As a presentation design agency, we’re regularly asked which of the main software solutions is the best for creating presentations. And while we are partial to PowerPoint, the truth is that great presentations are all about great content, not the program you use to make them.
In this blog, we’ll cover some of the basics on what Google Slides is, what the key differences are between Slides and PowerPoint, and some things to consider when choosing presentation software for your own organization.
What is Google Slides?
Google Slides is a web-based program for creating presentations, designed for both everyday users and professionals. It allows anyone to create and share presentations, collaborate in real-time, and manage their work from anywhere on almost any device.
Slides boasts an impressive line up of features, and packs them all into a simple, easy to use interface. That makes it approachable to beginners, but with enough depth to meet the needs of expert users. And because it’s built to encourage collaboration, it’s an ideal tool for aligning an entire team around a project.
As a cloud-based program, Slides has a low barrier to entry, and is highly mobile. It also works well with the rest of Google’s productivity apps, so you can quickly and easily integrate your Docs, Sheets, and more.
Key Features of Google Slides
You can build presentations right in your web browser–no special software required
Work collaboratively in real-time with multiple team members
Automatically saves your work, so you can easily retrieve content from previous drafts
Offers more than 25 pre-built templates, and the ability to build custom templates
Compatible with PowerPoint presentations – you can upload a PPT, or save Slide presentations as PowerPoint files
Differences between Google Slides and PowerPoint
While they essentially do the same thing, there are some key differences between PowerPoint and Google Slides. Check out this table to see how each stacks up in some core functionality.
Google Slides & PowerPoint Costs
Google Slides is free to use as long as you have a Gmail account. There are also paid plans available for business use as part of the Google Workspace. PowerPoint is a part of Microsoft Office package and requires a license for Microsoft Office to use it.
Google Slides is a cloud-based software so only a Google Account and an internet connection are needed to start building presentations. PowerPoint requires Microsoft Office to be installed on your device to run. Presentations are saved on your device’s hard drive and are accessible at any time from there. Your files may also be accessed online using PowerPoint Online via Microsoft’s OneDrive, but this lacks many of the features included in the desktop version.
Storage and backup
Google Slides uses the cloud to automatically save every change you make to your presentation. That means you can click into your history to find previous versions, copy parts you edited or deleted, or even restore the presentation to previous states. PowerPoint saves all your files to your local hard drive, unless directed otherwise. It does offer options to automatically save files, but requires the latest version of the software and the AutoSave option enabled to do so. AutoSave will save a copy of your presentation every few seconds. PowerPoint also offers AutoRecover to all users, even if you aren’t an Office 365 subscriber. This feature lets you restore a previous version in case of an unexpected error. If you are looking for cloud storage, PowerPoint works with Microsoft OneDrive, a cloud storage solution that’s comparable to Google Drive.
Online and offline performance
Online: Google Slides was built for connected/online work. As long as you have a reliable internet connection, it works very well. But if your connection experiences issues, or you simply don’t have one, it offers limited functionality.
Offline: Google Slides supports offline use if the option is enabled in the program.Online PowerPoint also offers a connected version, called PowerPoint Online. However, it has limited functionality, including fewer features than Google Slides and even less than the desktop version.
Offline: PowerPoint was designed to work on a computer, and offers full functionality with no internet connection required.
Google Slides allows real-time collaboration between teammates. Anyone with access to the file can view, edit, comment and more, depending on the sharing settings you choose. Changes to the presentation can be seen instantly, and past versions are accessible to everyone in the file.
Collaboration on PowerPoint is possible, but can be a little challenging. To do any real collaboration, everyone working on the file needs to use PowerPoint 2010 or later, with the template saved to OneDrive and the presentation shared with all collaborators. You can also use PowerPoint Online, the browser-based version of the software, though this version offers fewer features than the full desktop version.
Transitions and animation
Google Slides offers a range of simple animations and transitions. The lineup is much smaller than what PowerPoint offers, but it’s likely sufficient to meet the needs of most users. The desktop version of PowerPoint offers a broad range of transitions, animation styles, and other special effects. PowerPoint Online offers a limited number of options, similar to Google Slides.
Google Slides offers 26 templates, which users can edit to suit their needs. You can also find a range of pre-made templates, both free and paid, around the web.PowerPoint includes a robust gallery of ready-to-use templates that suit many different uses. In addition, you can create your own templates, and find many more custom templates and other elements available on the web.
Google Slides supports all Google Fonts, giving you a wide variety of fonts to choose from. Currently, Google Slides doesn’t let you add, upload, or embed custom fonts in your presentation. However, since all Slides presentations live on the same platform, you won’t have to worry about fonts displaying correctly for other viewers. PowerPoint uses locally installed fonts. This offers the widest range of font choices, since you can add any you like to your device. However, custom fonts that you’ve installed will not display correctly on other devices if they don’t also have that same font. Even if fonts have been embedded in the presentation, there’s no guarantee they will display properly.
Google Slides vs PowerPoint: Which program should you use?
When you compare Google Slides and PowerPoint, there’s no one clear winner. Google Slides and PowerPoint offer advantages over each other in different areas, so it all comes down to what your specific needs are.
For example, Microsoft PowerPoint is often considered the gold standard of presentation software – it’s been around the longest and is probably the most widely used. It comes stacked with original features and rolls out consistent updates. This may be better for users who are fine with working offline and who want more options for design and customization.
However, if you’re more concerned about the ability to work collaboratively with other team members on a browser-based application, and working in a simple program with an intuitive interface, then Google Slides might be the way to go.
Or you could try the third option: use both. This is actually how our team works, and it gives you the best of both worlds. We use Google Slides for early collaboration and drafting, then switch to PowerPoint when it’s time to start designing.
It works well because Slides’ collaboration tools and simplicity make it perfect for laying out and discussing content, while PowerPoint offers powerful design tools and advanced features.
So which program do we recommend you use? The answer is whichever meets the unique needs of your organization. List out what features you need, what security or licensing concerns you have, and give each program a try to see which helps you give your best presentation.
Looking for more information about presentation software and beyond? Check out our resources for expert advice and tested strategies.