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May 31, 2014 / A Surviving Father

Rounded Corner Background in Keynote

Anyone who has an Apple product can appreciate their iconic rounded corners.  From the shape of an iPhone or iPad, to the shape of an app icon, rounded corners are everywhere.  So why settle for sharp corners on your Keynote presentation?

There are two ways to have a background with rounded corners in Keynote which I will detail below.

1. The easiest method is to create the background within Keynote itself.  The steps outlined are for the most recent Keynote update (version 6.2).

  • Within Keynote, select “View”, “Edit Master Slides” from the top menu. Select which master slide you want to modify.
  • If the slide background is not currently black, you will want to make it black by selecting “Color Fill” in the “Background” menu on the Format sidebar.
  • Select the rounded rectangle shape and adjust it to fill the entire slide.

RC 1a


RC 1b

RC 1c

  • Note that the rounded corners will be too large once the rectangle is re-sized.  Select the small round green adjustment knob and resize the radius of the rounded corner to your liking.

RC 1d

  • At this point you can change the color of the rectangle or add an advanced gradient.
  • With the rounded rectangle shape selected, select “Arrange”, “Send to Back” from the top menu, otherwise it will cover up your slide text.

RC 1e

  • Click “Done” in the lower right corner, and that’s all there is to it – you now have a presentation with rounded corner background!

2. The second method is more complicated, but allows for greater flexibility and creativity.  For this technique, you will create a background image in a photo-editing software program such as Photoshop.

  • In this scenario you will ideally create your image to the exact aspect-ratio of your presentation. For a widescreen format (16:9) I typically use a canvas size of 1280 x 720 pixels.
  • Fill the canvas with black.

RC 2a

  • Now select a color for your background image.
  • Using the Rounded Rectangle Tool with a fixed size of 1280 x 720 and a corner radius of 20 pixels, create your background rounded rectangle.

RC 2b


Look at that nice rounded corner!

Look at that nice rounded corner!

  • At this point you can dress up the background to suit your needs.  For this example, I was creating a background for a presentation about medical imaging of the heart.  I added a gradient as well as an image with reduced opacity.  This will serve as the background image for my title slide, whereas all my other slides will only have the gradient applied.

Cardiac steel 1280x720

  • Save the file as a PNG.
  • Now within Keynote, select “View”, “Edit Master Slides” from the top menu. Select which master slide you want to modify.

RC 2d

  • In the format sidebar, select “Background”, “Image Fill”, and then choose your new background image that you just created.

RC 2e

  • In this example, I wanted a more basic background for my text slides, so I performed the same process for the bulleted text master and selected the  background image without the heart that I had created.

RC 2f

For simple background gradients, I use the first method.  For more complex background images I resort to the second method.  Rounded corners on a background is a minor detail, but it’s a detail that gets noticed, and I have been asked more than once how I did it… and now you know!


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