Although Apple has never been one to concentrate too much on office software, it is known for its simple, attractive and compelling presentations. That's why Apple's Keynote presentation software — the same app Apple staff use to create those presentations — is easily our favourite on the Mac.
- Apple-designed themes help you make attractive presentations quickly
- Create 2D and 3D charts and chart animations
- Typography features including smart quotes, ligatures, and automatic scaling
- iLife Media Browser provides quick access to iLife photos, movies, and music
- Instant Alpha tool for quick image background removal
- Create free-form curves, shapes, and masks
- Create text-based, object-driven, and several other types of transitions
- The Magic Move tool helps you create sophisticated animations with simple transitions
- Record narration with your presentations
- Import a wide range of media types including JPEG, TIFF, PNG, PSD, EPS, PDF, AIFF, MP3, AAC and MOV
- Import and export Microsoft PowerPoint files
- Export to iWeb, GarageBand and iTunes
- Send presentations as a Keynote, PowerPoint, or PDF files directly via email
- Create interactive slideshows for kiosks
- Presentation reviewers can make comments on slides
Apple initially developed Keynote for Steve Jobs to give his presentations the way he wanted, rather than relying on third-party software to do the job. Apple quickly realised it had also created a marketable product, and so Keynote was born. While it was a little light on features in the beginning, Keynote has since become a wonderful app that maintains Apple's simple user experience while offering plenty of power to create the presentations you want to create.
You can see from the feature list above that Keynote can do quite a bit. You're able to create rich media presentations that you can give live or provide with pre-recorded narration for anytime viewing. The latest version of Keynote also offers great animation features for compelling slide transitions and graphs that do a little more than just sit there. Pretty much everything is very easy to use. You just edit what you want on a slide template and drag and drop any other elements you want to add. It makes creating attractive and compelling presentations very simple, and is a prime example of Apple doing what they do best.
Although Keynote touts Microsoft PowerPoint compatibility, if you've used it you know it isn't exactly perfect. Importing a presentation isn't going to look identical to PowerPoint and exporting a Keynote presentation in PowerPoint format isn't going to retain all you created in Keynote, either. This is somewhat to be expected as they're different applications, but it's nonetheless frustrating to have a feature that doesn't work the way it should. If you're planning to send a presentation to a Windows user, it's better to export it in a non-editable format so they can watch it the way you intended rather than open it in PowerPoint and not necessarily get the full experience.
Microsoft Powerpoint ($209-$849, as part of Microsoft Office) is the obvious competition, as it has long been the standard for creating presentations. While there's nothing wrong with PowerPoint, it doesn't handle presentation creation for Mac users quite as simply and elegantly as Keynote. It does, however, offer realtime collaboration and in-app photo editing.
FotoMagico ($139.99) isn't really an office-friendly piece of presentation software, but it does allow you to create rich photo presentations with some pretty compelling animations. Of course, it's very expensive.
Slideshow ($15.99) simply creates a slideshow out of media files. If that's all you really need to do, this app can do it, but for $5 extra you could just buy Keynote instead and get a lot more.
There aren't really many presentation apps to choose from on the Mac, so if you're aware of a dark horse in the category or just have something you really like, please share it in the comments.
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