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17 Things You Might Not Know You Could Do with iWork
Pages: 1, 2

Make a Photo Collage

Pages uses the same alignment guides that you may have seen before in Keynote. When you drag an object into any Pages document, the guides appear to show you what's lining up with what. Add to this the clean, fast method used for scaling images, and you have an excellent tool for creating collages. The Media browser's integration with iPhoto comes in especially handy here.

Putting together a collage takes seconds Putting together a collage takes seconds

Ctrl-clicking on any object in your document brings up a context menu, with options for bringing that object forward or sending it back. This is a great way of messing around with a bunch of photos to get them looking their best as a collage. Don't forget you can also use Pages' Mask feature to create the effect of cropping an image, without having to go to the effort of opening it in an image editor.

Make a Chart--Fast

The troublesome thing about producing charts is going through all the fuss of entering data beforehand. While iWork does not (yet?) include a spreadsheet application, it is possible to create simple and nice-looking charts within Pages. If all you ever use Excel for is creating charts, this might well be a more attractive option, since it's faster and easier than fiddling with .xls files.

In your Pages document, just select Insert -> Chart from the menu bar. Instantly, a dummy chart is inserted and you can start messing about with it in the Chart Data Editor.

Editing a basic chart in Pages Editing a basic chart in Pages

As you'd expect, the Inspector offers all of the controls you'll need for customizing your chart. There's nothing terribly complex or advanced about the features offered here, but many users might find the simplicity attractive. If you're someone who tends to hesitate before opening Excel for simple tasks, you should certainly check this out.

A new feature in Keynote 2 lets you scale down your presentation to one of a bunch of pre-defined pixel sizes

Exploring Keynote

It's not really fair to say Keynote is iMovie for presentations. But it is a simpler, cheaper, easier to use application for building presentations and slideshows. It doesn't offer anything like the feature set of Microsoft PowerPoint, but it does have all the essentials. Just enough for most people.

Scale Things Down

When you're working on a presentation, you might need to export it into another format, or display it on something other than a computer or a projected computer display.

A new feature in Keynote 2 lets you scale down your presentation to one of a bunch of pre-defined pixel sizes.

By selecting the smallest default of 640 by 480, you open up all kinds of options, the most interesting being exporting the presentation for viewing on a TV screen--or an iPod photo. The guys at KeynotePro have an excellent tutorial explaining how to get your presentation into iDVD, which takes this tip several steps further.

Get Flashy

New in Keynote 2 is the ability to export your completed presentation as a Macromedia Flash (.swf) document for posting on the Web. What's cool about this is that it's so simple, just a two- or three-click process to get your finished Flash file. Hyperlinks work after the export, too, making this especially handy for online distribution.

When I tried this export, though, I saw some evidence of an annoying bug: spaces in text were removed, or replaced with other characters, in the Flash file. Other objects were fine, though, so this still might be of some use if you wanted to create a Flash photo demo for posting on a website. Hopefully this will get fixed in future updates.

Insert OmniGraffle Graphics

If you own OmniGraffle and have been looking for neat graphic items to put in your presentations, it's well worth dragging some of the OG widgets into a Keynote document. They look great.

OmniGraffle graphic elements work well in Keynote documents OmniGraffle graphic elements work well in Keynote documents
Lots of new options for building slides in Keynote 2 Lots of new options for building slides in Keynote 2

Better Builds, Tighter Transitions

Keynote 2 offers much more options for "building" slides, or controlling the way each one is pulled together on screen in front of the audience. If you want a chunk of text to fly in from one side, then a photo to fly in from the other side three seconds later, you can control it all in the Builds tab of the Inspector.

Create a Kiosk Presentation

New in Keynote 2 is the option (in the General tab of the Inspector) to make any Keynote file play automatically when opened and loop itself continuously. A nice simple slideshow for a kiosk-style computer.

What's more, the new Hyperlinks feature lets you turn any text or embedded object into a clickable link to another slide, Keynote file, or web page. You can now create an interactive display of products, artworks, photography, or anything else and set it up on a public-facing computer with only a mouse, or no peripherals at all, on show.

Odds and Ends

  • Apple has compiled a useful list of scripts you can install and use alongside Sailing Clicker to control a presentation's display using your cell phone as a remote control.

  • At the time of this writing, OmniOutliner 3 and Keynote 2 aren't on speaking terms (older versions could import each other's data, making the task of turning an outline into a presentation very easy). Keep your eyes open for updates on this from OmniGroup.

  • Programmer Simon Slavin has released an AppleScript that grabs some simple tab-delimited data in one Pages document, and applies it to another Pages document that has placeholders naming each field in the data document. The result: a simple mail merge operation. I was unable to get it to work, much to my and Mr. Slavin's mystification; but you might have better luck.

  • If you're looking for new Pages templates, iWork Community has some on offer.

  • Finally, Getting Things Done freaks might enjoy playing with Christian Gloddy's Hipster PDA Pages template.

Giles Turnbull is a freelance writer and editor. He has been writing on and about the Internet since 1997. He has a web site at http://gilest.org.


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