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Create Custom Shapes using SVGs in Keynote

1st October 2023

Jacob Woolcock


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In this video, I’ll show you how to take your Keynote presentations to the next level by creating custom shapes using SVGs. I’ll guide you through the process of importing any SVG file into Keynote and using it to expand your Keynote shape library. Whether you want to design unique icons, graphics, or custom elements, this tutorial will empower you to create your own resources, making your presentations truly stand out. Watch and learn as I demonstrate the simple steps to unlock the world of custom shapes in Keynote, all in a straightforward and educational manner. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to enhance your Keynote skills!

In a previous video, I showed you how you can import SVG files, that’s vector images, into Keynote, Numbers, or Pages, and then change the colours and edit them in your documents. But you can actually save these for the shape library built into those programmes, which will then synchronise via iCloud across all of your devices. While I’m talking, I’m busy recolouring the space shuttle SVG file that I found on Now, it’s a really cool shape, and I want to use it again in lots of projects in the future, so I want to save this shape to my shape library.

You might be thinking, “Well, that’s probably easy. You just group it all together and then press save.” But it doesn’t work quite like that. You see, a shape in Keynote is each of these individual segments, not the overall image. For example, the dark orange nose cone at the top. If I were to move that away, that would be a separate shape. It doesn’t form part of the greater picture. So, what I need to do is I need to make all of these individual parts into one shape without grouping them, which is a bit weird.

So, what we’re going to do is we’re going to tap and hold, drag a box over the whole page, then I’m going to press the format paintbrush, and on the arrange tab, I’m going down to the very, very bottom where we have options to unite, subtract, and combine different shapes into one, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to tap that first button, which will combine all those separate shapes into one, and you know it’s worked because it’s all turned the same colour, that orange. This is now one object in terms of Keynote, and if I tap on it, I can then press “Add to Shapes”. Then, when I go into that shape bar, it’s on the top of my toolbar, the space shuttle is there, just waiting for me. I can even tap and hold and rename it, which means it will then show up in search results, so I’m searching for shapes in the future.

But you may have noticed that on the original image, there was a little curved kind of window in the middle of the space shuttle itself, and that’s all blurred into one. So, let’s quickly ungroup this, and we’ll try and find a way of fixing that problem. Now, I’ve undone that action; the objects are no longer combined, they’re back to their original colours again, and you can see that curved section right in the middle of the shuttle that got lost before. What I’m going to do is I’m going to tap and drag to select the shuttle itself and that curved part, and rather than combining these shapes, we’ll go to format and then arrange, and we’re going to press this button instead, which acts like kind of a cookie cutter, really, and it cuts out that middle section for me, just like this.

That means that now, when I drag a box across all of my shapes and then press the combine button, I have that little cutout in the middle, which makes it look a bit more realistic. I’m going to tap again and add to shapes, and you can see that’s now in my shape library as well. And from here, I can grab any of these shapes and pull them out just like normal in Keynote. I can recolour them, I can break them apart, resize, rotate, anything I like, and they’re synchronised across iCloud on all of my devices. With this feature, you can now expand your shape library, your collection of different shapes, with as many useful and interesting ones as you want, and you can get a huge amount online, copyright-free, if you search on the internet. That’s another quick tip for your iPad. Don’t forget, if you’d like to learn more, please do subscribe down below. There are hundreds of tips there to help you make the most of your iPad.

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