How to View Keynote Presentation Files Without Keynote Installed on Mac Using Preview

Jul 9, 2012 - 4 Comments

View Keynote presentations in Preview app without having Keynote installed

If you don’t have Keynote installed on a Mac but you need to view a keynote presentation slides or a keynote file, don’t fret – you can view them all directly in Preview, the bundled image app in Mac OS X.

Nothing special is required for this, just download a keynote presentation (.key file extension) and double-click the .key Keynote File to launch the slides into Preview

You can also drag and drop the keynote file into Preview app of Mac OS, if you have Preview already open, in the Dock, or if you have the Applications directory open as well.

From there you can view each slide independently, and if you put Preview into Full Screen mode you can even view the presentation as a slide show.

You won’t be able to make changes to the presentation slides, but if all you need to do is review slides this is more than adequate and saves you a couple bucks instead of buying the Keynote app.

The Preview application is located in the /Applications directory of Mac OS and comes bundled on every Mac.

This has been tested and confirmed to work in MacOS Catalina, macos Mojave, High Sierra, MacOS Sierra, El Capitan, OS X Yosemite, Mavericks, OS X Lion and OS X Mountain Lion, it may work in past versions but I just accidentally stumbled across it when looking at the 7″ iPad templates.

If you’re having difficulties or want to try on an older version of Mac OS X, try forcing Preview to open the file by holding down the command+option keys while dragging the .key document onto the Preview apps icon the Dock.


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Richard says:

    Yes, I like it but you have a problem with transitions, additional fonts and gradients. Better is to always export it to pdf.

  2. David says:

    Safari in iOS loads Keynote docs too

  3. Alex says:

    FYI Quick Look and Safari also opens the Keynote files. I never use Keynote to build anything, it’s wonderful that Apple gives us a way to see the documents without purchasing the software. Quite different than a certain Redmond company!

    • Bob Beechey says:

      A Powerpoint viewer is free from Microsoft if you do not have Office installed on your Windows machine. Websites are available to coinvert the .key file to .pptx. The resulting viewing experience reserves transitions and i superior to viewing on Mac with Preview. Believe me, I tried the free Mac option and was very disappointed. The free Microsft option worked well.

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