How to open ancient Pages, Numbers, and Keynote documents in macOS

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Apple has put the Mac versions of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote through some major revisions over the years. Early versions gave way to the “iWork ’09” suite in 2009, a major update and technically numbered version 4.

Then in 2013, Apple revamped them all again. While versions of the apps starting in 2013 (version 5) through the present (version 10) can open files created in the ’09 suite, version 5 and later can’t open pre-’09 releases, or versions 1 to 3.

Readers sometimes write in wondering how to extract documents they haven’t opened in years but never went through the ’09 update. Unfortunately, earlier versions of Pages are just obscure enough that they aren’t found in any of the major open-source and other software apps that can pick the lock on nearly every outdated format and all modern ones.

There is a way, however, but it only works if you haven’t upgraded your Mac to macOS 10.15 Catalina, as it requires 32-bit software that won’t run under that latest macOS release.

  1. Download Apple’s iWork ’09 trial version. Yes, it’s still on the company’s site!

  2. Double-click the disk image to mount it.

  3. Because the trial software is so old, Apple’s digital certificates to validate the installer have failed. From the Finder, Control-click the installer package on the disk image and choose Open. (Double-clicking won’t work.)

  4. The Finder warns you that the package is from an unidentified developer. Click Open.

  5. Run the installer as normal. This installs the iWork ’09 suite in trial form.

  6. From Apple’s software update page, download the iWork 9.3 updater.

  7. Double-click the disk image to mount it and run the installer. (This one is new enough that you can launch it normally.)

  8. Installation seems to take a long time, but wait it out. When complete, launches Pages ’09, Numbers ’09, or Keynote ’09. Click the trial link to proceed.

mac911 old iwork installer warning IDG

The iWork ’09 trial software installer reqiures a security bypass, as it’s so old.

Now you have 30 days to open pre-’09 files and save them using these apps. You are prompted for each file whether to save, which overwrites the earlier version, or save as, which lets you create a new, “up-to-date” separate file.

In a newer version of any of the productivity apps, you can open this ’09-saved file and once again save it or save it as a new file to bring it into full, modern compatibility.

This Mac 911 article is in response to a question submitted by Macworld reader Brianna.

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