In this article we’re going to take a quick look at getting your PowerPoint presentation to view on your iPad for free. You can always email your PowerPoint to yourself and open it up directly from there but this doesn’t always look great and is basic to say the least. The suggestions below are not comprehensive but will hopefully give you a few ideas. For testing purposes, I looked at several things. Firstly, the basics – is the presentation readable and look like the original? Secondly, I looked at whether or not the app could deal with animations and slide transitions. Thirdly, I looked at how the app could deal with media files. Finally, I looked at hyperlinks – whether or not the app can deal with external hyperlinks (that is, going from the PowerPoint slide to a website) and also if the app can deal with internal hyperlinks (going to a different slide in the presentation). I didn’t look at whether or not the app could deal with Visual Basic coding.

When reading this quick review, please remember it’s not comprehensive! If you have any other methods, please feel free to share – I would love to find out more free methods.

Method One: SlideShare

slideshare_logoIf you’ve not used it before, SlideShare is a free web solution for hosting your PowerPoint presentation. It’s quick and easy to create an account, and it’s also quick to upload your presentation. Unless you want to pay for an account, your uploaded PowerPoint presentation is public for all to see. This might not be a problem, but there may well be times when you just want to show your presentation to a small group and not the world. Your uploaded presentation is very basic – for example, if you are using hyperlinks in your presentation, these will not work. Transitions and animations don’t work, and neither does embedded audio/video clips.

Advantages:

  1. Quick to set up an account (you can even link to a Facebook account)
  2. Painless to upload your PowerPoint

Disadvantages:

  1. Free account makes all your uploads public
  2. Basic presentation
  3. Your iPad must be connected to the Internet to access SlideShare.

(For the next couple of methods I used a free app called DropBox. DropBox is an excellent cloud based file hosting system. You can upload files from your computer which will then automatically synch with other devices – such as your iPad.)

Method Two: CloudOn

cloudon-iconCloudOn is a free app that gives you a great deal of the functionality of Microsoft Office – including PowerPoint. I linked CloudOn to my DropBox account. Having done this, I’m now able to open up and edit my PowerPoints that I’ve uploaded to DropBox. It works very well and handles the PowerPoint almost exactly like PowerPoint does. CloudOn automatically saves as you go along. This I found to be a mixed blessing. There are times when I actually don’t want to save what I’ve done – maybe I’ve been experimenting with styles etc and have totally moved away. Rather than undo a thousand times, sometimes it’s easier to just quit without saving. On the other hand, at least if I forget to save I don’t have to worry anymore.

The one thing I did notice was that it is not always smooth. Sometimes the performance lagged even though I was using it in an area with a very fast internet connection. This may have been down to other factors (large PowerPoint file, other apps open at the same time, peak in Internet use etc) but it’s something that seems to affect CloudOn – especially when you get spoiled by the smoothness of the iPad.

Advantages

  1. Free
  2. Gives you almost full access to PowerPoint tools – hyperlinks, transitions, animations all work smoothly
  3. In addition to PowerPoint, you also get other Office tools: Word and Excel
  4. Automatic save?

Disadvtanges

  1. You have to be online. If you are in an area with no wi-fi access, you can’t use CloudOn
  2. Performance lag
  3. Automatic save?

Method Three: SlideShark

slide-shark-logoSlideShark is another free app that you can download. I downloaded it and synched it to my DropBox account. This allows me to preview and present the PowerPoints that I’ve uploaded to DropBox. Unlike CloudOn, I can’t edit them. However, it does allow me to download the PowerPoints so I can then access the PowerPoints offline if need be. The free version allows you to upload 100mb of presentations to your own space but you can get more space by doing a few things like sharing the app on Facebook, refer friends, that kind of thing.

Advantages

  1. Free!
  2. Works smoothly and fluidly, and copes with a lot of PowerPoint features – such as hyperlinks.
  3. Works offline

Disadvantages

  1. Can’t edit the PowerPoint presentation
  2. Doesn’t seem to handle animations and transitions very well

Method Four: Save as PDF

adobe_reader_logoIn PowerPoint 10 you can save your PowerPoint presentation as a PDF. From the File menu, there’s an option to save as Adobe PDF. This is a very quick process but won’t include any media. If you have linked content using hyperlinks the PDF conversion will pick these up and they do work. Once you’ve got your PDF version you can then either email it to yourself or upload it to your DropBox account. There’s a PDF app for the iPad as well which makes viewing them that much easier.

Advantages

  1. Free (uses built-in technology)
  2. Very quick
  3. Requires no extra planning

Disadvantages

  1. The PDF is not editable
  2. The resulting PDF won’t transfer any animations or transistions

Method Five: Prezi

prezi logoYou could always try ditching PowerPoint and getting into Prezi. It’s free and has it’s own dedicated app (also free).

I haven’t done much work with Prezi but it seems that if you are prepared to stick with it you can produce some free interesting presentations – worth exploring? Prezi has recently given their product a bit of  a face lift, and it certainly seems much easier to create your “prezi”.  I’m not really going to go into advantages and disadvantages of using Prezi, but I thought it’s certainly worth mentioning as an alternative.

 

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