OpenOffice.org is a Microsoft Office clone, pretty close to Office 2003. It’s open source software that you download and install on your computer, sponsored by Cisco, but also somewhat independent, as open source software tends to be.
OpenOffice is a suite and its presentation piece is called Impress. (Fun and little known fact: I’m the co-author of OpenOffice.org For Dummies. It was written a few years ago and is now out of date, so I won’t give you a link.)
There are other free Office alternatives, such as LibreOffice (also open-source), but OpenOffice.org is the most widely known. In my experience, many students and very small businesses use it. You can open Microsoft Office files and save files in Microsoft Office format as well. In fact, you can set Microsoft Office format as the default for saving your files.
Note: Everyone calls it OpenOffice, but they want you to call it OpenOffice.org for legal reasons.
After you unpack and install OpenOffice, you can choose Start>All Programs>OpenOffice.org3.3>OpenOffice.org Impress to start the presentation module. (3.3 is the version I downloaded.) By default, you see this wizard. To start a new presentation, choose Empty Presentation and click Next.
On the next page (#3), you can choose a slide transition and slide timing. Then click Create. You see your new presentation.
The interface looks pretty similar to PowerPoint 2003, although the task panes on the right are a little different. Nevertheless, if you know PowerPoint 2003, you’ll be right at home. The views are above the slide.
Here are some pointers:
- To access the master, expand the Master Pages item in the task pane, right-click the selected master, and choose Edit Master.
- Layouts are also in the task pane on the right. Click the Layouts item to expand it and see your options.
- I wasn’t able to figure out how to bottom-justify the text in the title placeholder, something I like to do. If you figure it out, please leave a comment!
- Right-click objects to find tools that you need. For example, use the toolbar at the bottom to insert shapes and right-click a shape to format the line and area (fill).
- On the bottom toolbar, there’s a Gallery button that gives you a good number of backgrounds, bullets, buttons (like website buttons), and even sounds.
- The rightmost button on the toolbar brings you into Slide Show view.
- OpenOffice has a full range of animations. You can find them by clicking Custom Animation in the task pane.
Give it a whirl and see what you think!