iPad Keynote Remote : A Proposal : Part 1

ipad keynote app

So here’s the pitch:

“I will put up £500 of my own money (and invite others to donate also) in an attempt to find someone to develop a bluetooth app/clicker/remote for specific use with the iPad and Keynote app.”

I’m after two things:

  • *iPhone / iPad whizz-kid / developers who fancy a challenge, PLUS
  • other speakers who also have this issue and want to pool some money together to make this a more attractive proposition to be made

*By the way, it doesn’t have to be an iPhone app, just something that works as a clicker with iPad / Keynote over bluetooth AND the solution needs to be done without jailbreaking any device. Why? Well, much of my living is made through speaking at conferences and other events. My weapons of choice :

  • MacBook Pro / Keynote—to make my presentations (and me) look slick
  • Motorola SLVR / Salling Clicker—used in combination to provide a bluetooth clicker and connection because:
    • the infra-red clicker you get with the Mac has insufficient range for someone like me who wanders the stage when talking (as I don’t do lecterns or scripts) plus anyone in the audience could use theirs to forward my slides
    • sometimes the audio / video setup is at the side or back of the stage / venue and therefore the bluetooth connection between the Mac and SLVR gives a range / stability the infra-red could never offer

During my recent stateside trip I bought an iPad (it is glorious btw) but it has one HUGE flaw, its lack of capacity for using any type of remote for the Keynote app (and it’s not just me asking for this pretty obvious piece of functionality). If the missing piece could be found then speakers all over the world could rock up with this fantastic piece of kit and plug and play.

I’ve already laid out the case for the use of bluetooth and not just the existing wifi connection (especially as some venues I speak at don’t have wifi) and I know bluetooth pairing can be achieved between iPhone and iPad as the 2Screens iPhone app plus the 2Screens iPad app demonstrates this.Plus Apple also allows bluetooth pairing with it’s wireless keyboard—maybe some clever peeps could ‘hitch a ride’ using this same ‘profile’?

There’s also a call (in other discussions online) for the iPad screen to support speakers notes, this is neither a priority or concern of mine as don’t use a script, therefore, not something which is needed under this brief.

If you’re interested in either tackling this problem or pledging some money towards finding a solution then leave a comment.



  1. I agree about needing a better remote – I am using my iPad to control keynote on my Mac, but the image quality for the keynote remote app is terrible and you cannot read the bullets very well. It’s time for apple to make it an iPad app

  2. If Keynote on iPad cannot be controlled by a regular keyboard, there’s no way to fix this without modifying it. Modifying involves patching and redistributing the actual Keynote.app under someone else’s developer certificate – which makes it illegal, or, requires a Jailbreak, e.g. usually with a MobileSubstrate extension. You might have to change the rules for this to happen :)

  3. JT – didn’t know you could control your Mac with the iPad, how are you doing that, with an app?MR – appreciate the insight and information here. As someone with no coding experience I guess I was naive in thinking it was possible… I’m hoping someone else will pop up to prove us both wrong ;-)

  4. “didn’t know you could control your Mac with the iPad”There are many programs that use wifi to control a Mac with an iPhone iPad. My favourite is jfControl :http://itunes.apple.com/app/jfcontrol-allround-remote/id293761520?mt=8However, as this page states, wifi is not always available for presentations so direct buletooth between devices is preferred. That is more difficult – particularly since it has been reported that the Apple ipad (wired) keyboard will not control iPad Keynote (so a bluetooth program that simulated key presses is unlikely to work).

  5. Hi, I was wondering if there has been any progress in developing an app or is there another solution for the ipad remote yet?

  6. This morning I was looking for an answer to control my presentations on my iPad with my iPhone. I’m happy to see there is forming a community of people with the same issues. Please keep up the good work

  7. Thanks for the link but I think you missed the point a little – we were after remotes specifically for the Keynote app on the iPad :-)

  8. It’s my understanding that the problem lies in the keynote program itself. Although some apps currently respond to Bluetooth page up/page down commands, keynote on the iPad does not. There is currently a product made by airturn called the bt-105 that turns pages in a number of music related apps, but I don’t think keynote has that functionality. What really needs to happen is that apple needs to open up this functionality in the iPad version of keynote. I have read some posts that suggest that apple is dragging their feet because enabling that functionality on keynote for ipad would somehow open up the iPad in ways that apple doesn’t want it open. There are also several apps currently available that claim to allow you to control presentations if you convert them to PDF format although I haven’t tried this yet. I have experimented with connecting my Microsoft Bluetooth presenter mouse to my iPad (which I’m a huge fan of BTW) but I have yet to get them talking. Great idea by the way, although I think we should all be asking Apple to help us out on this one. The hardware is already out there.

  9. Grant – seems so sir, here’s hoping Apple opens up the functionality, we’ll just have to wait and see… As an aside, been playing round with the ‘2screens’ iPad app (plus ‘2Screens’ iPhone remote) and it certainly can present using pdfs (with remote forwarding the action) although I use a lot of short video in my presentations therefore this option is out for me, maybe good for others :-)

  10. Hey Tom – thanks for you suggestion on the comp-to-comp network to use the iPhone remote – how would one go about setting that up? Is there a how-to online somewhere you know about? Thanks

  11. Hi, I am quite disappointed by Keynote on the iPad. I would love to use the iPad as a remote to control Keynote on the mac, but not with a magnified iPhone app. There could be so many more useful features on the iPad… If I understood correctly, everyone seems to agree here about the need to be in a wifi-equiped venue to use the keynote remote app on the iPhone. That’s not true, it works perfectly on an ad-hoc comp to comp network set up on the mac. That’s actually quite useful and far better than a bluetooth connection.

  12. Many thanks for the extra info here Tom – appreciated – now if there was only a way ‘create a network’ on the iPad you could use the Remote iPhone app with it… doh!

  13. Well, on a mac it’s very easy : click on the wifi icon at the right of the menu bar and choose “create network” or something like that, I don’t have my mac with me. There you give the network a name, and a password if you feel like it (recommanded). Your network will appear in the Wifi networks list on your iPhone (or iPad, even without a specific remote app, ar any device that can do wifi…) so select it and connect to it on the phone. Enter password if necessary.Two things from my experience with an iPhone as a keynote remote : – You may have to fiddle with the security settings in system preferences on the mac to make it work. I would recommand to deactivate your firewall during the lecture. Don’t forget to reactivate it after.- You can use the “plane” setting to cut all communication protocols on the phone (so that your presentation cannot be interrupted by a phone call), and then activate only the Wifi in the phone’s network settings.It works quite well !

  14. I’d like to be able to control keynote as well from the BT keyboard/trackpad/mouse. Seems that ‘translating’ incoming keys/swipes to UI events in iPad is needed, because keynote operates with touch-controls only. However …. possibly key-mapping would be able to emulate specific touchscreen/trackpad events into various applications including keynote.I think there’s quite a bit of interest, and there are a few development groups working on it already ?Not sure of their progress though.

  15. btw. BTstack mouse works with Magic Mouse, at it can be used to select the app, start the presentation …. and then _forward_ (only) while walking the room. Sadly… no ‘previous’ or ‘go to’ functions work with the mouse ….And the BTstack mouse has a quirk of not wanting to ‘click’ in every area of the screen. Possibly that has something to do with the raster/resolution of iPad relative to its iPhone origin and resolution.So … even the mouse part needs tweaking to make it effective as a remote on a jailbroken 4.2.1

  16. gdraanen – thanks for your contribution. Can’t find any progress reports out there and if you haven’t already please read the comments as there seems to be a growing consensus it can’t be done anyway. Was aware of the Magic Mouse and BTstack combo but as detailed in the blog post don’t want to jailbreak the iPad. Here’s hoping a future version will have this functionality…

  17. Keynote only supports taps, so the keyboard will not work, or anything mimicking a keyboard. Apple puposesly limits Bluetooth pairing for few reasons I’m guessing: (1) prevent tethering through phones, non apple devices, and devices from competitive phone carriers, (2) for security purposes to prevent malicious access especially for novice users, (3) limit inventive usages of iPad in ways apple deems not appropriate for the user experience ( i.e. use iPad only in ways app,e feels you SHOULD use the iPad).I havent developed for NeXTSTEP or Cocoa, so I’m unfamiliar with the new platform. If keynote/iPad support being puppeteered through Apple events, then some application could cleanly control it. Else the only other way is to maybe edit configuration files to wire in the functionality (like adding a cmd-Key combination for some functionality, then wiring the arrow keys to send that key combo). If the apple event or other method to flip through slides in a manner that doesn’t violate EULA (even if legal violation under precedence based legal system), then some networking app would need to communicate the commands. Apple pretty much locks down everything, so the only way would be to con act a server through wifi, which would the accept commands from that server (sort of reverse networking like gotomymeeting does or hackers sometimes do with net cat). This way the iPad would connect to a wifi device as a client, and that drive once connected would send commands to to advance the slides.

  18. Hi all – just found this thread and am very grateful to you for your contributions. I too am a presenter and “assumed” (silly me) that the iPhone and iPad would naturally talk together and I could use the phone to control keynote on the ipad. Alas, as you’ve observed, no joy. I have a PC and use powerpoint on it so far and find the “airmouse” app for the iphone to work a treat. Just saying “thanks”.

  19. Hi all, I have been enjoying this discussion, and though I have no answers I greatly appreciate all of the interest in this topic. I am using an ipad at work as a teleprompter, using the pro-prompter app. This app enables you to control the ipad teleprompter with an iphone…similar to what we are trying to accomplish here. I’m sure Apple has it all planned out, and they will decide when we are able to do this. Thanks!

  20. With Point, you use your iPhone to Bluetooth remote control your iPad presentation slides and adjust your iPad volume.Here are some features from this amazing app:For your iPad• Import and display JPEG slides.• Rearrange the order of JPEG slides.• VGA output to the projector or external monitor.• Swipe gestures to move forward or backward.• 10-hour battery life with WiFi & 3G turned off.• Show current slide when connected to an external display.• Multi-touch gestures (swipe, rotate, zoom).For your iPhone• Remote control slides on iPad.• Remote control iPad volume.• 18-hour battery life with WiFi & 3G turned off.• Multi-touch gestures (swipe, rotate, zoom).

  21. Apple needs to let their creations evolve. This is such an obvious need. I hope they will allows users and developers to help shape apples future..As for now it seems Cydia may be the only answer.

  22. I’m hoping that Apple creates an iPad-Keynote remote too. I’ve used my iPad’s Keynote for presentations, and had to keep holding on to my iPad the whole time for swipes. This app definitely needs a remote control, and I can’t see it being this way forever.I’m hoping that we’ll have this solved in the next version.

  23. This is a great discussion and big need. I was so pleased with the way my keynote presentations, including video, audio, and some rich photos downloaded to the iPad, but not having a remote way to control them is a real limitation.

  24. One-on-one tabletop presentations by sales people on the iPad reprent a HUGE global market.The metaphor is the TV evening news where the presenter becomes a story teller, magically using the iPad to show graphics and video clips supporting the message. For this use…- Finger-swiping the iPad is distracting and unprofessional.- For this use, we’re not using the iPad as a dashboard to control graphics on a projector. So VGA out is not needed.- The presentation does not even need to be in Keynote — a playlist of JPEGS and MOVs is fine- Reading speaker’s notes on the iPad is not needed — how many news anchors do you see showing word charts to remind them of what to say?- However, a clicker for remote control of the iPad is ESSENTIAL!Let’s hear some ideas on how this can be done. And if not an iPad, what?

  25. I, too, would like to see this functionality added to the iPad.It does not appear that iPad 2 has added it.

  26. Chris – thanks for your comment / suggestion. The issue is not with the hardware but with the Keynote app itself not having that functionality built in (another words, only being able to forward/reverse the presentation via touch only). BAH!

  27. Is it possible that iPad 2 (with wifi-tethering) enables iphone to connect to iPad and than create the possibility to control iPad keynote through some remote-app?If that is so, might some MyWi connection (jailbreak) be of service?

  28. DK – I took allready notice of the fact that keynote does only support touch. The thing is that we should be able to emulate the touch-gesture on the iphone. I’m pretty sure this should work. I allready tried the combination of:- BTStack at the iPad (JB-version in Cydia)- webe bluetooth mouse (in the app store) Shame on me – I couldn’t get the HID-mode of webe get to connect to the iPad (allthough the iPad BTStack allready recognised the mouse).Webe bt mouse makes it possible to click and double click. I do think that a click on the mouse is the same as a single touch.

  29. Chris – thanks again for the comeback. One of the stipulations for me was to make it work without jailbreaking the iPhone. Let us know if you do get it to work though as would love to see it in action, good luck!

  30. I also would really like to see this functionality. I believe that apple should implement this into keynote as a base functionality for the ipad edition. I think a solution would be to write reviews in the application store with low scores and request this feature be added. Giving voice to this problem might move things along.

  31. For now the 2Screens iPad app works through Bluetooth with their iPhone remote app. It’s not as nice as Keynote for presentations, but it is nice for PowerPoint and PDF files.Of course, I could bring my MacBook Pro, use it to create an ad hoc network, join my iPad and my IPhone to it, and then use the existing Keynote remote app with the iPad…

  32. I too was very disappointed that this capability ( remote control of IPad2 ppt using Iphone) is missing :(

  33. Chris – good idea. Have made a feature request and thinking this is probably a more proactive route… maybe ;-)REZ – Appreciate the comments. Already tried the app referenced (see original blog post), not what we’re after… thanks for playing though.Cerioscha – Agreed.Veljko – Thanks for the suggestion although another option which doesn’t help with the original issue of finding a way of remotely forwarding Keynote presentations on the iPad.

  34. Yes, it would be great if the Keynote Remote app team would just add bluetooth capability. The PhotoSync app (which works via bluetooth or wifi to sync photos taken on say an iPhone 4 to your iPad or Mac for editing) shows that the hardware is perfectly capable. Or if the iPad could create an ad hoc wifi network (and not just join one).So, would result satisfy? A bluetooth iPhone/Touch “clicker” app?I’m checking if the concern is primarily that you want a particularly shaped hardware remote in your hand, or if you want a bluetooth connection, or something else.Point handles pictures, and Keynote presentations can be exported as pictures.2Screens handles keynote, PDFs, and picture files, remotely, but it is doing the presenting, not Keynote.Why aren’t these “good enough” for use now, until Apple gets their Remote app act together?

  35. As has been pointed out above, current versions of Keynote for iOS can now be remote-controlled with the Keynote Remote app on an iPhone or iPod Touch. This used to work with both WLAN and Bluetooth connections, but Apple broke the Bluetooth functionality when iOS 5 came out (and it’s still broken with iOS 5.0.1). WLAN still works, though.


    1. As has been pointed out above, current versions of Keynote for iOS can now be remote-controlled with the Keynote Remote app on an iPhone or iPod Touch. This used to work with both WLAN and Bluetooth connections. I dont want to rely on WLAN. I always use bluetooth to bluetooth pairing. So turn on the bluetooth on both iphone 4s and ipad 3. You need keynote remote app on iphone and on ipad keynote you need to link the iphone. Over bluetooth it works fine. It works better because both iphone 4s and ipad 3 has BT 4.0.
      But still using iphone to control your presentation is not useful as you have to put iphone on airplane mode to avoid distraction of getting calls or texts. I would like simple clicker like logitech r400 with laser pointer to control the keynote presentation.

  36. I was recently made aware of the Satechi Bluetooth Smart Pointer. It’s the only (to my knowledge) device in the size of a “normal” clicker that works with Keynote on iOS. To make this happen, they had to use the iOS accessibility features, namely VoiceOver.

    I bought one and posted a review on my blog. It does have a few drawbacks, but at least for my tastes, it’s a nice alternative to using a somewhat bulky iPhone / iPod touch. YMMV.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *