Slide presentation/annotate on iPad

I am a professor and am trying to figure out the best implementation for my lecture format. I generally have PowerPoint slides being presented, but I also would like to occasional either annotate the slides, or even sometimes just draw on a blank whiteboard. And, of course, will need all of this projected on a screen. I have an iPad 6th gen and a 2015 MacBook Pro (running Catalina as of last night).

What I’ve been doing recently —— run PowerPoint on iPad, and airplay to Mac (using Reflector App 3). This is fine, except it has dropped out on me a few times, and also when I annotate sometimes there are a few seconds of lag between drawing and the annotations appearing on the projector screen). PowerPoint for iPadOS has drawing tools built in and they work fairly well.

What I’m thinking about trying next semester —- running the slides from Keynote on the Mac, and using Keynote remote on the iPad to both control the presentation and also annotate using the iPad. Keynote’s drawing tools are not as good as PowerPoint, but probably sufficient. If I thought this would run more smoothly, quickly, and seamlessly than the above configuration, I don’t think I would hesitate to go this route (getting Keynote window presentation mode is why I finally upgraded to Catalina last night).

What I was intrigued by - there is an old iPad app called Doceri that controls a slide presentation running on the Mac, and also lets you annotate on top. It hasn’t been updated in over three years, though, and there were some issues with it. I wonder if there is a more modern app that does the same basic thing?

I have seen people talk about using the slides in GoodNote, but when I tried it the slides became static pages (my multi-build annotations within each PowerPoint slide seem to be lost - am I missing something?).

Any other suggestions?

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I have been looking off-and-on over this year for an effective way to use my iPad to annotate over slides shown from my MBP. I have not been successful to find a robust-enough, effective app. This has however not been the easiest of times for me to dig deeply. I should hope to explore more over the holiday break.

At one point, I hoped to use SideCar and tap into the annotation tools in Curio (where I develop my lecture slides) from my iPad. This was not as pleasing an experience as I had hoped.

I tried Doceri and was rather unimpressed by it and/or frustrated with it as I recall.

I think that there is also an app (or two) that allows you to “draw” onto your macOS screen using your iOS device. However, the app functioned more as though the entire iPhone was to be the drawing tool.

Finally, as for sustaining transition annotations on slides … you may want to consider the advantages of the inverse approach. Flatten all of your slide transitions by default and then ask “Do I REALLY need this multi-step transition here versus being able to annotate while I show the slides”? You could also re-build the multi-step annotations in the good-old hard-fashion way … one slide at a time (rather than embedding the transitions all WITHIN one slide). If I recall correctly, the Beamer package in LaTeX takes this approach when multi-transition slides are exported to PDF. Finally, one recent advantage that Curio has that you may find useful depending on how you want/need transitions to work is its ability to toggle the state of display of various layers on the Idea Space while in presentation mode. I am just starting to tap into this feature. I have set up an “Answers” layer on my slides so that I can keep certain content hidden until I want to display it.

As for the whiteboard, I used to project my iPad through AirPort Utility and use a drawing app (ZoomNotes). These days, I link directly in to Zoom via AirPlay (still using ZoomNotes as my whiteboard).


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I’ve used GoodNotes and PDF Expert before, and it’s pretty nice. The easiest way I’ve found is to build it in power point or keynote and then export to images or PDF and select “one slide for every build transition” (or something like that).

But I guess it can really depend on what you’re building in.

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Check out explain everything on ipad. I export my presentations to pdf from keynote and then import them i into explain everything. You can pinch and zoom and even record straight from the app on your ipad. You can then export a pdf to share and upload the video directly to youtube from the app. You can stick to power point and export your sides to PDF then upload them to explain everything. You will still lose transitions fancy transitions. I think you can export slides with transitions as several slides to give an appearance of a transition.

Here’s an old set of slides i recorded on my ipad. You can see me move around slide and annotations throughout. Ive been able to improve my audio (and lectures) since this recording :flushed:


I have been using Keynote played in a window and using the iPad’s remote function as you note above. Once in remote mode, the iPad displays the notes and the current slide (which can be customized). I still control the slideshow with my Mac. When I am ready to annotate the slides I just pick up the Apple Pencil and draw. Then I hit done and go back to teaching again using my Mac to control the slideshow. This has been rock solid for me. I am teaching statistics and being able to draw on the screen has been extremely helpful. Additionally, because the slideshow no longer takes over your entire screen, you now have access to all your other apps while presenting and the audience only sees the slideshow. If the drawing tools are enough in Keynote, this method will serve your needs well.


Thanks so much. I think I’m going to give it a try. I keep looking for all these third party app solutions, but this native stock functionality seems like the way to go. The only thing I really would miss using Keynote is a yellow highlighting function, and an eraser to erase certain things rather than clear the entirety of the drawings all at once. But probably won’t miss those things too much.

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An update …

As I have played more with this, I realize that my ideal app (call it XYZ) should at least do this:

  • Take over/mimc the features within SideCar on the iPad
  • Provide ARROW key inputs (SideCar has no arrow key inputs) to move forward / backward on pages
  • Provide annotation tools as per Explain Everything (I find that their approach is exceptional for teaching using an iPad).

Bonus points when XYZ can also do this:

  • Save the annotations as snap-shots.

With this setup, I could run a macOS app on my iPad from anywhere in the classroom AND annotate over what that app displays AND project the entire show on an external projector + remote connection in real time.

Developers … The above is where the next gold mine is for the teaching world or training world or presentation world. I don’t need my iPad to run my macOS apps or my macOS apps to run like iPad apps. I need the two devices (iPad and mac desktop) to talk to each other more effectively using the full power that each device uniquely brings to the table.