How to work with others using iWork for iCloud

iWork for iCloud may not be quite ready to compete with Google Docs and Microsoft Office Online, but its main collaboration features are already in place. Here's how to work with others through iWork for iCloud.

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The first thing to do if you want to let other people collaborate on your work is to make sure that you’ve logged into your iCloud account using the iCloud section of System Preferences on your Mac or iOS devices. You need to select the Documents And Data option in the iCloud preferences panel and then make sure that each app you’re using has been individually selected as well. We’ll focus on Numbers running on our MacBook Air, but Pages and Keynote also rely on iCloud for their sharing and collaboration features so the steps that we follow here will work for those apps as well.

Read:

Microsoft Office for Mac 2014 release date

New features in iWork for iCloud

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Next Prev Step 1

The first thing to do if you want to let other people collaborate on your work is to make sure that you’ve logged into your iCloud account using the iCloud section of System Preferences on your Mac or iOS devices. You need to select the Documents And Data option in the iCloud preferences panel and then make sure that each app you’re using has been individually selected as well. We’ll focus on Numbers running on our MacBook Air, but Pages and Keynote also rely on iCloud for their sharing and collaboration features so the steps that we follow here will work for those apps as well.

Read:

Microsoft Office for Mac 2014 release date

New features in iWork for iCloud

 

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We’ve turned iCloud on, but you can still choose where you want to store your documents. The first time you save a new spreadsheet document in Numbers it will ask if you want to save that document to iCloud or on your own hard drive. If you’ve got existing documents that are already stored on your hard drive then you can upload them to iCloud using the Move To command in the File menu. Just remember that moving a document to iCloud this way also removes it from your Mac’s hard drive – so it might be worth keeping a back-up copy until you’ve gotten used to working with iCloud.

Read: Tips for using Numbers

 

Step 3 of 10:

Click the Share button in the toolbar, and you’ll see two main options for sharing your documents. You can send a copy of the document to friends or colleagues using Apple Mail, Messages or over wifi using AirDrop. However, each recipient will then be working with their own separate copy of the document. If you want to collaborate more directly you can use the Share Link Via iCloud option instead. This allows you to send a link that will take your colleagues directly to the document that you have stored on iCloud.

 

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Once you’ve sent someone a link they can simply click on the link to view your spreadsheet on www.icloud.com. The iCloud web site includes online versions of Numbers, Pages and Keynote that run directly within a web browser. This means that other people can view and edit your documents on virtually any type of computer, smartphone or tablet. Our colleague Andy is now using the online version of Numbers to view our Energy Plan spreadsheet on his Windows PC. He just needs to sign in and accept my invitation and then he can start to work on the document along with me.

 

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The online versions of Numbers, Pages and Keynote work just like the Mac version, with an Inspector palette on the right-hand side of each document that provides editing and formatting tools. Unfortunately, these online apps seem to be permanently stuck in their beta testing phase, and lack a number of important features. The online version of Numbers can’t display comments that I might add to the original spreadsheet on my Mac, and the online options for working with charts are very limited. Apple needs to clean up these online apps if it really wants to complete with rivals such as Google Docs and Microsoft’s Office Online.

 

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The tools in the online version of Numbers may be limited, but other users can still edit the main spreadsheet data just by clicking on cells with their mouse. Andy and I – and any other people that I invite – can then work together and edit the spreadsheet at the same time. There won’t be any problems as long as we’re working on different parts of the spreadsheet – perhaps with Andy providing the figures for 2012 while I look after 2013. But if we clash by trying to edit the same bits of data then Numbers will tell Andy to wait for my approval before he can continue.

 

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I created this spreadsheet, so Numbers lets me decide what changes can be made to it. If Andy’s changes on iCloud clash with the changes I make on my MacBook Air then Numbers will display this Modifications window warning me about the conflict. I can then decide which changes I want to keep. I can either reject Andy’s changes, or allow his changes to override my own. Or, if I click the tick boxes for both sets of changes, Numbers will create a second copy of the spreadsheet so that I can save Andy’s changes and my own changes on separate spreadsheets.

 

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Here’s a handy trick that I only discovered by accident. If you want to see what changes Andy has made to the spreadsheet you can simply click on the icon for his iCloud version of the spreadsheet in the Modification window, and you’ll get a Quick Look preview of his version on your screen. Unfortunately, Numbers doesn’t highlight Andy’s changes so you’ll need to take a close look at the preview image to see what the problem might be. Apple needs to add a ‘track changes’ option to the online version of Numbers to help out here.

 

Step 9 of 10:

Things can get complicated when sharing documents with multiple users, so the Share menu in Numbers includes a Share Settings window that lets you take control. I’ve invited another user as well, so there are now two other people sharing this document with me online. The View Only option allows people to view the spreadsheet but not to edit it, while the Stop Sharing command immediately stops sharing altogether. I can also set a password for extra security, although Numbers doesn’t offer to send the password to anyone so you’ll have to decide how you want to give out the password yourself.

 

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Providing these online versions of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote in a web browser is a good idea – or at least it will be if Apple ever gets around to finishing them properly. It means that you can share your documents with anyone that has an Internet connection, including people who use Windows PCs and Android tablets. And, as there’s no Windows or Android versions of these apps, the browser apps also allow people to download copies of your documents in Microsoft Office or PDF formats so that they can continue to work offline if they want to.

Read more iWork tutorials on Pages, Numbers and Keynote in our iWork topic zone. Including:

What's new in Keynote 6 for Mac

10 amazing Apple Keynote tips

10 amazing tips to make you better at Pages for Mac: Apple Pages 5 tricks

iWork Numbers 3 for Mac and iOS tips

10 Numbers tips for Mac OS X

How to share iWork '13 files with iOS

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