How to import presentations to Keynote on your iPad

This tutorial will guide you through the steps required to import presentations to Keynote for your iPad.

It’s actually quite easy – it’s just not as ‘obvious’ as Apple makes most things.

  1. Connect your iPad to your PC or Mac. In iTunes, select your iPad from the Devices list.
  2. Select the Apps tab from your iPad Settings window.
  3. Scroll down to the File Sharing section. From the Apps list in the File Sharing section, select Keynote. In the Keynote Documents section you’ll now see a list of all the presentations that Keynote for the iPad currently has “saved”. Unless you’ve already created some Keynote presentations on your iPad, nothing will be listed.

    To upload (import) a presentation to your iPad so you can edit it with Keynote, click the Add… button.

  4. file sharing section of itunes with keynote highlighted
    click to enlarge

  5. Navigate presentation that you want to copy to your iPad to edit or view in Keynote for iPad. Note: you can only edit Keynote ’09 or Microsoft PowerPoint presentations with Keynote for iPad. Select that file and click Choose.
  6. select a file dialog box
    click to enlarge

  7. Your presentation will now appear in the Keynote Documents section.
  8. keynotes documents section of itunes
    click to enlarge

  9. Launch Keynote on your iPad and tap the Import icon (the little folder in the upper-right corner of the screen).
  10. keynote for the ipad introduction screen
    click to enlarge

  11. Tap the presentation you just uploaded to your iPad.
  12. keynote for the ipad import presentation screen
    click to enlarge

  13. Keynote for the iPad will now import and process your uploaded presentation.
  14. keynote for ipad importing a presentation
    click to enlarge

  15. Depending on the contents of the presentation and which app it was created with, you may get a warning about incompatible fonts or other features that will slightly alter the look of the presentation. If this happens, click the Done button (and remember to review your presentation to make sure the look hasn’t changed too dramatically).
  16. keynote for ipad import warnings
    click to enlarge

  17. And now you can view and edit the presentation with Keynote for iPad.
  18. a presentation file open in keynote for ipad
    click to enlarge

  19. When you return to your complete list of presentations, it will be included.
  20. list of all presentations in keynote for ipad
    click to enlarge

  21. That’s it!
{ 33 comments… add one }
  • Matthias Friedrich April 8, 2010, 12:51 pm

    Very well done!
    Thank you

  • Danny Finch April 12, 2010, 10:57 am

    Great tutorial! On the subject of fonts: will iPad import fonts contained in a KeyNote file that are not default iPad OS fonts?

  • Andreas April 12, 2010, 3:46 pm

    wonderfull. but how do i import a keynote file that someone send me to a Pc to the itunes…. it looks ike a folder in a pc ?????????????? can anyone help here ?


  • Ross McKillop April 12, 2010, 3:59 pm

    Danny – no idea. Great question, but I have no idea. I’ll check the manual/help files later and see if they answer it there.

    Andreas – can you provide a bit more detail – I’m not entirely sure what the issue you’re having is. Someone sent you a Keynote file, and you want to… ?

  • lee May 7, 2010, 12:48 pm

    THANKS! Works great…one thing … took me a second to find the Apps screen on the iTunes b/c I had to scroll down. You can see in your illustration that it’s below the All Apps list. I thought something was wrong.

  • Keli June 2, 2010, 11:59 pm

    Thanks for the great tutorial. Is it possible to have a keynote file show up on my ipad menu so that it looks like an app, then you press it and it goes to presentation mode? Is this wishful thinking? Thanks!

  • Miles Bresee June 4, 2010, 10:33 am

    Just got the iPad and Keynote. Somehow In error I deleted the Keynote ‘how to’ introduction to using Keynote. Does anyone know how to get it back? Or should I delete Keynote and download another copy from the iTunes store? Thanks, Miles

  • Martin June 14, 2010, 7:12 am

    Again in english:
    Starting as “Simle Help”
    but coming up with a list of steps that would easyly fit for the configuration manual of some microsoft server

    Lot’s of work for a presentation

  • Roberto June 27, 2010, 9:25 pm

    There are some changes when importing. OK, I can live with them. But there’s one I can’t. I create on a mac, in keynote, and when I send to my iPad it goes without sounds. Why?

  • Ross McKillop June 28, 2010, 4:51 am

    Roberto – I find it a bit odd myself. I expect with future updates to the Keynote for iPad app that issue will be fixed.

  • Jake August 26, 2010, 8:33 am

    Warren Haynes rules my face! Caught him up at Artscape in Baltimore this summer. Still, and forever shredding. Thanks for the tutorial too!

  • Jim October 5, 2010, 1:02 pm

    I have followed all of the steps and the upload starts and gets about 75% done and then it goes to the start screen and the ppt. is not there any suggestions?

  • Jake October 5, 2010, 1:08 pm

    Has any had problems with the VGA connector? It makes Keynote presentations crash left and right. The problem is a huge time vampire as no matter what you do, it will still crash. Pretty infuriating that is simply doesn’t work the way it should. And is keynote the program that will display onto a projector? Apps for this?

  • Paul October 16, 2010, 11:52 am

    Hi, can anyone help? I tried all the different files – keynote, ppt, pptx, xls, xlsx and added to itune. after sync i do not see the ‘open’ folder in ipad (??). is there something wrong with my apps?

  • MoorePhotos October 20, 2010, 5:12 am

    Excellent tip – many thanks.

  • Ricardo October 27, 2010, 9:28 pm

    Hi.I’ve been using this method with sucess, but today the import icon does not appear when I open the iPad keynote. My presentation appears in the iTunes sharing window normally, but I can´t import it. If someone knows why, I would appreciate a lot. Thanks.

  • Don January 21, 2011, 8:31 pm

    That was probably the way to go back when this was written. It’s much easier now using Dropbox. For anybody who doesnt already have it, Dropbox is a free app and dang useful for wireless file transfer. The free account is limited in how many files you can have in the cloud, but still it’s somewhere around a gig. Plenty for most iPad projects.

    Hope this helps somebody.

  • Don January 21, 2011, 8:52 pm


    No, you only have iPad’s default fonts to work with. I’m hoping that gets changed in the near future. I’m a graphic designer and font addict.

  • Don January 21, 2011, 8:56 pm

    @Miles Bresee

    You’ll need to delete and reinstall Keynote to get the tutorial back. No big deal.

  • Don January 24, 2011, 3:20 pm

    I checked out the files direct link. Free storage never costs a monthly fee. I assume you were referring to their 30 day free trial?

  • niels January 25, 2011, 8:42 am

    It seems as if the upload to keynote on the ipad doesn’t work if you’re using itunes on windows. As .key is a folder when viewed from windows, the “add” button in itunes will open that folder and unfortunately it’s not importing the presentation.

  • John March 11, 2011, 9:02 pm

    My Keynote for iPad has no folder in the top right corner to import the presentation. What’s going on, it’s driving me insane!?

  • niels March 12, 2011, 7:33 am

    FYI: The trick with with keynotes showing up as a folder (e.g. itunes on windows) is to zip that whole folder for example with winzip. Afterwards you can add that zip to the itunes/keynote app as described above. And you can even drag and drop the zip to itunes. Itunes “eats” the zip extension and uploads the keynote as expected.

  • Nathaniel March 18, 2011, 3:17 pm

    One thing you might point out is that this seems to act more like an email attachment than like a file sync. If I copy a keynote presentation from my iMac to my iPad and then work on it some more on the iMac, simply resynchronizing the iPad does *not* update the keynote file on the iPad.

    This is worth mentioning because in iTunes, the file remains in the Filesharing pane. It looks like it’s still being shared. But I have to delete the file from iTunes and “reattach” it–and then synchronize–in order to update the file on the iPad.

    Dropbox may be a better option.

  • c. kwok April 1, 2011, 11:57 pm

    thank you so much — it’s been a great help!

  • Kathy June 8, 2011, 9:11 am

    Thanks so much! I spent two days trying to upload a ppt to Keynote on my ipad with no success. Concise, easy to understand directions.

  • Sid March 6, 2012, 10:38 pm

    Thanks Peeps

  • chaseup March 6, 2013, 2:50 pm

    I have not gotten past step 1. I connected my Ipad to my pc but where do I find “devices” on the ipad or the pc?

  • Sylvie August 2, 2013, 11:47 pm

    I am so close, when I go into Keynote, I can see the presentation, but it’s faded and won’t allow me to select it, what am I missing?

  • Kayla November 11, 2013, 10:19 am

    This happened to me too, you have to make sure it is a PPT file not a PDF

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