Oct 232013

If you read the masthead (and you’d be surprised how many people don’t) you’ll see that I’m pretty pro-Apple. I actually like to think I’m more “pro-good consumer electronics”, most of which are produced by Apple. Apple also has a number of excellent software offerings. One that had made an impact on me early in its life cycle was Keynote, the software that allegedly grew from the tools Jobs himself used in Apple Keynote presentations. To give you an idea of how highly I value Keynote, it’s the only app in Apple’s iWork Suite that I will insist on using without compromise. Because Microsoft basically ruined the last 25 years of productivity software in the business world, its corporate zombies still insist that Word and Excel are the standard in the workplace and so I find myself having to default to those programs most of the time. But Keynote just stomps the balls off of PowerPoint so hard that I refuse to use such a vastly inferior product at all. If I’m doing a presentation for you, your options are a Keynote file or a PDF export.

I could go on in 3 separate posts about how fundamentally awesome Keynote is, and not just for presentations. I’ve made cover sheet templates that were 100 times better and much faster than anything I could do in Word; I’ve made checklists that stomp Excel’s finicky formatting bottlenecks. I’ve even created high-quality captioned illustrations. All this is possible because of how easily Keynote integrates text, images, tables and charts. It’s as powerful a page layout tool as it is a presentation creation tool. But don’t take my word for it.

Among the many, many things that Apple announced yesterday, they also introduced new versions of both its iLife and iWork suites. The latter has not received a major update since iWork 09. And with this update to iWork come the words I thought I’d never type.

I think Apple blew it with Keynote 6.

I know, I know. When I read stories of “pros” having to move from Final Cut Pro 7 to FCP X, I was among those of you who laughed at their guttural cries of anguish. “Stick to 7 or suck it up,” I said, probably aloud. And this may be what this is. But I’ll state my case and – well – I’ll either stick to Keynote 5 or suck it up.

Why You’d Want to Use Keynote 6

When you look at the feature list, there’s a few reasons to use the latest version of Keynote.  Depending on how you have your iOS 7 device set up, one of them is very compelling. And by that I mean you’ve already lost a major feature if you don’t use the latest versions of iWork on all your devices. If, like me, you have iOS 7 set to automatically update your apps in the background (and you didn’t have a sufficiently good reason not to – until now), you already have the latest version of Keynote for iOS. What that means is that if you use Keynote for iOS version 2.0 to open a Keynote file in iCloud that was created using an older versions of Keynote, and make any changes, this is what will greet you if you try to open the file again using Keynote 5:
We didn't explicitly say this would happen, did we? Oops.

We didn’t explicitly say this would happen, did we? Oops.

There’s an “Apple’s cloud services blow goats” joke in here somewhere, but that ground is already well-trampled. Suffice it to say that cattle penning a consumer into a software upgrade – even a free one – is very un-Apple if it breaks such a major piece of its compatibility with the prior version of the software. But because the software is from Apple, moving to the latest-and-greatest usually means you’re getting a better verion of what you have. Usually.

What the Fuck Did You Do With My Format Bar?

Users of iOS 7 will immediately recognize the similarities between Keynote 6 for Mac and Apple’s apps in iOS 7: a diminished use of gradients, shadows and a snappy primary color palette. Personally, the first thing I noticed was the absence of the Format Bar:

format bar

Thinking that maybe this was a setting in preferences I clicked back in 2010 or so, I went into settings and…nothing. Apple scrubbed the Format Bar. Maybe, I thought, I can get back some of those Format Bar settings by customizing the toolbar. I quick right-click on the toolbar provided no satisfaction: Apple removed the option to customize the toolbar.

I admit I was starting to get a little hot.


Apple has a pretty cool way of palletizing tools in iWork, and it’s actually a tool that persists through many Apple-made programs, which gives users a sense of familiarity across apps. It’s called the Inspector and its job is to offer a static set of tools that allow users to do everything from rotate a shape to edit a QuickTime event (yeah – I never used that one either). In Keynote, there are 10, all ending in “Inspector” if you mouse over them. From left to right they are: Document, Slide, Build, Text, Graphic, Metrics, Table, Chart, Hyperlink and QuickTime.

Possibly the most iconic presence in iWork: the Inspector

Possibly the most iconic presence in iWork: the Inspector

I’ll just get right to it: there is no Inspector in Keynote 6.

So what tool is powerful enough to replace not only the Format Bar, but the Inspector as well? Let me give you a hint: if you’ve used the latest version of Keynote on iOS, it will look familiar:

Left is Keynote for iOS; right is Keynote 6 for OS X

Left is Keynote for iOS; right is Keynote 6 for OS X

Yes, ladies and gentlemen: Apple nerfed its OS X version of Keynote to better-resemble its touchscreen cousin. The point at which I finally realized the detachable Inspector was gone for good was when I invoked the old “Opt-Cmd-I” and saw that it now hid/showed this new contextual sheet – the one that has replaced the venerable Inspector.

Now I was really hot.

Having had some time to think about what I really hate about the stripping of the Format Bar and the new iOS-style, contextual sheets in Keynote 6 replacing the Inspector, it boils to this: in Keynote 5, you knew where to click – always.

  • The Format Bar was the contextual tool for basic tasks. It would adapt depending on what you were doing: click on a text box, you could modify font, style, point, color, justification, spacing, etc.; click on an object and you could control fill, opacity and stroke of the border. The key to modifying 80% of your content is held in that slender bar.
  • The Inspector was the catch-all for any modification one needed. Under the Metrics Inspector, in addition to the tools in the Format Bar, you have your size, position and rotation functions. If you click a text box, rotation is grayed out, which was an action consistent across Inspector functions. If you couldn’t apply a function to a selection, it was grayed out, but it was always there – in the same place – all the time.

And if the “Contextual Inspector” was just disorienting depending on what you clicked, that’d be one thing. Some of the re-worked sheets are downright confusing. Check out what happens if you change the font in a text box – any text box:

An asterisk and an

An asterisk and an “Update” flag? Really, Apple?

Why is this changed marked in such a curious way, you might ask yourself? What you’re doing is potentially changing the style sheet for the document. If you click on “Update”, you’re actually updating the default style sheet. I don’t use style sheets much, but I’m sure many people do. If we were to poll users, I’m confident the stylesheetists would be in the vast minority of all users. Sticking a prompt to change the default font of the style sheet – when all I want is a goddamned text box – is fucking irritating. And don’t get me started on the 2 instances of the same word, “Style”, in the Contextual Inspector. It has both its own header tag and it’s a sub-heading under the “Text” header tag. Jesus Christ, Apple.

I don’t know if the designers for Keynote for OS X were inspired by Windows 8, but let me lay this out there for Apple: Keynote for OS X is not, nor should it try to mimic, Keynote for iOS. In terms of hours logged, I can guarantee that Keynote on the desktop has obliterated Keynote for iOS since its introduction. I’m not saying not to improve your iOS offering, what I’m saying is don’t destroy the functionality of your more useful desktop app for the sake of some sense of cross-platform cohesion. Remember “Windows Everywhere”? Snap the fuck out of it.
 Posted by at 12:31 pm

  32 Responses to “Dear Apple, Please Unf*ck Keynote. Yours, TMA”

  1. Oh for fuck’s sake man – Suck it up!

    This new version of Keynote isn’t for you! You’re already a Fanboi! Where are you going? OUTside the “Walled Garden”? LOL!

    It’s for all the Newbies coming from the MS-World who’ve grown up sucking PowerPoint presentations from Mamma MS’s teat!

    Floating task bars are far too complex for them to cope with!

    Inspectors??? WTF???!!!11one??

    You (you sleek NY VP type Exec you) buy a iPhone – you use iOS apps – you want the best laptop – you get a MBA – you *want* the same Look & Feel as yer fone otherwise you don’t use the app & you stick with MS-Office for Mac or the Vaio that Work gives you.


    Strategically, thinking as a NY Exec, do Apple *really* want users to do that?

  2. I guess I’m that FCP 7 guy. Now all I need is a 2012 Mac Pro (I want my expansion inside the box, man!) and a bobblehead Boba Fett for street cred.

    I’ve never had an experience with an Apple app where they’ve fucked it so badly (at least when compared to the previous version’s functionality) that it made me less productive. And I thought losing my virginity would be special…

    I think what Apple is doing to iWork is just an exaggerated version of what it’s doing to OS X in general. Remember all the grousing about the Notification Center when it was ported to Mountain Lion? They’re trying to force the halo effect of their mobile devices to the desktop. Tim may need to stop to remind himself of the differences between cars and trucks that was once so eloquently articulated by a great man.

  3. Nah! i still think yer wrong!

    “Post-PC” *must* mean mobile eats the desktop!

    Mobile is now *much* more important to Apple than the desktop.

    Revenue alone says that.

    Tim says that Apple won’t forget the desktop, but it’s now the “2nd wife” behind mobile.

    If we’re going for the automobile industry analogy (which I like) think Mercedes.

    Mercedes make luxury motors. They also make commercial Delivery Vans (dunno what you call them in the States i’m afraid). Main rivals (in Europe) would be the Ford Transit (market leader?) Peugot, Citroen, Fiat plus the usual Japanese makers etc.

    M-B make big Trucks too.

    But which Benz motor division do you think “wags the dog”?

    Hint:- It aint the F1 Racing team neither.

  4. >>Now all I need is a 2012 Mac Pro<<

    Btw. My '01 G3 died in May 2013 despite visits to 2 separate Mac Doctors.

    I'm soo desperate to play Civ2 on System 9, i'm thinking of re-installing Tiger(?) (an old one anyway) onto a now unused (06?) MacBook so that I can return to/re-live my Forties!

    Now if only I can find that "Best of 90s Pop" CD – I'm away!

  5. I’m also reading on the blogs, the idea that the 3 versions of iWorks on iOS, OS X & iCloud need to merge, in order to reduce fragmentation and the apps need to be stripped down to the basic commonalities before some future release(s), adding back that functionality that we’re so familiar & happy with.

    At the Apple Presentation they made special mention of having started from scratch & re-written the app suite from the ground up.

    So the idea that the iCloud offering has to start very sparse, before Apple can develop tools & technologies to support advanced features like taskbars & Inspectors kinda makes sense to me.

    Hoping the hope of future presentation bliss sustains you thru the dark days of PowerPoint struggle.

  6. You probably didn’t even have time to notice that they removed the ability to fully customize presenter view. Now it’s just checkboxes for enabling and disabling the various parts. You know. Like how PowerPoint does it.

  7. I’ve only begun to assess the damage, so no, I did not notice that yet. There are a bunch of posts on the Apple Discussion Boards enumerating what was lost. Here’s the one for Pages, currently at 22…errr…pages.


  8. I’ve been trolling the blogs as well and in addition to the FCP 7 PTSD I mentioned, Pogue reminded me of the iMovie 8 debacle. It’s clear that if you’re an advanced user of something Apple makes, you’re going to be in this place eventually. As you point out, Apple tends to improve upon what they raze, as they’ve started doing with FCP X. I’ve aired my grievances on the Discussion Boards, wrote the Keynote team via the feedback form and generally have gotten all my complaining out of my system. Time to move forward.

    And fuck PowerPoint. I will never go back to that clown car shitshow.

  9. FCP X was friggin awesome, right out of the gate. Yes it was missing a few things, but Apple was super fast in getting those things back in. The real problem was with editors (of whom I know a great many). Every one of them HATES change. Any change. And FCP X made them re-learn everything.
    I have no idea if that’s what’s going on with Keynote. I rarely use it, but I do use Pages and sometimes numbers. I love the new tables view in Pages. I’ll have to give it a couple weeks to see if there is anything really missing. If iWork is truly broken, I would bet on Apple fixing it fairly quickly.
    Would love to hear a follow up from you in a few weeks, once you’ve had a chance to settle in…

  10. I admit I have never used any version of FCP so the only feedback I had was from the (typically shitty) coverage that the Apple-bashing tech blogs provided me. For that reason I automatically took it with a grain of salt.

    I think the sad truth of a workflow is that once you become entrenched in it and then it gets upturned on you, you’re a little bit at a loss. Keep in mind that the last major revision to iWork was in 2009. That was almost 4 whole years for me to get nice and cushy with my Inspector.

    At the end of the day, I’m more likely to push forward with the new version than I am to revert to an older version – especially true because it would make working on documents from an iOS device through iCloud a nightmare. I’ll check back once I’ve had some time with it.

  11. This is catastrophic. I use Keynote for a living. This forced upgrade was the worst thing Apple has ever done to me, the new version s is limited, insulting, and has now ruined my deadline. I adore Apple, but this brew version is downright evil, and a huge disappointment. I wish apple had US in mind and not the newbies when they did things like this.

  12. You should still be able to use version 5.3. That’s not how I personally roll – I’d rather push through with the new version than deal with all the legacy bullshit one usually has to – but if it’s vital to your livelihood, it’s an option. I’d consider myself a power user, but I no longer have to depend on it for what I do, even though it is (or used to be) one of a few superior tools I used every other day.

  13. You’re absolutely right, I use(d) Keynote a lot because it is (was) far better than powerpoint. Now it’s really fucked up, does somebody know how to downgrade?

  14. The ’09 apps should still be in /Applications/iWork ’09. If you open files in the new version of Keynote, be careful not to make changes – if you try to open the saved doc in Keynote 5.3, it won’t let you. You’ll be prompted to open the saved document in the newest version of Keynote (6.0). As I see it you have 3 options: suck it up and work in Keynote 6 exclusively, don’t work in 6 at all or make duplicates in all your Keynote 5.3 presentations and keep them in separate folders if you don’t want to be stuck.

  15. I’m sure you already know this, but Apple has chimed in about the missing features:


    Looks like their new mode of releasing software is to ram out a completely rewritten, but not quite feature rich version, then add features back as quickly as possible. Or add the features that folks complain about the loudest. There’s lots to like in the new iWork, I hope they get it to the point where you love it again…

    btw – I found my first Pages deal-breaker… you can’t delete a page from the thumbnail view anymore… that’s a serious wtf were they thinking….

  16. Keynote 6 does not support “Allow layering with Master slide”. So themes that use a masking layer with a photo cutout (like many third party themes) don’t work. Also QT movies with transparency (alpha channel) do not work. Boo.

  17. I feel your pain. They nixed primary functions like change font size from the top bar and put them in this new ‘format’ view with all the old inspector stuff. The result is forever clicking back and forth between views in format just to do basic stuff like a font size.

    Clicks are up like a 100% in this new version, it’s very frustrating. Especially when they reserve the prime top bar real estate for stuff that gets 5% the usage of fonts etc, such as ‘insert media’

    Really bummed as I loved using Keynote..

  18. I worked with a strong team of power users of Keynote. For corporate presentations and high-quality demos, we used Keynote deliver not just stunning text and graphics, but HD movies, some times encoded with multichannel audio, and wrote special software to allow Keynote presenter notes to be utilized (with tags) as a way to call off DMX cues to control things like lights, serial control, and switches for things like electromagnets.

    Fun stuff. Now with the new Keynote, much of that functionality has been butchered out. It’s pretty much unusable now.

    I hate to say it but it’s looking like MS is taking some tips from Keynote in PPT 2013. It’s not great but it’s better. I really hope Apple produces a Pro version of this product..and I don’t care if plays on my phone/iPad.

  19. I’m a designer, why back when my bosses looked down their noses at Apple computers, and their mice! They were just toys they said. But then, it came to be that professional musicians, video producers and artists used them because of what they could do, PCs sucked. Hardly a toy. Not in unit sales, but in all the important ways Apple beat the PC. Now they have released Keynote for a “toy” (mobile devices) and dumbed down the desktop version. It’s a sign Apple is forgetting where it came from, which is dangerous for a company over the long term. Hey Apple, there might be a lot of dudes that think whipping it out of their pocket and doing a presentation is the coolest, but your core users don’t give a crap. Your core users take your software to places you don’t even think of and then they sing your praises every day very loudly. It was been an important part of your success. Way to shut us up, or worse, slam you. Bad move.

  20. We with me you are preaching to the choir.

    My main client is a major cruise line. I produce supporting tour video and presentation media for their Shore Excursion program around the globe. Since the inception of this media project four years ago, we’ve had 15 Mac Book Pros on the fleet running Keynote5 on Lion, using on-brand design and layout, image and text animations and of course video running at 1080p. Upgrading the OS is not necessary on these Macs, as they’re just expensive presentation boxes and frankly we don’t want the staff onboard using them for anything else.

    I share all of your criticism but what is also frustrating is what happens when I loaded and tried to play a KN5 presentation for a new ship-using a new Mavericks MBP running KN6.

    I loaded the presentation and the fonts into the system…and…SHIT! …It doesn’t translate accurately. The font sizes, scale, animation durations-canvas layout…everything is botched. KN6 will say a font is 60pt, but on the canvas it displays it at approx. 20pt. Image borders are all re-formatted…its a mess and can’t be used without going in an adjusting everything on each of the 60 slides.

    So here’s the bottom line-My presentations are between 60-80 slides deep. As there’s no way a client will pay to lay out two versions or re-tool the over-40 presentations in the field for 6, I can only think to downgrade the OS on this new MAC back to Lion, and run KN5. Then we’ll just keep designing and running the KN program on this platform unless this is just some bug to be corrected.

    Asking everyone on here…. If you were me, is this the best solution for now? Am I thinking this through correctly or am I missing something? There aren’t any hardware issues with new Macs running lion?

    Thanks to all as I hold my breath. And Happy New Year.


  21. TOTALLY agree … Keynote 6 is NO upgrade!! BIGGEST irritation is the fact that you cannot change the presenter view. I am a professional presentation coach, have always loved keynote but right now I am VERY frustrated with Apple. C’mon … get your s**t together!

  22. Keynote 6 SUCKS. Today autosave didn’t work and when i tried to close and open it again the file was corrupted and 72 slides were GONE !!! 2 weeks work GONE ! And APPLE was ” sorry to hear that..” I never had a problem with the old Keynote… That’s why they were giving this one for free because is junk …

  23. It amazes me that Keynote 6 is even an Apple product. I can’t recall an application that has sucked more. This is a huge disappointment.

    Luckily Keynote ’09 seems to still work fine in Mavericks, so I’ll just go back to using that as long as I can.

  24. I agree with the article. Keynote 6 is monumentally awful. It’s so easy, an executive can use it. Which means that those of us who have the ability to craft a compelling visual story are left way out in the cold.
    Complaints are too many to list, but let me just say, why can’t I save a presentation? Why must I open it, duplicate it, rename it (in the title bar?!?!), save it, move it, move to other? We had this solved. It was called “Save As…”
    In recent years, Apple has established a long tradition of ignoring the creative community and then, when things get almost devastatingly bad, introducing a little innovation (read: Mac Pro) It’s an emotionally abusive relationship that is only slightly better than the alternative.
    I might as well be working in PowerPoint.

  25. For everybody who is sick and tired of not being able to use custom fonts in their documents on their iOS devices I might have a solution.

    I ran into similar problems and took this as my motivation to develop “AnyFont”. With this little app you are able to install all the fonts you need for your presentations on your iPhone or iPad. So when your are using Calibri in your presentation and get the error message after importing it on your iPad you can use AnyFont to install Calibri on your device which makes the error message go away and lets you use Calibri in your presentation.

    Let me know how you like it!

    Download AnyFont

  26. @Lee – I’ve given presos on Cruise lines (RC) and wondering how you’re now doing after a few months of Keynote 6…?


  27. Seems like I should just go to PowerPoint and stop worrying about. Keynote 6 is making me build slides one at a time, instead of using the master slides.

    I’ve been trying to “promote” and “demote” paragraphs according to the styles in the master slides, to no avail. The documentation is vague at best.

    At least with Microsoft I know that I can share with the business crowd, and that I am working on a stable, if pathetic, platform. And MS did fix the transitions.

  28. Well put article. Some people at Apple should get their heads out of their arses.

    Add the extra free bonus that if you open any presentation with the new and shiny Keynote, you will not be able to get it back in the old keynote if the new keynote is not compatible with your old file. And don’t mention the ‘export as 09’ because it simply doesn’t work.

    55Mb base file full of our own corporate templates gone to hell because of this lovely undocumented feature. Layers an graphics all gone. Thanks Apple … for nothing. We just bought 55 MS Office licenses for Mac. Go and stuff your iWorks.

  29. Next week I have go give several KN presentations starting this Sunday and I needed to update five hour-long shows. However, I AM AN IDIOT. I upgraded Keynote on all three of my computers and the @#$%^ new app will NOT recognize over half of my older images!! On the last upgrade a few weeks ago, I noticed this problem, but at least the thumbnails were still there, and the name of the image was in the inspector. When I realized there was yet another new upgrade I went to it thinking that that was my problem, but WTF — now even the thumbnails are gone.!!!!!!! I am royally screwed because I cannot even find the inspector. I am an old person, having used Keynote since its very first version, and I just do not have time to learn it. WHY would Apple introduce a new version that will NOT RUN the EARLIER version????? I am a FOOL to trust APPLE!!!

  30. Moved to the world of Apple 3 years ago at the insistence of my son – you’ll love it Dad! (After many years of working with Microsoft – not much fun their either).

    Well, surprise, surprise, the much trumpeted world of Apple sucks as much as Microsoft. My Keynote constantly refuses to save, and constantly insists on trying to save – every couple of minutes or so. ridiculous. No doubt an Apple zealot will tell me to mess around with Terminal or jump through some other hops – just to get this FANTASTIC OS and it’s apps to work. Yep – got masses of spare time for that.

  31. I have used Macs since 1985 and they just don’t “refuse to save” You have a an issue, get it fixed. Google first and see if others have had the issue and if they have a fix. If not take it someplace to get that fixed. Apple store likely. As for auto save, turn it off…

    Google what you want to do, Man. Usually others have done it.

  32. I continue to use Keynote 09, but Apple keeps hitting me with pop ups that
    tell me to upgrade.

    Is there any way to block these pop ups?


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