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Add labels to help organize object transitions in Keynote

Apple's Keynote presentation software supports extensive object transitions; however, its method of object labeling can cause confusion when building transition effects.

Apple's Keynote application is a popular alternative to Microsoft's PowerPoint presentation software for OS X users, and was initially distributed as part of Apple's iWork suite but now is available for download from the Mac App Store. As with most presentation software packages, Keynote supports a number of transitions for presentation objects like shapes, text boxes, and pictures. While these transitions can be used in unique and clever ways when demonstrating points on slides, sometimes they may be difficult to organize.

In order to move shapes around on a slide, you can select them and then choose the Build section of the inspector panel, where you can add an action to the selected object, and then continue to similarly add actions to other objects in order to build a transition flow to demonstrate a point or simply create an effect.

While such transitions are fun to do, if you have many objects you are moving in your transition build, you may run into problems keeping them organized. MacFixIt reader Kandra recently ran into such an issue:

"I'm just curious if you can rename objects in Keynote inspector, instead of them all mostly saying "Shape"? Seems like it would be easier to keep everything straight in my brain..."
Keynote transitions
When setting transitions for many similar objects, the transition list will show them all as the same object type, which can be confusing. Screenshot by Topher Kessler/CNET

Though selecting an object with the Build inspector panel open should highlight its associated build transitions in the panel and vice versa, the panel's basic use of the object type in order to describe it can be limiting. If you place a number of shapes on the slide and then set them to move around, the build inspector will simply list "shape" over and over again for the various movement or transition entries.

To get around this and be able to visually associate each entry with an object on screen, you can label the objects at least temporarily, which should have the label show up in the inspector list. For example, instead of a shape being listed simply as "shape," if you label it with the letter "A," then it will be listed as "shape:A" in the inspector. This setup will allow you to better associate your transitions with their target objects, and allow you to more easily build your presentation.

Keynote transitions with labels
If you label your objects, then the keynote presentation will show the labels in the inspector window, therefore making setting and adjusting a transition timeline much easier. Screenshot by Topher Kessler/CNET

Once your transitions are set up the way you would like, you can remove the labels either by deleting them, or by selecting the object and then making its text color transparent by using the Text section of the inspector window (set the opacity slider value to zero percent).

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