Resources, Themes & Tips for Keynote Presentations

Apple’s presentation application, Keynote, raises the bar in terms of usability and design for anyone giving a talk or presentation. It comes bundled with remarkably well designed themes, and stunning animations to move between slides.

Today we’ll be delving a little deeper into Keynote, offering various tips for getting the most out of the application. We’ll take a look at a few companion apps, investigate how to create your own theme, highlight a few great websites for gaining presentation inspiration, and showcase a handful of really gorgeous Keynote themes that you can download and use.

Useful Keynote Presentation Apps

There are several applications available that can go a long way towards making your presentations more professional, and ensuring that the whole process of giving the presentation goes smoothly.

Keynote Tweet

Keynote Tweet is a simple open-source script that provides the capacity to participate in the backchannel by combining Twitter with Apple Keynote. All you have to do is add text wrapped in [twitter] and [/twitter] tags in the presenter notes section of a slide. When that slide comes up in the presentation the script grabs that text and sends it to Twitter on your behalf.

It’s remarkably clever, and fairly straight forward to set up.

Apple Keynote Remote

A full-featured iPhone application for navigating through a presentation, previewing the next slide, and reading your presenter notes. Hold the iPhone vertically, and you see presenter notes; horizontally, and you see the current and next slide in your presentation.

Very useful if you’re touting an iPhone or iPod touch and have a reliable Wi-Fi connection (not always the case at a conference, though remember – you can always “create” a wireless network directly from your Mac using Internet Sharing).

Salling Clicker

Slightly dated now, but if you’re using a different phone with Bluetooth, Salling Clicker is a great way to control Keynote directly from your phone. It’s fairly reliable, and works with over 300 different devices. I found it incredibly handy before the iPhone came along!

Gaining Presentation Inspiration

If you can’t settle on a theme or style for your presentation, Note & Point is a phenomenal website for browsing wonderfully designed slides. They regularly feature new Powerpoint and Keynote designs, and it’s a great source of inspiration:

Note & Point

Note & Point

A few other websites offer great hints, tips and advice for better Keynote presentations:

  • Presentation Zen – Solid advice for the professional design of presentations
  • Keynote User – Useful news and tips relating to Keynote
  • Extreme Presentation – Focusing more upon general presentation tips rather than solely design, but useful nonetheless

How To Create a Keynote Theme

Creating a Keynote theme is surprisingly straight forward. You can either start with a completely blank slide, or work from an existing theme you’d like to customise. Open a new presentation, then drag the following slider downward to reveal the “master” slides:

Showing the Master Slides

Showing the Master Slides

Various customisation options are available from within the slide “Inspector”. When you’ve made all the changes you need to, just click “File > Save Theme” to export your document and have it available from within the Keynote theme chooser.

If you would like to find the actual theme file that Keynote has created for you, navigate to ~/Library/Application Support/iWork/Keynote/Themes – From there you can copy the file elsewhere, share it with others, or back it up for safe keeping!

Finding Themes

Various sources are available for downloading Keynote themes (both free and commercial), though you’ll likely find yourself wading through many sub-par designs to find something that really stands out.

Don’t feel confined to only Keynote themes – The application can open Powerpoint files absolutely fine, and you can save/export the theme in Keynote format by following the process outlined above.

We’ve helped to save you the hassle by rounding up 18 stunning Keynote themes (or theme packages) that you can download straight away:

Palo Alto ($24.95)

Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 12.42.39

Fuse ($24.95)

Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 12.48.47

MagnetBoard ($24.95)


Oak Park ($24.95)

Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 12.52.37

Copenhagen ($24.95)


Pitchboards ($24.95)

Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 12.57.27

Pavilion ($24.95)

Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 12.58.52

Galleria ($19.95)

Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 13.04.29

Power Blue ($36.95)

Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 13.05.49

Classic Collection (8 Themes) ($59.95)

Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 13.07.39

Tones of Gray (Free)

Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 13.10.51

Keynote Themes 6.0 ($30)

Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 13.13.44

New Way (Free)

Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 13.17.53

Green Summit (Free)

Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 13.20.18

Golf Summit (Free)

Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 13.22.27

Sport Summit (Free)

Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 13.23.24

Jumsoft Keynote Themes FX 5.0 ($39)

Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 13.31.37

Jumsoft Keynote Themes 8 ($39)

Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 13.32.26