How to Add a Keynote Slideshow in iBooks Author

Slideshows are a time-honored presentation method in meetings, so why not include them in an e-book? That’s the thinking behind iBooks Author’s support for them. Keynote is Apple’s slideshow editor, and only slideshows in the Keynote format can be added to an iBooks Author e-book.

Apple’s Keynote program can open Microsoft PowerPoint slideshows and save them to the Keynote format, so you can use PowerPoint slideshows in iBooks Author if you convert them to Keynote format first.

To add a Keynote object, choose Keynote in the Widgets icon menu in the toolbar or choose Insert→Widget→Keynote. After you add the Keynote object, you can add a presentation to it by dragging a Keynote file from the Finder onto the object, or you can click Choose in the Widget inspector’s Interaction pane, navigate to the desired file in the settings sheet that appears, select that file, and click Insert.

The Choose button doesn’t work in iBooks Author 1.01 or earlier. So you have to drag the files in from the Finder instead. But it does work in iBooks Author 1.1 and later.

The iPad’s iBooks app can handle most of what you can put in a Keynote presentation: hyperlinks, transition effects, videos, and the like. But readers can’t access presenter notes, and iBooks doesn’t support voiceover narration or autoplay features.

Keynote object in iBooks Author is the same as the display in an e-book, the only difference being that you can actually play a Keynote presentation in the e-book (tap it to start), whereas in iBooks Author, you can see only the initial slide.

A Keynote object in iBooks Author (right) and the Interaction pane (center).
A Keynote object in iBooks Author (right) and the Interaction pane (center).

When you add a Keynote presentation, be sure to make its object’s size appropriate for the presentation’s content; the reader needs to be able to read the slideshow’s text and see its elements clearly, after all!

When you select a Keynote object, just two options appear for it, both in the Widget inspector’s Interaction pane:

  • Full-Screen Only: Select this option to force the Keynote presentation to take over the iPad’s screen when its object is tapped and play the presentation in full-screen mode. Enabling this option also changes the appearance of the Keynote object to a small preview, similar to what you get in portrait orientation.

  • Show Transport Controls: Select this option (or choose Format→Keynote→Show Transport Controls) to display a bar at the bottom of the Keynote presentation, that lets the reader navigate the slides on the iPad. Without the playback (transport) controls visible, a reader can tap the displayed slide to advance to the next slide. But with the playback controls visible, a reader can also go backward or to the beginning of the slideshow.

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