How to Make a Keynote Presentation on a Mac

By Shawn M. Tomlinson

Apple's Keynote webpage highlights the program's features.

While everyone has heard about PowerPoint presentations, Apple’s Keynote--part of the iWork suite--is better and easier to use to make professional presentations. Keynote presentations, essentially, are multimedia packages of graphics, text and sound that either can be presented by a person or set up to play in a loop for continual viewing. As with everything on the Mac, making a business or personal presentation is a simple procedure of “drag-and-drop” and quick design.

Step 1

Organize all the text and graphics you plan to use in the presentation. It’s a good idea to create an outline for the whole presentation because this will tell you roughly how many slides you will need.

Step 2

Format the graphics--photos and artwork--in Photoshop to be 72 dots per inch in resolution minimum. Since the presentation won’t be printed and only shown on a screen, the low resolution is OK. If the presentation will be shown on a high resolution screen, you might consider 200dpi or 300dpi, but this will slow down an automated exhibit.

Step 3

Open Keynote and select a theme. There are a variety available as templates that will pop up as soon as you open Keynote. We’ve chosen the “Fun Theme” for this sample. Type your title in the appropriate box and then type a subhead or the credit for the presentation. You can easily add text boxes if you need more than supplied per slide by clicking the Text item in the toolbar.

Step 4

Add a second slide using the “+” button on the upper left of the toolbar. Type the title. Drag a photo or graphic from the Finder, from a folder or directly from Photoshop onto the slide. You can re-size it the desired proportions in Keynote. Position the photo where desired and type the caption or other information in the appropriate text box.

Step 5

Select the photo and open the Inspector in the toolbar. Click on Graphic (fifth from the left) on the Inspector’s toolbar. Here you can add a frame, a border or a shadow. In this example, we selected a 1 point Stroke and 12-pixel, 315-degree shadow for the photo. It’s a good idea to be consistent with how you treat graphics throughout the presentation. The exception would be if one graphic really needs to stand out. Continue adding slides, remembering to save often, especially after each new slide is added.

Step 6

With the Keynote presentation open, open your sound recording software. Most Macs made in the last five years have built in microphones, so as long as there isn’t a lot of background noise, you can record a voice-over directly into the program. Record the narration for each slide as a separate file because you will need to embed each individually. Save them as MP3 files in one place where you can access them. Adding audio is as easy as adding graphics. Simply drag the sound file onto the slide. A speaker icon will appear on the slide, but will not be visible in the final presentation. In the latest version of Keynote, you can record directly into the program.

Step 7

Go to the Inspector and choose the Slide icon (second from left) to set transitions between slides and special effects. Here you also can set the slideshow to automatic play or one-click movement.

Step 8

Go to "File," "Export" and "QuickTime" to export the presentation to a slideshow in QuickTime. This may take some time, depending on the size of the files to be embedded. You also can export to other formats, including PowerPoint, but most of the best looking design, especially of fonts, won’t translate exactly. This is the place you also can set it up as self-playing slideshow.