Utility software

Pod Presenting

Every seasoned presenter knows that if you’re giving an important PowerPoint or Keynote presentation, you should have a backup—you never know when your computer might go kaput or your presentation files might turn problematic. Although bringing a copy of your slideshow on CD, DVD, or flash memory card is always a good approach, if something goes wrong with your computer, you still have to find another computer to use, and fast. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to bring a second “presentation system” with you?

If you’ve got an iPod photo, you can do exactly that: You can put your presentation right on the iPod photo as a slideshow and bring it along as your backup; if necessary, you just hook the iPod photo up to a TV or video projector and proceed with the slideshow without breaking your stride.

In “ Inside the iPod Photo,” from the February issue of Macworld , we explained how to manually export PowerPoint slides as images and then import those images into iPhoto to recreate your presentation. We also noted that since Keynote (v1 at the time) doesn’t let you export as images, it’s easier to export Keynote presentations to PowerPoint format first.

The good news is that Keynote 2 allows you to export slides as images. But the better news is that a utility we recommended in that article for automating this process is now even better. ZappTek’s $18 iPresent It v1.1.1 (   ) takes care of the entire process for you—converting your Keynote or PowerPoint presentation to images, optimizing those images for the iPod photo, and even importing those images into a new album in iPhoto, if desired.

Using iPresent it is very easy: First you drag your presentation file into the iPresent it slideshow list (or press the + key and navigate to the file). Then you choose whether to save the resulting slideshow to iPhoto or to a folder. (If you sync your iPod photo with iPhoto albums, choose the iPhoto option; if you instead have iTunes set to sync photos from a folder on your hard drive, choose the Folder option and then navigate to that folder.) Finally, you click the Create Slideshow(s) button to start the conversion process.

iPresent It window

Because iPresent It uses AppleScript to do much of its work, you’ll actually see the steps occur before your eyes. For example, in the case of a Keynote presentation, Keynote will launch if it’s not already running, the file will be opened, and you’ll see Keynote’s various export dialogs appear and disappear as iPresent It does its work. Then iPresent It creates the actual slideshow, naming files so that they appear in the correct order on your iPod photo. Finally, the slideshow is either saved to the designated folder or imported into a new album in iPhoto (depending on your preferences). When the process is complete, you simply use iTunes to sync the slideshow to your iPod photo.

One drawback of iPresent It is that the resulting iPod photo slideshows don’t support animation (builds and transitions). This isn’t really the fault of iPresent It—the iPod photo supports only still images, whereas builds and transitions are usually motion-based. If your presentation is in Keynote 2 format, iPresent It can approximate builds by creating a separate slide for each stage of the build—for example, if you have a slide with four lines of text that appear in stages, one at a time, iPresent It will create five slides, one with no text, one with the first line of text, and so on. However, if you’re using PowerPoint or Keynote 1 and want builds, you’ll need to manually create multiple slides in the original presentation, one slide for each stage of the build.

iPresent It isn’t limited to a single presentation; if you add multiple presentation files to the slideshow list, iPresent It will create a new slideshow for each. iPresent It also keeps track of changes to presentations; if you make a change to a slideshow, the next time you launch iPresent It, the slideshow list will mark that slideshow with blue bullet, letting you know that it needs to be updated; click Create Slideshow(s) to replace the current slideshow with the updated version. Similarly, if you remove a presentation from the list in iPresent It, the next time you sync your iPod photo, that slideshow will be removed from iPhoto or the designated folder—and, thus, your iPod, as well.

If your job (or grade) depends on presentations and you’ve got an iPod photo, iPresent It is a handy tool for making sure those presentations go off without a hitch. Just don’t forget to bring your iPod photo’s AV cable!

[End note: I should also point out that iPresent It can be useful even if you don’t have an iPod photo. If you use the option to save a slideshow to a folder, the resulting JPEG images are perfectly formatted and named for saving to disc, flash memory, iDisk, or digital camera—all great options for keeping an extra copy of your slides handy.]

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