Review: Microsoft PowerPoint for Mac 2011

PowerPoint is the professional presenter’s tool. There’s no doubt about PowerPoint having the largest market share for presentation software. On the Mac, there is one serious competitor: Apple Keynote ’09. In terms of features and creativity Keynote used to be superior to PowerPoint, but no more with this PowerPoint 2011. PowerPoint offers more features, more templates, more creative functionality, more efficiency. To be honest: PowerPoint is better than Keynote, but in its current version also buggier.

New in PowerPoint 2011 is that you’ll get direct access to Mac OS X’s media browser. Furthermore, the program literally bulks of the effects, transitions, templates and any other design feature you may think of. And last but not least, you can adjust images within Powerpoint. Besides those features, PowerPoint offers a better experience than Keynote in the presentation functionality area itself, with a presenter’s view where you can time your presentation, and with slide sections which allow you to organise slides more efficient.

My experience with PowerPoint 2011 was positive until I started experimenting with transitions. AT that point, the program showed a couple of bugs, with the ribbon at its centre. The bugs are annoying, but as far as I could see they don’t crash the program or trash your data.

PowerPoint Transitions

What I found positive about Powerpoint is that you get a lot more direct feedback — right next to each slide — of what you have added to a slide. For example, a transition effect is shown with its own small icon, as is an animation effect. The presenter’s view is a full screen rendition of your presentation with a stopwatch and annotation capabilities carefully organised on the screen.

Transitions are abundant, much more so than with Keynote that pales by comparison, but as soon as I added a transition to a slide, the transitions ‘drawer’ on the ribbon lost some of its functionality: I couldn’t pull down the drawer anymore as its handle got lost and scrolling through transitions became slow and unresponsive.

Apart from this buggy behaviour, PowerPoint has nice tricks up its sleeves. Drag an image to the canvas and you’ll get the ability to crop or scale the entire image or only the portion that is visible inside the mask that is auto-created after dragging.

Editing an image inside PowerPoint 2011

Many business and training presenters will also like the ability to adjust images inside PowerPoint, and although it’s a far cry from Photoshop, the adjustment functionality does a good job of image editing. There are even a couple of nice creative effects you can apply like blurring.

At the end of the day, PowerPoint 2011 looks more like a professional presenter’s tool than Keynote ’09 does. The latter shows its age — or is it the disinterest of Apple in yet another of their products which were announced some years ago as the best thing since sliced bread? Microsoft should, however, quickly remedy the bugs; they are very annoying and mildly worrying.

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