Changing a Presentation's Theme

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Changing the theme of a presentation in Keynote on a Mac takes three simple steps:

  1. Open the presentation
  2. Select all slides
  3. From the Theme dropdown, select the new theme

And that's pretty much it. Some minor adjustments may be needed if the two themes are very dissimilar, but in most cases, those 3 steps are all it takes.

Not so, unfortunately, on the iPad ...

Keynote on the iPad does not have a Theme dropdown like its Mac counterpart has. This makes it much harder to change the theme of a presentation. Really all you can do is to create a new presentation with the theme you (really) want and then copy over the content.

One way to copy the content over into another presentation is to select all the content of a slide. Tap into an empty area of your slide and select "all" from the context menu. Next, tap anywhere into the selected content once and select "copy" from the context menu. Then switch to your new presentation and paste the content into an empty slide.

Obviously, this is a very tedious procedure. What you can do instead is to copy entire slides. Tap on a slide in the preview bar on the left side and select "copy" from the context menu. But wait - you can actually select multiple slides at once. For this you need two hands (this procedure is also described in the help for Keynote): Tap on the first slide you want to copy. Keep your finger on the slide until it starts pulsating. With your finger still on the first slide, tap on as many additional slides as you want to copy. When you're done, lift your hands off the screen. You now have a selection of multiple slides. Tap any one of them once and select "copy" from the context menu.

When you paste your slides into your new presentation, you'll end up with a presentation that contains slides from two different themes. That is, the layout is not adjusted to the other presentation's theme. But at least it's easier now to copy the content between old and new slides. Well, actually ... The next problem you'll encounter now is that there is no option to "paste and adjust style" like there is in Keynote on the Mac. Which means that fonts, font sizes, colors, etc. are still the same after pasting the content. So the new slide doesn't really look like a slide of the new theme at all.

At this point, it should be obvious that all the above isn't really saving you much work in most cases. In other words, if you mostly have simple slides, it's usally faster to simply re-create them in the new theme. Print them out first to make it easier to look up the content and then start from scratch. You'll probably only use any of the above steps for more complicated slides - and even then you'll find that it's a lot of work to adjust font styles, sizes, colors and positions.

While it's somewhat disappointing that there is no easy way to change the theme of a presentation, I don't see this as too much of a problem. It's not something you do every day. And once you know that there's no easy way to do it, you'll think twice about which theme you use for your presentation (do some experiments with some of the more complex slides from your presentation). Still, it would be nice if Apple could add this option (or at least a "paste and adjust style" option) in some future update of Keyntoe for the iPad ...

If you'd like me to talk or write about this topic, you can hire me to do so.
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Creative Commons Licence "Changing a Presentation's Theme" by Dirk Haun is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.