Keynote vs PowerPoint

When creating a presentation, there are two primary options that many people turn toward for their needs: Keynote and PowerPoint.

Historically, PowerPoint has been the most popular choice. It is included with the Microsoft suite of productivity software and provides a slide-based platform to present information with transitions, animations, and other design features.

Apple created Keynote as an alternative to PowerPoint for users who preferred to avoid Microsoft products. In the past, PowerPoint wasn’t even easily compatible with Apple systems. Although that has changed, the user-friendly interface and unique features of Keynote make it a viable alternative.

Here are the key points to consider when looking at the Keynote vs PowerPoint debate.

List of Advantages wih Keynote

Keynote is available for download through the Apple App Store. It is listed as part of the Essentials package for Apple apps and comes standard on some equipment. Templates and layouts are available for download from third party providers. Keynote can be downloaded for free, but some of the third-party additions do have a cost. Most add-ons are priced between $4.99-$14.99.

  • Although Keynote will be a relatively new platform for most users, the design of the interface is intuitive. Anyone who is remotely familiar with presentation software will be able to figure out how to use this option from Apple in no time at all.
  • There are several theme options that come standard with Keynote that make the information being presented be more attractive to an audience. Engagement is virtually automated with this platform because the designs are based on inclusion instead of what looks “cool.”
  • Basic setups make it possible for users to quickly position each information element to the best possible position. Aligning the information to create a positive visual aesthetic is a straight-forward process.
  • Rich media easily integrates into Keynote. Virtually any multimedia file can be included on the platform to enhance the information being presented to an audience.
  • The preview process of Keynote is realistic and straight-forward as well, making it possible to identify key points that need to be fixed before a presentation is presented publicly. The inspector window makes an instant preview possible, which allows for easier editing.
  • Keynote works on all Apple devices that carry iOS. That means an iPad, an iPhone, or even some iPods can display the presentation. This feature can also make it easy to share the presentation with an audience so others can follow along on their own device if they prefer. Collaboration in real-time on the various devices is possible as well.
  • Image backgrounds are easily blended into the background of each slide, which allows for a better transparency effect that takes away some of the distractions that other presentation software may not always provide.
  • Keynote can work on a PC if iWork for iCloud is being utilized.

List of Disadvantages with Keynote

  • It is an exclusive system. Keynote has zero functionality on Microsoft systems. Slides from Keynote can be exported in PowerPoint, but the formatting and themes are not guaranteed to cross over. Many exported files between Keynote and PowerPoint lose animations, graphics, and other important pieces of information.
  • Although the systems of Keynote are easy to learn, many of the commands are in different locations. Some users may experience frustration with this platform, especially if they are transitioning from previous platforms.
  • There is no Save As feature included with the current version of Keynote. Files must be duplicated first and then saved as a different name, which adds steps to the process when compared to PowerPoint. If the file is not duplicated and updates are saved, the only option for recovery may be the Time Machine feature and that may not make recovery possible either.
  • Collaboration is possible, but from a personal perspective. Businesses are not given the same access to the iCloud and Apple IDs, which is what Keynote requires for its collaboration benefits. You can still work with your personal identification, but that may not be permitted by company policies – or ideal for some individuals.
  • When using a file-sharing service that hosts a network volume, Keynote files can sometimes misload or cause the platform to crash.
  • As updates occur with Keynote, functionality of other tools, apps, and software on the same system tend to be somewhat buggy. In the latest update, for example, many users reported problems with the App Store, Finder, and accessibility of files within the Keynote app itself.

List of Advantages with PowerPoint

PowerPoint is available through the Microsoft Store as an independent download. It is also included as part of the MS Office subscription that includes Word, Excel, and other productivity software tools. When purchased separately, PowerPoint is $109.99. When included with the Office suite subscription, pricing begins at $6.99 per month or $99.99 per year through Office 365 Home.


PowerPoint requires a PC with a 1 Ghz or faster x86- or x64-bt processor with SSE2. Macs must be equipped with an Intel processor. PCs must have Windows 7 or later, while Macs must be equipped with OS X 10.10 or later. Up to 4 GB of RAM may be required, depending upon your equipment setup.

  • It is a user-friendly platform. The learning curve is familiar and those who use Microsoft products will quickly adapt to the commands and features of the system. Even the basic slides that are created in PowerPoint make users look organized, making the information easier to consume.
  • PowerPoint allows users to include bullet points on their slides. That allows for the slide design to drive home specific key points. Users can highlight specific topics, create summaries, or work with specific data points with ease.
  • The slides on PowerPoint are very easy to edit. You can add or resize charts, posters, and photographs with just a couple of clicks. Editing the text on a slide means selecting the text box and then adding or subtracting the text as needed.
  • Changing the order of the presentation is super simple within PowerPoint as well. Just drag the slide to where it needs to be in the presentation and the platform automatically reorders the slides. There are special key commands that allow users to do this as well.
  • The size of the slides for the presentations can scale upward to virtually any needed size. That means a presentation can be given to almost any size of room and everyone will be able to clearly see the information that is being presented.
  • Users can choose to print out their slides to create a handout for the presentation or they can present the materials without distributing a hard copy because of how the information can be provided to others.
  • PowerPoint allows users to include multiple forms of media on a slide, including audio and video files. This makes it possible to link to certain content with a data connection so you don’t have to save it directly to the file – but users can also save the data directly if they prefer as well for offline presentations.

List of Disadvantages with PowerPoint

  • When a lot of information needs to be provided on a single slide, the size of the font required to make it fit can make it difficult, if not impossible, for an audience to read it. When being used for a presentation, numerous slides with large blocks of text can be overwhelming to an audience and make it difficult to retain the information being presented.
  • PowerPoint provides several templates for the slides that can help with design, but not every template conveys information appropriately. Certain frames may even hide information or make it difficult to read. Certain templates may also create a personality for the presentation that is not desired.
  • Animation can be very useful within a transition, but it can also be distracting. Some designs within PowerPoint seem to invite additional elements which may not always be needed.
  • The presentation designer must have an idea of the structure they want to have for each slide. PowerPoint doesn’t provide helpful resources within the platform to assist with an appropriate design. Words, diagrams, and rich media can all be included, but there must also be an awareness of presentation design for this platform to be effective.

Keynote vs PowerPoint: Which Is Better?

For many users, the choice between Keynote or PowerPoint is simple. For those who use a PC, PowerPoint tends to be the better option. For those who use Apple products, Keynote tends to be the better option. Both, however, provide similar key features that make for an excellent presentation. You can leave notes, create beautiful slides, and add visual aesthetics that make a presentation become attractive and memorable.

The one exception to this general rule may be iMac users. With the larger display option and PowerPoint accessibility available through an MS Office subscription, some users may prefer PowerPoint over Keynote.

Either way, you will have the option to create a powerful presentation with dazzling effects that will properly convey the information your audience wants. Check out both options, especially if you work on a PC, to see which tool might be right for you.