Presenting a PDF slideshow--how can I blackout the screen?
July 25, 2017 7:30 AM   Subscribe

Presenting a PDF slideshow--how can I blackout the screen? I'm used to using Powerpoint, and using a remote control slide advancer's "Blackout" button during presentations. It's similar to pressing "b" during a presentation: the screen goes blank. Now I have a presentation that's in PDF format (made in the wonderful Deckset app), and I present using Adobe Reader. Is there any way to make the screen go blank during the presentation, say, when a question comes up?
posted by surenoproblem to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Respectfully, I would question the premise... I see that you do this a lot but as someone who attends many presentations there's no way that blacking out the screen (even for an aside or question) is ever the desired action.

That said, what platform are you on? I assume both Mac and PC have little lightweight programs that will do this no problem. I just don't think you want to.
posted by brainmouse at 7:44 AM on July 25, 2017 [3 favorites]

If you were to use the Sumatra PDF viewer then the instructions say that you can use a period '.' to give you a black screen and the letter 'w' to give you a white one - toggling as in Powerpoint. Works for me.
posted by rongorongo at 7:48 AM on July 25, 2017 [3 favorites]

First, as an experienced presenter, I would say not to do this. Switching the background is jarring for both the presenter and the audience, and there's not really a benefit to doing so if the background is black.

Second, your remote control is probably indicating to the computer that it is a keyboard and is literally sending a "b" when you press that button. Try using it when you're in Noteapd.

Third, if you really must do this, the best way I can think of without installing new software is to set your desktop background to black. Then you can press the key combination to show the desktop to switch to black. In Windows, Win+D does this. Pressing it again would switch back to your full-screen Acrobat Reader. (I use the black desktop to switch between different slide decks relatively seamlessly.)

But if you want the remote to do it, you'll probably need new software. At the very least, you could use something like AutoHotKey to trap "b" and turn it into toggling desktop visibility.
posted by grouse at 7:50 AM on July 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

A cheap way to do it would be to make your PDF viewer full-screen, then also launch another application full-screen (say, a browser showing a black page or Photo Viewer with an image of something).

If those are the only two applications running, then Alt-Tab will swap back-and-forth between them.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:57 AM on July 25, 2017 [3 favorites]

Also, ctrl-L on Adobe removes the border.
posted by coberh at 8:24 AM on July 25, 2017

(To those advising against it, blacking out the screen is a legit presentation technique that can be effective, especially during end Q&A so people's eyes are on you instead of staring at your end "Thank you!" slide.)
posted by zsazsa at 9:43 AM on July 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

Most projectors have remote controls with a button called "video mute", or something similar, that does this.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:53 AM on July 25, 2017

blacking out the screen is a legit presentation technique that can be effective

Can also be counterproductive.

especially during end Q&A

If you want it at the end, just add a black slide as your last slide. Personally I prefer a slide with a visual summary of what I've just told people.
posted by grouse at 10:45 AM on July 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

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