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How to use Pages for Mac

Looking to get more out of Pages? We offer 20 brilliant Pages for macOS/Mac OS X tips to turn you into an iWork wiz, some of which can be applied to the iOS and iCloud Pages apps too


  • pages for mac review split view 800home Pages for Mac tips 1
  • mw pages 01 Pages Styles 2
  • mw pages 02 Object Markers, Headers & Footers 3
  • mw pages 03 Compatibility 4
  • mw pages 04 Bullets & Lists 5
  • mw pages 05 Graphics 6
  • mw pages 06 Copy & paste 7
  • mw pages 07 Text wrap 8
  • mw pages 08 Page Layout 9
  • mw pages 09 Vertical ruler 10
  • mw pages 10 Reduce file size 11
  • pages for mac tips 01 remove snap guides 1000 Remove snap guides 12
  • pages for mac tips 02 paste and retain formatting 1000 Match paste style 13
  • pages for mac tips 03 chart formulas 1000 Create functions 14
  • pages for mac tips 04 styles 1000 Always use Styles 15
  • pages for mac tips 05 create your own styles 1000 Custom styles 16
  • pages for mac tips 06 rotate at once 1000 Rotate multiple objects 17
  • pages for mac tips 07 group rotate 1000 Group rotate 18
  • pages for mac tips 08 password protect 1000 Password protection 19
  • pages for mac tips 09 reduce file size 1000 Reduce file size 20
  • pages for mac tips 10 advanced gradient fill 1000 Instagram effects 21
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Step 1 of 21: Pages for Mac tips

Pages is a powerful word processor and page layout application that also happens to be free if you have a sufficiently recent Mac. But are getting as much out of this popular app as you could be?

In this article we round up some of the best Pages features you should be aware of, and our tips on mastering the software.

Additional reporting by Lucy Hattersley

Read next: Apple Pages 5.6 for Mac review | Pages for iPad & iPhone tips

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Next Prev pages for mac review split view 800home

Pages is a powerful word processor and page layout application that also happens to be free if you have a sufficiently recent Mac. But are getting as much out of this popular app as you could be?

In this article we round up some of the best Pages features you should be aware of, and our tips on mastering the software.

Additional reporting by Lucy Hattersley

Read next: Apple Pages 5.6 for Mac review | Pages for iPad & iPhone tips


Step 2 of 21: Pages for Mac tips: Make good use of Pages Styles

This tip not only applies to Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, it is sound advice for almost every application that uses text formatting, making you a good citizen in our cyber-world! If your Pages content is being passed on to designers, for inclusion in page layout programs, or to be used in a webpage, applying style sheets properly is essential.

Text has two style characteristics; the visual aspect being the choice of typeface, font colour and size, and the second being structural. HTML Tags are examples of structural styles, for example h1, h2, p. These tags should be applied to the first level of headings, secondary heading, and paragraphs respectively. Pages also has structural styles. The default paragraph styles in Pages include, Title, Subtitle, Heading, and Heading 2. Here this have been listed in their hierarchy, and could go on to list Heading 3, Heading 4 ad infinitum.

Apply the appropriate structural style to selected text.

Paragraph styles can only be applied to whole paragraphs, these are usually created by pressing the return key. Therefore a single word used as a heading can be tagged as a paragraph. To apply a style sheet to a text element within a paragraph use Character Styles.

If the colour and fonts of the styles don't match your design, change the type attributes in the text inspector. To do this select an entire paragraph that has been tagged with the style you wish to modify. Then change the type attributes, before clicking the Update button that appears at the top of the Text Inspector.

The automatic creation of Tables of Contents rely on correctly applied paragraph styles.

Find out how to get Microsoft Office for Mac 2017.


Step 3 of 21: Pages for Mac tips: Object Markers, Headers & Footers

You may already be using headers and footers in Pages, but need to know how to add a graphic every page a document, this tip will show you how.

Move your cursor to the top or bottom of a Pages document created from a template such as Blank, and you’ll see a series of three outlined boxes. These are either the header or footer, and can be used to for automatic page numbering, chapter headers and so on. Take a look under the Insert menu to see some of the auto-options available. By default headers and footers appear on every page of a document.

As their names suggest header and footers appear at the top and bottom of a page, but what about something in the middle? If you choose Insert > Choose in Pages you'll be able to add a graphic or photo to a page. To make a graphic automatically appear on every page, select it and choose > Arrange > Section Masters > Move Objects to Section Master. The object automatically moves to the background. Choose Arrange > Section Masters to check whether Make Master Objects Selectable is enabled so that you can select and modify your object. Use the Style tab of the inspector to change an object's opacity.

By default a Pages document has a single section so the object will appear on every page.

Read: Edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint docs on your iPad and iPhone, for free


Step 4 of 21: Pages for Mac tips: Future-proofing Pages documents

Some projects need to run over several years, this tips describe ways to try and future proof Pages documents. There's never a good time to find that you can’t open a Page 08 document without opening it in Pages 09 first. To avoid this problem make a Microsoft Word back-up. You won’t need Word to try this tip.

Pages documents are easily exported to Word format, and Pages can open Word documents. Mad as it may seem saving a copy of your Pages work to Word all but future proofs it. With a Pages document open choose File > Export to > Word. In the dialogue that appears, open the Advanced options and choose .doc rather than .docx to maximise the file’s compatibility. Click Next to save the Word document. Some layout settings will be lost in translation but your words and pictures will be saved.

The Word .doc format is ubiquitous, with several free applications that open them. To avoid using Word .doc files you could make a Rich Text Format (RTF) version of your Pages work too, but placed graphics and photos are lost so should only be used for text only manuscripts.

Read: Microsoft Word vs Apple Pages for iOS review


Step 5 of 21: Pages for Mac tips: Use Pages Bullets & Lists to outline reports and essays

Use Bullets & Lists for those occasions when you have a head full of ideas and need a way to get them down quickly. Formatting ideas as Bullets & Lists is great because the text can easily be resequenced and given hierarchy. However keep things simple, at least to start with. On a blank Pages document try typing Concept 1 then press Return, type Concept 2 then press Return, and repeat this until you’ve listed five or six concepts. Select all of this text and in the Text inspector locate Bullets & List and apply Numbers as the bullet option. The list of concepts will be labelled '1. Concept 1, 2. Concept 2' and so on. Click the number 5 created by applying the bullet. This bullet can now be dragged up and down to change the list order.

Once you are comfortable with this you can try creating hierarchies using Tiered Numbers. This can be used to indent bullets, which can be listed as 1, 1.1, 1.2. 1.3, 2, 2.1, 2.2 and so on. The further you push this concept the greater the need to use Bullet & List styles, because as you drag bullets to change their hierarchy their layout formatting falls apart. This problem can be corrected by apply Bullet & List styles.

One final point, if you’re providing text for use in a layout or web page application, you may need to switch off the bullet formatting and number your lists manually. Regardless of the word-processing application used, auto-numbered bullets don’t always translate properly when passed to other applications.

Read: Pages 5.5 for Mac review


Step 6 of 21: Pages for Mac tips: Pasting graphics from web pages

Using Insert > Choose is one way to locate and import previously saved graphics in to Pages. In addition, any photos in your current Photos library can be dragged from the Media Browser on to a document. However both these processes require that images are already saved and stored appropriately. There is a quicker way to copy an image from a webpage or other open application and paste it directly into Pages.

To try this copy and paste method have a Pages document open, this method also works for Numbers and Keynote. You'll also need to open a webpage or any document from which you wish to copy an image. With the target image visible press Command-Shift-4. Your cursor becomes a crosshair. Hold down the alt or option key and drag a selection that covers the chosen image. The selected area is copied to your clipboard.

Switch applications back to Pages and press Command-V to paste the contents of your clipboard into Pages. This method is a great timesaver when working exclusively in Pages, Numbers, or Keynote. However, if you need to pass on your work to page layout or web page applications you’ll need to present any placed images as separate files.


Step 7 of 21: Pages for Mac tips: Pasting text from a web page without formatting

This isn't condoning plagiarism; but there are times when the path of least resistance means copying text from a web page, PDF, or other document. When it's a business mission statement, or a quote from your CEO, all you need to do is just select the required text and press Command-C. With the text on your clipboard it's ready to paste into Pages, Numbers, or Keynote.

If you press Command-V in Pages any text on the clipboard will paste retaining the type attributes applied in the originating application, including any inline graphics and hyperlinks! This can be ideal; instant formatting. However, this doesn't mean the structural hierarchy of styles sheet tags carry over; they don't. The text may look stylised but it's purely visual.

There is a second paste option. With text on your clipboard, in Pages, press Command-Alt-Shift-V. The text pastes adopting the current paragraph style set in the Pages document. For example, if the text is pasted into a paragraph where the Body style is applied that’s the style which will be used. If several paragraphs are pasted in to a heading style such as Title, the first paragraph which adopt the Title style and following paragraphs will become Body style (when the default 'Following Paragraph Style' is set in Pages).


Step 8 of 21: Pages for Mac tips: Watch your text wrap options

Objects that are pasted or placed into Pages have a text wrap and placement options set automatically. Like many automatic settings across Pages, Numbers, and Keynote these options work for the majority of situations but sometimes you'll want to change wrap and placement objects, especially when you want to create an ePUB.

To verify Object Placement and Text Wrap options, select an object in Pages, typically this would be a photograph. In the Arrange tab of the Format Inspector, you'll often want to leave the default Move with Text object placement, on. This option tries to keep the object in a position relative to place in the text where you placed it. Note the word 'try'; as text is added either before or after the object it will remove in a relative fashion. To truly lock the object relative to the text choose the Inline with Text, Text Wrap option. This is ideal when working on a manuscript rather than creating page designs. With these options set, making an ePUB with the images set in the correct place becomes very reliable.

If you want to experiment with page design you'll want greater control over text wraps. First complete your writing and object placement, then change the Text Wrap options to something other than Inline with Text; previously greyed out options in the inspector will become active so you can exercise your graphic design skills.


Step 9 of 21: Pages for Mac tips: When to use Page Layout mode

Pages is an application with two modes, Word Processing and Page Layout. It might seem a good idea to use Page Layout mode for brochure or newsletter design. Don't. Page Layout is great for posters, designing business cards and pretty much any graphics that will be presented on a single page, but for long documents where text needs flow across several pages stick with Word Processing mode, it has many great page design functions.

The key benefit of Page Layout mode is it allows objects to be layered freely, letting you use Pages as a simple, effective, tool for creating graphics. Shapes can be combined, and reshaped using vector controls similar to those found in pro-applications like Adobe Illustrator.

Page Layout can be used for multipage designs, where the running order of pages can be swapped by dragging page thumbnails, but the 5.5 version of the Pages offers no way to flow type between separate text boxes. Between the two modes your can achieve great things, and when you've finished your work Pages gives you several ways to share your work, including PDF.

PDFs can be created in two ways. There's choosing File > Export to > PDF, but for greater control over PDF layout choose File > Print. In the print window set the required layout settings, then use the PDF pop-up menu in the bottom left of the window to select a PDF type.


Step 10 of 21: Pages for Mac tips: Enable vertical ruler when designing pages

Pressing Command-R reveals or hides the ruler in Pages. By default that's a single horizontal ruler in word processing mode and a horizontal and vertical ruler in page layout. In the previous tip it was suggested that you should design newsletters and brochures in word processing mode. In fact all the templates in Pages for newsletters are in word processing mode. Having a vertical ruler really helps in design layout, to enable it in Pages requires a visit to the application’s preferences.

Choose Pages > Preferences and in Rulers tab select Enable vertical ruler for documents with body text. It's also the place to set the Ruler Units, the choices are Points, Centimetres, or Inches.

Another default setting is revealed in the preferences. Alignment Guides are enabled, these help you align objects in both word processing and page layout modes, unless an object has its Text Wrap set to Inline with Text.

When ruler guides are placed and Alignment Guides are enabled, objects will snap to the guides, or align to the centre or edges of objects. This very useful feature can occasionally be a hindrance. Holding down the Command key while dragging objects temporarily disables snapping.

Read: Alternatives to Pages


Step 11 of 21: Pages for Mac tips: Know when to reduce file size in Pages

There's a key feature found in applications made by Apple, including Pages, that you should be aware of. Pages, Numbers, and Keynote link to deep system frameworks and technologies which means you can cram them with photos, audio and video and neither the documents or the applications slow down. All developers can write their applications to harness the same power. As an end user the only appreciable downside to cramming documents with lots of media is the bloating of file size.

If you find your documents are eating up storage space you can choose File > Advance > Reduce File Size, but before you do this that please note that the Reduce File Size command will down-sample any large media files.

For example, if an A3 sized photo is placed in Pages and scaled to A6 the resolution required to output the photo at A3 is retained unless Reduce File Size is used. If you use reduce file size then later you decide to enlarge the A6 sized photo back to its original A3 size the resolution required would be lost. Reduce file size is best reserved for documents you wish to share perhaps via email, and then only on a copy of the original Pages document.


Step 12 of 21: Pages for Mac tips: Quickly get rid of snap guides

Pages uses Snap Guides (the yellow lines) to help you line up different elements. These are awesome, because lining up boxes makes everything look better. But sometimes you want to quickly override Snap Guides in Pages. Hold down the Command button when moving an item to temporarily remove the Snap Guides.

See also:

Microsoft Word vs Apple Pages review

Apple Pages for iPad, iPhone review

Pages for Mac review


Step 13 of 21: Pages for Mac tips: Paste and match while retaining the Pages style

Cutting and pasting in content from the web is a pain, because it uses the web style by default (which won't match the style of your Pages theme). Press Shift+Option+Command+V to paste and match the style of the document.

See: Alternatives to Pages


Step 14 of 21: Pages for Mac tips: Create charts with functions inside Pages

Did you know the charts you add to Pages documents have the power of Numbers? You don't just have to put information in them, you can use them to create formulas. Add a table by clicking Table and choosing a table style. Enter an equals sign ('=') into any box to bring up the Functions sidebar.

See: Microsoft Excel vs Apple Numbers review


Step 15 of 21: Pages for Mac tips: Always use Styles to keep the Pages theme intact

Instead of formatting text manually, learn to use the Styles menu. Click Format > Text and click on the current style in the top right. It will reveal a drop down menu with all the available styles. The styles change depending on the theme you have picked. Using these will make sure your Pages document stays as good looking as the theme you started out with.

Read next: Pages for Mac tips | Pages for iPad & iPhone tips


Step 16 of 21: Pages for Mac tips: Create your own custom styles in a Pages document

It's easy to quickly create a new style. Click on Format and the Text tab and use the Font, Colour and other options to format your text. Now click the Paragraph Styles menu and click the Add ('+') icon in the top right. It will create a new style based on your selection.


Step 17 of 21: Pages for Mac tips: Rotate several objects in Pages at the same time

You can rotate multiple objects at the same time. Command-click several boxes to choose them all. Now click Format > Arrange and use the Rotate tool to rotate all the boxes. This enables you to quickly line up several items on a jaunty angle.


Step 18 of 21: Pages for Mac tips: Group items to rotate them around a central point

You can also rotate a whole bunch of items around a point in the middle of them all. This is another way to get different boxes to work together. Command-click multiple boxes and click Format > Arrange. Now click Group before using the Rotate tool to move them around.


Step 19 of 21: Pages for Mac tips: Password protection

You can password-protect your Pages files. You used to do this in the Save As window, but now you access the password via File > Set Password. This is great if you want to share a confidential document.


Step 20 of 21: Pages for Mac tips: Reduce the file size of your Pages documents

When you start adding your own photos and videos to a document the file size will shoot up. This makes it difficult to share the document via email. You can optimise all the images so they still look great, but don't take up any extra space. Click on File > Reduce File Size and Reduce to shrink the file.


Step 21 of 21: Pages for Mac tips: Uses Advanced Gradient Fill to create Instagram-style effects

You can give photos a neat visual trick using the Advanced Gradient Fill. Click on Shapes and pick Square. Now use the drag handles to draw the solid block of colour over a photograph. With the shape selected Click on Format > Styles and drag the Opacity slider down to 25%. Now change Fill to Advanced Gradient Fill and use the colour boxes and sliders to change the colour (blues and greens work well).

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