The scenario: I go into class, hook up my laptop to the projector using mini-display port adapter, and fire up Keynote. Keynote opens with it's window on the projected display, showing off the hidden slides or completed builds or slide #42. I'd rather have it open on the laptop display so the only thing my audience sees is the title slide. I then spend two minutes trying to get a mouse over the titlebar so I can pull the window back to my laptop display.

I'm not sure this is a Keynote specific question. I just don't end up using other apps in the classroom.

So, how can I control which display an application will open on when started?

  • I obviously wasn't clear enough with my question. I'm not asking how to control the presentation when the slideshow starts. I'm asking how to control which screen the application starts on when initially launched.
    – Bill Nace
    Sep 13 '11 at 15:53
  • What happens if you fire up Keynote before you connect the projector?
    – guwac
    Oct 23 '12 at 23:29

I did a google search finding this thread because I had the same issue as Bill Nace. I didnt find the answer anywhere so I thought I would share how I resolved it after trial and error.

Keynote seems to open the presentation on the display with the highest resolution.

Since my 'projector' display was the largest resolution when I would open a new keynote file it would open on that screen and then I would have to drag it back to the 'laptop' screen for any editing before starting the presentation. I increased the 'laptop' screen resolution and the keynote files started opening on that screen.


More recent versions of keynote don't have that preference. Instead: start the presentation. On the presenter notes screen you'll see these icons:


Click on the one that's second from the right (that looks like 2 screens being switched :-)

  • THANK YOU! Good tip that is still relevant.
    – beroe
    Jun 11 at 17:19

In Keynote's prefs, under the "Slideshow" tab, there's a pair of radio buttons to set which display to do the presentation on, and which to do the "presenter view" on. Took me a while to find it too, but there it is!

enter image description here

  • Man, how'd I miss that setting when I looked in Keynote prefs? Nice.
    – Ian C.
    Sep 13 '11 at 14:18
  • Dan, this isn't the presentation problem. I actually mean that the app opens on the "secondary" display when it is started. Not when I start the presentation.
    – Bill Nace
    Sep 13 '11 at 15:52
  • Oh. Well... On my multi-screen setups (including moving one laptop to different monitors), applications open themselves in the screen they were on when they closed. Are you saying Keynote does something different?
    – Dan Ray
    Sep 13 '11 at 17:46

Keynote uses the primary display as the display for the audience view. The secondary display is used to show a "presenter view" which shows the current and upcoming slides, an elapsed time timer and anything else you've set up the presenter view to show (to customize this view go to Play -> Customize Presenter Display...). You can turn off the Presenter Display on the secondary monitor by going to Preferences..., clicking on the Presenter Display tab and unchecking the Use alternate display to view presenter information option.

If you want the audience view to appear on the project you need to make the projector display the primary display before you play your Keynote presentation. To change which display is primary and which is secondary, connect your Mac to the projector and then goto to System Preferences -> Displays. Click the Arrangement tab in the settings box on the primary display. Drag the white strip, which represents the menu bar, from the display that is your MacBook, to the display that is the projector. This makes the projector your primary display while it is connected to your MacBook. When you disconnect, the primary display designation returns to the MacBook automatically. Next time you connect to the projector you shouldn't have to go through this -- the MacBook should remember that you liked the projector to be the primary display in this setup.

Changing the primary display when multiple displays are connected to your Macbook

  • Well, that works... but it's the hard way.
    – Dan Ray
    Sep 13 '11 at 13:53

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