When I was in the middle of teaching class, using Keynote, my presentation was disrupted when TextExpander discovered there was an update available and threw up a dialog box asking if I would like to download the update. Obviously, this was the wrong time to ask me. In the past, I've had a similar experience with Time Machine ("It has been 10 days since your computer was last backed up with Time Machine").

I certainly can keep TextExpander from intruding by turning off the automatic checks for updates. I could do the same with all other programs that have such update checks. I'm not sure I can turn off the Time Machine request, other than by making sure to back it up frequently.

However, the automatic updates are a really nice feature. I like having my apps updated and I don't want to make a chore out of going out and discovering if I have updates available. To a certain extent, the App Store update process may make the update maintenance easier, but I'm sure I'll always have apps that aren't MAS available.

So, is there a general way to ensure my Keynote presentation time is uninterrupted? Perhaps something I can run during the presentation to block update requests? Or a setting somewhere to keep Keynote from paying attention to any update requests?

  • Subscribing to this question since I've been wondering the same thing for quit a while now!
    – Michiel
    Mar 28, 2012 at 12:47

4 Answers 4


So, is there a general way to ensure my Keynote presentation time is uninterrupted?

Unless I know I'll absolutely need network access, I just turn off all network interfaces while I'm giving presentations. This effectively blocks any auto-update routines from running without having to disable and then re-enable the feature in any piece of software I might want to use during my talk.

I'll also shut down all the programs I don't absolutely need running during a presentation. In particular email, instant message and any sort of communication apps that could cause a notification bell or a preview to pop up on my screen get shut down.

I'll pause Growl (Growl icon in menu bar -> Pause Growl) so notifications don't interrupt my presentation.

And I'll switch from any customized backgrounds I might have to some corporate logo backgrounds.

I'll even clear my browser history. Not that there'd be anything lewd, but there might be competitor's websites or company-sensitive information that can be given away by URLs that auto-complete when I start to type in the browser.

That's my usual pre-flight check before I use my laptop in public presentation.


For "big" presentations I run Keynote and give the preso from a separate demo account. I have a docked folder of shortcuts to things I might need—DropBox account, webmail access to my email, etc.—but the only login items for that account are Caffeine and Quicksilver.

If I'm giving a workflow demo I do sometimes use my main account, and generally follow Ian's suggestions for sanatizing it prior to the demo.

  • I've actually installed the OS on a new partition and installed just the bare minimum needed for the presentation before for particularly important presentations, and then disable internet access for that OS install. Then I practice a lot to make sure nothing unexpected happens to the machine (or me!) that I haven't already seen while practicing.
    – Adam Davis
    Mar 28, 2012 at 14:44
  • 1
    A demo account is a good idea.
    – Ian C.
    Mar 28, 2012 at 14:54

I often run the presentation with extended screens, rather than mirror. Not only does this show keynote notes on the main screen with handy timers and such, but it also generally means that notifications that do pop up go to the laptop screen, and not to the presentation screen.

This is in addition to closing all other software, and running software I need during the presentation just before so that I find out of there's an update available that will bother me when I first try to use the software.

  • 1
    I do this, and the update dialog does pop up on the "presenter" display. Unfortunately, it also stops the slideshow and Keynote goes back to slide-editing mode.
    – Bill Nace
    Mar 28, 2012 at 15:29

This is the best solution:

Turning off notification center temporarily

I had a music presentation that, while the screen interruptions wouldn't pop up, the sound would duck to accommodate the chime. Thankfully, the screen badges and notifications didn't invade, but the audience dipping in the middle of the music was distracting.

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