How to Present a Mac Keynote on the Conference Room’s PC

Conference talk with KeynoteKeynote for Mac is a great app for conference presentation. No doubt, you can kill people with Keynote as much as you can with Powerpoint or Prezi. But if you know what you are doing, Keynote allows you create slick looking presentations that wow your audience away. The only problem is: Most conference rooms run on windows… bummer!

“Nevermind,” you might think, “I will just export the file to PPT.” Good thinking, but unfortunately something always goes wrong in these exports. Picture frames are off, transparent backgrounds become white, and these awesome “Magical Move” transitions disappear. No, my friend, Powerpoint cannot handle Keynote presentations – at least it cannot handle mine.

“So, I just hook up my own computer!” Great idea, but this is not always possible. Maybe you are in the middle of a session and the other presenters are using Windows, or maybe your presentation is recorded for a live feed to an overflow room or for putting it on the web. Switching laptops often kills that feed. At the very least, switching laptops can be risky, and it takes away precious presentation time.

“How else can I present my Keynote talk on a Windows PC then,” you shout out in despair! The solution is simple: Quicktime it.


Export Keynote to Quicktime for presenting it on a Windows PC

The great thing about Quicktime export is that it will make a movie of your presentation that looks exactly the same as if you ran your Keynote on your own Mac. Fonts will be the same, animations will be the same, everything will be the same. Think about Quicktime as the PDF format for presentations.

The PDF analogy is not only true because the end result, your presentation, will look the same on a completely different computer, but also because pretty much every computer, including all Windows PCs I have ever touched, comes with the Quicktime player installed.


How to export a Keynote to Quicktime

To export your masterpiece presentation to Quicktime, simply open up the export dialogue via File > Export… and choose Quicktime in the header. The picture below shows you my preferred settings.

Export Keynote to Quicktime

Quicktime is for presentations what PDF is for documents. Just make sure you select Manual Advance to make sure you can click through the stages of your talk like you are used to from Keynote and Powerpoint.

The probably most important thing is to choose Manual Advance as the playback mode. With this setting, your Quicktime presentation works pretty much the same way as a normal Keynote or Powerpoint presentation. The only difference is that you won’t be able to the presenters note in the secondary screen, but hey: If you need this, you didn’t practice enough anyways!


Exporting to Quicktime takes a little time, and the resulting file is rather large, so don’t leave this until the last minute before your talk. Also, it is of course always worth checking the end result. In one of my rather graphic intense keynote presentations, the Quicktime export once swallowed some text. I don’t know why, but I ran the export a couple of times, and eventually I got the whole presentation exported without any errors.

The progress windows shows how the keynote is running through (don’t worry, the end result will look much smoother), so keep an eye on it while exporting.


Does it really work?

Yes, it really does work. I have just done this on the wonderful, absolutely amazing Consumer Culture Theory conference in Oxford (thanks to all who dropped by!). The presentation ran through smoothly, and everything looked exactly the way as it was supposed to be looking.

For fun, I also exported my presentation to Powerpoint, and sure enough it messed up one of the 3D picture frames on the second slide. So guess what file I took with me to the talk…

Powerpoint messed up my Keynote

This is how my Keynote looked like after exporting it to Powerpoint. Not cool! The Quicktime export is much more reliable than using Powerpoint.

The only thing you have to look out for when starting your presentation is that the computer uses the Quicktime Player for the file. Some computers associate different apps for the *.mov file, and these other apps (e.g., Windows Movie Player) might just play your presentation as a movie, ignoring your click commands. No worries! Just right click on the presentation file and choose Quicktime Player in the “Open with…” dialogue.

So how does such a Quicktime talk look like? I will put up my resent CCT talk on my research blog as soon as I revamped my research page, so you can see a Quicktime presentation for yourself. If you are interested in how contemporary advertisements discursively create a myth of living in harmony with nature by using style elements of Romantic landscape paintings, write me an email (see Contact at the bottom of this page) and I will send you the presentation via dropbox.

While we are talking about conference presentations: What is your research about? Here is your chance to shamelessly self-promote yourself. Just drop a short description in the comment section (links to your websites allowed and welcomed), so that we get to know each other a little more…

Disclaimer: All images by academiPad.

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  1. Rheinard Korf says:

    Very handy tip. I never thought that it would support manual advance so never looked at the Quicktime option.


  2. Marialuisa says:

    Hi Jo, very useful tip. My research is about the experimental investigations of nuclear reactions that take place in stars, or in short nuclear astrophysics.
    My webpage:
    My blog, Academic Life (resources for aspiring – and established – academics), lives at:
    Keep up the great work!

    • Jo says:

      Wow, this is what I call a professionally looking research webpage. I liked your brief vita: The moment you talked about your involvement in Laboratory Underground for Nuclear Astrophysics (or LUNA, for the cool kids), I had the Aerosmith soundtrack to the Armageddon soundtrack in my ears :-)

      Well done, I hope I will have mine up soon as well. Also I really like your Academic Life blog (as you already know). Everybody, check this one out.

  3. Claudia says:

    So glad to have found your blog! I was looking at other aggregate reviews of pdf editors but they didn’t focus on the academic/lecture-based functionalities I need. Still working through the posts on this blog but so far I’m picking up tons of useful advice, so thanks!

    To address your prompt, I’m a vet student at OVC. Not planning on going into research, but I did a fourth-year research project last year studying the human-animal bond and characterizing callers of a pet loss support hotline.

    I saw your post about pdf management apps and was wondering if you had any app advice for organizing professional development resources. I only just started vet school and I’m already inundated in brochures, flyers, emails about various opportunities, bits of networking/contact info, industry information, etc. I’m thinking Evernote so far. Suggestions?

    • Jo says:

      Hey Claudia,

      There are a couple of things I can think of: Leap or Yep from ironic software are easy to use depositories for PDFs, without coming with the reference management side of Papers or Sente. Especially Leap works nicely with OpenMeta tags, and you can complement your tagging efforts on your Mac with DefaultFolderX, Tags (both for files) and MailTags (for emails). There is also DevonThink, a very powerful information management system. I don’t have much experience with that, but search my resource list of 30 blogs for Devonthink, and you will find a blog that focuses much on that one.

      Evernote is good for having everything in the cloud, but I am not sure how well you can integrate it with email and so on. I am not a power user of Evernote, so I cannot really tell.

      Let me know please what killer workflow you come up with, please.


  4. Ronald Mason says:

    Great article, very helpful.

    Thanks Jo.


  5. Rúben says:

    Thanks for the explanation! But the .mov file won’t play the background sound that I’ve put in the presentation on Keynote. How can I fix this?

  6. mark oberoy says:

    The primary requirement to present a keynote is to understand and book the appropriate conference room. For this you have to read this blog

  7. Karen says:

    thanks so much- I’ve been going crazy with my converted talks missing slides or looking wonky. Can’t wait to try this with my class tonight!

  8. Mr G says:

    Hey guys,
    I create awesome quiz nights for pubs, bars, corporates and fundraisers. I build the presentation in Keynote (far superior product to PowerPoint) and then export to QuickTime. I export as a manual advance file, which allows the quizmasters at each venue to click to advance, just like a PowerPoint, only with this presentation they have awesome transitions, animations and embedded videos that run seamlessly. The only issue for me is the size of the QuickTime files. I create 8 rounds of quiz questions with supporting video and audio content, but the finished product is so big, I have to create rounds 1-4 and 5-8 separately to allow me to burn these onto DVD to send to my clients. They then transfer to their desktop and run in QuickTime, having to stop for intermission halfway through. I also deliver keynote presentations and unless I can take my mac with me, I deliver these also using QuickTime. I am big on professionalism, so the finished product should be the best there is, and Apple, with Keynote and QuickTime, provides that without question.

  9. Mike says: file meet HandBrake. I’ve found HandBrake to be a nice solution to reduce .mov files. My 914.7MB Keynote Presentation .mov file was reduced to 95.5MB and plays begin to end like a movie (slides need to be in consecutive order) with quicktime controls only to pause/fast forward/rewind. This may help with your DVD’s.
    You are probably already aware of Keynotes “reduced file size” feature in the menu bar; however, embedded .mov files can also increase the project so it’s too large to even share (ex. web/email). Here is a step by step link on how to get into your Keynotes raw files, reduce the .mov files (using HandBrake), and then reintroduce them to your Keynote project folder with a drastic difference in overall file size.

    OR just simply use HandBrake to reduce your original exported .mov file.

    If you use this method, let me know if you figure out how to reduce file size while still maintaining manual navigation as well as hyperlinks. I have a presentation that is not in consecutive slide order but works as a website. Having transitions, buttons linking to slides, and magic movements, creating a linear movie as described above, is not what I want. I haven’t figured out how to export/present while preserving all the effects/nav into a small file. PDF & HTML exports are may link to slides but transitions are not smooth (loose magic move). Doesn’t iDVD export just create linear chapters and iPod export is too small. I need at least a 1280×1024 dimension.

    Good Luck with your project … Mike :)

    btw… sidenote: I’ve used this step by step “backdoor approach”, that the link above describes, in changing file extensions to save & retrieve raw images, doc info, audio and other data, from files that were “corrupted” (ex. a pages software (from iWork) file wouldn’t open and I needed hours worth of copy). After your stomach twists from hours of lost work there’s nothing like having a “quick tip” to save the day.

    Apologize for the length… Hope this info helps you guys…. ;@p

  10. johny quest says:

    ive been running a conference facility for over 6 years now do your self a favour and ditch the mac 90% of failed presentations in my conference environment fail due to the mac element and having to be nice to a numpty who uses and mac and thinks they’re amazing is one of the worst thing a human has to go through you love your mac good for you ,me and the rest of the world know they’re rubbish (putting it nicely ) and the only reason people like you have them is cause it makes you individual like every other numpty who like to be different . tell you what be different buy a pc enjoy the fact it works stop putting your mac love on everyone else the sooner mac users wake up and realise were all laughing at you the better the world will be .

    • Konstantinos says:

      So much hatred! I detect some serious issues…

      Now Macs are on the rise again you’ll have to follow an anger management course :-)

      I enjoy all together Windows, Mac and Linux on a triple boot Hackintosh machine. What that makes me?

      By th way you can also play the .mov presntation on the PC in the browser if there is no quicktime player installed

  11. Andre Brasil says:

    Do you know if there are any video players for iPad which would be able to deal with these manual advance movies? I hate working on a presentation on my Mac and then losing a lot of stuff when moving to Keynote on iPad.

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