In short, how do I make a Keynote template/theme with custom data (unique to that presentation) shown on every slide, and also support masters for a variety of layouts, without the author needing to edit every master every time they start a new presentation.

From this question on setting a common background for all masters, I can see that Keynote does not provide the same "Inheritance of Masters" feature that Powerpoint provides, so every Master is effectively starting from scratch, and each slide can only use a single master as its base.

My problem with this is that I want to make a template for my organisation that includes the following metadata on most (or all, if need be) slides:

  • A company logo — an image, but the same every time
  • The presenter's name — different for each person
  • A name for the presentation / event — different for each file
  • Logos/names of collaborators/sponsors/etc — often different for each file

The problem seems to be that Keynote uses masters for slide layout as well as the theme, without allowing any separation of the two.

If users are to have an easy way of getting a Title Page / Section Title / Single column slide / Two-column slide / etc, each of these need to be a fully unique master, with all the above information on it. This means the user needs to add their name + event name + logos to every single master, each time they start a new presentation. And if they miss one, then it won't be obvious but a few slides here and there (with that particular master) will have the wrong metadata.

Expected Solutions — I'd expect Keynote to support something like the following, but it does not seem to...

Pages has a feature that lets you "merge" information into the document (e.g. custom fields or from address book), which would be perfect for this, because you'd just set the metadata for the file once and never have to touch masters.

Powerpoint offers "hierarchical" or "inherited" masters (not sure exactly what they call it), which means you can put the basic info common to everything on a single master, and then set up layout slides based on that master, so changing the event or author is at least a single edit of the master(s).

Another method I can imagine would be to allow multiple masters applied to a single slide, so you apply the base for the metadata and then a layout master for the arrangement of titles/columns/images/etc.

Keynote does not seem to provide any of these methods of achieving this... Have I missed something? This seems like a pretty poor design of slide masters to me. I'm hoping that this is just a case of Apple being too minimalistic in their design for me to have picked up the subtle, elegant solution... but would have expected it to match Pages so am not very hopeful.

1 Answer 1


I ran into this same problem and spent two days searching for it.

My eventual answer: Install VirtualBox. In a virtual machine install windows XP, then install office and power point. This also gave me Access, an applicationf or which there is no good mac equivalent.

  • 1
    Sadly, Keynote has some significant limitations, and Apple seems to have no interest in fixing them.
    – vy32
    Nov 3, 2015 at 14:01

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