Make a simple slideshow with Keynote.app


Make a simple slideshow with Keynote.app
Mac Tip #452, 01 September 2010

Do you do presentations? Apple’s Keynote.app, part of the iWork suite, makes creating presentations fun. Here’s how to get started with a very simple slideshow. Future Tips will add detail.

iWork replaces MS Office

Apple’s iWork suite (NZ$179, US$79) gives you a word processor and page layout program called Pages, a spreadsheet called Numbers, and presentation software called Keynote. They’re a delight to use, and years ago I replaced Microsoft Office with them.

Keynote is for presentations

As a trainer and presenter I quite often need to show ‘slides’ to the groups I work with. That’s where Keynote comes to the fore.

I add my graphics, text, sounds and video to Keynote as I prepare for my presentation. Then when I give my talk I plug my computer into a projector and perhaps a sound system to show the slides.

In this Tip I’m using Keynote ’09, version 5.0.4.

Choose a Theme

When you open Keynote the Theme Chooser window appears. You need to make 2 important choices in this window:

  1. Choose the Theme that determines the look of your slides.
  2. Choose the correct Slide Size. 800*600 is a fairly safe choice for many common projectors.

There are around 45 different themes to choose from. Hover over any theme and move your mouse a little to see a quick display of all the various layouts available in that theme.

Each theme uses different fonts and colours. You can change to a different theme later, or even modify a theme, but it’s a good idea to start with one that seems right for your project.

For this Tip I’ll choose the Vellum theme. Click on a theme and after choosing a slide size, click the Choose button. After a few moment a new, empty Keynote presentation file appears, displaying a single blank slide.

The Keynote window

By default Keynote opens with a window that shows a Toolbar across the top, a list of slides down the left and the individual slide on the right. It shows the Title slide for your presentation.

Double click to edit

The default Title slide probably shows two separate text areas, both with the default text Double click to edit. Double click in each area and type the title of your presentation and a byline if you need one. The text will be displayed using the default font, color and size for the theme you chose.

Add a new slide

To add a second slide:

  • Choose New Slide from the Slide menu; or
  • Press Command (⌘) Shift (⇧) N; or
  • Press the + button in the Toolbar.

A new blank slide appears, this time using the default ordinary slide for the theme you chose. Again, double click where it tells you to so you can add text. The default ordinary slide may show a heading and body area, or for some themes it may show space for photos.

Change the style of slide

To change the style of the slide — eg to be able to add a photo or bullet points — click on the Masters button on the Toolbar. A menu appears showing all the styles of slide available in the theme you chose. There should be choices that include blank, bullet points, photos, and various arrangements of text. Choose the style you need for this slide. If you choose a photo style, the slide will contain a placeholder photo.

Add a photo to a slide

If you chose a slide style that includes a placeholder photo, you don’t need to remove the photo before you add your own.

There are many ways to add a photo to a slide. Here’s just one: drag it in from the Finder. As you drag the replacement photo over the existing placeholder a blue border appears around the placeholder and the cursor changes to show an arrow, with a green + below it.

Drop your new photo in and it replaces the existing image.

Continue adding text and images to slides, until you have everything in place.

Move a slide

You may find you need to switch Slide #3 and Slide #4. Here’s one way: drag the thumbnail of the slide in the left-column into a new position. A blue line and arrow mark the current position of the slide as you drag it. Drop it when it’s in the right place.

Play the slideshow

To see how your presentation is looking select the first slide and Play the slideshow:

  • Choose Play Slideshow from the Play menu; or
  • Press Command (⌘) Option (⌥) P; or
  • Press the Play (▸) button in the Toolbar.

Press the right or left arrow keys on your keyboard to move to the next or previous slide. Press the Escape key to exit the slideshow.

Save and Export

When you’ve made all your slides and completed the presentation save it (File > Save).

You can now run the slideshow from your Mac.

Or choose File > Export… to export your slideshow to Quicktime, Powerpoint, PDF, HTML, iPod format or as a set of images.

There’s much much more

The steps above will see you through a very simple slideshow, and may be sufficient for your needs. Keynote is very powerful though and can do a great deal more than could possibly be explained in a single Tip. Future Tips will show you how to add more file types, customise single slides or a whole theme, how to work with images and graphs, and how to add a bit of flair with builds and transitions.

Tell us in the Comments about your experiences with Keynote.

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