Teaching and Learning Resources by Peter Pappas

Creating Presentation Handouts in Apple Keynote

I'm a recovering PowerPoint user that's been using Apple Keynote for my presentations for about a year. I find it much friendlier to graphics and media. It took me a while to figure out how to create B/W six slide / page handouts that I could easily PDF to clients. Thought I'd pass it along. If you have any more suggestions, let me know! 

PS. I use the Mac native pdf creation tools (too cheap to buy Adobe Acrobat for my Mac). For this illustration I'm working with a 108 slide Keynote presentation with lots of graphics. 

Step 1: I open my Keynote handout presentation. I select File/ Print. Keynote defaults to Keynote in drop down box – I select "Layout."

 Picture 1

Step 2: In the "Pages Per Sheet" box, I choose 6. Note: This "Pages per Sheet" choice doesn't appear on the default "Keynote" print screen.
Picture 2
Step 3: I click "PDF" button in lower left and chose "Save as PDF" This gives me a color pdf – 6 slides per page. In the sample I'm working on, I have now created a 16 MB PDF file.

Picture 3
Now my goal is to convert to gray scale (for the client to photocopy) and to reduce the file size.

Step 4: Open the newly created PDF  handout in Apple Preview. I choose "File/Save As… "

Picture 4

In the "Quartz Filter"  selection box, I choose "Gray Tone." I save that new gray tone PDF. Nice looking handout, but I have greatly increased the file size. (from 16 to 103 MB). Too big to send to the client!

Picture 5
Step 5: I open the newly created Gray Tone version of the pdf in Preview and do another "Save As…" Just like in step 4. This time in the  "Quartz Filter" selection box, I choose "Reduce File Size." That creates a new PDF with file size reduced from 103 MB to 5.7 MB (Even smaller than 16 MB color PDF I created in step 3)

Picture 6

Since I am usually sending of lots of handouts to multiple clients. I have another blog devoted to distributing them. That way I can email a link to my "Handout Blog"  and let them deal with downloads at their end.

Hope this helps!

21 thoughts on “Creating Presentation Handouts in Apple Keynote

  1. Reply
    Erwin - January 8, 2009


    Many thanks for you tips!

    I find myself reverting to Powerpoint when I have to produce professional hand-outs, espacially for binders of course material with notes pages.
    I did not discover any options in Keynote to set page margins (!), header and footers the size of the slide versus the notes area, a.o. for notes pages.
    Also, I found that when choosing the option to remove backgrounds, light (white) objects are not printed black and disappear.

    Did you find any work-arounds for these limitations of KeyNote w.r.t producing notes pages? I.e. exporting the slides + notes to Pages ????


  2. Reply
    Peter Pappas - January 8, 2009

    Hi Erwin,

    Thanks for your reply. Keynote is far from perfect. I have not found any work arounds for the issues you raise. You can make the Keynote handout as I detail above and then open it in Adobe Acrobat and add headers / footers. But that takes more software. If you come up with any new ideas let me know.

    In the meantime there’s new version of Keynote just out – be interesting to see if any of these issues are addressed.



  3. Reply
    Robert Allen - January 4, 2012

    Peter, I tried unsuccessfully to do what you said. In Layout I’m given the choice for how many pages per sheet, but it does not show a picture of them on the page as yours does. I only see one picture in the upper lefthand corner of the page, correctly sized for the others to appear, but they don’t. I print the sheet and only the one handout prints. Help!


  4. Reply
    Peter Pappas - January 4, 2012

    Hi Robert,
    You’re also given a choice of:
    Pages: All
    Pages: 1 – whatever
    Do you have “Pages All” checked?

  5. Reply
    Vince Mattox - October 29, 2012

    How do you create headers and footers on the handout sheets not the individual slides?

    1. Reply
      Peter Pappas - October 29, 2012

      I haven’t found a way to do that in Keynote. You’ll need a PDF writing app.

  6. Reply
    Dawn - December 9, 2012

    Thanks so much for the awesome tips. I too have been using Keynote for about a year and am still learning so many things. I was really stuck on this until I stumbled upon this. Thanks! 🙂

  7. Reply
    Peter Pappas - December 9, 2012

    Glad to be of help.
    Cheers ~ Peter

  8. Reply
    Mark - March 7, 2013

    Thank you very much, this is a great tip! I’m using a very old version of Keynote and this worked well. I agree that Keynote is very friendly in its ease of use for graphics, etc., but the handouts feature of Powerpoint is sorely missed here. But this workaround makes for a nice workflow.

    Thanks again

  9. Reply
    Peter Pappas - March 8, 2013

    Hi Mark,

    Glad I could be of help ~ Cheers, Peter

  10. Reply
    Meg - March 23, 2013


    So glad I found you–what a treasure trove of awesome info.


  11. Reply
    Sarah - July 4, 2014

    Thanks for the tips! I’m making a nervous transition from PC and Powerpoint to Mac and Keynote and your hints are helping me along the way! I think I will survive.

    1. Reply
      Peter Pappas - July 4, 2014

      Glad to hear I could help. Be brave. You’ll like Mac / Keynote.

  12. Reply
    Claudia - September 3, 2014

    This information is awesome! Thanks so much for posting – you are my go to website to make the PDFs from Keynote! Thank-you – Thank-you Thank-you!

    1. Reply
      Peter Pappas - September 3, 2014

      Claudia, Glad to be of help – Peter

  13. Reply
    Simon - February 15, 2015

    Hi Peter,
    I have used this little pearl of wisdom many times to make nice grey tone printouts from my presentations. Thank you so much.
    This time, however I face a new problem. For whatever reason, when I grey-tone the pages, certain parts (some embedded images etc) remain in full colour. This is still the case even after reducing the file size. I end up with a largely grey-toned handout with several colour images.
    I though it might just be a memory cache problem, but it doesn’t appear to be.
    Any ideas?



    1. Reply
      Peter Pappas - February 15, 2015

      Glad to have been of help in the past, but this problem stumps me.

      I’ve stopped printing out handouts. I usually create a Google site for each presentation with links for more info and then add a PDF handout that they can view. I leave that in color. Easier than printing and ultimately more useful to attendees. Here’s a sample.

      BTW – Google sites can be cloned so I can readily customize new ones without starting from scratch.


  14. Reply
    Ian Dunsford - March 15, 2015

    Thanks Peter. I’ve managed to get a +60Mb handout PDF down to around 2Mb (and still in colour) thanks to your article. I’m now wondering if this can be scripted/automated.

    1. Reply
      Peter Pappas - March 16, 2015

      Ian, Glad to hear it worked out. I’m not a script guy, but I’ll bet someone could figure it out.
      Cheers, Peter

  15. Reply
    Robert - April 5, 2016

    Where is the option to create a workbook in keynote?

    Thanks, Robert

    1. Reply
      Peter Pappas - April 5, 2016

      Not sure what you mean by “workbook”

Leave a Reply

Scroll to top
%d bloggers like this: