We all know Keynote comes with a nice collection of themes—different styles of slides to use to create your presentations. But sometimes they don’t meet your needs. You may want a different slide layout, a different slide size, or you want to only use Keynote to create something other than a presentation.
Customizing a slideware theme makes sense once you finally realize that slides can be more than just titles and bulleted lists!
In this post, we explore editing slide masters and creating your own custom themes.
Editing Slide Masters
Slides in Keynote can hold different elements. By editing a master slide, you can change things like:
- background color,
- individual elements on screen (graphics, text boxes, media placeholders,
- font and text style,
- dynamic information like date and time or slide number.
In the video linked below, I reduce the number of slide masters that belong to a theme so that Keynote can be used for a specific purpose, with students in mind. You can also edit the master slides to include things that maybe Apple didn’t think of. Examples might include a slide with four image placeholders instead of three, a different set of fonts, or your own custom shape styles and color scheme.
To edit the slide master within a theme, first open a new document, add at least one slide to your presentation, and under Format, with nothing selected, choose Edit Slide Master. A blue bar appears below the slide to indicate you are editing the master slide. If you edit the Master in a slide deck you’ve already worked on, please be informed that changing the master will change every instance of that slide in your deck.
Making Your Own Theme
Once you start editing, you might as well admit defeat. You’ve started to create your own Keynote theme! Beyond editing the masters in one of Apple’s simpler slide styles, you can do some additional things to make the slides more usable for you or your own audience.
- You can name the masters in the sidebar that appears once you edit any master slide,
- You can remove master slides you do not want to include,
- You can duplicate master slides to make variations of a particular type, such as background color,
- You can use media placeholders if you want students to include media assets such as video or pictures.
Once you have edited all the masters to your liking, you can go to File > Save Theme… and either save it as:
- a standalone Keynote file in .KTH format (use this to share your theme with students via an LMS or AirDrop),
- your own theme on your device.
Fonts, Styles, and Colors
The one caveat with creating your own themes in Keynote is that the theme won’t work as intended on another machine unless the fonts used are available on different devices. By sticking with the supplied fonts on MacOS and iOS by Apple, you should be in good shape!
If you really want to go all the way and share a very polished theme, then go the extra mile to…
- Customize the color collection that belongs to your theme (this is used in the new color picker and across charts,
- Create styles for text and for symbols
- You can also include a slide master that just has clip art on it—for instance, you can use your school’s logo or something unique to your classroom on one of the slides so that students can re-use those images across different slides.