Sharing Documents via

The latest release of Apple’s iWork suite has brought a whole range of new features, notably an online collaberation system called Currently in public beta, the service aims to let you share your documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, allowing co-workers or friends to comment on them. This quick tutorial will walk you through how the feature works and explain the simplest way to get started.

Click the icon to get started

Click the icon to get started

In order to use, you need to have a copy of the latest version of the iWork suite. You can try it out by downloading the 30 day trial which will give you time to decide whether it’s worth purchasing (for $79).

Once you’ve created a document in any of the three included applications, clicking the icon will start the walk-through process of uploading your document to the ‘cloud’.

Uploading a Document

There are a number of options to choose when uploading

There are a number of options to choose when uploading

When asking to upload your document to iWork, a number of options are presented. You can choose who to address the invite to, enter a customized message to start the discussion, and specify the actions available to readers in terms of commenting and downloading.

It’s possible to invite additional people to review the document at a later stage if required, when viewing the document online. Don’t worry if you miss someone!

After clicking ‘Share’, iWork will format your document for sharing, create the different versions selected (Word, PDF etc) and proceed to upload everything to your space. Emails are automatically sent to all invitees and you’re provided with a link to immediately view the document online.

Viewing and Commenting

After clicking the link to view a document online, you’ll be presented with an interface resembling that of a native Mac application:

The interface closely resembles the local app

The interface closely resembles the local app

The document itself is represented exactly as it displays on your local machine, on account of it actually being a simple embedded PDF. Multiple pages can be navigated through the viewer on the left, and clicking ‘Add Comment’ after selecting a portion of text will open a small box in which to enter a message for all others viewing the document. A general comment area is also available to the right.

One slight issue I have is that it isn’t possible to comment on an image, only selected areas of text. This is a little annoying for photography heavy examples such as the one used here.

There are a number of download options

There are a number of download options

If you would like to download a local copy of the document (and have permission to do so), you can select the type of download you prefer:

As the different versions were originally generated by the local iWork application, your document is generally well converted and represented in the various formats.

How Can Be Used?

Whilst the execution is fairly slick, I was left wondering whether there are any situations where I would actually need this functionality. After considering it for a few days, I encountered a few different scenarios:

  • Sending a piece of market research to a friend after discussing it on the phone
  • Uploading documents for myself, when I know I’ll need to access them from a public computer
  • Sending out a web design contract for a client to review and comment on proved to be useful for all these tasks, but ultimately they could have been achieved through email or a free service such as Dropbox. You need to consider whether the ability for multiple people to comment on certain aspects of a document is important. If not, you may be just as well attaching the file to an email!

I’m interested to hear your thoughts on Do you feel that it’s a feature likely to encourage you to upgrade to iWork ’09, or are you not drawn in by the pretty interface with little substance underneath?


Add Yours
  • For me this feature is not that important. I use for the sharing aspect and the commenting well ok that’s a plus for but knowing that it is planed to be a to pay for service makes me don’t want that comment feature.

    I think a feature like that could and should be free!

  • Yeah, I much prefer the extra abilities that Dropbox gives you.

  • It’s not included with iWork, as your post implies–read the fine print:

    “The Public Beta is not included with the purchase of iWork ’09. Account setup and activation are required. Fees may apply. Internet access and iWork ’09 are required. Terms of service apply.”

    I’m curious to know if it handles just PDF files, say from another application?

  • I think it can be really useful when sharing documents with a client. One of the biggest problems of living in a Word world is that you can never be sure that What They See is What You Gave Them (WTSIWYGT). You can even walk through the document online with them. Acrobat supports commenting, it’s not as elegant as this. I love Dropbox for file sync and some sharing, and perhaps there is more power to it that I am missing. But for me, has a narrow but useful place in my workflow. I am curious how much it will be and whether it will include additional features. I would be willing to pay to a certain point, though I’m hoping it gets rolled into MobileMe.

  • It’s definitely very sleek and I’m glad web applications are being used with mainstream applications like iWork and Microsoft Office, but it still wouldn’t pull me away from Google Docs. Google Docs may not be very pretty, but it’s nice and simple and wonderfully free.

  • The best way is to use Google Docs.

  • Great things you’ve always shared with us. Just keep writing this kind of posts.The time which was wasted in traveling for tuition now it can be used for studies.Thanks
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