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PowerPoint for Mac: What Windows Creators Should Know

on Sun Feb 11, 2018 12:15 am
Message reputation : 100% (1 vote)

If you wish to extend your PowerPoint projects to the largest audience, you'll probably want to support PowerPoint for Mac. That said, as a Windows creator, you have access to all sorts of features that PowerPoint for Mac cannot run. This tutorial will run through the limitations you should consider when designing for PowerPoint for Mac, along with any possible workarounds. From there, you can decide for yourself whether PowerPoint for Mac support is worth it or not.

The tutorial will focus on PowerPoint 2011 and 2016 for Mac. This is because PowerPoint 2008 cannot run macros and triggers, and PowerPoint 2004 doesn't work on the latest version of macOS.

- - -

Do I need to test my project on PowerPoint for Mac?

While it is nice to test with the actual program, it isn't necessary as Microsoft has been improving Windows and Mac rendering compatibility over the years. Barring any specific Mac limitations mentioned below, you should expect any project from Windows to work just fine on PowerPoint 2016 for Mac.

PowerPoint 2011 does have a few quirks that can't be tested on Windows though, and I will mention what I found in this tutorial. Since Apple plans to drop 32-bit support in the future, which includes PowerPoint 2011, it's up to you whether or not to make PowerPoint 2011 a priority.

With that said, here are PowerPoint for Mac's limitations.

- - -


PowerPoint for Mac does not support several of the fonts you get on Windows. It cannot read embedded fonts either. If you use a font that isn't installed on the user's Mac, that font will probably be replaced with Arial.

1) Use a font that is known to work on both Windows and Mac. Here's a PDF that can help you find those fonts.
2) Convert any text with the Windows only font to an image. (If you're using text animations, this won't help you.)
3) Include the Windows only font with the download, and ask the Mac user to install that font. Make sure you can legally distribute the font!
4) If you have PowerPoint for Mac, you can create a separate version of your project that uses Mac specific fonts.

Even when using a compatible font, macOS tends to render fonts differently than Windows. For this reason, make sure there's a little extra space in your text boxes so it's more likely the font will fit well on the Mac.

Animation Triggers

PowerPoint for Mac will run animation triggers, but you won't be able to edit them.
PowerPoint 2011 seems to reset animations caused by triggers in a slide if you advance two or more other slides.


Windows Media audio won't play on PowerPoint for Mac without a plugin. Such a plugin may be difficult to find when using macOS Sierra or newer.
Consider using MP3 or WAV files instead.


This isn't exactly a limitation, but if a PowerPoint 2011 user presses and holds the mouse, any mouseover actions will be ignored. This means PowerPoint 2011 users can theoretically cheat in mouse maze games.

ActiveX Controls

If your macro-enabled project uses ActiveX controls like these,

they won't work at all on PowerPoint for Mac.

I assume you've used the text box control, which lets you directly edit text in a presentation. You can work around this on the Mac using a standard shape that uses an input box to edit the text in that shape. Read this community post to find out how to do this with VBA. If you'd like to see this in action, download the Mac version of Wheel of Fortune for PowerPoint by Tim's Slideshow Games.

Also remember that since you're using a standard shape instead of an ActiveX object, you'll need to refer to the shape's text as

ActivePresentation.Slides(#).Shapes("[Shape name]").TextFrame.TextRange.Text

instead of

ActivePresentation.Slides(#).Shapes("[Shape name]").OLEFormat.Object.Value

Since there are many other ActiveX controls that I'm not familiar with, I won't be able to provide workarounds for every control. You'll need to think of a way to do what the ActiveX control was intending to do using only standard shapes.


  • The Sleep function for delaying VBA is a Windows only API, so it won't work on Mac. Use a DoEvents loop instead, as mentioned here.
  • File reading doesn't appear to be possible with PowerPoint for Mac.
  • PowerPoint 2011 won't edit text properties based on a direct parameter. It's hard to explain, so here's an example.

    This macro adds the text "Hi there!" to the shape the user clicked on:

    Sub addHiThere(oClickedShape As Shape)
      oClickedShape.TextFrame.TextRange.Text = "Hi there!"
    End Sub

    It works on Windows, but PowerPoint 2011 cannot gather the TextFrame.TextRange.Text directly from the oClickedShape parameter. You'll need to use the following workaround code instead:

    Sub addHiThere(oClickedShape As Shape)
      Dim oSh As Shape
      For Each oSh In SlideShowWindows(1).View.Slide.Shapes
        If oSh.Name = oClickedShape.Name Then
          Exit For
          End If
      oSh.TextFrame.TextRange.Text = "Hi there!"
    End Sub

- - -

If I'm missing any other limitations, or if Microsoft made changes to PowerPoint for Mac that could impact this list, leave a comment here so this post can be updated.

Top PowerPoint for Mac icons are from Macworld
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