Creating Professional Presentations with Keynote 2006 (iWork 2006)


Keynote is Apple’s solution for producing professional-quality presentations. There is an array of beautiful themes and effects available. It’s easy to produce a simple slideshow with music, and then enhance it with stunning visualizations, transitions, and animations. Keynote offers new HD themes, 3D-rendered charts, fine image-adjustment tools, new drawing tools, table manipulation tools, image masking, enhanced iLife integration, and more control of the overall presentation. Apple seems to have responded well to the complaints of what was missing in earlier versions of this software.

When the application starts up, you are presented with a choice of themes. There are plain themes as well as some that are very eye-catching. You can change the theme at any time, either the theme of the whole presentation or themes for individual slides.

Once you select a theme, the design screen will display. There are sets of buttons in a toolbar across the top of the design screen. There is a set of buttons to control the slideshow, and to add or delete slides. There is another set to create various objects. There are five types of objects that you can create: Text, Shapes, Table, Chart, and Comment. The Inspector button opens the Inspector window for more detailed formatting of an object. There is also a button to add media, and another to make fine adjustments to images. There is a Font button and a Color button. The toolbar can be customized.

The Inspector window has ten categories:

1. Document: Slideshow setting and audio selection settings

2. Slide: Transition and appearances

3. Build: Build in/build out effects

4. Text

5. Graphics

6. Metrics

7. Table: Table layout and table data

8. Chart

9. Hyperlink

10. QuickTime

If you want to add a text box, you click the Text button in the toolbar. You type in your text, and then use the Inspector window to change various attributes of that text. If you want to change just the color or font, you can do this either through the Text inspector or with the Color or Font buttons in the toolbar. It’s good that there is a choice, but when you're first learning, it is a bit confusing to figure out what the different tools do. I also thought it difficult to find how to change an effect.

For instance, to create a pie chart and then color that pie chart with my own choice of colors, I had to click on the Inspector button, and then select the Graphic editor. From there, I chose the option 'Color Fill' from a drop-down menu, and there I could choose my color. It took me a while to find this, and when I wanted to do it a second time, I still had to search for the right combination. If you want to create a table, you click the Table button. Then you click the Inspector button, and select the Table inspector. From here you can set the properties and data values of the table. It is very easy to navigate your way through, and you can create effective tables quickly.

The same is true of all five types of objects that you might want to create. It is fairly intuitive to create an object and then change its formatting. This can be anything from simple formatting to more complicated animations and transitions. Keynote will create great charts in most formats you might want–pie chart, scatter graph, or bar chart, to name just a few. It is easy to enter the data and make a visually pleasing effect.

Media has its own button, and includes audio, photos, and movies. I found it confusing to add a music track for the whole slideshow. This needs to be done from the Document inspector and not by clicking on Media.

You can add basic shapes to your slides, such as triangles, rectangles, and arrows, as well as custom shapes you design. You click on the Shape button, and you can select a pre-formatted shape or draw your own shape with a special tool. You can also alter the pre-designed shapes in any way you want. For instance, you can take any corner of a triangle and stretch it out.

You can also mask an image with any of these shapes, which can be very effective. It wasn’t clear how to do this; I needed to use the Help feature to achieve it. The Help told me to insert both the image and the shape, and then select both objects (this part was tricky, because the Help didn’t explain how to select them both). I discovered it was done in the standard way of selecting multiple objects, anywhere in the Mac environment–click on the first object, hold down the Apple key, and click on the second object. Now choose Format -> "Mask with Shape." Drag the shape over the image, resize it as you want, and finally, double-click to get the result.

Your presentation can be shown on multiple monitors. One of these monitors can be the presenter’s monitor and show comments that are only visible on this monitor. The presenter’s monitor will also show a timer. Comments are easily added by clicking on the Comments button at the top of the screen.

Price to Value (5 out of 5)

What's Hot:

Keynote is part of Apple's iWork 06, which includes Keynote 3 and Page 2. The iWork package is currently around $79, which is an excellent value, considering the power of Keynote.

Installation & Setup (5 out of 5)

What's Hot:

Like most Apple products, Keynote is simple to install. You double-click on the installer that pops up when you insert the CD, and you are taken through the installation process. It just takes a few minutes.

User Interface (4 out of 5)

What's Hot:

The toolbars in Keynote are fairly intuitive, though it takes some time to find out what can be changed and how.

What's Not:

It seems slightly cumbersome to go through the Inspector and then select the type of Inspector depending on which object you are changing.

Product Features (5 out of 5)

What's Hot:

Keynote is rich in features. You can create simple slideshows or professional-quality presentations with amazing effects. You can also rehearse your presentation to set up the correct timings for slides and music.

What's Not:

You can only add photos from iPhoto, music from iTunes or GarageBand, and movies from iMovie.

Performance (5 out of 5)

What's Hot:

Keynote can do so much, and your presentation can be enhanced and added to in so many ways. You can also export to other formats: PowerPoint, QuickTime, PDF, Flash, HTML, or as an iDVD project.

What's Not:

It can take a while to find all the things that Keynote can do. It is a powerful, feature-rich product, thus there is much to learn.

Help & Support (4 out of 5)

What's Hot:

Keynote help is very good. There are two forms of help. One is in the form of a standalone application called the Help Viewer. It is extensive and covers all that the user might want to know. The second is a search function of the Help features and you can quickly find the relevant section.

What's Not:

It would be good if the icons displayed a brief explanation of what they do when you hover your mouse over them. You have to click them and open them up to see what they do.


Suggested Features

It would be good to see font size and color as tools on the toolbar. Filling a text box with color seemed to require one step too many.

There is no clipart available, which I think is a useful feature.


I like the fact that I can quickly and easily generate a simple slideshow, and with a little more investment of time and patience, create a very professional-looking presentation. I have been a long-time PC user, so some features of Keynote were puzzling to navigate, but Mac users will have no trouble using this software.

Keynote is a powerful tool for creating beautiful presentations. I recommend this product to new users to presentation software, especially Mac users, as it has been designed to give users near-instant sense of success.

Related Products

Microsoft PowerPoint 2007, ThinkFree 3 Show

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