Power Keystrokes for Apple Keynote

by Derek Featherstone

For years I’ve been doing presentations in Keynote and have included movie recordings for demonstrations of things that I had been experimenting with. It’s much easier and more reliable to have a movie ready to go — when you’re showing a web site or some of its features, you might not have a stable internet connection or access to the web at all.

And, when you’re presenting on multiple screens, with a presenter view on your screen and then presenting your slides on the secondary display, it becomes very difficult to control the movie and look at the screen to see where the cursor is so that you can play, pause, rewind and fast forward the movie.

I was in Australia in July for my Tour Down Under and I discovered a whole new set of keystrokes, quite by accident and I couldn’t have been happier. When you’re playing a presentation, here are some keystrokes that really help:

B: Yes, just B. That makes the screen go black.

W: It makes the screen go white.

Why would you want either of those? Simple, really. Sometimes you want the audience to focus on you and not what you’re showing on the screen. So a blank screen can work well. For one, its a change from what was up there, so it draws attention, catches the eye and draws the audience to you. Second, it simply reduces distraction.

Now, for slides where we’re playing back a movie.

K: Pause/Play.

J: Go backwards (how much/speed depends on whether you’re paused or playing)

L: Go forwards (how much depends, again)

I: Start over at the beginning of the movie (think of it as I for “in”)

O: Go to the end of the movie. (Think of it as O for “out”)

These allow you to control that movie without using the mouse. Really easy to use – you’ll be on fire!

November 3rd, 2011



Thanks for the tips – I’ve used a bluetooth controller and like the simple keystrokes above. Have you used an iPad to present with yet?

Would love to hear you talk about using movies within slides – things that did and didn’t work.

Thanks – found this article referenced on Twitter.
Byron Van Arsdale


Derek Featherstone November 21, 2011

Byron – thanks for stopping by. I have used the iPad to present before. It worked reasonably well, but I wasn’t happy with it overall. When I imported my slides from Keynote on my iMac to Keynote on the iPad, it certainly wasn’t as seamless as I thought it would be. I’ll post some thoughts about that and about using movies in my presentations more generally sometime soon!


Hi, I am using keynote in my classroom, and while I can get the B and W to work, I can’t get the audio to do anything but move forward or pause (F) when hitting the keys you mention above. I want my students to be able to take notes after they have heard something; I want them to be able to rewind.



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