We are a great team here at Macworld and we all use a Numbers spreadsheet that we access from the web in order to manage the stories we are working on for the website. That all worked very well until Apple broke iCloud.

Following the release of the iOS 8 update we found when we try and access the Numbers document in our web browser the usual way we are told that the spreadsheet is not available.

We are able to access the spreadsheet in the Numbers app on our Mac. However, we are not able to save that to our Mac’s hard drive. Only in iCloud. (We're not the only people having problems: there is a forum on Apple's website addressing exactly this issue!)

Next step was to access the Numbers beta on the iCloud website to be told that to use Numbers we need to upgrade our account to iCloud Drive.

Now, apart from the fact that developers are warning users not to upgrade to iCloud Drive, we were rather put off by the fact that the alert notes: “Important: If you upgrade, you won’t be able to access spreadsheets in iCloud from devices with iOS 7 or OS X Mavericks. You’ll need to install iOS 8 or OS X Yosemite on the following devices.

Seriously! The company hasn’t even launched Yosemite to the public yet!

Apple even warns on its website:

"Upgrade to iCloud Drive later this year when OS X Yosemite is available. Choose this option if you’d like your documents to keep up to date with your apps on OS X Mavericks or earlier. Note that until you upgrade your iCloud account to iCloud Drive, you won’t be able to use the iWork web apps on iCloud.com or the Share via iCloud feature."

The company goes on to say that if you upgrade to iCloud Drive now: "Your documents will keep up to date across devices with iOS 8, Macs with OS X Yosemite, and iCloud.com. (OS X Yosemite will be available this fall.)"

However, it adds:

  • Your documents will no longer keep up to date on devices with iOS 7 and Macs with OS X Mavericks or earlier.
  • You’ll be able to use the iWork web apps on iCloud.com.
  • You’ll be able to use the Share via iCloud feature on iOS 8 and iCloud.com. You’ll be able to use it on OS X Yosemite later this year.
  • Documents you previously shared via iCloud will be accessible to collaborators.

That final suggestion that the documents previously shared via iCloud gave us some confidence that it might work...

Apple adds that if you don’t upgrade to iCloud Drive at this time:

  • Your documents will keep up to date across devices with iOS 8 and across devices with iOS 7 and Macs with OS X Mavericks or earlier.
  • You won’t be able to use the iWork web apps on iCloud.com.
  • You won’t be able to use the Share via iCloud feature.
  • Documents you previously shared via iCloud won’t be accessible to collaborators until you upgrade to iCloud Drive.

Unfortunately we are pretty much stuck at this point. If we don't update to iCloud Drive (due to the warnings not to, and Apple's own insistence that it won't run in Mavericks), we can’t access the Numbers spreadsheet in any way other than via the Numbers app on the one Mac. So much for teamwork.

So we tried exporting a copy of the spreadsheet to Excel, only to discover that we couldn’t save it to our hard drive either. Apple has basically kidnapped our spreadsheet. Not an ideal solution but the next step was a cut and paste job into Excel. We don’t want to lose this document.

Having got a backup copy of our spreadsheet our next step was to do what we had been warned not to and update to iCloud Drive.

Updating to iCloud Drive

Updating to iCloud Drive took about three minutes.

The good news is that following the update we were able to open the Numbers spreadsheet from iCloud.com. We had to resolve a conflict, including its insistence that we had opened the spreadsheet on our iPhone – which we hadn’t.

However, the usual link to the spreadsheet was no longer working, so we clicked the Share icon and Share Spreadsheet. Unfortunately at this point we got a warning that Numbers for iCloud couldn’t connect to iCloud. Which given that we were in iCloud seems a little odd. (Plus it disqualifies Apple's statement above that it would allow collaboration!)

Ultimately this suggests that we can no longer collaborate on this spreadsheet, at least not until Yosemite launches. Read more about the Yosemite launch date here.

When we tried to close the Numbers app on our Mac we got a spinning beachball. Necessitating a Force Quit.

Our only solution for now. Cut and paste the spreadsheet into Google Sheets and share it.

Numbers, Pages and Keynote on iOS 8 with iCloud Drive

While the iCloud Drive update was happening we checked the Pages app on our iPhone. When we first opened it our Pages documents were there. However, The app then crashed and when we reopened we were directed to a free update in the App Store and all our Pages documents had vanished. Earlier today a colleague complained that their Pages documents had disappeared and they hadn’t even updated to iOS 8, this is likely connected. We tapped the link to the App Store and it took ages, but eventually went through. We ran the update.  

When we opened the new version of Pages on our iPhone we had, yes, you guessed it. No documents.

However, the app refreshed itself and the documents began to appear, although in a slightly strange order.

How to solve iWork and iCloud Drive issues

For now that is the only advice we have. In the past we have outlined a workaround from when we encountered a similar issue (described at the bottom of this article). Right now that workaround isn't working for us, but it may work for you. We will update this story as soon as we get more information or Apple fixes the problem.

Other iWork updates and issues

In the rest of this article we will list all the various updates to Apple's iWork for iCloud suite of web based apps, as well as the iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Mac versions of Apple's office apps. The online version of iWork was launched as iWork.com back in January 2009. The web based software is still in beta. Last updated on 26 June with iWork for iCloud updates. 

Read our reviews of the following iWork apps:

Wondering when Microsoft will buck up their ideas and launch an update to Office for Mac? Read all about it in our Microsoft Office for Mac 2014 launch date article.

Apple's iWork update June 2014

Apple has made a few more updates to iWork for iCloud, these include the following features that aid the transition between iOS and OS X versions of documents.

The latest updates bring the cloud-based versions of Pages, Numbers and Keynote into line with the current Mac and iOS versions. For example, if you edit the zoom level, or close on a particular worksheet or slide, iCloud will remembers where you left off.

The iCloud version will also remember the user's most recent screen name when accessing collaborative documents and spreadsheets.

There are also new tips available to help users use basic functions like copy and paste, and new shortcut commands are now displayed in a pop-up menu in the iCloud version of Numbers.

Image manipulation is also easier: if you right click an image you will see a dynamic masking tool for cropping and resizing graphics.

Apple's iWork update May 2014

Apple released a few updates to the beta version of its iWork for iCloud productivity suite in May.

You can now have up to 100 collaborators in a single document at the same time; you can choose from almost 200 new fonts; there are also additional options in the colour panel; and you can finally create and format both 2D and interactive charts.

All three apps also can now handle editing documents of up to 1GB, as well as inserting individual images of up to 10MB.

Pages gets the ePub export capabilities, object layering, and the ability to insert and edit inline tables.

Numbers gets CSV export and alternating row colors in tables

And Keynote now lets you show and hide slide numbers.

Apple's iWork update April 2014

Apple also updated iWork for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Mac and iCloud, in April, adding new features and improvements to Pages, Numbers and Keynote. The updates came less than a week after the launch of Microsoft's Office for iPad.

On 1 April, users of Apple's web-based iWork applications were greeted by updates that include graphics tweaks that add Retina display support, usability enhancements and new sharing options. There are also new features in the iOS and Mac iWork apps.

Below is a closer look at the new features in Pages, Numbers and Keynote, but if you've found that you have shared documents in iCloud that can't be edited this morning, try duplicating the document or spreadsheet by right clicking, then opening the duplicate and sharing as usual.

Apple's Pages update April 2014

Users of the iCloud version of Pages will now find that the document editor has a new look, with improved text wrap and new document templates. Charts in imported documents are now editable, and there's a new 'view only' option that means shared documents cannot be edited by the recipient.

Version 2.2 of Pages for iOS also includes the 'view only' option, as well as other new features such as new search options, import, export placement and bidirectional text improvements and usability improvements.

Version 5.2 of Pages for Mac has been given the aforementioned 'view only' option too. Other changes include the ability to delete, duplicate and reorder sections using the page navigator and the ability to create custom data formats, while improvements have been made to imports, exports, copy-paste style, placement, Instant Alpha image editing, Media Browser and search, AppleScript, di-directional text, text box behaviour, EndNote support and more.

Apple's Numbers update April 2014

The update to Numbers for iCloud brings some visual tweaks and the usability and sharing enhancements mentioned above. There's also the 'view only' option.

Version 2.2 of Numbers for iOS also has the 'view only' option, plus the new ability to search spreadsheets by name, a progress indicator for calculations, improved Microsoft Excel and more.

Version 3.2 of Numbers for Mac includes the same improvements as the iOS version as well as new print setup and printing improvements, the ability to create custom table sales, better CSV import, usability improvements and more.

Apple's Keynote update April 2014

Keynote also got an update, with the iCloud version receiving a new design for the presentation editor as well as some other improvements, including the 'view only' option across all three versions of the app.

Version 2.2 of Keynote for iOS lets you use your finger to illustrate on slides while presenting, and also includes a new portrait layout option in the presenter display, new transitions and builds, detailed presentation import feedback, improved animation performance and improved bi-directional support. Search and export improvements have been made, too.

Keynote for Mac is now on version 6.2, and includes improved Presenter Display layouts and labels, new transitions and builds, improved Magic Move, motion blur, new rulers, improved Instant Alpha image editing, Media Browser improvements and support for animated GIFs.

Mac users will now also be able to specify the start and end points of movies, control the z-order of bubble chart labels, allow objects on slide to layer with master and more.

For more information about the changes in each of Apple's iWork apps, visit Apple's what's new page.

iCloud iWork troubleshooting

Let us know if you experience any issues with the web versions of the iWork apps and we will investgage and offer solutions below.

How to solve iWork - sharing problems

If you have shared documents in iCloud that can't be edited you may be able to follow this workaround. The last time we had an issue accessing a shared spreadsheet this is what we did to overcome the issue. Unfortunately this doesn't work for us following the launch of iCloud Drive.

1. Go to iCloud.com and log in.

2. Duplicate the document or spreadsheet by right clicking.

3. Open the duplicate document and share as usual.

4. To share the spreadsheet, click on the people icon top right, and either email them the link, or cut and paste it and send that to them.

Here are some alternatives to the Apple iWork suite: