How to use Apple Keynote

If you just got a new Mac or want to try out the slideshow app that comes with macOS, it’s time to learn how to use Apple Keynote. Just like with Google Slides or Microsoft PowerPoint, you can create a slideshow in Keynote and present it to an audience.

Here, we’ll walk you through the basics you need to know as an Apple Keynote beginner.

Create a new slideshow in Keynote

You can make a basic slideshow in Keynote or choose a colorful template to give your presentation a boost.

Step 1: Open Keynote from the Applications binder. Make sure Finder is active and select Let’s go > Applications from the menu bar.

Step 2: In the window that appears, select new document In the bottom left.

Step 3: You will then see the templates you can choose from with categories on the left. You can go super basic or go big with a bold or dynamic template. Each template gives you a background and format.

Choose the template and select To create In the bottom right. For this tutorial, we’ll be using the plain white option.

Keynote templates.

Step 4: Before you start creating your slideshow, it’s a good idea to name it. You can then save it as you go through the creation process.

Give your slideshow a name in one of these ways:

  • Select the Title drop-down box at the top of the Keynote window. Enter the name, choose a location, and optionally add a tag.
  • To choose Proceedings > Save money from the menu bar. Then enter the name, choose the location, and optionally add tags.

Now that you have your new slideshow open and named, you’re ready to go.

Dialog box for naming and saving a Keynote file.

Use slideshow views

As you set up your slides and objects, you can use the view that works best for you. Select the View at the top left of Keynote, or View in the menu bar to choose an option.

Browser: This displays slide thumbnails on the left that you can choose from with the currently selected slide in the workspace on the right.

slide only: This gives you a full view of the slide without distractions.

light table: This puts your slides in a grid format. While you can’t work on a particular slide in this view, it’s a good way to see all your slides at once.

Scheme: This allows you to work on your slideshow using a text outline. Write your outline in the sidebar on the left using your Tab key to indent the sublevels.

Add and format slides

You can add slides that follow the template format of your choice, or choose a particular layout for the new slide.

Step 1: To insert a slide based on the type that comes next with the template, right-click a slide in the left navigator or select Slide in the menu bar. then choose new slide.

New Slide in the Keynote context menu.

Step 2: To insert a slide with a certain layout, select add slide in the toolbar at the top. Then choose the layout you want to use.

Add slide layout options in Keynote.

Step 3: You will then see the new slide appear. If you want to include a title, add a slide number, or change the background, select Format on the right side of the toolbar.

This opens a sidebar to the right for you to adjust these options. You can also change the layout using the dropdown box at the top of the sidebar.

Sidebar Slide Format in Keynote.

Insert and format objects

Because slideshows are visual presentations, you can insert things like images, shapes, tables, charts, and various types of media in addition to text.

Step 1: To add text, simply type it in the box on the slide for the layout of your choice. You can also insert a text box using the button Text button on the toolbar.

To change the font style, size, format, color, or other attribute of the text, select the box that contains the text. Then use the Format on the toolbar to open the sidebar and make changes to the Text tab.

Sidebar Text Formatting in Keynote.

Step 2: If you choose a slide layout that includes a photo, you can easily change it to your own. Select the icon in the lower right corner of the sample image. Browse and choose your image and then select Insert to place it on the slide.

Change photo icon in Keynote.

Step 3: To insert things like a table, chart, or shape, you can use the toolbar buttons of the same name to see previews of the elements. This makes it a bit easier to choose and format the element from the start.

Insert Chart menu in Keynote.

Step 4: If you want to add a photo, movie, video, audio, or similar type of media, select the Media button on the toolbar Insert from the menu bar and choose the item.

Insert multimedia menu in Keynote.

Step 5: Once you insert the item, you can format its size, border, volume, playback, and other features. Select the object and use the Format on the toolbar to open the sidebar.

You will then see the features available for you to adjust on the right. Use the tabs at the top of the sidebar to choose between styling options, element characteristics, and layout.

Sidebar Picture Format in Keynote.

Adjust slideshow settings

Depending on how you want to play your slideshow, you can adjust your settings below.

Step 1: On any slide in the presentation, select the Document button on the right side of the toolbar.

Step 2: Then choose the Document tab at the top of the sidebar.

Step 3: Down Slideshow settingsuse the check boxes to automatically play the slideshow when the file is opened, repeat the slideshow, or restart the slideshow when it’s inactive for a designated time.

Keynote slideshow settings in the sidebar.

Step 4: For links only or an autoplay presentation, use the dropdown menu and subsequent boxes in the presentation type sidebar section.

Keynote presentation type options.

Step 5: To change the slide size from widescreen to standard or set a custom size, select the dropdown menu on the slide size area.

Keynote slide size settings

Step 6: Finally, if you want to password protect the file, check the box at the bottom of the sidebar. Then create and verify the password, include a hint, and optionally check the box to allow opening with Touch ID.

Keynote password settings.

Present a Keynote slideshow

When you’re ready to present your Keynote slideshow, you can do it using multiple monitors or in the same window.

Step 1: If you use more than one monitor, you can display your presentation on one screen and control it on the other. Start by selecting Play on the toolbar.

Step 2: In the controller view you see on a screen, you can open the browser on the left, use the icons on the top right to adjust the tools, and select the x to finish the show.

Keynote control screen when presenting.

Step 3: If you are only using one monitor, you can display the presentation and controls on the same screen. Start by selecting play in the window on the toolbar.

Step 4: You will then see the presentation in one window with its controls in another. Use the icon at the top left of the control window to open the slide navigator and the display options icon at the top right to adjust the settings.

Keynote control window when presenting.

Apple Keynote comes with macOS, which makes it convenient for creating slideshows. Not only that, but the app also has a solid set of features for making powerful presentations.

For more of those handy features, check out how to undo changes you make in Keynote on Mac.

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