Has PowerPoint 2016 for Mac Been Worth the Wait?

Friday, March 13th, 2015 by Matt

It’s amazing to think that PowerPoint was originally created for the Mac OS, back in 1987…

…When today PowerPoint is very much PC first and Mac second. This week we got our hands on a beta version of PowerPoint 2016 for Mac and put it through its paces.

It’s fair to say we normally get pretty damn excited about new versions of PowerPoint. But sadly when comparing this it to PowerPoint 2013 on the PC, there was nothing really new about it.

The Mac vs PC versions of PowerPoint have always been pretty similar, but the Mac one is always released later, I suspect it’s a case of nailing it for PC before handing over to the Mac team to develop.

PC                           Mac

Office 2003         Office 2004

Office 2007         Office 2008

Office 2010         Office 2011

Office 2013         Office 2016

But it’s never been released this late before!

So with such a delay, I was expecting to see something new and improved, rather than just a very late re-hash. But sadly, a rehash of PowerPoint 2013 it is.

So putting my personal view to one side, how good this program actually is and how much it will make your presentation creating life that bit easier will depend on your point of view…

If you are a loyal Mac user who is currently using PowerPoint 2011 and will definitely continue with Office for Mac then there is good news, because the new version is leaps and bounds ahead of the previous…

Visual Layout – this has changed a lot, it’s sleeker and the default screen ratio has moved from 4×3 to 16×9.

The menus have improved, the home tab now has some useful buttons for adding pictures, shapes and text boxes. This is really useful as these are probably your 3 main tools all handily grouped together – you don’t even get this in the PC version!

Inserting images now gives you direct access to iphoto and Photo Booth.

When CMD clicking, the format shape window now appears locked to the right, rather than appearing over the top of the item clicked on which is handy.

Template Structure – is the same as the previous version and is built the same as the PC version, meaning files can be worked on both new and old versions and across operating systems.

The Eyedropper Tool – this is a game changer. When you go to change the colour of an object you can select the eye dropper and hover over anything on the slide and the eyedropper will pick up the colour. So if you see a colour on a webpage or another document you like, you can copy and paste this into PowerPoint and use the Eyedropper to get the exact colour in just one click.

Auto Alignment Tool – Now upgraded so that when objects are dragged around the slide, lines appear showing you the alignment to other objects on the slide.

The Yellow Diamond – if you insert a rounded rectangle and alter the curvature of the corners, the elements showing you have the shape selected, vanish – giving you a clearer view.

The Combine Shapes Tool – a great feature that allows you to create unique shapes by either cutting one shape from another, or alternatively by combining them together.

Animation – has also been improved a lot, we now have the animation preview option, so rather than having to wait for all the other animation to play through, we can start at any point – a great time saver.

Motion Path Ghost – another awesome upgrade here, a tool that shows you exactly where the object’s animation will end.

So plenty of new features to keep Mac disciples happy.

However this new version of PowerPoint for Mac is just as much about what it doesn’t have as what it does. As the features that are missing when compared to the PC version (out for 2 years now) is just astounding.

There are a whole host of really key features missing:

The Quick Access Toolbar – is there, but it doesn’t seem to be customisable like it is on PC.

Selection Pane – a key tool to be able to hide objects on a slide and thus get to other objects layered behind – on PC for years, but still no sign of it for Mac users.

Custom Shows – miss the show and return function.

Animation – the timeline visual representation is missing, making it much harder to work with animations.

Save as Video – on PC you can save to WMV or MP4. On Mac it’s not even an option.

Some other less important features missing are:

Online Pictures – uses Bing to search for Creative Commons online images (use with legal caution) and insert directly into the slide.

Screenshot – a handy tool for inserting an image of any program you have open.

Photo Album – a tool that allows you to select a folder containing multiple images and load them all onto separate PowerPoint slides in seconds.

Zoom – in presentation mode on the PC, you can hit a magnifying glass and zoom directly into around 25% of the screen.

So it really does feel like Mac users of PowerPoint have been an afterthought.

It’s not all doom and gloom, if Mac is where your heart lays, then it is a good step forward. But when it comes to serious presentation creation, then your life will be harder than your colleague (or competitor) that has the PC version.

To put the difference into context, I asked one of our designers what he thought the impact would be if the Eyeful design team switched to using PowerPoint 2016 for Mac…

The knock on effect would be huge. We could manage without some features, but things like not being able to convert to video would be a huge loss for many of our clients. And things like not having a clear animation timeline the selection pane missing, would really slow production time. It would take us so much longer to do things that it just wouldn’t be a practical option to even consider switching. Jack Biddlecombe

If you are an ardent Mac user who is fed up of struggling with PowerPoint, then grab a cuppa, ditch the mouse and give Eyeful a call – we can take the hassle away and create you a stunning presentation, with clear content and messaging.

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One Response to “Has PowerPoint 2016 for Mac Been Worth the Wait?”

  1. Eamonn says:

    Everyone knows the cool kids use Macs but without the Mac version having everything that’s in the PC one it will be a hard sell to upgrade.

    The selection tool has saved me loads of time trying to figure out how a slide has been put together. The screen shot gizmo in combination with hyperlinks is the easiest way to include short cuts to sites and the motion ghosts thingy is way cool.

    Thanks for the info it means I won’t be pining for a Mac anytime soon.

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