Five Free PowerPoint Alternatives

Category: Software

If you have to make a presentation, you probably want to supplement it with visual aids. The standard for creating graphic presentations – usually slideshows – is the Microsoft Office PowerPoint application. Many business users are familiar with PowerPoint, and they either love it or hate it. But there are alternatives to PowerPoint. Here are some of the most popular ones for Windows and other platforms...

Free Software for Presentations and Slideshows

Lots of people are looking for alternatives to Microsoft's Powerpoint software. Some think the learning curve is a bit steep. Others don't have the $139 for a copy of PowerPoint, and are looking for free software to create PowerPoint-compatible presentations. Maybe you're a cross-platform user, who needs to share files across Windows, Mac, and Linux environments. Or perhaps you're looking for something that's entirely web-based. Here are five free or low-cost alternatives to PowerPoint.

Impress is the presentation module of the free LibreOffice productivity suite (and its relative, OpenOffice). Impress matches PowerPoint's UI most closely of all the alternatives noted here, but extends its drawing and graphics capabilities considerably. Like other presentation packages, Impress comes with templates and clip art. It also supports multiple monitors, runs on Windows, Mac or Linux, and can exchange files with PowerPoint.
Free PowerPoint Alternatives

LibreOffice is widely touted as the premier free, open-source alternative to Microsoft Office. In addition to Impress, it has Writer, Calc, Draw and Base modules, which provide much of the same functionality as Office. If you're interested in other free office software, see my related article Microsoft Office Alternatives for a list of software packages that offer free or low-cost word processing, spreadsheet and presentation capability.


The Google Docs presentation module got a major update in October, 2011. More than 50 new features were added, including simultaneous editing by multiple users, a set of new slide animations, themes, tables, and more. It's compatible with PowerPoint, but easier and more fun to use. Some heavy-duty features are missing, like the ability to embed animations. But you can insert links to YouTube videos into your presentations. Because it's web-based, anyone can use Google Docs, regardless of your choice of operating system.


Prezi is an online powerpoint alternative, which eschews the series-of-slides paradigm in favor of its Zooming User Interface. All of your presentation's elements are created on a single digital canvas. Clicking on an item zooms in on it. To some, the novel presentation is disorienting and detracts from a presentation. Others feel it lends excitement to an otherwise boring slideshow.

There are three ways to use Prezi. The Public version is free, and gives you 100MB of online storage for the presentations you create. But... all your presentations will be public (meaning anyone can see them) and they will have the Prezi logo. You can try the Enjoy version (who came up with that name?) free for 30 days, then decide if you want to pay $59/year for 500 MB of storage, the ability to have private files, and premium support. For $159/year you get 2 GB of storage, privacy and an offline version of Prezi (based on Adobe Air).


Sliderocket is another cloud-based presentations program. It's free for occasional use, but costs a whopping $24 per month for the Pro version. There's also an Enterprise version that requires a minimum of 100 users and costs $360 per year, per user.


Apple's Keynote presentation software ($19.99) was released as a standalone product in 2003. In 2005, it was bundled with Pages, a word processing program, as the first Apple office suite called iWork. Many Apple fans think Keynote is an easy to use, intuitive way to create nifty presentations compared to PowerPoint. All of my savvy Mac friends recommend Keynote over PowerPoint. It includes simple tools for editing graphics, adding animation, making 3D charts, and more. It even supports PowerPoint files. You can also control a presentation from your iOS device and preview slides on a Mac before they are displayed on another monitor.

Are you a PowerPoint diehard, or do you prefer one of the PowerPoint alternatives? Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "Five Free PowerPoint Alternatives"

Posted by:

Dave
29 Jun 2012

The problem I have found with at least OpenOffice is that it works much like PowerPoint and the user can easily save in PPT format, BUT if you're going to be sharing the presentations with a customer or vendor and they use MS Powerpoint, what they see very well may not be what you put together in terms of formatting, colors, etc.

I prepared a flowchart and org chart on OpenOffice and when I brought it into Powerpoint, all the text labels were out of place, lines connecting boxes were no longer aligned. It was a mess. Same was true in the opposite direction...taking a PPT into OpenOffice.


Posted by:

Joseph
29 Jun 2012

I am a Libre Office user and have no problem using IMPRESS instead of Power Point. The program is very easy to use.


Posted by:

Batya
29 Jun 2012

Which of these alternatives is best from the point of view of music embedding? I find PPT very limited in that respect.


Posted by:

Kevin Thomas
29 Jun 2012

I think the libreoffice suite is the best. not because its free" well that’s also a good thing" but because it has every thing in there that you will need to do "productive work"


Posted by:

Bryan
29 Jun 2012

I am mac user & problem with Keynote is it won't play the embedded music in powerpoint presentations.


Posted by:

Chris
29 Jun 2012

Kingsoft Office is also a good alternative. They offer both free and paid versions. Docx formats can be opened and edited, but only saved in doc format. It handles Powerpoint presentations quite well.


Posted by:

Richard Ingram
30 Jun 2012

Kingsoft Presentation 2012 is worth considering, It's free, as is the entire Kingsoft Office 2012 suite. More at www.kingsoftstore.com. IMO, all of the alternatives to Microsoft Office will have some rendering issues for Office files that have extensive formatting, design elements, etc. I did a Microsoft Word .docx test recently comparing how well LibreOffice, OpenOffice, and Kingsoft Office word processors handled the Word file. Kingsoft did the best job of all, with only minor spacing issues. The others failed miserably.


Posted by:

DVandy
30 Jun 2012

For those of you who are not familiar with Impress, one of the things that I really like about it is the fact that, "out of the box", there is a presenter's module. I find it very handy.

The presenter's module allows you to see, on the laptop (or computer) screen your notes, the next slide(s) coming up, and a timer. At the same time, the presentation is showing on the projector! Yes, you can get PowerPoint to do it, but Impress uses it from the get-go! Very Impressive! (Pun intended!)

However, while I really like Impress, I very rarely use it because my college, where I teach, is stuck on PowerPoint; and, unfortunately, PowerPoint and Impress files do NOT convert for me at all. As someone already stated, one format will not convert correctly into the other format.

If it was up to me, I would get rid of most Microsoft products (yes, including---especially the OS--Linux is a MUCH better choice) and use open-source alternatives.

Unfortunately, it is not up to me.


Posted by:

Darcetha
30 Jun 2012

I have to agree with Dave. I also tried using OpenOffice as an alternative to MS Power Point.

I had to do a presentation for a college course. Instead of using MS Power Point, I did my presentation in OpenOffice.

But, when I sent my presentation to my fellow classmates, who were using MS Power Point, they stated that my presentation did not look professional, because my formatting was off.

Therefore, I stick to the business standard, MS Power Point for presentations.


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