Never Copy Slide Notes Again

Alas, years of copying slide notes, duplicating a task that the presenter has clearly already completed, can finally come to an end! For those that possess a crazy dual-core brain trained to furiously copy slideshow notes while simultaneously absorbing advanced material, this post may not be for you.

For the rest of us (there's others, right?) there's a great little work-around that'll save you a tremendous amount of typing and promote a refreshing amount of learning while viewing your next presentation. The ultimate goal here is to take valuable notes on the presenter's delivery, all those insightful nuggets that supplement content on the slides, rather than just copying the slides themselves.

We will be very quickly grabbing all of the slides and sending them to OneNote, where you'll have access to a perfect two column setup; slides on the left, notes on the right. Checkout the example use below demonstrating an investor taking notes on foursquare's pitch (circa 2009).

To accomplish this setup, all you need is the wonderful and free Microsoft OneNote and the fantastic little app SnapNDrag Pro by the folks over at Yellow Mug (grab it from the App Store).

After downloading both apps, you'll want to tweak SnapNDrag's preferences to achieve the most streamlined process. The real magic happens in the preference window on the right. After capturing the first slide using the "Selection" hot key, which lets us grab any area on the screen, the "Last Selection" hot key will then capture that exact same area as we skip through the slides.

With those settings in place, we are ready to rock and roll. As long as you have access to a slide deck for roughly a minute before the presentation, take the following steps to achieve the setup demonstrated by the investor and foursquare's pitch deck:

  1. Use command + option + a to capture the entire area of the first slide, switch over to OneNote, and paste.
  2. Switch back to the slide deck, and skip to the next slide.
  3. Use command + option + 1 to quickly capture the same slide area, switch over to OneNote, and paste.
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 until you've got the deck.
  5. Click anywhere to the right of the slides in OneNote to take notes!

With efficient use of keyboard shortcuts, decks comprised of 20-30 slides can be captured in under a minute. Now, you have the rare opportunity to listen to the presentation and take notes on the helpful insights of your knowledgable presenter.

I've focused much of this application on slideshows, but the setup works seamlessly for many other scenarios including:

  • Video tutorials
  • Blog posts with walk-throughs
  • Or anything you'd ever want to take notes on that has a consistent size.

Be sure to be a good copyright citizen. Good luck and happy learning!