How to Create a Photo Slideshow in Keynote for Mac (2023)

Last week, The Rocket Yard showed you how to use Apple’s Numbers spreadsheet app for iOS and iPadOS to capture info with forms. This week, we’ll show you how to use the free Keynote app for Mac to create a fancy photo slideshow.

Why Not Just Use the Photos App?

How to Create a Photo Slideshow in Keynote for Mac (1)

You’re probably asking yourself, “Wait, why not just use the Photos app to create a slideshow?” There are some good reasons to use Keynote for your slideshows instead of Photos:

  • You can quickly import a lot of photos to make individual slides
  • Each photo slide can be edited for scale and adjusted for color
  • More text annotations, slide transitions, and effects are available in Keynote than in Photos
  • You have a choice of music and voice narrations that can be added to the slideshow
  • You can export your slideshow as a video for sharing

Let’s get started by creating a quick slideshow.

Create A New Document

First, we need to create a new Keynote document. On the Mac, launch Keynote and select a template from the choices available. You’ll also have a choice of aspect ratio — the ratio of image width to height. Back in the days of photo film, just about every photo had either a 1:1 (square) or 4:3 aspect ratio. Digital cameras have changed that, and our Keynote slide templates come in either 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratios.

If you plan on using AirPlay to show your slides on a standard flat-screen TV, then the 16:9 aspect ratio is probably your best bet. You can also select any one of the templates, but I found the Photo Essay template to be one of the best for slideshows.

Before we start playing with our images, let’s import them into Keynote.

Import Images

In order to get the best possible resolution for your photos, it’s a good idea to export them from the Photos app into a folder on your Mac.

In the Finder, create a New Folder by either right-clicking and selecting New Folder, or by using File > New Folder in the menu bar. As an example, I made a new folder on my Mac desktop named “Slideshow”.

Next, I launched the Photos app. Since I like taking pictures of flowers, I decided to search for flowers, then find my best photos to export to the folder. Going through the pictures, I just used a Command (⌘) – click to select multiple images.

Once I picked the photos, I selected File > Export > Export Unmodified Original to move the images to my folder. Once the export was completed, I quit Photos so I could better focus on my Keynote slideshow.

(Video) Create Beautiful Photo Slideshows In Keynote

Your Keynote “deck” currently has just one slide — a title slide. Make sure that you can see both the contents of your slide folder and Keynote, then select the photos and drag them to the left sidebar where the app usually displays thumbnails of the slides. Drop the photos, and they are imported into Keynote with one photo per slide.

How to Create a Photo Slideshow in Keynote for Mac (2)

You’ll probably notice that if you chose a template with text on it, the text is behind your photos. We’ll take care of that in the next step. The first slide, as seen in the screenshot above, is a placeholder title slide.

Add Text Annotations

I give a lot of photo slideshows, and I know how boring it can be to talk to multiple audiences about each slide. What we’ll do is add text annotations on some slides, then add narration later. Now you don’t have to be physically at a location to share a slideshow; instead, you can just send someone the movie version of it and they can view at their leisure.

Let’s start with the text. Our first slide is just a title slide, so I’ll add my name and the title “The Flowers of Spring”. Moving on to the second slide, I notice that the default slide “master” is a text title with bulleted items beneath it. That’s really much more than I want, so under Slide Layout on the right side of the Keynote window, I click Change Master and switch to Photo – Horizontal.

Now my image is a 4:3 photo on a 16:9 slide, so I can drag the corners of the picture out to make the photo fit the slide. If you normally take photos in a 16:9 aspect ratio, they’ll fit the slide format perfectly.

To edit the title of the slide, click the word “Title” under Appearance in the Slide Layout. That brings the Title text to the top of the image. Double-click the text to highlight it, then type your text over the placeholder. My second slide now looks something like this:

How to Create a Photo Slideshow in Keynote for Mac (3)

In this image, notice that the photo “spills over” the size of the slide. The “greyed out” areas won’t be visible during your slideshow.

You can now go to the rest of your slides, adding text where you wish. It’s possible to add more text — like a slide number or body text — but I always find that it’s best to minimize the words to the bare minimum to describe the photo.

Add Transitions

To give your slideshow a truly professional look, add transitions between the slides.

For the first slide, I decided to use the “Fade Through Color” transition. To add a transition, click the slide to select it, then click the Animate button in the upper right corner of the Keynote window. Click “Add an Effect” and a pop-up menu with all of the available transitions appears. Once you’ve selected one, you can change various things like the duration of the transition, when the transition begins, whether or not the transition starts with a click or automatically, and so on.

(Video) Apple Keynote Tutorial How to Make a Photo Slideshow with Music

Here’s an example of what the transition looks like for our first and second slides:

It’s a good idea to click the Preview button for each transition you set up so you can make sure that it fits with the theme of your slideshow. You can always click the “Change” button and try another transition if you don’t like how it looks.

Add a Narration or Soundtrack

To make a slideshow that can be viewed without your physical presence, you’ll want to add a narration. Perhaps the annotations you made on your slides tell the story and just some nice background music will suffice.

Adding a narration is simple: you just use Keynote’s built-in recording feature to record your voice, edit the recording (if necessary), and then add it to your slide.

Click the Media button on the Keynote toolbar (it looks like a small picture), then select Record Audio from the pop-up menu. Record the narration by clicking the red Record button, and speak. When you’re done, click the button again. You now have the option to listen to the recording and edit it by trimming the beginning or end.

If you’d rather add a music soundtrack, click the Media button and select Music. This opens your Music library, at which time you can select a song or songs to accompany your slideshow. For slideshows that are going to be for you or your family, it’s fine to use any song in the library. However, if your slideshow is for public viewing, you’ll need to be cognizant of music copyrights.

There are a number of websites that provide royalty-free music that can be used in videos and slideshows(with proper attribution), such as SoundImage and BenSound. Download the MP3 files you want to use, and remember where you have stored them.

Chances are good that you’ll want the music to play in the background during the entire slideshow rather than just on one slide. To do this, click the Document button at the far right of the toolbar, then click Audio. To add your soundtrack, drag the file to the Soundtrack box in the right sidebar (where it says “Add Audio Files”), and drop it.

How to Create a Photo Slideshow in Keynote for Mac (5)

See “Record Slideshow” and the “Record…” button in the screenshot above? If you’d like to record a narration for the complete slideshow, here’s where you do it. The narration is layered with the soundtrack so it and the music are heard at the same time.

Make a Self-Playing Slideshow

Remember, if you send the slideshow to another person they may not necessarily know how to get it running. That’s why it’s a good idea to make the slideshow self-playing.

(Video) Creating Photo Slideshows With Keynote (#991)

To do this, click the Document tab under the Document toolbar button. Here you can set an automatic delay in transitions and builds, although it’s a much better idea to do this before recording your slideshow narration so everything is synchronized.

How to Create a Photo Slideshow in Keynote for Mac (6)

There are checkmarks for “Automatically Play Upon Open”, “Loop Slideshow” (which is good if your slideshow will be shown repeatedly on a kiosk), and “Restart show if idle for xx minutes”. These settings are useful if you wish to send a Keynote file to someone with the app and have it play automatically, but for even easier sharing, exporting the slideshow as a movie is preferable.

Export the Slideshow as a Movie

The ultimate in sharing your slideshow comes when you send a movie file that can just be opened and viewed. Let’s export the slideshow.

Select File > Export to > Movie from the menu bar. If you’ve already set up the slideshow as self-playing and have created a recording, then all you need to do is select a video resolution (1080p/HD or 720p/SD), select “Slideshow Recording”, and export the movie.

Haven’t created a recording? Select “Self Playing” instead, choose how long you want to see each slide, and then export the movie. Note that if your soundtrack is longer than the play time for your movie, it will end abruptly! It’s always a good idea to extend the time each slide is viewed so that the visual feast and soundtrack end simultaneously.

Here’s the sample video I’ve been creating for this article. Regardless of how the weather is where you live, or how you’re feeling cooped up in your home, be sure to take time to smell the roses!

The movie can be emailed, sent to another device through AirDrop, viewed on your Apple TV, or even uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo for sharing. Don’t forget, you can share a file or a full folder of videos using iCloud.

Not only is Keynote a great way for you to create presentations for work, but it’s also the best way to create photo slideshows — for free! If you have some spare time on your hands or want to keep the kids busy between online classes, making a Keynote photo slideshow of a treasured family get-together or vacation is fun and easy.

Other topics you might like:

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(Video) [Beginners method] - Creating a Photo Slideshow with Keynote

the authorSteve Sande

Contributing Author

Steve has been writing about Apple products since 1986, starting on a bulletin board system, creating the first of his many Apple-related websites in 1994, joining the staff of The Unofficial Apple Weblog in 2008, and founding Apple World Today in 2015. He’s semi-retired, loves to camp and take photos, and is an FAA-licensed drone pilot.


How do I Create a photo slideshow on a Mac? ›

Create a slide show project
  1. In the Photos app on your Mac, select the photos you want in your slide show. ...
  2. Choose File > Create > Slide show > Photos.
  3. Click the Slideshow pop-up menu and choose New Slide Show.
  4. Type a slide show name in the Slide show Name field, then click OK.

Can you do slideshow for photos on Mac? ›

In the Photos app on your Mac, select the photos you want in your slideshow. You can add or remove photos later (see “Add or remove photos and text in a slideshow,” below). Choose File > Create > Slideshow > Photos. Click the Slideshow pop-up menu and choose New Slideshow.

What is the best program to make a slideshow on Mac? ›

Best Slideshow Makers for a Mac
ProgramBest for
Movavi Slideshow MakerUsers who need powerful video and image editing capabilitiesDownload for Free
KeynoteMac lovers who own an iPhone and iPad to bounce between devicesRead More
Microsoft PowerPointPeople comfortable with PowerPoint who don't need advanced featuresRead More
14 Jun 2022

How do I use a photo gallery in Keynote? ›

in the toolbar, then choose Image Gallery. Drag the image gallery to reposition it on the slide, and drag any selection handle to resize it. To add images, drag them from your computer to the image gallery.

How do I put multiple pictures on one slide? ›

On the Insert menu, point at Picture, and then select Photo Browser. In the dialog box that opens, browse to the picture that you want to insert, select that picture, and then drag it onto the slide. To insert multiple pictures at the same time, press and hold the Shift key while you select all the pictures you want.

How do you make an automatic slideshow in Keynote? ›

1 Answer
  1. Open your presentation in Keynote.
  2. Click on the Document icon at top right of the toolbar.
  3. Under Slideshow Settings, tick the Automatically play upon open checkbox.
  4. In the Presentation Type drop-down menu, select Self-Playing.
  5. Now save your presentation.
17 Sept 2019

How do you make a picture slideshow with music on a Mac? ›

To select music for the slideshow, click the Music button , click the down arrow next to Music Library, then select a song or songs. Choose Theme Songs from the pop-up menu to see music included with Photos, or choose iTunes to see music from your iTunes library.

Does Apple have a slideshow maker? ›

Make and play a slideshow

Tap Library, then view photos by All Photos or Days. Tap Select. Tap Slideshow from the list of options. To change the slideshow theme, music, and more, tap the screen while the slideshow plays, then tap Options.

How do I make a slideshow on my Mac without iphoto? ›

How to make a slideshow on a Mac with Preview
  1. Launch the Preview app from the Dock.
  2. Select the images you want to include in the slideshow and click Open.
  3. Click View at the top of your screen and select the Slideshow option from the drop-down menu.
  4. Use the buttons on the screen to control the slideshow.
12 Mar 2021

What is the easiest program to make a slideshow? ›

Best free photo slideshow software for desktop – Windows & Mac
  1. Movavi Slideshow Maker. Download for Free. ...
  2. ThunderSoft Free Slideshow Maker. OS: Windows. ...
  3. Free Bolide Slideshow Creator. OS: Windows. ...
  4. iMovie. OS: macOS. ...
  5. NCH PhotoStage. OS: Windows, macOS. ...
  6. Focusky Presentation Maker. ...
  7. Freemake Video Converter. ...
  8. DaVinci Resolve.
12 Jul 2022

What is the strongest tool to create a presentation and slideshow? ›

List of best presentations tools
  • Canva. Canva is a graphic design platform offering organizations a variety of professionally designed templates for their presentations. ...
  • Visme. ...
  • PowerPoint. ...
  • Powtoon. ...
  • SlideCamp. ...
  • Prezi. ...
  • VideoScribe. ...
  • Haiku Deck.
18 Oct 2021

Where is the image tab in Keynote? ›

Click. in the toolbar, choose Photos, then drag an image from a photo library to the slide or to a media placeholder. Click to select the image you want to replace, then in the Format sidebar, click the Image tab.

Where does Keynote save recorded slideshow? ›

To choose where to save the presentation, click the arrow next to the Where pop-up menu, then choose a location in the dialog. For example, it can be on the desktop. The default location Keynote chooses is the Keynote folder on your iCloud. This folder keeps your presentation across all of your iOS devices.

How do I make a continuous Slideshow of Pictures? ›

How to Create a Looping Slideshow in PowerPoint
  1. Open your PowerPoint presentation.
  2. Click the [Slide Show] tab > From the "Set Up" group, click "Set Up Slide Show".
  3. From the resulting dialogue box, check "Loop continuously until 'Esc'" under the "Show options" section > Click [OK].

How many photos do I need for a 8 minute Slideshow? ›

That means 3-4 seconds per image minimum, which translates to only 10 to 15 images per minute! Depending on the setting and reason for your slide show, 2 – 8 minutes are what most people will sit and watch.

How do I make my slideshow look professional? ›

These 10 PowerPoint hacks can keep your presentations clean, effective and are surprisingly effective.
  1. Write before you design. ...
  2. Start with a title slide that piques interest. ...
  3. Stick to simple designs. ...
  4. Emphasize one point per slide. ...
  5. Use text sparingly. ...
  6. Select images for impact. ...
  7. Practice your verbal presentation.

Is PowerPoint good for photo slideshows? ›

PowerPoint is a powerful tool for presentations, but also Photo Slideshows.

How do I open multiple photos in a slideshow on a Mac? ›

In the Preview app on your Mac, choose Preview > Settings, then click Images. Select an option for “When opening files”: Open all files in one window: Uses one window for all files you open in Preview, no matter when you open them.

What is the difference between photos and all photos on my Mac? ›

It is sorted by the capture date of the photos, and if you hide a photo it will be removed from the Photos View. The "All Photos" album is a smart album and will show you all photos, even photos that have been hidden, so the number can be larger.

Can you show 2 slides at once? ›

Go to the View Ribbon and click on the Slide Sorter icon (or click on the icon in the Status Bar). This view allows you to view multiple slides at once; click, hold, and drag the slide over to where you want the slide positioned, and then let go of the mouse button.

How do I combine slides into one presentation? ›

Open your main presentation. Select the "Review" tab at the top function bar. Click on the "Compare" function to find your other source presentation. Browse for the presentation you want to merge with and press "Merge" to combine the slides from both presentations.

Can you make a slideshow move automatically? ›

Set up slide transitions

If you want a slide show to run automatically at a kiosk, you can control when and how the slides advance. To do this, you can apply the same transition to all slides in the presentation and set the transition to automatically advance after a certain time interval.

What is the easiest way to make a photo slideshow with music? ›

Canva is a design tool that allows you to make stunning slideshows in seconds. Simply open our editor, pick a slideshow template, then add your photos and videos. Next, select a soundtrack and download your video. It's that easy!

How do I make a slideshow with music and memory? ›

How to make a memorial slideshow video in 4 steps
  1. Choose a memorial video template or start from scratch.
  2. Upload your photos and video clips.
  3. Personalize your video by changing colors, text, and music.
  4. Finish your HD video and download it to share at a funeral or online with family and loved ones.

How do you make a photo montage with music? ›

All it takes is a few easy steps and you'll have a masterpiece in no time.
  1. Step 1: Import your photos and arrange them in the timeline.
  2. Step 2: Animate the Scale and Position of the photos to add movement.
  3. Step 3: Include various Video Transitions under the Effects tab.
  4. Step 4: Import music and add it to the timeline.
25 Jan 2018

Does Apple have a program like Powerpoint? ›

Any presentation.

The same goes for Keynote. Work seamlessly across all your Apple devices. The slides you create using a Mac or iPad will look the same on an iPhone or web browser — and vice versa. You can also work on presentations stored on iCloud or Box using a PC.

Which app is used to make slideshow? ›

Supported PlatformPros
Photo Slideshow DirectoriOSSupports HD full screen; Can make music videos
PicFlowiOSDrop and drop to edit a photo; Various transitions to use
iMovieiOSMany movie themes to use; You can change audio
Photo FX Live WallpaperAndroidYou can customize the photo; High-quality output
6 more rows
30 Aug 2022

How many pictures do I need for a 15 minute slideshow? ›

You want to entertain your audience, but if it is too long they may begin to lose interest. The general rule for events such as anniversaries, birthdays, wedding receptions, etc. is 10-15 minutes. The average number of pictures used per minute is 10-12.

How long should a photo slideshow be for a funeral? ›

How long should a funeral slideshow be? There are no specific guidelines for how long or short a funeral slideshow should be. Most are between two and five minutes, though they could certainly be longer or shorter. When in doubt, talk to the funeral home or whoever is in charge of the ceremony.

How do I make a slideshow with music and pictures for free? ›

Here is how to make a slideshow with music and pictures for free:
  1. Download free. Freemake Video Converter. ...
  2. Add photos & pictures. Collect your pics for slides into one folder. ...
  3. Add music to video. Make your slideshow sound beautiful with a background track. ...
  4. Set duration & transitions. ...
  5. Make a slideshow with music free.

Does Keynote have design ideas like PowerPoint? ›

Templates. Both Keynote and PowerPoint offer dozens of built-in presentation themes and templates, and you can also find templates on third-party sites for both tools.

How do you make a Slideshow with multiple Pictures? ›

5 Different Ways To Quickly Insert Multiple Images In PowerPoint
  1. Copy and paste images into your slide. ...
  2. Use the Insert menu in PowerPoint. ...
  3. Use the layout option in PowerPoint. ...
  4. Use the 'Shape Fill with Pictures' option. ...
  5. Use the SmartArt option.

How do you set slides to advance automatically? ›

To make the slide advance to the next slide when you click the mouse, select the On Mouse Click check box. To make the slide advance automatically, select the After check box, and then enter the number of minutes or seconds that you want. The timer starts when the final animation or other effect on the slide finishes.

Which is better PowerPoint or Keynote? ›

Keynote allows you to easily integrate sounds and videos into your project, something that may be quite frustrating to do in PowerPoint. Better usability. Keynote is easier to take up for a first-time user, and there are more customizing options that, however, don't litter your toolbar. Product integration.

What is the disadvantage of Apple Keynote? ›

If you're trying to learn the program on your own, it can be a bit tricky; help files for Keynote are not as comprehensive as those from Microsoft. Since it is less ubiquitous, Google results aren't much additional help. Perhaps the most major drawback is that you can only access Keynote on a Mac.

Is Keynote Apple's version of PowerPoint? ›

Keynote is an Apple-original app designed to help curate presentations and pages. The program is similar to PowerPoint, including many of the same features as Microsoft's program. Unlike PowerPoint, Keynote is free and comes pre-installed on Mac computers and laptops.

How do you make a Keynote slide look good? ›

Get your audience's full attention with a stunning Keynote presentation
  1. Use a consistent set of icons. ...
  2. Design with a bold type set in a distinct color. ...
  3. Add whimsical line art. ...
  4. Don't be afraid to use a vast color palette. ...
  5. Paint it red. ...
  6. Use photos as your background. ...
  7. Render your background photos with color overlays.


1. How to add multiple photos into Keynote - perfect for slideshows
(Jenny Jongste)
2. Using Keynote on a Mac to Create Your Own Slideshow
(Lake Forest Library)
3. Working with Slide Layouts in Keynote on the Mac
(Dan's Tutorials)
4. How To Create a Photo Collage On a Mac
5. Create a Slideshow with Apple Photos for Mac
(Hey Ivan!)
6. Sharing Photo Journals With Keynote (#1176)
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