Is there a way to have keynote play full screen on one display and just let me have access to my desktop on a second display? It always shows the presenter notes. I want to just be able to access my desktop while the presentation is running.


7 Answers 7


I had a similar problem and found a surprisingly simple workaround on the Apple Support Forum (https://discussions.apple.com/thread/5522746?tstart=0)

I needed a way to show my presentation on a webinar and still have access to the webinar control panel so I can see questions when they come in without having to close the presentation first.

The SOLUTION: You basically just need to export your completed Keynote presentation as an HTML file and open it in a browser. Then simply make it full screen on the screen or projector you're showing it on.

I used Chrome and found that the address bar still appeared in full screen view. To fix this I simple unchecked the "Always show toolbar in full screen" option in Chrome's View menu.

Solved the problem for me. Transitions worked too.

I know this thread is pretty old but I hope that helps someone searching for help with now (like I was)

  • just tested that Didn't even know that feature existed. Solve the problem and is super handy to have an HTML file of the slideshow. Only own side I saw was it constraints the slide and does't take up the whole screen when I full screen. Any way to fix that?
    – Dash
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 20:29
  • Similarly to this solution, one can export as a pdf, select to include all the transitions, and then open the pdf in Preview and enable the slideshow view.
    – iled
    Commented Sep 13, 2018 at 16:20
  • This is good, but there has to be a better way from Apple. Especially if it is a collab keynote - you might not have time to export. Commented Dec 14, 2021 at 10:01

This issue has been bugging me for ages. However, Apple has finally updated Keynote, half-assed but still.

In Keynote 10.1, there is finally the Play > Play Slideshow in Window option which does exactly that.

You'll have a window (where still the window bar shows up when you move the mouse, well done Apple!) with your presentation, you can resize it and move it wherever you want, share it with Zoom or another video conference tool and still be able to see your Desktop.


After tons of research around the web, I found a way to run other applications while running a Keynote presentation. Within Keynote's preferences, be sure the box for "Allow Expose, Dashboard, and others to use the screen." Next, set up Mission Control (formerly known as Spaces) do have your Keynote window on Desktop-1 and your other application's window on Desktop-2. Now hit "Play". At any point during the presentation, press "F" (to pause the slide show); Command-2 (to switch to your alternate application); Command-1 (to switch back to Keynote); and Space Bar (to resume). Your clients will see only one slide for the duration, and will not see anything you are doing on virtual Desktop-2.


There's a new option in Keynote that allow you to present in a window.

Menu Play -> Play Slideshow in Window.

You can also add that option to the toolbar by right-clicking on the toolbar.


Although Keynote can't, there are other options to keep your computer free for use. Transitions and some media may not work identically to Keynote on macOS.

iOS: You can have a pair of iOS devices doing the presentation (one to control, one to present). Then your computer is free to you to use during the presentation.

Virtual Machine: setup a virtual machine—like VirtualBox, Parallels, or VMWare—and have that virtual machine use one or two monitors and have the other monitor(s) free for use.

Export to Web: @Ricky gave a good description of how to export to web and view in a web browser.

  • Thanks. That is what I figured when I could not easily find a setting
    – Dash
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 16:51

I couldn't find a way to do get the second screen to become usable, either. However, there are more alternatives that may work for you.

  1. Switch to full-screen mode in Keynote (Ctrl+Cmd+F). You can now hide the navigator bar (the slide previews on the left) and the Format/Animate/Document settings bar (on the right). This way you are left with the main bar (on top), but it's pretty close to full screen. The biggest problem is that you can not "play" the slides this way (so, no animations or transitions), but you can play videos in this view (double click).

  2. Export the slides to QuickTime and play them as a full-screen movie. You may have press pause/play a lot, but it works. Just play the QuickTime movie in full screen on whichever display you want. (Alternatively, export them to HTML and use your browser in full screen mode or even PDF, if you don't have animations, videos or transitions).

  • This works fine, except that it also shows the hidden slides (where I sometimes have answers to questions to questions asked in clase. Commented Apr 23, 2020 at 11:16

The best way I've been able to do this is to have Spaces turned on, start the presentation, then use Exposé to take the presenter's display from the second screen and drag it to the primary monitor (same one that is doing the presentation). However, be aware that clicking on anything on your desktop will loose focus of Keynote.

You could potentially use PowerPoint and start the presentation in a Window using the Slide Show > Set Up Show menu, but you'd have to use PowerPoint.

Another option that I've seen mentioned, but not in this thread, is doing an export to QuickTime and using the Manual Advance feature. You'll be limited though by not being able to do last minute edits.

  • Old question, I know, but what is the QuickTime "Manual Advance feature"? Do you just mean hit play and pause a lot, and maybe drag the progress slider around?
    – rjmunro
    Commented May 22, 2020 at 11:04
  • Honestly, I’m not sure what I meant with that. Maybe just use the arrow keys to advance the video manually?
    – wilsjd
    Commented May 22, 2020 at 16:17
  • > Manual Advance creates a video file that can be clicked on to advance the builds and slides. creativepro.com/export-keynote-presentations-movie "Manual Advance" is a specific feature of Quicktime, so you can google it to learn more about it. Who knew!
    – Tronathan
    Commented Jun 9, 2020 at 18:50
  • Huzzah! That must be something I used a while ago. I didn't even remember. Thanks!
    – wilsjd
    Commented Jun 16, 2020 at 21:19

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