.
So you can make a presentation on your Mac with Keynote and then save it as a PowerPoint, and it will play in PowerPoint on Windows or a Mac. Look for “Export” in the Keynote help menu to see how to export your presentation as a PowerPoint.
Before you buy iWork, check and see if you already have it on your Mac. Look for a folder called iWork in your Applications folder on your hard drive. If you see Keynote in that folder, it’s already installed.
Of course, you can always use Keynote to show your presentation on a Mac along with a projector, depending on if there is a Mac running the projector where you will be presenting. But with most of the world using Windows, you may have to stay with PowerPoint.