Make an interesting standalone slideshow, using Apple’s Keynote, version 3.
It’s a bit of a problem when you want to take a whole mass of photos, turn them into a slideshow and give that slideshow to others. Keynote, part of Apple’s iWork suite, has a powerful Export to SWF capability that can create a slideshow able to be viewed in a web browser on both Mac and Windows computers, and it lets you add captions and other non-photo slides too. Plus you can create some very very cool effects with shapes in Keynote 3.
Tip: The Newbies Guide to Keynote shows you how to get started.
Most slideshows are too large for emailing. If you put the slideshow on a web server the file size can be reasonably large. Iif you send it on a CD or DVD of course, it can be pretty much any size you like. My sample slideshow with a dozen slides and a soundtrack weighed in at 16Mb.
Tip: Resize the photos (for example, by selecting them in iPhoto, choosing Export from the File menu and changing the size in The File Export tab) to shave a bit off the file size of the final slideshow.
Consider how big the recipient’s screen is and how they’ll view the slideshow. If they’ll be using a projector they may be limited to 800 * 600 pixels.
Tip: The recipient of the slideshow needs a web browser with the Macromedia (Adobe) Flash player installed. Most modern computers have it, but if not, go to www.adobe.com.
Set up keynote
Open up Keynote and choose a slide size and slide theme. I suggest a simple theme such as plain white or black as the photos will cover most of the slides anyway.
You may like to use the first slide for a title, and perhaps add further slides for other useful information such as dates, author name, copyright or contact details.
Now go to the View menu and choose Light Table. Keynote displays a large, empty window containing any slides you have created so far.
Find your photos
Open the Finder folder containing your photos and select all the photos you wish to include. It may be useful to duplicate the selected photos into a folder of their own to make this step easier.
Add the photos to keynote
Select all the photos in the Finder and drag them on to the Keynote Light Table window. Keynote adds them to the presentation. If you don’t like the sequence drag the thumbnails around into the sequence that works for you.
Tune up the slideshow
Add in text on top of photos, extra slides, a soundtrack as appropriate. Don’t bother with fancy transitions though, as they aren’t included when you export a SWF slideshow. Make sure that the soundtrack uses an MP3 file format as other formats may not export to SWF.
Slides are normally rectangular affairs — all the same, and potentially more than a bit dull. Spice up your slideshow by sometimes removing the photo (or even leave it in place in the background for some very interesting effects), adding a shape and then adding the photo into the shape.
Display a slide and choose a shape from the Insert > Shape > menu. A small shape will appear on the slide. Drag the selection handles to make the shape fill the slide. With the shape selected call up the Graphic Inspector and choose Image Fill and Scale to Fill from the pop-ups. Then click the button labelled Choose… and select an image to fill the shape.
Play around with those and the other settings such as Stroke, Shadow and Opacity to create eye-catching slides. You’ll never want to see a square slideshow again!
Export to swf
When you’re finished go to the File menu and choose Export…. Click on the tab for SWF Flash. You’ll see that this will Create a Macromedia Flash movie in SWF format. If you added a soundtrack be sure to check the box to Include the slideshow audio file (soundtrack).
Then click the Next… button. Choose a name and location for your file then click the Export button.
Keynote creates two files, using the filename you chose. One is an HTML ‘stub’ file that loads the SWF file. Send both to the recipient; they should find they can double-click either one to get the slideshow started.
Keynote is part of the iWork suite that also includes Pages. iWork costs approx NZ$110 from your Apple dealer.
Update May 2009: Keynote ’09 does not include an option to Export to Flash.
First published in Macguide magazine Issue #29 September / October 2006 and republished with permission. This article has been modified from the original. First published here October 2006.