How to activate live editing of docs in Pages/Keynote/Numbers

1 November 2016, 13:45

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I was very excited by the news from this year’s WWDC that you can now collaborate on documents within the iWork apps (Pages, Numbers and Keynote). Working as a freelance writer I don’t actually care about collaborating, per se, but I do want to edit documents “live” across all my Apple devices – Mac, iPad, iPhone and even web browsers on non-Apple devices.

Live editing in this way means any edits are near-instantly saved and updated. In other words, I can literally work on my Mac and then pick-up my iPad and continue working on the same document there without any issues, such as the tedious requirement to ensure a file is first saved and uploaded. Previously, this kind of thing lead to file clashes where several versions of the file existed – insanity inducing!

Working in this way requires a little setup, though, which must be undertaken for each document. Notably, the collaboration feature isn’t automatically activated on documents.

  1. First, create the document and save it. It doesn’t matter where you do this – you can do so within Pages on any of your devices or Macs, or online at, but on iOS after creating the empty document you’ll need to tap the Done button and then tap the back button to return to the file listing – an action that uploads and saves the file to iCloud. On a Mac you can just tap Cmd+S as usual.
  2. Open the file again if you closed it above, and tap/click the collaborate button, which is typically at the top right of the screen and is a silhouette of a head in a circle. On an iPhone or iPad you might need to tap the three dots icon and then the Collaborate With Others menu entry.
  3. Tap the Share Options entry, and then tap Anyone With The Link. If using iOS, go back to the previous menu, and on Mac or iOS you can then select the Copy Link option.

And that’s all that’s required. Collaboration on the document, and therefore live editing, has now been activated. Technically speaking the last step above copied the web link for the document to the clipboard but you don’t need it. If you just open the document on any of your Macs or devices (or within iCloud) you can now edit it “live”, with changes appearing near-instantly on any other devices or Macs that you have the document open within. Give it a try by, for example, working live on a file in Pages on your Mac and having the same document open on your iPad. You’ll see the edits appear within a split second as you type them.

Of course, this doesn’t only work with new documents. You can open any old documents in Pages and tap or click to activate the collaboration options.

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