Master The Presenter Tools In Keynote

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Make sure the polished and well-designed project you spent ages creating is presented just how you intended

Difficulty: Intermediate

Time needed: 15 minutes

Keynote offers a wealth of tools built specifically for people who deliver presentations live. It’s all executed through the app’s dual-screen mode, which shows your slideshow on an external display simultaneously with a number of tools on your Mac.

These assists can be as simple as showing you what’s on the next slide, or a readout for how much time has passed since you started the presentation. It also includes an indicator for when the slide animations have finished, which is incredibly useful for avoiding messy slide transitions. The app’s Presenter tools really excel when you start customizing them. This includes not just toggling certain assists on and off, but also resizing and rearranging them on screen. Let’s get started.


Design tools

Create even better slides

Guides: Keynote uses Smart Guides, which means that you’ll only see them once an object is lined up with the center of the slide or the edge of another object. Use it to straighten up your slides!

View: The View button enables you to quickly change the appearance of Keynote while you’re editing a presentation. Light Table is handy for seeing all of your slides together, while Slide Only removes the left-hand thumbnails from view

Inspector: The Inspector button holds all of the formatting tools needed to change the look and behavior of your presentation, such as slide transitions, text alignment and even what happens when you open the file

Media: Here you can find any photos, videos and audio files that you need to create your slideshow. GarageBand, iPhoto and iMovie files are listed automatically, but you can also add custom folders for easy reference

Knowledge base

Themes & masters: While it’s possible to design an entire slideshow from scratch, Keynote offers more than 30 themes straight out of the gate. For each slide in your deck, you can also choose an individual template in that theme, referred to as a slide master. Moreover, you can highlight specific slides and choose a new theme for a more diverse-looking presentation.

Step-by-step: Keynote Find and tweak the Presenter tools

1.    Show notes

When you’re delivering the presentation you’ll want some cue cards to prompt you. Start by clicking on the menu bar and selecting Show Presenter Notes.

Show notes

2.    Jot down

Using the text box at the bottom of the screen, write down any notes that you think you’ll need. Repeat this for all the slides in your deck.

Jot down

3.    Find your tools

Once done, it’s time to look at what you’ll be seeing during the presentation. Click on Play in the menu bar, followed by Customize Presenter Display.

4.    Toggle notes

You will be taken to a new screen that shows the current layout of your Presenter tools. To see your notes for each slide, tick the matching checkbox.

Toggle notes

5.    Ready to advance

If you’re using animations to bring in slide content, tick Ready to Advance Indicator to see a prompt at the top of the screen when they’ve all finished.

Ready to advance

6.    Clock watching

By default, a digital clock will sit underneath your current slide. It’s a simple, but crucial tool for keeping track of time if you’ve started early or late.

Clock watching

7.    Timekeeping

The other readout shows how much time has passed since you started. Tick the second checkbox to show a countdown if you’re prone to waffling on.


8.    Move around

Rearrange the Presenter tools as you see fit, either by dragging them across the screen or using the arrow symbol in the bottom-right corner to resize them.

Move around

9.    Rehearse

When you’re finished, hit Done to save preferences. You can now practice with the tools by clicking Play in the menu bar, followed by Rehearse Slideshow.


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