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How to collaborate on documents using iWork and iCloud.com

Kirk McElhearn | Jan. 4, 2016
You can use Pages, Numbers, and Keynote to create documents with your friends, family, or co-workers, Here's how to get started.

Next, choose how to invite the other person to access your document. You can do this via Mail, Messages, Twitter, Facebook, or other means, or you can just copy a link and send it yourself. You might want to do the latter if you communicate with others via Slack or a similar collaboration tool. Click Share Document, and enter the email address, or other information needed, to share it.

share document
Send out an invitation to share a document.

When your collaborator receives a link to a document, they click it to view the document on iCloud.com. They don’t need an iCloud account and they can access the document in any web browser, even on Windows or Android. They enter their name (so you can follow the changes they make) and can edit your document if you’ve allowed them to do so. If not, they can simply view it.

Working together

If you’ve allowed a collaborator to edit your document, then the changes they make update in the app you’re using if you have the document open. For example, if you’ve created a spreadsheet in Numbers and a colleague edits it on the web, your document updates automatically. This doesn’t happen in real time, but takes a few seconds for changes to appear.

It’s better to make changes in the iCloud.com web interface. You’ll see a cursor when a collaborator is editing a document and if you click the user icon in the iCloud.com toolbar you can click on a user’s name and see which sections they’ve changed. However, once changes are made, you can’t see the exact changes. If you click a user’s name in the user popup, you may see the section they edited—this isn’t always the case—but not their exact changes.

editing
I’ve clicked on Rob G in the user popover, and I see a small badge over the bar chart, but I can’t see exactly what that user changed.

Sometimes, two or more people will make changes at the same time. Or you’ll make a change locally in Pages, Numbers, or Keynote and a collaborator will make an edit on iCloud.com. When this happens, you will both see a dialog saying that the documents are out of sync, and the users who are invited to edit the document will be prevented from editing anything. It’s up to the document’s owner to decide which version to keep—you can keep both, if you want, to review them later—but, again, you can’t compare the changes. You only see the date and time of the versions and where they were updated (iCloud.com or a specific computer). It’s best for the document’s creator and owner to ensure that people don’t simultaneously edit documents, which, of course, limits the usefulness of this feature.

 

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