A quick way to build image slides in Keynote

I spend a good amount of time making presentations to show all kinds of photography skills and technical information. In this post I’ll give you a really quick way to rapidly turn a folder full of pictures in to individual Keynote slides.

I switched from Powerpoint to Keynote around five years ago for my presentations and since then I have found many tricks to make presentations not only slicker but easier to build; in this tip I combine Keynote with Automator in the MAC OS to do the hard work and give me time for the creative thinking.

Three simple steps:

  • Open Keynote and choose the master slide template you want to use for the image slides
  • Gather all the images in a single folder
  • Create a two-step automator workflow to put the images on Keynote slides


1. Open Keynote and choose the master slide

When you work with Keynote then you usually have several slide masters, they are visible in the panel on the left though you might need to drag the panel down so that you can see them. Choose a suitable master slide and customise it if you like, but importantly remember the name of this master slide template, you need it for the last step. I used Photo – Big

2. Gather all the images in a single folder

I usually create a folder for each presentation and a subfolder with the images i’ll use for the presentation. This helps to ensure I only resize and work on the copies of the pictures not the originals. If necessary I use another automator workflow to resize my pictures to a suitable size to go on my slides. Since Keynote can be set to specific pixel sizes I would set this as a first step in my creation of the presentation, and then size the images to be no bigger than the slide size. This keeps the presentation files down in size too since you don’t insert 10MP images to show on an 800 x 600 pixel projector. You could also output images from DPP using the batch function, Lightroom or Aperture so that your images are the correct size and in the correct folder.

3. Create a two-step Automator workflow

I use a Spotlight search to find Automator and then create a two-step workflow that gets the selected images from the finder and then creates a new image slide using the required slide template in the currently open presentation.

The reason I use Automator this way is that I might need to change the workflow from one presentation to the next, usually the slide template needs changing. If I always used the same master name I could make the workflow something that would be available with a right click from within the finder.

I found out how to use Automator to make image slides in Keynote – [please tweet this]

My workflow uses the Get Selected Finder Items function to get the files from the finder. You just need to select all the images from the folder before running the workflow. Then I add the Create Image Slide step from the presentation section of the automator library. This is also where I set the Master to Photo – Big to ensure all the image slides use the same template that I want. Once it’s done click on Run and your presentation will have extra slides with a single image on each slide.

Yes it’s that simple, and super effective; I’ve made a slideshow with over 150 images several times with this method, but even if you only have to put 6 images in a presentation it’s very quick to do.