Presentations are built in several tools (PowerPoint, Keynote, Slides) and exported to finished PDF files.
Varying preferences for tools means that you may need to convert files between formats. A great example of this is converting PDF files into an editable Keynote presentation. You'll likely receive finished presentation files in PDF format, but you may need to add your own twist in a tool like Keynote.
In this tutorial, you'll see that you don't have to design everything from scratch to convert a PDF to Keynote format. I'll show you tools and techniques that help you master how to convert PDF to Keynote files.
Want to build a Keynote presentation on a blank slate? The best way to do it is with outstanding Apple Keynote templates from Envato Elements, the all-you-can-download library for creatives. Or, buy great Keynote templates one-by-one from the GraphicRiver marketplace.
How to Convert PDF to Keynote Presentations
In this section, we'll walk through converting a PDF into a Keynote presentation. Unfortunately, Apple Keynote doesn't include any built-in features that make this process quicker.
If the changes that you need to make are limited, you can follow the steps below to import a PDF into Keynote. The finished file won't be fully editable, but you can add additional content on top of the imported presentation.
On my Mac, I started by opening the original PDF file in Preview (the default app used to open PDF files) and created a new Keynote document. I put the two windows side-by-side to begin importing the PDF into Keynote format.
Note: I created the original slideshow we're working with here using the with the BEAT template from Envato Elements.
Also, make sure that you can see the individual slide thumbnails in Preview. If you can't see the individualized slides in the Preview window, open the sidebar on the View > Thumbnails menu option.
Now, you can start to drag the PDF slides one-by-one into Keynote. Click on the thumbnail in the Preview sidebar, and then drag it into the Keynote sidebar. (Similarly, if you can't see the thumbnails in Keynote, open the View > Navigator menu option.)
When you drag and drop a slide from the PDF into Keynote, the preview will start as a small thumbnail as you can see in the inset screenshot below. To make it full size, you'll want to click and drag the corner of the image to scale it up. Effectively, this approach converts PDF slides into flat pictures.
It's also worth noting that you can import multiple slides from PDF to Keynote quickly. Click on a slide in the Preview sidebar, hold shift, and then click the last thumbnail in the sequence to import. Then, drag-and-drop them into Keynote all at once.
That's it! Just repeat the steps, then make any desired changes to the presentation. As mentioned earlier, the individual slide elements aren't editable, but this is one way to migrate a PDF and make minor changes as slide additions.
Without the help of an additional tool, it can be cumbersome to convert PDF to editable Keynote files. Luckily, we've featured tools in this round-up that automate this process and keep most of the tools editable. Keep reading to see those tools in action.
More Techniques to Work Efficiently in Apple Keynote
If you're going to approach the conversion process manually, you need to learn more Apple Keynote techniques. Don't worry, we've got you covered, thanks to our resource How to Use Apple Keynote (Ultimate Tutorial Guide.)
Even though Keynote is a user-friendly tool, these tutorials will help you master the app and spend less time working in it. Knowing more advanced features can help you re-create the effects and slides that even the best tools won't convert from PDF.
To kick off your learning process, check out the three tutorials below. Both of these tutorials have tips and tricks to turn PDF into Keynote files in less time.
- App TrainingHow to Create a Basic Keynote Presentation (On Your Mac)Andrew Childress
- KeynoteWhat Is Apple Keynote Software? +How to Start Using It to Make PresentationsSven Lenaerts
- KeynoteHow to Use Keynote Slides (Layout Dimensions, Sizes, & Design)Andrew Childress
Remember: another great way to build Keynote presentations is with the aid of great templates. When you use a template, you already have most of the layout and design elements you need.
Start with a professionally designed template from the deep Envato Elements library, or purchase a single template from GraphicRiver. Just fill in your specifics, and you're on your way to the best Keynote presentation yet.
4 Top PDF to Keynote App Solutions for 2019
In this section, you'll see four tools that help you automate the process of converting PDF into Keynote files. Each of these tools will help you create a file with editable elements in Apple Keynote to save you the time of re-drawing it all!
Keep in mind that there may be a few features that don't migrate smoothly regardless of the tool that you use. Here are several examples:
Charts and graphs. The finished charts will be rendered as images, so you won't be able to edit the source data.
- Advanced image masks. Stylish modern Keynote templates often feature advanced image masks that re-shape simple rectangular images into custom shapes, but these will convert to simple images.
Animations. Because PDF's are flat presentation files, advanced and dynamic effects like timings and animations won't convert smoothly regardless of the conversion app.
To test these apps, I used a sample PDF that follows an all-too-common workflow: a collaborator saves a Keynote file as a PDF, then sends you the flattened document. The only problem is that you still need to make a few changes before the Keynote is complete.
To add to the presentation, it helps to convert PDF to Keynote format natively. All of these tools will save you time by converting PDF to Keynote files. Let's take a look at the best tools and techniques to turn PDF files into Keynote presentations.
In 2019, the most popular way to convert most files requires no apps, only a web browser. A great example of that is CleverPDF, a browser-based tool where you can drop off your PDF files and get a finished presentation that you can edit in Keynote.
CleverPDF is handy because you can batch convert PDF files. Just in case you're starting with multiple PDF files, you can automate the process to convert PDF to Keynote files easily with this tool. You can also connect the tool to cloud storage like Dropbox or Google Drive in case you're away from your computer.
My testing worked well with CleverPDF. Slide objects were easy to edit and continue working with to migrate the file to Keynote.
The aptly named and straightforward "PDF to Keynote" tool is a free option to convert a PDF to Keynote, but the finished files are still flat images. It automates the process that you saw earlier in this tutorial. It also automates the process of clicking and dragging the important slide image to cover the slide.
It features a very slimmed down interface. Just install the tool and go to the File menu to point it to a PDF file of your choice. Choose an export size, and you'll turn your PDF into images that cover the Keynote canvas with just a few clicks.
Available via the App Store, PDF2Office is free to start with and is a macOS desktop app to convert PDF into Keynote files. To export more than five slides, you'll need to pay for a license to keep using the app.
One of the advantages of using a desktop-based app to turn PDF into Keynote presentations is document security. Even though most tools are likely safe and trustworthy, it gives you extra peace of mind to know that the document is never on someone's server. This is critical when protecting sensitive data for your company, for example.
Testing with this tool gave me the best results with a "mostly editable" finished file. As usual, only the advanced features didn't convert cleanly. It's a great tool to balance converting PDF into Keynote presentations while keeping your data locally.
4. PDF to PowerPoint to Keynote (Multiple Tools)
While there are a handful of tools to help you turn PDF files into Keynote format, they can be somewhat limited. Luckily, there's a way to take advantage of an entirely separate set of tools.
With this approach, you can make use of a comprehensive set of free PDF to PowerPoint tools. Run your PDF through those tools, then use Keynote's feature to import PowerPoint (PPTX) files. These two steps can help you turn your PDF into a finished Keynote file.
See a full set of tools in the tutorial below. We recently featured a round-up with all of the best PDF to PowerPoint conversion tools. Make sure to try one out from the article below as the first step in the conversion process.
- Microsoft PowerPointHow to Convert & Insert a PDF to PowerPoint (5+ Best Solutions for 2019)Andrew Childress
Once you've converted a PDF into PowerPoint format, there's only one step left: convert the PowerPoint to Keynote format. This is a built-in feature in Apple Keynote, and you can learn how to use it in our tutorial below. Keynote's built-in feature does a great job importing PowerPoint presentations and converting them to Keynote templates with editable elements.
- Microsoft PowerPointHow to Convert PowerPoint (PPTX) for Mac Keynote PresentationsAndrew Childress
It takes a couple of steps, but this is one of the most accurate ways to start with a PDF and finish in Keynote format. You'll find nearly everything editable and ready-to-use, and best of all: you can use most of the tools for free.
Convert a PDF to Keynote Presentation Today
You won't always have the luxury of working with a presentation in the ideal format. Sometimes, you might lose access to the original, editable presentation file. In those situations, it helps to convert the PDF to Keynote format without manual re-creation.
Make sure to use one of the tools in this round-up to skip the hard work to turn a PDF into Keynote format. They'll convert flattened PDF's into fully editable documents, ready to add your adjustments and finalize.
And don't forget, you can also design a great presentation with the best designs using the unlimited Keynote templates from Envato Elements, or buy the single best template for you from GraphicRiver. Both of these template libraries are a huge timesaver to create a great Keynote presentation.