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OpenOffice Impress: Dualhead Presentation mode (Update)

Update on 2008-05-22: check out – the presenter-screen extension is available for current OpenOffice 3.0 beta version now (thanks for pointer to Stefan Weigel)

Besides some other issues (not being relevant for the topic I’m blogging about) OpenOffice Impress ("the Powerpoint of the free Office suite") has one major drawback: lack of reasonable dualhead support.

At the end of year 2006 Philipp Lohmann blogged about OpenOffice’s "Multimonitor support for the slideshow". That’s just basic multimonitor support and has NOTHING to do with the real dualhead presentation mode you might know from tools like MS Powerpoint (multimonitor support – known as "Referentenansicht" in german locales) or Apple’s Keynote. It just provides the possibility to send your presentation to one specific monitor or span the presentation on all available monitors – completely useless for me. You can find several bugreports/wishlists in the regarding the dualhead feature as well.

Thanks to pointers by Stefan Weigel and Rene Engelhard I could figure out the current and upcoming support of dualhead presentation mode in OO. The presenter screen feature is implemented as an OO extension. The extension doesn’t work with the current stable version (2.4) and it crashes when trying to install it using the current beta release (3.0.0-beta). Therefor I gave it a try with OO version 2.3.233 from and the according presenter_screen_Win32Intel.oxt extension. To activate the dualhead feature you just have to set “Monitor 2” as your main presentation screen inside the presentation preferences. That’s what you’ll get then:

Screenshot of Dualhead setup in OpenOffice Impress

I’ve tested it on Linux too (using the installation files from as well): works like on Windows.

What I don’t like at the current implementation of the presentation mode (besides the fact that it’s a bit unstable of course):

  • I can’t edit notes and slides on the fly while running the presentation (for fixing typos, adding additional notes and content,…)
  • only ONE upcoming slide is available on the presenter screen; I’d like to get some of the last few slides as well as some MORE upcoming slides – this should be at least configurable (and I couldn’t find such a configuration setting so far)
  • such an important feature shouldn’t be an extension but instead become a feature shipped by default
  • I’ve to restart OO after plugging in the external monitor to get the multihead option inside the preferences menu of OO Impress – this should work on-the-fly

Let’s see what we’ll get with OO version 3.0.

6 Responses to “OpenOffice Impress: Dualhead Presentation mode (Update)”

  1. Stefan Says:

    Hi mika,

    you may want to drop a note to the developer´s mailing list of the´s graphics project, In general those guys appreciate any feedback or proposal. There is also some discussion in this wiki Some people there explicitely do not want the possibility to edit during a running presentation.


  2. fireba11 Says:

    OOo has the setting on what monitor to start the presentation by default (at least in 2.4) … it’s just hard to find.

  3. mika Says:

    @Stefan: thx, will do that!

    @fireba11: I don’t think you are talking about the feature I’m blogging about – did you read it at all? ;) I’m talking about a “synchronized dualhead presentation mode” – AKA “presenter screen” ->


  4. Christian Lippka Says:

    “such an important feature shouldn’t be an extension but instead become a feature shipped by default”

    Yes, and at the same time we get bashed daily that OOo is such a huge monolithic beast. I hope that someday OOo will be very small and everyone can download their preferred feature set.


  5. mika Says:

    @Christian: Hmmmmm – ACK, not an easy decision. Though the most important features should be part of the OOo suite – and the presenter screen *is* an important for Impress (sure, what’s important is a matter of the user in front of the desk – but it’s a *presentation* software :)). OOo >=2.4 already is a big step forward in regards to (especially startup) speed (as you might know ;)). I like the portable OOo and the possibility of “cd /dev/shm ; wget ; unp ; ./programs/simpress $SLIDES” – if I get the presenter screen out-of-the-box as well that would be great. :) If I can choose the extensions that I need already during download time this would be another option for users that already *know* what they want/need. New users might not know what “presenter screen” is and wonder where’s the option for a “dualscreen presentation mode” later on (without having access to the internet, not knowing about the existence of the extension manager,…).


  6. LornaJane Says:

    I give a lot of presentations and use open office impress – I’m desperate for this feature! I was initially put off because this extension looks distinctly “in progress” but now I’ve actually heard of another person using it, I might give it a try!