How to share iWork '13 files with iOS devices


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Reader Nathan Bach is confounded by Keynote. He writes:

I use Google Drive to share files with friends and colleagues. I recently started using the latest versions of iWork on both my Mac and iPad and I’ve been told that others can’t open my Keynote presentations on their iOS devices. I tested it and, sure enough, when I try to open the file in the Google Drive app on my iPad, it appears as a folder. How do people manage to share these files?

When Apple changed the iWork file format so that Pages, Numbers, and Keynote documents are saved as packages rather than a single file it thought very much about iCloud and very little about sharing these files with cloud-based services such as Google Drive. Google Drive is simply reporting what it sees—a folder full of files, none of which is the full Keynote presentation. Indirect though they may be, there are a couple of things you can do about this (I mean other than complain to Apple).

The first is that you can open these files in a different app—Good.iWare’s $5 GoodReader or Readdle’s free Documents 5, for example. Both of these apps support the major cloud services—Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, OneDrive, and SugarSync. In the case of an iWork ‘13 file saved to Google Drive, you can download the folder that represents the document and the “folder” will be converted to a document that can be opened in the appropriate iWork app on your iPad.

Unfortunately this isn’t true for all cloud services., for example, refuses to sync an iWork ‘13 file. In this case you have to compress the file and then sync it. You can do this directly within the iWork app—check the File menu of your iWork apps and you’ll find an Export command that offers the option to export the file as a ZIP archive.

If you want to compress a file after-the-fact you can Control-click (right-click) on the iWork file in question and choose Compress [nameoffile] from the resulting menu and then move the archive into your syncing folder. Or, like me, you can create a simple Automator application that contains the single Create Archive action, which points to your sync folder (as seen below). When it’s time to sync an iWork file, just drag it atop this application and the file is compressed and moved to your sync folder.


The compressed file will then be available to your iPad. However, some of the host applications for your syncing services may not be able to do anything with these archives as they can’t unzip them. Again, turn to GoodReader or Documents 5, as each will unzip these archives. Once they have you can then use the apps’ Open In command to open the files in the appropriate iWork app.

You’re hardly the only one who faces this issue. Educators who want to use iWork in the classroom, in particular, find this maddening. Should you be one of those educators (or anyone else, for that matter) who has an alternative solution, feel free to add it to the comments below.

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