Mac users: Avoid Keynote 09 for Flash

Some questions from blog readers have alerted me to the fact that when Apple “upgraded” Keynote 08 to create Keynote 09, they removed the ability to export slideshows as interactive Flash files. I’ve written a bit on this blog about how great it is that you can export from Keynote to Flash but…now you can’t! So:

  • If you currently have Keynote 08, don’t upgrade.
  • If you’re new to the Mac, you’ll get iWork 09 by default, which contains the unfortunate Keynote 09. You could buy iWork 08 through eBay or a similar outlet. Current prices appear to be $16-55.

Some posts in discussion forums suggest that you can export Keynote 09 slideshows as QuickTime files and then save those as Flash, but apparently you lose all interactivity, so there’s no point.

Shame on Apple for again removing useful features during an “upgrade.” iMovie recently suffered a similar fate. I don’t understand Apple’s reasoning at all.

Some more complex alternatives could be Adobe Captivate for Mac, which is looking for beta testers, and Techsmith’s Camtasia Studio for Mac, which is scheduled to be released in mid-2009.


  1. Preetam Rai says:

    I was one of those used to use the export to Flash feature a lot. I was also upset that export to Flash is missing from Keynote 2009. But it does export interactive quicktime files. i.e. you can create buttons and make it jump around the movie. So in effect it still works the same way but the output format is not Flash.

  2. Cathy Moore says:

    Thanks for your comment, Preetam. Have you had any trouble using the QuickTime files with learners? For example, I often embed SWF files in HTML pages, and no one has trouble using them because the Flash player is ubiquitous. I’m concerned that if I used QuickTime format, people would have to download a QuickTime player and would, basically, complain or require additional tech support. Am I worrying unnecessarily?

  3. I think Apple may be separating from Adobe as far as Flash in concerned. The new 3.0 OS for iphone/ipod touch doesn’t even support flash! And when you think about it you have to download a new version of flash every time it updates yeah it might be a hassle but it just looks like Apple is making some interesting and specialized updates for QuickTime. Hopefully the files are smaller than Flash. I don’t think you’re worrying unnecessarily, but it is kind of frustrating. Maybe we’ll get something better than Flash!

  4. Rick Presley says:

    The problem with QuickTime for us is that it is not part of the standard corporate desktop. I neither have it, nor can I get it without jumping through a lot of IT hoops, and even then, the outcome is problematic.

    Is there something like YouTube for animations that runs on its own and does not require the installation of a player?

  5. Cathy Moore says:

    To create simple, standalone presentations that don’t need a player, Jing or a similar tool is useful (see It gets complicated when we insist on having interactivity that goes beyond controlling the pace of the presentation, such as letting users click on the widget-winder to learn more about it. Since that type of branching is easy to set up in Keynote, it was easy to create interactive Flashes, but…not anymore.

  6. Preetam Rai says:

    Cathy, I find most people in my regions have iTunes, so the chances are that they have Quicktime player too. I suppose you can include a message that links to the Quicktime download page.

    I have been pestering Adobe people for ages to create an easy to use Keynote like Flash authoring tool but they seem to be more interested in higher -end tools like Flex.

    If you are using PowerPoint, you can use free tools such as iSpring to convert the ppt file to flash format that retains interactivity. iSpring is a windows only solution though.

  7. Richard says:

    Wow! Thanks for the warning. I’m just about to buy a new Mac for more capacity and speed because I’m in the middle of a large elearning project in which many of my pages consist of Keynote to Flash presentations. Course, it has never been perfect in that…
    a) most of the transitions don’t work in the conversion, and
    b) there is no control bar. [If there is HTML to create an added tool bar under the Flash, I don’t know what it is.]

    The “b” has caused me to go to more Quicktime than Flash.

  8. Jenise Cook says:


    Sad news, but you’ve given me some happy news… Camtasia for the Mac? YaY!

    I signed up for the Captivate beta test and hope they choose me.

    I love your blog, and you’re in my blogroll!

    Preetam… I use Articulate Presenter to output my MS PPT 2007 interactions to Flash. A bit clunky, but it works.


  9. wheat says:

    It’s sad that they removed it (I have iWork ’09 and have never used ’08, so I missed out on the fun), but here are a few workarounds:

    If you have Adobe Flash, you can export from Keynote to QuickTime (.mov), import the .mov into Flash, and output to SWF or FLV. I believe even the 30-day trial version of Flash supports this option.

    You can also upload the .mov to YouTube, let them convert it (to FLV), and then use the YouTube-generated embed code in your web page (assuming your learners have access to YouTube).

  10. Cathy Moore says:

    Wheat, thanks for you comment. It sounds like you can get slideshows into Flash that route. My understanding is that if you go the QuickTime route, items on the screen are no longer clickable and you’re reduced to just a Next button. For example, could I put three options on the screen and have the user click the option they want?

  11. wheat says:

    I’ll have to test that. My assumption is that the QuickTime export from Keynote would lose all interactivity (except for hyperlinks, which QT supports). I’m assuming that the YouTube upload/conversion process would also lose the interactivity, but I’d have to test that to be sure. You’ve added two things to my to do list. :)

    For branching scenarios, I’d probably use Captivate instead. And I’m really looking forward to the OS X version of that app, as it’s become one of my favorite tools.

  12. Maarten says:

    It’s really a shame Apple took out this option. I was going to upgrade to iWork’09 but decide now to stay with ’08 to be able to make interactive lessons in flash.
    A new other and cheap solution for learning management system would be also be appreciated.

  13. GM says:
  14. I found a workaround of sorts. Create a webpage with your flash animations- insert a text box link to that page and then you will have the Flash interactivity granted on a web page but there to use with your presentation-tab back to Keynote when done.

  15. MarkyB says:

    I was gutted to discover this today after updating to iWork ’09 recently. I’ll be reinstalling my old ’08 version right away.

    I used to be a Flash expert back in my freelance era, but these days mostly use Keynote to quickly create small interactive Flash media for my organisations website.

    Exporting to Quicktime is NOT a solution to me.

    QT creates a bitmap based video file. Flash is not just about video – it is on the whole a vector-based format with excellent real-time animation and interactivity, meaning file sizes are very small (especially if you only have vector artwork and text). Flash SWFs are emminently scaleable and retain their quality without compression artifacts (unless you have embedded images/video).

    99% of the world has Flash installed on computers, and not just for Youtube videos. Quicktime requires the installation of the full QT package, a huge download, and the plugin is a media player, not a seamless interactive element on a webpage.

    Apple’s irrational hatred of Flash is perhaps just cynical revenue protection for their iPhone/iPad App Store, meaning people can’t use the multitude of free Flash-based tools, interactive media and games on their mobile devices on the web so have to buy similar ones via Apple.

    I get as annoyed as anyone by the horrendous overuse of Flash banners and video advertising on commercial websites, but as a creative tool for small, interactive media it’s brilliant. And Keynote was a nice easy shortcut to production.

    Thanks for the ‘upgrade’ Apple!

  16. Wheat says:

    Apple has good and bad reasons for keeping Flash off its mobile devices. Now that Apple has lifted the (unreasonable) restriction on Flash as a development tool for iOS apps, Flash developers have a way to create apps for iOS devices. The problem with virtual machines is end users don’t understand them, and any issues with them are seen as issues with the host OS. End users don’t say “damn this Flash plug-in!”. They say “my computer is slow and my browser keeps crashing!”

    Of course, it’s not just a technical problem. There’s clearly bad blood between Adobe and Apple. And neither company is blameless in fostering and continuing it.

  17. eLearning Guru says:

    Apples support and allegiance to streaming video is getting quite absurd.

    Any web server is able to play embedded Flash and that is why anyone would choose to export as Flash in the first place. Most web servers however are not enabled to play streaming movies and shared hosts disallow it because it is too server intensive. Apple clearly understands this and so I also don’t understand Apple’s reasoning at all.

    Apples reasoning does not however surprise me when I observe my Macbook Pro and its total incompatibility with BluRay. Apple presently focuses much of its time directing customers into the iTunes and their online shop. It appears that Flash competes against that.

    If we customers are not careful I would not be surprised if OS X and Safari prevent playing Flash altogether just like other Apple portable devices.

  18. wheat says:

    Flash isn’t a server issue; it’s a client issue. The client has to support playback of the files, and Adobe’s Flash plugins have a long history, on OS X at least, of being buggy and resource intensive. But these issues aside, the main problem is that Flash is a platform unto itself, and Apple doesn’t want to yield control of their platform to a third-party vendor. You can’t run Java or .NET apps on iOS devices either, for similar reasons, but nobody seems to care.

    I like SWF as an output format and use it in all of my Captivate 5 production work, which is consumed primary on desktop and laptop computers, mostly Windows but also OS X.

    There’s no way for OS X to lock out Flash, as you aren’t limited to the App Store for installing applications, as you are on iOS devices. Having to install via the App Store has always been the case for iOS devices and has never been the case for the desktop/laptop version of OS X. Even thought there is now an App Store for OS X, Apple would have a pretty hard time convincing people that they should have to go through it to install apps on their desktops/laptops.

    As for Blue-ray, who cares? Blue-ray is the last gasp of content merchants who can’t admit that web-based delivery is the future, and that they should pay twice as much for it as for the same thing on DVD.

  19. RagingMoose says:

    *sigh* Once again way to go Apple; removing useful features adobe related… I bet it was more trouble removing it than just leaving it there.

    (And put some proper cpu’s in your stuff before you start shouting ‘full web access!’ Like you own the web. Hating on adobe just to keep alive this gimmick app-store-bubble which will be over soon like betamax. The whole powertrip reminds me of… MICROSOFT! During Apple 90’s crisis it was the designers and musicians who kept it alive, but that seems to be long gone forgotten…)

  20. wheat says:

    Wow, lots of irrational Apple hatred and claim chowder all in one post! Apple has been posting some big numbers for a while now. They’re not going anywhere. Even you example is off. Did Sony die when Betamax went under? Nope.

    Apple isn’t under any ethical obligation to support Adobe’s products. Nor is Adobe under any ethical obligation to do the same. That’s the long and the short of it. I like both companies and use products from both of them. Both companies play these sorts of games for strategic advantage. There’s no reason you or I should take it personally.

    As for designers and musicians, I’m a musician and I use Macs for my music production work, and so most musicians I know. Most of my designer friends also use Macs. Macs are still a very popular choice among that demographic.

    What has changed is that Apple products, especially their mobile products, have become tremendously popular with a broad range of consumers, even consumers who use Windows boxes otherwise.


  1. […] produce the slides and SWF, I used Keynote 08 (not Keynote 09!). Keynote is a slide editor for the Mac. You could create the same interaction with PowerPoint and […]