Using OSX, Keynote and your iPhone as a clicker

A substantial part of the people I encounter present using OSX on a Macbook. I am not sure how much of these people use Apple’s Keynote for presenting, but I like Keynote very much for various reasons, like a cleaner interface. This blogpost is about some handy tips and tricks I learned using a few years of presenting around the world. If you don’t use OSX, this blogpost is probably not for you.

1. Setup a private network with your iPhone/clicker
This first step has two important reasons. The first reason is extremely obvious: in order to communicate with your iPhone/clicker, you need a connection. The second reason is a little less obvious: if the conference you are attending as a speaker as wireless access, you probably joined that wireless network. In order to make your computer NOT respond to any kind of signal from the internet (growl, notification center, updates, etc.), you really should disconnect first. When you setup a private network with your iPhone/clicker, you are not connected to the internet anymore. (obviously you need to disconnect any wired internet connections too!)

This is done on the Macbook using the wifi signal strength indicator on the upper right side, create network. Choose 40-bit WEP (this isn’t the safest encryption on the world, but you are going to use this for relatively short time), and choose a 5 character password.

Next go to the Settings on your iPhone, choose ‘Wi-Fi’, and select the network you just setup on your Macbook. The default name of the local network is the name of the computer. If it’s the first time, or you’ve changed the password, enter the 5 character password you choose when setting up the local network.

What is lesser know, is that you now DO NOT HAVE A CONNECTION AT THIS MOMENT. Simple reason is there is no DHCP server which gives both your Macbook and your iPhone an ip address. You need to wait a little while, then both your Macbook and your iPhone will self assign an ip address. On your Macbook, go to System Prefences>Network, and click on “Wi-Fi”. It has an orange colour, not a green colour as you might expect. If you have clicked on “Wi-Fi”, the description will say something like:

Wi-Fi has the self-assigned IP address and will not be able to connect to the Internet.

Your IP address will be different. Now go to your iPhone, and go to Settings>Wi-Fi, and look what network is selected. It should be the network with the name of your Macbook. If your iPhone powersaved, it will probably gone to the wireless of the conference again, more on that later. (Re)select the network with the name of your Macbook, and click on the blue circle with the bigger-than sign in it on the right side if the network. It shows you an IP address and the subnet mask. If you just re-set the Macbook network, you probably must wait a little while before it assigns an IP address to itself.

In order to perform a test if a connection is possible, open a terminal on your Macbook, and ping the (self assigned) IP address of the iPhone. If the network connection can be used, ping will show response from the iPhone.

2. Disable powersave on your Macbook
You do not want your Macbook to go into powersave while your are setting it up, talking to people, when presenting, or when you go out of the presentation to show something and you are discussing that. There is an extremely simple way to do that: caffeine. Search for this little piece of software on the internet, or, even simpler: go to the OSX app store, and search for caffeine. It’s a free application. If you fire it up, it shows an empty cup in the top bar on the right side. When you do not want your computer to go into powersave at any time, click on the cup: it will show a full cup of coffee. That’s simple, right?

3. Disable powersave on your iPhone
Probably you have set your iPhone up to powersave too. This is done in Settings>General>Auto-lock; set it to ‘Never’. As you probably know or learned, once your iPhone goes into powersave, it turns off wireless. So if you enable your iPhone, wireless will turn on again, and just search for any network it can autoconnect to. This is the reason it will connect to the conference wireless again: the local network is not saved by default, but the conference wireless is.

4. Use your iPhone as a clicker
There are two ways that I’ve used to use your iPhone as a clicker, the ‘Remotepad’ app (which needs an application on OSX too called the same, and makes a mouse of your iPhone), or the Keynote Remote app. If you are serious about presenting, and want to use your iPhone as a remote, my opinion is to buy the Keynote Remote app. The strong point is its simplicity: swipe right to left for going forward (‘click’) or swipe left to right to go backward. The other two functions it’s got is go to beginning and go to end. That’s all.

If you didn’t had the Keynote Remote app, and installed it on your iPhone, and you’ve setup the network, there’s one additional thing you should do: link keynote with the app. Startup or select Keynote, Select Keynote>Preferences and go to the ‘Remote’ tab/icon. Now select ‘Enable iPhone and iPod touch remotes’, and link the two together.

Keynote has to be started on your Macbook, and the presentation you want to use needs to be loaded, but does not have to be set in presenting mode already; if you start the Keynote Remote app on your iPhone, it will put Keynote in presentation mode with the current slide.

Happy presenting!

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