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I am working in Keynote 9.1 (6369).

Apple support shows one can drag-and-drop in an image. But is there really no more direct way to, having clicked on the photo icon in the bottom-right corner of the media placeholder, navigate outside of the Photos or Movies directories? That seems astounding.

Can I set the list of directories from which Keynote allows me to choose images? Or is there a setting to navigate via Finder instead of the default UI for choosing?

If this behavior is improved in the more recent versions of Keynote, that might be close to a reason to upgrade my OS.

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You can add images via the "Insert > Choose…" menu item (bottom-most menu item in the Insert menu). This opens a regular Finder window.
You can also use the corresponding keyboard shortcut Shift-CMD-V.

Keynote Insert Choose

To replace an existing image, you select the image on the slide, choose the "Format > Image" sidebar and then click the "Replace" button (brings up Finder window again).

Keynote Replace

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In Keynote 9.2.1, if you can't find the image you're looking for in the built-in pop-up, you can simply drag and drop an image file from Finder into your slide.

I believe this feature is available in all versions of Keynote.

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