$99. Academic pricing available.

Introduced a year ago, Keynote is Apple’s fully-featured presentation application that provides more than a worthy competitor to Microsoft’s PowerPoint. If the first rule of a presentation is to get the audience’s attention, Keynote offers significant advantages over PowerPoint, especially with visuals. Keynote seamlessly handles fonts, graphics, audio, video, transparency and transitions.

This is to say that Keynote is more a graphics tool than just a means of bullet-pointing references to a spreadsheet. Useful attributes such as alignment guides that pop into view when one object gets closely aligned (vertically or horizontally) with another are there. The capabilities for creating charts and graphs are such that I would use Keynote to create these for use in other documents with the help of screen captures. The included transitions render quickly and add professionalism, not to mention a certain wow factor.

Keynote utilizes a very direct user interface that integrates a slide sorter into the main view. This shows both order and indentation. Slide order can be easily changed by drag-and-drop. The controls are very straightforward, including the ability to customize the toolbar much as in other Apple OSX applications, a definite plus for us left-handers. I would only wish that the color chooser had an “OK” button controlled by either the Return or Enter key, which would be easier than poking for the little red button in the top corner. If the Inspector could be a drop-down menu from the toolbar that got out of the way when you clicked off it, that would also be a real plus.

Aside from that, the fact that I was able to create a nifty presentation with Keynote in next to no time as opposed to my struggles in prior efforts with Powerpoint reminds me that simplicity is a prerequisite for elegance.

– John Maas
System Requirements: Power Mac G3, G4 or G5, eMac, 500MHz or faster iMac or iBook (PowerPC G4 recommended), Mac OS X v10.2 or later, 128MB of RAM (512MB recommended), 8MB of video memory (32MB recommended), 1GB of available disk space.
Copyright ©2004 by John Maas. This review appeared in the May 2004 issue of Newsbreak, the newsletter of MUG ONE - Macintosh User Group of Oneonta, NY.