Keynote 2, by Apple
Posted: 17-Jul-2005

4 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Apple Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Lane Smith Class: PRODUCTIVITY

About two years ago Apple released Keynote, a full-featured presentation application, intended to shift the stranglehold Microsoft Powerpoint has held on the Mac for so long. Keynote was a phenomenal hit with its amazing transitions and ease of use. Keynote has matured to the next version and is now bundled with the iWork '05 productivity suite. Keynote now offers complete iLife integration, and a sleu of new features. Keynote provides the tools needed to create a stunning and professional presentation for work, school, relatives, or whatever you need to deliver.


  • Macintosh computer with 500MHz or faster PowerPC G3, G4, or G5 (G4 for PowerBook); G4 or G5 recommended
  • 128MB of RAM (512MB recommended)
  • 8MB of video memory (32MB recommended)
  • Mac OS X v10.3.6 or later
  • QuickTime 6.5 or later
  • iLife '04 or later recommended
  • 1GB of available disk space
  • DVD drive required to install applications (CD version available separately)


$79 Single User; $99 Family Pack (for iWork '05, which also includes Pages 1.0)

Like most Apple applications, iWork '05 was no hassle to install with a single installer application. There were no extras to install. After installation, I opened Keynote 2, and it prompted for the registration key. Enter the registration key for either Keynote or Pages unlocks both applications.

In Use
Keynote is very similar to other presentation applications, such as Powerpoint, in concept. You pick a theme, create a new slide, add text and media to the slide, repeat until you have a full presentation, and then you deliver your presentation. However, Keynote allows you to do this in a much more simpler and efficient manner with the use of the toolbar and Inspector palette.

Keynote 2 Toolbar

The toolbar arranges icons that perform common actions, such as adding text or creating new slides, as an alternative to using the menu-bar. The toolbar is fully customizable and provides 37 different actions for your use. Actions I found useful included changing the slide layout, grouping and ungrouping objects, and adding new text. Changing the slide layout is vital to any presentation, and can be done quickly using Keynote's toolbar. Grouping and ungrouping is useful for keeping different objects together, allowing you to quickly design your slides. Keynote's action to add text is extremely simple. In order to add new text in PowerPoint, you choose Insert-> Text each time. In Keynote, one click on the Text button in the toolbar does the same.

Keynote 2 Inspector palette

The Inspector palette acts as a utility for controlling all aspects of your presentation. It includes 10 different sections: Document, Slide, Build, Text, Graphic, Metrics, Table, Graph, Hyperlink, and Quicktime. The Document section controls the presentation size, any audio playing, and transition delay. The Slide and Build allow you to add transitions to entire slides or single objects. The Text and Graphic sections control all the text and graphics in your slide, their size, spacing, and color. The Metrics section allow you to finely adjust, rotate, or space objects on the slide. The Table and Graph sections are available for modifying graphs and tables. The Hyperlink section allows you to add text or object hyperlinks to other slides or websites through your web browser. Finally, the Quicktime section controls the border, repeat number, and volume of any Quicktime videos you may add.

Keynote 2 is now fully integrated with the Apple iLife suite via the Media palette. You can drag in pictures from your iPhoto library, add music from iTunes, and even put in video from your Movies folder. The Media palette features drag-and-drop, so you can drag the pictures/music/movies straight from the palette to your slide. I found the Media palette feature extremely useful when I created a very media-rich presentation that required many graphics. After gathering and making my graphics, I populated a new folder in my iPhoto library with the graphics. I could then use the Media palette in Keynote 2 as an organizer for my graphics while adding them to my slideshow.

Keynote 2 Media palette

Keynote 2 includes some very attractive and professional themes, almost making it obvious when a presentation is created by Keynote. Apple provides 20 unique themes with Keynote 2 along with the ability to create your own. Plus, there are countless third-party themes available on the web. Each theme provides a decent background to build your presentation on. Keynote will also create matching text, shapes, graphs, bullet points, and picture frames depending on the theme. Keynote themes makes it incredibly simple to create beautiful presentations.

My favorite themes include the Storyboard, Titanium Jr., and Fun Theme. The Storyboard is a gradient black and keeps a professional tone. The Titanium Jr. theme is a free 3rd party theme I found at, and is stylish and fits the motif of the Mac OS X interface. Finally, the brightly colored Fun Theme is perfect for any family picture slideshow.

Keynote is famed for its spectacular slide transitions and animations, and now Keynote 2 includes several new ones. Keynote contains 18 different slide transitions, including Motion Dissolve, Burn, Page Flip, and the famous Cube effect. Keynote also includes 26 text animations and 11 object animations. Unlike some presentation apps, Keynote does a good job of keeping the animations more on the professional side. Keynote does not, however, have the ability to create motion paths for objects. Aside from this lacking feature, Keynote does an excellent job of keeping the audience's attention with animations.

Delivering a presentation to an audience is often a very intense moment for the presenter, no matter how prepared you may be. Fortunately, new features in Keynote 2 provide you with the resources you need to not only make a good impression on your audience, but also keep you from slipping up. During a presentation, Keynote can display information to assist the presenter on the main screen and the actual presentation for the audience on a second screen or projector. The information Keynote can provide to the speaker can include the current slide, the upcoming slide, the current time, a count-down timer, and speaker notes. This information helps immensely while in the spotlight, allowing you to keep your place, remember key facts, and pace your time.

Since the Mac platform exists in a predominantly Windows world, compatibility with Windows and file types can be a major issue with many Mac applications. Fortunately, Keynote provides some relief on this front, both importing and exporting to and from many different file types. Keynote 2 can import any Quicktime compatible file, any Microsoft Office file, Macromedia Flash files, AppleWorks files, PDFs, and XML files. Keynote 2 can export to JPEG, PNG, TIFF, Macromedia Flash, Microsoft Powerpoint, PDF, and Quicktime. However, with exporting, there is a major loss of Keynote features. Obviously, for JPEG, PNG, and TIFF, these are single frames files versus a multi-slide presentation. Macromedia Flash export does have some potential, but is low quality and appears to lag horribly when played on older computers. PDF exports can be presented in full-screen, but without any of the animation effects. Exporting to a Quicktime file does retain much of what you can do in Keynote 2, but you will lack full-screen presentation unless you own Quicktime Pro. All the preceding exports will experience loss of slide control, a feature you would need for a presentation. Exporting to Microsoft Powerpoint seems to be a logical solution, as it includes the slide control and the ability to edit the presentation on other platforms. Unfortunately, presentations converted to PowerPoint will lose many transitions, animations, and any transparency effects possible in Keynote 2.

There are numerous features in Keynote, including several new features introduced with Keynote 2. New in Keynote 2 is the ability to "mask" (aka, crop) photos from within the Keynote application. This removes the hassle of the previous version where you had to open another application to crop a photo. Keynote also allows creation of self-running interactive presentations, allowing you to present even if you're not there. I would expect this feature to be very useful for special public events, where you set up your Mac to play the presentation continuously, or as the listener demans, allowing the audience to educate themselves. Keynote 2 offers the same chart and graph creation available in Keynote 1. Charts and graphs in Keynote 2 follow the design of the theme, so you do not have to worry about making adjustments to get them to look right. Another favorite feature of mine, carried over from Keynote 1, is the automatic grid that allows you to align and distance objects precisely in every slide.

I recently wanted to demonstrate the potential of a product niche to a small group of people I know. I wanted a presentation with lots of eye-candy, but one that still kept a professional tone. After I had gathered all of my data and written out the content of my presentation, I launched Keynote 2 and got to work. I choose Titanium Jr. as my slideshow theme, created new slides, and began entering the text content. After the text content, I created two new slides for my data graphs. Creating the graphs only required me to enter my data and data fields, select a type of graph, and size it according to my preference. I then began to change the layout of each slide to give my presentation some variation. I added pictures and background music via drag-and-drop from the Media palette to different slides. Finally, I added transitions to the presentation using the Inspector palette, previewed my slideshow, and saved the file. This entire process, with 18 different slides, took just over an hour to create. Since the presentation was displayed from my Mac, I was also able to use Keynotes presentation tools, which allowed me to keep perfect pace during my presentation.

Keynote 2 - Sample Presentation

Keynote 2 vs PowerPoint 2004
For many people, the bottom line comes down to PowerPoint. You've always had PowerPoint and it works, so why change? There are a number of reasons why I prefer Keynote 2 over PowerPoint, and there is a couple of reasons why some may need to stay with PowerPoint.

Simply put, I prefer Keynote 2 over PowerPoint 2004 for the following reasons:

  • It sports an intuitive Aqua interface (nicer and easier to use than PowerPoint)
  • Slideshow creation is much faster
  • It is completely integrated with iLife applications
  • It includes better themes and transitions
  • It is much cheapter ($79 vs $399)
  • NOTE: To be fair, PowerPoint comes with Excel and Word, whereas Keynote only comes with Pages.

Keynote 2 is not fully cross-platform compatible. That is, there is no PC version, and the Keynote 2 presentations that you export to the PowerPoint format will lose many of the cool features that are only supported by Keynote. For those that work in an all-Mac environment, or do not require the Keynote presentations to play on other computers (e.g., despite being in a PC environment, you do your presentations on a Mac), this may not be an issue.

Apple Keynote 2 is a full-featured presentation application, now part of the iWork '05 suite, so it also includes Pages. Keynote includes several tools designed to help you work faster creating amazing presentations and slideshows. Keynote's interface is cleverly thought out, providing a lot of useful resources and tools quickly and unobtrusively. Keynote 2 now features full integration with Apple iLife applications, allowing you to quickly add to your presentation music from iTunes or pictures from iPhoto. New presentation features greatly ease the burden of delivering your presentation, with on-screen notes and previews of upcoming slides. I recommend Keynote 2 to anyone who delivers presentations and wants to make the best impression on their audience. Keynote 2 has matured incredibly from Keynote 1, so for owners of Keynote 1, this is a must upgrade.


  • Extremely easy to use
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • iLIfe integration
  • Many unique transitions and animations
  • New presentation tools
  • Compatible with many file types


  • Lacks creation of motion paths for objects
  • Not fully compatible with other platforms

Overall Rating

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice