Problem using Macs, not Windows, at large venues

Giving talks in various venues, I often use Keynote (KN). I never got to like PowerPoint (PPT) and can’t use it well. But KN only works on Macs, and most venues, especially for big conferences, are only equipped for Windows (and refuse to set themselves up for Mac use - allegedly because of server issues). KN can export to PPT, which can be shown on Windows, but it’s almost never exactly the same (fonts, animations, transitions). Besides that, hooking my Mac up to the venue’s Windows system sometimes works easily, sometimes not, sometimes not at all (HDMI doesn’t always carry the sound, as it should, and the mike jack needs to be used. Even though the techs at such large venues themselves often have Macs, they still often can’t help much. There are a few workarounds, but they’re always a PIA to make, and they don’t always work like the original KN presentation. Many of my colleagues, doctors, also mostly use Macs, even for their office systems. So …

Can anyone suggest any solutions or easy (or even just easier) workarounds?

Mostly though, this post is a complaint. Why, after all these years, do we still have this problem? Is it really so difficult to fix? I have Parallels on my Mac, but when I use it and play a PPT, the PPT used is what’s on my Mac, which is not the Windows version, so I never know how my PPT export will work with Windows PPT - and it’s usually different, less good. Dammit, dammit, dammit. runs Keynote and your slides in any modern browser on any operating system.


That sounds like the tech crew would need to/be willing to connect their PCs to the internet first, and only then be able to project my KN. I suspect they often wouldn’t. Right?

You can convert Keynote to PDF. But if your presentation contains videos or animations, you need to convert them in Adobe Acrobat.

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My experience is that any presentation that uses PPT, whether created/converted on a Mac or Windows computer is touch and go during a presentation, especially if it contains video. This is despite it working in the prep room.
I have seen many presentations where engineers have created brilliant videos of vehicle safety topics, only to see them fail during the presentation. This is one reason I have always tried to use my Macbook first and test it in the actual venue. I also create a PPT conversion in case I cannot use the Mac.
I have created numerous presentations over the years (decades) - mostly using Keynote:

Several years ago I was annoyed when Keynote for Mac was dumbed down to match its iOS version and lost several useful features. But it is still way ahead of Powerpoint. I suspect that Steve inspired the early Keynote programmers to produce a great product for use in his presentations.

I’m confused now. How is an HDMI cable connected to a screen Windows specific?

If there’s a Windows system hooked up to it, then the solution should work. If it’s just a cable to a screen then it’s not an OS issue,

What version of Microsoft Office are you using? Could you install PowerPoint for Windows in Parallels so that you can see what is going on with your presentation in Windows? Many interesting suggestions have been made, I’m curious what you settle on.

I wonder if this might have the answer you need (Last paragraph)
Apple Support page about using HDMI

it’s anybody’s guess whether wifi will be available. you didn’t say your solution needed to be offline.

i’m a glass half full kind of guy. so use your iPhone for wifi personal hotspot

Thanks for the suggestions so far, but none of them really helps. Such presentations need to be projected onto the big screen for the audience, sometimes recorded or streamed. This is what the venues are set up to do, all of it on Windows. The request from them - often, the demand - is that presentations need to be on a correctly formatted (for Windows, of course) memory stick, and often handed over to the media center, which may not even be in the same room as the presentation. Even when a tech person’s in the room with equipment, and even when there’s a PC on the podium, there’s sometimes no way to get a Mac presentation going as it should.

I guess I could buy PPT for Windows so that I could see my presentation on my Mac using Parallels, but so far I’m not willing to spend the money (the venues, the groups, are often poor, and my fee is small or zero.) Anyway, I still don’t think PPT is nearly as good as KN, so I’m (so far) unwilling to switch. But I’m also unwilling to stop teaching and lecturing.

But I hit upon an idea which, though tedious, works. A presentation is a collection of slides, and animations and transitions which are not automatic are triggered by clicks. A KN doc can be exported as a movie with sound, and PPT can play movies. However, I haven’t figured out a reliable way to pause and then continue such a one-piece movie in PPT. But I can slice the film into individual movies, filmlets, each one only as long as the next click, and then make a PPT in which each slide is one film, and I end up showing (sequential films of) a KN doc, triggered by me exactly as I want. It looks the same and runs problem-free on Windows.

Of course, making such filmlets is tedious, and can take an unacceptably long time if there are a great many slides and animations. But something smaller is doable. Besides, that even prompted me to think harder about just how important are the bells and whistles which I thought I wanted. Not all of them are. I remember the days when giving a talk was just that - standing up and talking, period, and that wasn’t all that bad.

Comments, suggestions?

That you should use Powerpoint.

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Not what I wanted to hear, but reality beckons. :disappointed:


Libreoffice is free, runs on Macs and produces Windows-compatible presentations. I have only dabbled with it but it seems suitable.

The talking should always be the most important part, the slides should be supplementary. I second @MMTalker’s recommendation of converting the Keynote slides to PDF.

Well, I decided to bite the bullet, and have begun to learn PP, but the operation’s still painful. It’s slow going, but it’s going. Of course, I’ve still got a lot to learn and get used to, but my impression so far is that PP’s not nearly as elegant (the app itself), intuitive or user-friendly as KN, quite apart from the final result.

But an even nastier problem is fonts. Since I’m doing this on a Mac, my PP has the fonts available for Macs, but at least some (many?) are not available on Windows :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:. Does anyone know a way - hopefully easy - to configure my font book or PP itself to use only MS fonts, or can suggest a workaround?

As I recall… Keynote was written specifically for Steve’s presentations. It was afterwards that it was decided to make it available to Mac owners.

When I was doing presentations I would stick to very readable Helvetica and Times; they also scale beautifully. (Times New Roman is an abomination). Also Palatino or Garamond for emphasis, depending on the audience and the subject matter.

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Steve rushed to get Keynote and other productivity apps off the ground because Microsoft and Adobe told them they would stop updating and developing for Macs. And Steve did considerable damage to them both by giving them away for free.

He also developed Final Cut Pro and gave it away for free to declared college student film majors as well as professors. At the time Avid and other post production apps cost in the tens of thousands of dollars and only ran on big iron that needed to be plugged into a wall. FCP ran on Macs and MacBooks, and enabled pre and post production work to be accomplished on set. So no more waiting to get back rushes on film from the lab. Way back then, it was simply miraculous.

The moral of the story…don’t mess with Steve or Tim.

There’s an interesting subject for another topic. Has anyone done more damage to computing, than MS and Adobe? (The art of buy and kill and managing monopolies).

IMHO, when it comes to print and digital graphics, Adobe’s media production apps and Creative Cloud are by far and away the best. Photoshop, InDesign, Dreamweaver, After Effects, etc., etc, didn’t become industry standards for nothing, and a significant % of their applications are Top Of The Pops, and Creative Cloud benefits from this. They also have an excellent font library:

If you’re a professional, a student, a dabbler or an expert, they’ve got stuff you could really use if you have the cash for a subscription. IMHO, Adobe is very much like Apple in how it constantly updates expands their portfolio.

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