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"This presentation can’t be opened because it’s too old.
To open it, save it with Keynote ’09 first.” – I was greeted with this message today when I was about to publish few more presentations on Slideshare about Knowledge Management. The offending presentation is from 2008. I have around 20 files created in older Keynote versions. They are not the disposable kinds of presentations – you know, the ones that you prepare, project and forget about them. I like to reuse them, show when I’m talking about various subjects contained in them.

How I am supposed to access them now? “save it with Keynote ’09 first”, but how? I don’t have Keynote '09 any more on my fresh Mavericks install.

The iCloud loads the presentations without any complaint, but it can’t open them – same message. One would at least hope, that they will have conversion tools at their side, if it is too cumbersome to distribute it to users and have additional customer support overhead.

I do have an installation CD, but I don’t have a CD drive any more. I'm not buying a piece of hardware to install obsolete software from a company that can't keep compatibility just two versions backwards. 

For comparison: I can read my university presentations from 2001, my conference presentations from 2003-2004 created in Open Office. That’s more than 10 years and more than three versions ago!

I’m usually careful when using proprietary formats and try not to use them if there is a negotiable alternative. I was using iWork because it was pleasant to use, intuitive and it never went into my way. The Keynote was the best alternative out there for me – the output was just lovely. The output from other tools is not that nice, or at least requires much more work to achieve similar results.

How can I trust Apple now and use their products if they can easily render my documents unreadable without any immediately accessible (from the internet) and legal option?

P.S.: I apologize for the rant, but this should be a warning for you who are using proprietary products as well as I do

#Apple   #iWork   #fail   #proprietary   #OpenOffice  
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I think even MS is better than this at supporting old Office binary formats. Only PowerPoint has completely removed the support for pre-97 formats. With Word/Excel you can generally unblock support for older formats even if by default they will not open.
2 solutions:
1. Try to download iWork '09 trial. 
2. Send it to someone who has '09 iWork
Within Keynote bundle there is a framework "KeynoteConverter". Unfortunatelly it is just XPC service that calls iWork '09 document to convert it for you.

And you are right. It sucks! Marek.
Have you tried changing your system time to match creation time of said document?
With Pages and Numbers, when I upgraded to the latest versions a few months ago, it kept the '09 versions in a folder called "iWork '09" in my Applications folder.  Not sure if this is the same for Keynote since I don't have it, but worth a look...

Or maybe you've already found this out by looking on the Apple support forums?
Hi Stefan - sorry for the trouble. We are looking into this and will get back to you.
+Oren Berman figured that out, the forums are full of upset people. That's mentioned in my post "fresh Mavericks install". I'll do the conversion through someones else notebook and will hope that I will not forget any older presentation...
Ouch. Another good reason for us all to use open formats! I hate how much we are at the whim of the companies making proprietary software.
+Taylor Alexander agreed and would love to use open formats, however sometimes you have to make a trade-of that involves durability, trust, usability, productivity and feature-completeness. Unfortunately, many OSS have not the best user experience nor they are feature complete. Completeness is is different than feature richness – OSS has no problem with feature bloat :-) I'm still stuck with one more proprietary format that I can't find an alternative for: OmniGraffle, there is just no OSS that can provide such experience and productivity.
Out of interest, try opening it with Office online ( and if it opens subsequently save it in a newer compatible format.

MS Office along with most of the Open document formats are nearly 100% backwards compatible and still have the option to save in a legacy format (as well as having tools available to open newer formats on legacy software) I suspect this is due to the fact Office has been a major player in major office applications, as such designs for productivity and performance. Apple's word processing and office products are niche and mostly used by home users or individuals with specific requirements. Fact, companies don't really care about you.
The free software world is much better at preserving people's work.  Open Office support for older formats, including Microsoft's is better than Microsoft support for older formats.  Problem documents have often been rescued by free software. Gimp, Inkscape, GCC and gnu/linux itself are models of continuity and hardware independence.  
As others have suggested, free software can also rescue your non free work by VM.  The only way to really open the more "complicated" documents without an old computer is in a VM of your old computer, DOS Box, Virtual Box, Qemu, or some other virtual machine install.  Here are examples of Microsoft virtual machines that I've used to preserve old work.

I have not done this with OSX but I see reports of successful X86 installs.  People seem to have odd notions of legality about all of this.  

I'm continually amazed by how arrogant software owners are about their "right to kill" old software and trash people's work by not releasing their silly secret formats.  Microsoft Office always bitrotts older versions but this has accelerated since they created their phony open and confusingly named  "OOXML" formats just so they could thwart migration to the level playing field of ODF.  When I hear "Backward Compatibility" all I can think is that people are trying to be compatible with backward software.  What free software generally offers is continuity and disruption free use despite improvements and new features.  
Good point.

Time to write a post about it on a 3rd party content site which has no obligation to preserve your data. Oh, wait...
Try opening in Google Presentation and then try to export it from there. Or export into PPT and then upload to Google Presentation.
Ouch. Another good reason for us all to use open formats! I hate how much we are at the whim of the companies making proprietary software.
For some reason support for inserting filename's was also dropped. Really annoying. 
Lol... I guess in this case it didn't "just work".
LibreOffice 4.2 includes the beginnings of Keynote support - it's not great yet, but if you can upload anything it can't handle as test documents, I expect they'd be delighted.
+Stefan Urbanek I agree - I want to use all OSS but I know that proprietary development leads in certain areas, and I want to be able to use those services. I think the answer is proprietary companies using open formats, so once I create a document, it's mine. Then I will buy their software if they provide a compelling document creation experience. I can definitely understand why Stallman just wants all software, free or paid, to include the source. Somehow we need to find a way to make sure that as we bring more and more of our lives into the digital domain, they aren't held hostage by updates that kill features and compatibility. I worry about the future when everything people do is only stored the cloud. The day the connection is killed, your digital life is cut off.
I noticed that the Keynote dock icon still links to the old version in iWorks 9 after installing the new version. Presentations saved with the new Keynote version will of course not open.
If you still need to get access to iWork 2009, get in touch. I have archived it so that I can reinstall it after a clean install of OS X.
Install Open Office. It opens pretty much everything.
There is no technical justification for being unable to read old-format files with new software. Manufacturers do not provide backwards caompatibility for data files in order to force users to buy upgrades. I have a thousand CorelDraw files that are no longer openable. I stopped using CorelDraw because of this.

There is a real business opportunity here -- either as a service or as code. An online file converter that makes an ODT from WordStar v.1 files? Should be trivially easy to write. On second thought, maybe I'll get my Otrona out and hammer out some code...
Libre Office FTW.
(old thread, anyway...) I verified that the standard Preview application can open Keynote files; obviously this is not optimal, as you cannot edit the presentation. Anyway this can help to recover all info and, if necessary, to make a presentation (if no edit are necessary).
Luckily, I have yet the iWork'09 DVD and a MacBookPro with a DVD reader...
Apple advised me to upgrade my OS (from 10.6.8 Snow Leopard) to Mavericks to cure a software bug whereby I can not play an embedded m4v movie (created in iMovie).
But.....if I do that, will I be able to access and edit my Keynote ('09) presentation that I've worked days on......?
This really sucks.  I'm glad to see I'm not alone and very disappointed in Apple - again!!
I know this is an old thread, but I ran into the problem today.  Apple support was only "Load it in the old '09 and export it again".  They even suggested trying Microsoft products to convert it!  Amazing!  Anyway, if you're interested, there is at least a hack to get it to work.  Haven't written a script to do this in general, but it worked for me.

1) Make a copy of your file, say blah08.key to blah09.key
2) in the new copy, blah09.key, control-click and "Show Package Contents"
3) There is a file called index.apxl (or possibly index.apxl.gz).  If the .gz, then double-click and you get the without the .gz (and delete the .gz version)
4) Control-click the index.apxl, open with "Other" and choose TextEdit
5) In the big mess at the beginning (first couple lines), there is key:version="72007061400".   Change this to key:version="92008102400"
6) Save the file, and exit TextEdit
7) Rename the new copy, blah09.key, without the .key part - blah09.  You'll get a complaint about removing the extension - do it anyway.
8) Now it's a folder!  Control-click the folder blah09, and compress, making a
9) Rename to blah09.key - again a complaint, but do it anyway. 

Poof!  Openable again!  Let me know if it works.

Why Apple doesn't include this easy fix, I have no idea.
Thanks Brian, saved me some headache before a big presentation tomorrow.
Thanks for the tip Brian!  What's really striking is how simple this backward compatibility is.  Apple seems simply to have deliberately broken our old content, via a version check!
Brian, thank you what a life saver
Thanks, Brian!
I tried this several times but it didn't work - not sure what I am missing. At step 7 when I renamed the file without the extension I didn't get the error message so I don't think it became a folder.... Any ideas re what I am doing wrong would be most appreciated!!! Thanks!
Best guess is that the extension was not actually removed, possibly due to extension being hidden? right click on file and “get info” and make sure “hide extension” is not checked.


I tried Brian's hack on an old Numbers file. It worked like a charm.
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