Tips for creating a Keynote presentation that will be used on an iPad

ipad keynote

While I know the ins-and-outs of Keynote fairly well, I’m not a designer. Fortunately, I work with some great designers and from time-to-time get asked to provide some technical tips while one of them is working on a project that involves presentations.

During a recent project related to some presentations a client’s sales group will be using with iPads, a designer and I became aware of some finicky needs the iPad “app version” of Keynote requires to easily accept a presentation developed on the desktop version of Keynote. (I assume these principles apply to presentations created in Power Point, as well, but someone else will have to run such tests.)

While I feel one can, if in a bind, create a presentation on an iPad, it’s never going to be my preference. I’m far too comfortable in a work flow that depends on my Wacom pen tablet and the light-weight software utility called Skitch.

However, if you are going to create on a Mac and present on an iPad, get ready for some bugginess. Here are a few tips I’ve learned the old fashioned way: trial, error and Google.

1. Know the limitations of the iPad Keynote app prior to starting the project: Recently Apple posted this best practices for creating a Keynote presentation on a Mac that is intended for an iPad. You need to bookmark it as it provides two lists that you will find handy: A. A list of fonts native to the iPad B. A list of effects supported by the iPad app.

2. Don’t use any font or effect not supported by the iPad (thus, why you need that list handy): Note for those who didn’t hear me the first time: A lot of problems will be averted if you limit yourself to effects and fonts that actually work on the iPad. [Later: Some very nice person created this page that displays every font that is iPad native.]

3. Here is an effect that you’ll try, despite me telling you not to, twice: Don’t “Group” objects on your Mac version of Keynote and expect the effect to survive the trip over to the iPad.

4. Very important: Use .png format graphic files rather than .jpg. Trust me, do this. If you don’t, you’ll have missing graphics and you’ll be trying to figure out why they disappeared. Most confusing, some jpgs will convert easily, while others won’t.

5. Resize your .png graphics to the largest size they will appear on the iPad screen. Don’t leave them “big” — like the way I sometimes do: I’ll insert a large graphic file into a presentation and merely shrink the display size of the graphic. With presentations that you think may end up on the iPad, you need to go ahead and use the “Preview” utility (or use what I use, Skitch) to resize the image before adding it to the presentation. (And yes, the Preview utility has a resize feature.)

6. Advanced suggestion: If you are familiar with the transition “magic move,” it works nicely in the iPad app and can be, if you’re creative, a good means to hack some animations that might be missing. But, like alcohol, use animations in moderation.

There may be some other nuances I’ve missed with certain types of elements others use in presentations, but at Hammock, we avoid bulletpoints and Excel-created charts and grafts, so I have no tips related to them — except, if you want to be a good presenter, avoid them if possible.