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KEY File

This page contains information on the KEY file extension (Apple iWork Keynote presentation document), a popular document file format

File extension.key
CategoryDocument File
DescriptionFiles with a .key extension are created by Apple's "Keynote" application which forms part of Apple's iWork office suite, a set of applications which run on the Mac OS X and iOS operating systems, and also includes Numbers (for spreadsheets) and Pages (for word processing).

Keynote began life in 2002 as an internal Apple tool developed for Steve Jobs to help him present at MacWorld. The first version was made available to the public in 2003 as Keynote 1.0 and was designed to compete with Microsoft's Powerpoint presentation software which formed part of Microsoft Office.

Designed to let users easily create, play and share presentations, Keynote contains most of the features found in modern presentation software, such as a slide navigator, the ability to add tables, shapes and charts to slides and a powerful media browser which allows users to drag and drop music from from iTunes, and photos from iPhoto and Aperture into their slides.

Keynote contains a large number of pre-designed themes to let users select common presentation formats, and powerful graphics tools to manipulate embedded images and provide advanced 3D transitions between slides (powered by OpenGL). The major Keynote releases are summarised below:

VersionDateKey features
1.0January 2003First version - basic features - Import Powerpoint presentations, slide navigator, graphics support for rotations, resizing and opacity, charts and slide transitions.
2.0January 2005Released in iWork '05. Contained improved animations for slides and text, iLife media browser, new themes, more presenter controls, embedded hyperlinks and the ability to export presentations to Macromedia Flash.
3.0January 2006Released in iWork '06 with new themes, HD-capability, improved graphing and table features, cinematic transitions and 3D graphs.
4.0August 2007Released in iWork '08 with easier to use animation features, new templates, smart builds (for predefined animations), instant alpha (for removing backgrounds from photographs), and a new narration to add a voiceover to slideshows.
5.0January 2009Released in iWork '09. Contains support for MathType equations, a new share menu, trackpad support, "magic move" (for easier transitions), improved presenter tools, but removed support for exporting to Flash.
5.1July 2011Added support for Mac OS X Lion, and included support for full screen functionality, auto-save, resume and versioning. Also with improved compatibility with Microsoft Office.
5.2July 2012Support added for iCloud documents and Retina displays.
5.3December 2012Adds Keynote support for iOS 6.0
6.0October 2013Part of new iWork suite for Mac, with 64-bit support and iCloud syncing.
6.1January 2014Improved compatibility with Microsoft Powerpoint.
6.5October 2014Updated design of OS X Yosemite, iOS 8 and a new file format to improve support for 3rd party online services.

Actions Convert KEY file
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Technical DetailsOfficial file format specifications for iWork Keynote files are not published by Apple, but it is still possible to look at a developer document Apple released for iWork '05 file formats.

A .key file is actually a compressed ZIP file comprised of a number of other different files combined that together make up a .key file. The most recent version of Keynote saves files with an "Index" directory containing Apple's proprietary IWA file format, a "Metadata" directory with .plist files, a "Data" directory with image assets (e.g. backgrounds and photos used in slides) and one or more jpg files for allowing quick previews.

Files created by Keynote in iWork cannot be opened by programs other than iWork.

Associated programs Apple iWork
Keynote 5.1
Keynote 5.2
Keynote 5.3
Keynote 6.0
Keynote 6.1
Keynote 6.2
Keynote 6.5
Developed by Apple Inc
MIME type  application/x-iwork-keynote-sffkey
Useful links Keynote details on Wikipedia
Keynote supported file formats
Ars Technica review of iWork '14
Tim Bray on the early history of the Keynote file format
Apple iWork product page
Keynote file format compatibility
Convert KEY file

Convert KEY file

Using Zamzar it is possible to convert KEY files to a variety of other formats:

key to html (Hypertext Markup Language)
key to jpg (JPEG compliant image)
key to key09 (Apple iWork '09 Keynote Document)
key to mov (Apple QuickTime Movie)
key to pdf (Portable Document Format)
key to png (Portable Network Graphic)
key to ppt (Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation)
key to pptx (Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 Presentation)
key to tiff (Tagged image file format)

Convert KEY file