An age-old criticism of PowerPoint on the Mac has been that it is simply not as powerful as the PC version, lacking important features. This, despite the fact that PowerPoint was first created only for the Mac. The criticisms were valid for a long time, but the past number of releases have seen the two versions converge dramatically in terms of functionality and similarity, and so I thought it was a good time to do a rundown of what is actually different between the platforms these days.
To be fair, there are scores of current differences—most of them minor and used only by advanced users—but we’re going to limit things to a top fifteen list. I won’t address third party add-ins (which are almost always written only for the PC, save Brightslide) or OS-level and coding items. Additionally, I’m leaving out new-ish features that haven’t yet made their way to the Mac, but which we expect will do so eventually. And I won’t cover other PowerPoint platforms such as PowerPoint for the web and iOS versions.
Counting down from least to most egregious, these are the top 15 things PowerPoint features you can find on the PC, but that are still MIA on the Mac.
- Drawing Ruler. Wait, you’re on a PC and have never used this? Join the club. But if you do a lot of pen drawing on your touch screen in PowerPoint, maybe it’s helpful to have an edge to help with straight lines.
- Keyboard Access to the Ribbon. – Keyboard shortcut wizards can use the Alt key on the PC to reveal key commands and navigate the ribbon almost entirely without a mouse. (Also a useful accessibility feature…)
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- Photo Album – Wouldn’t it be cool if you could take hundreds of photos in a folder and instantly create a PowerPoint slideshow? Mac users think so.
- Compare – A relatively new and quiet feature allows you to open two versions of a single PowerPoint file under the Review tab and identify the differences.
- Picture Layouts – The Mac has picture layouts under SmartArt, but you still can’t select a bunch of photos and turn them into an automatic layout like our Windows friends can.
- Insert Screen Recording – Creating a video tutorial from within PPT is pretty easy…on the PC. (It’s also the way I quickly created the animated GIFs in this article.)
- Text to Speech – You mean you can just hit a button and have PowerPoint transcribe your voice? Cool, if you’re staring at a Dell or HP logo.
- Reapply Notes Master – Need to make an edit to the Notes Page Master after you’ve been working with and designing Notes Pages? Right-clicking lets you reapply it on the PC, but not on the Mac.
- Resize Presenter View Window. Presenter View is awesome, but sometimes you just don’t need it hogging your entire second monitor. On the PC, you can easily resize Presenter View to take up as much or as little of your monitor as you like—something incredibly useful in this day of Zoom and remote presenting.
- Copy Paste Sections. I’m a fanatic about using sections and pull my hair out each time I have to recreate sections after copying slides from one deck to another on the Mac, knowing my PC friends can copy over one section at a time retaining the section name.
- Black and White View – No making presentations environmentally print-friendly for you!
- Import/Export QAT – It’s bad enough you can’t put the Quick Access Toolbar below the ribbon on the Mac, but what really frosts my shorts is not being able to import or export the customization file.
- Set Custom Font Theme – Wait, you want to create a template for a client and set the required font theme to something other than a lame system default? Going to need to ask a Windows friend to do it for you.
- Edit Links – Need to relink an Excel file that got renamed or moved so you can edit the chart’s data? Good luck if you have a computer named after a fruit.
And what do we have forever in the number one spot? Yeah, you knew it was coming…
- Animation Timeline – The winner and reigning champion for most agonizing missing feature on the Mac continues to be the animation timeline. PowerPoint can do insane things when it comes to animation, but if you can’t visually see and edit the timings of your animations, then you are going to have a significantly harder and more frustrating experience. Come on, Microsoft!
I know I had to leave some differences out for the sake of space, but let me know in the comments any I missed and what you would like to see Microsoft’s engineers get cracking on for the Mac!