Keynote ( v. 1.0 ) - complete package review: Keynote ( v. 1.0 ) - complete package

CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.3
  • Setup and interface: 7.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Service and support: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Makes it easy to create polished, professional-looking presentations; compatible with Microsoft PowerPoint; attractive slide-transition effects.

The Bad No prebuilt presentations; very little clip art; few template styles to choose from.

The Bottom Line With its sharp appearance, ease of use, and great price, Keynote sweeps the Mac-presentation market. Definitely pick it over PowerPoint for Mac.

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Apple has another weapon in its campaign to end Mac users' reliance on anything Microsoft. Its new presentation software, Keynote, takes on the formidable foe PowerPoint and exploits some of the cracks in that program's Goliath-like armor. PowerPoint is the most lackluster app in Microsoft's Office X for Mac suite, so its drab colors and stuck-in-the-'80s themes are no match for Keynote's crisp, fresh graphics. And while a single PowerPoint license goes for $399, Keynote costs $300 less and can import and convert PowerPoint files. PowerPoint does offer some wizards and clip art that Keynote lacks, but we can live without them, especially given the price. If you're looking for presentation software on the Mac, give Keynote a try. Installing Keynote from the CD is a simple operation that takes but a minute--just double-click the installer and follow the onscreen instructions. Keynote is compatible with Macs running only OS X 10.2 Jaguar or later (there's no Windows version), a more stringent requirement than PowerPoint X, which runs on OS X 10.1 or better systems. Once you have Keynote installed, you can open a sample presentation that highlights what the program can do.


The pop-up menu on the left shows Keynote's font controls, while the one on the right is for inputting chart or table data.

Keynote takes time to learn, especially if you're new to presentation software. However, its interface is fairly straightforward, particularly if you're used to PowerPoint. The screen is divided into three segments: a customizable toolbar along the top; a slide organizer along the left edge that displays thumbnails of all your slides; and a canvas that fills the rest of the screen.


The Keynote interface is divided into three main areas: a toolbar along the top, a thumbnail slide view along the left, and a canvas in the middle of the screen.

You'll find most of the controls that you need on various pop-up menus, which are accessible from the toolbar. An Inspector button on the toolbar brings up a customizable menu window that provides creation and editing options for type, tables, charts, and other items. Eight icons along the top of the Inspector window call up different subsets of options; for example, the Chart button displays chart-customization choices in the Inspector window, and Text offers text-formatting options. The Inspector menu is easy to use, but Keynote sprinkles some commands-- such as font controls--in more random pop-up menus. We wish that these commands were centralized in the Inspector window.


The Inspector window displays most of the customization options in Keynote. The eight buttons along the top call up different controls. Chart options are shown here.

To start a new presentation in Keynote, you can choose from 1 of 12 themes--such as Blackboard, Notebook, or Linen Book--or create a custom theme using, say, your own company logo and your choice of layouts, fonts, and colors. Keynote resembles iDVD in that it doesn't offer many prefab themes (PowerPoint for Mac has 60), but the ones you get look far more professional and attractive than almost all of PowerPoint's. Once you have a theme, you can select from 11 prebuilt slide templates (vs. PowerPoint for Mac's 24), all of which can be easily customized to create your presentation. Keynote also includes very little clip art for dressing up your slides, and it doesn't offer prebuilt presentations--completely finished templates in which you change only text--as PowerPoint does.


Pushpin is one of Keynote's 12 default themes. Note the textured background and the pushpin graphics used as text bullets.

Keynote includes a number of attractive effects, such as movielike transitions, which control how one slide turns, spins, or fades into the next. You also get nine chart options for producing attractive, readable charts that can be customized in almost every way. Unfortunately, Keynote's Chart Data Editor--where you paste in data from Excel or other spreadsheets--needs work. When you first select a chart, there's sample data in the editor, which is a nuisance to delete. Pasting in info is also difficult because you can't highlight the header cells.


You can apply effects such as transparencies to the objects that you create.

On the flip side, it's incredibly easy to add audio (MP3 or AIFF) or video (MOV or Flash) to slides: just drag files where you want them. Or, you can click the Edit pull-down menu, select Place/Choose, then browse to the file that you want. Unfortunately, you can add a music file to only one slide at a time--you can't get a song to play across several slides or your whole presentation.

The app can save to the PowerPoint format, but we found a few glitches when we saved and opened a Keynote presentation with PowerPoint for Mac. Images loaded into precreated frames in Keynote displayed in front of their frames in PowerPoint. Also, background colors and images in charts and tables came out rough and pixelated. Keynote fares better at importing PowerPoint presentations; elements aren't always aligned perfectly, but they don't look horrid.

Unlike PowerPoint for Windows, Keynote doesn't have collaboration features that let you e-mail your presentation to coworkers, then collect their changes. But PowerPoint for the Mac lacks this feature as well. Apple offers a reasonable support package for Keynote. In addition to the comprehensive, 97-page manual, you'll get 90 days of free telephone support (every day, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT), onscreen help, and Web-hosted documents and forums. Don't waste time looking in the help files for the free phone number: you'll find it in the Keynote box on a sheet of paper labeled AppleCare Software Service and Support Guide. There is no e-mail-based support.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Keynote ( v. 1.0 ) - box pack

Part Number: M8820Z/A Released: Jan 7, 2003
MSRP: $99.00 Low Price: $20.99 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Jan 7, 2003
  • Category office applications
  • Compatibility Mac