Once upon a time, on desktops far, far away, there was PowerPoint for Windows and something very very different for Mac… If you remember PowerPoint:mac 2011, you might still have recurring nightmares about the amount of effort it took to create presentations. There were so many things missing in PowerPoint for Mac compared to the Windows version. These days things have improved, but there are still a few key differences between the two desktop platforms of the world’s favourite presentation design software.

Here at BrightCarbon we have a rather unique perspective on compatibility because we tend to look at PowerPoint with two brains. The first is the ‘user brain’: like many of you, we use PowerPoint every day to create presentations, videos, documents and more. The second is the ‘developer brain’: this is our add-ins development team! This team spend a lot of time thinking about how we can push PowerPoint far beyond its native capabilities. They are the brains behind our free PowerPoint design and productivity add-in BrightSlide and a lot more good stuff! They have also spent a lot of time contemplating (and being frustrated by) what we can do with add-ins in Windows that we can’t on Mac.

The user brain

If you’re using PowerPoint regularly to create masterpieces, you need to know what features are, or are not, supported by each platform.

Generally, new features first appear in the Windows version of PowerPoint (at least until PowerPoint for the Web was conceived. But that’s another story!) However, some of these features never make it to the Mac at all. On the other hand, there are a few features that Mac users got their hands on ahead of PC users. For example, transparent pictures and hex colour codes were enjoyed by the Mac community long before they finally appeared for PC users – in 2018 and 2020 respectively.

However, as the saying goes, the only constant in life is change. And as Microsoft continue to invest in both desktop platforms, the differences appear to be getting smaller.

With all that said, this is what we’ve discovered to be the most significant differences between the latest versions* of PowerPoint for Windows and PowerPoint for Mac:

FeaturePowerPoint for WindowsPowerPoint for Mac
Home tab
Reuse Slides
3D Model
Screen Recording
Reorder Objects
Reorder Overlapping Objects
Editing Group
Dictation
Insert tab
Photo Album
Forms
Screen Recording
Draw tab
Ruler
Ink Replay
Trackpad
Design tab
Custom Fonts
Animations tab
Timeline view
In-ribbon Delay
Slide Show tab
Alt+F5
Review tab
Language
Compare
Reading Order pane
View tab
Notes Pages / Layout
Colour / Grayscale
Recording tab
Developer tab
Video Format / Playback tab
Insert Captions
Video Shape
Backstage view
Info tab
Package for CD
Create Handouts
Publish to Microsoft Stream
Other
blank.potx
Gridlines (as opposed to Guides)
Image Compression control
In-ribbon eyedropper
Video export to 4K
Video export to WMV
Video export to MOV
Save as theme file (thmx)
Save presentation as SVG/WMF/EMF
Save picture as SVG/WMF/EMF
Selection pane Alt+F10
Import Image (from camera/scanner)
Capture Selection from Screen

The developer brain

Making PowerPoint do things it doesn’t do out of the box is one of our passions. Our free BrightSlide add-in has over fifty new tools to make your presentation creation process faster and more enjoyable. And we recently released a Quick Access Toolbar – a customised toolbar packed full of our favourite PowerPoint tools – that runs in PowerPoint for Mac. But there are some things that the Mac version of BrightSlide simply can’t do because Microsoft have not opened up access to the interfaces we need under the hood. If you’re approaching PowerPoint for Mac with a developer brain, these are some of the major things you need to know:

FeaturePowerPoint for WindowsPowerPoint for Mac
Access to create/modify/delete guides
Mouse cursor position
Transparent windows
Keyboard I/O interaction
Simple installation of add-ins
Window (userform) designer

 

We have our fingers crossed that Microsoft will open up access to PowerPoint for Mac so we can continue to spread presentation creation joy with epic add-ins. In the meantime, we’ve got our developer brains in gear and will keep looking for creative solutions to your presentation problems!

 

Make PowerPoint for Mac work harder for you by solving the missing Develop tab.

*The versions compared in this article:

Windows: PowerPoint as part of Microsoft 365, version 2010 build 13318.20000

Mac: PowerPoint as part of Microsoft 365, version 16.32 build 20092300

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Written by

Jamie Garroch

Senior technical consultant

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