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When iWork doesn't: Troubleshooting mail merge, copying data, sharing, and printing

Glenn Fleishman | June 18, 2015
The Apple OS X productivity apps formerly known as iWork (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) allow a fair amount of data manipulation and back-and-forth handling. The latest major revisions to each one brought the code up to date but left features critical to some behind.

The Apple OS X productivity apps formerly known as iWork (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) allow a fair amount of data manipulation and back-and-forth handling. The latest major revisions to each one brought the code up to date but left features critical to some behind.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how to manage the previous versions of these OS X apps so you could retain access and even round-trip files between old and new.

Before and since then, many of you have written in with questions about merging data, selectively printing or exporting data, or gaining access to options that you think should be there. In this column, I'll try to help, and point you to previous Mac 911s that may offer more in-depth assistance.

In Pages 5, people are afraid to merge

Despite mail merge and data merge being one of the greatest features (often horribly implemented) of business software, Apple stripped it out of Pages 5. However, earlier this year, Chris Breen wrote about a free app that provides much of the functionality: Pages Data Merge. It's not supported by Apple, but it's made by a long-time AppleScript guru there.

Charles Giai-Gischia wrote from Paris (the one in France) about one dissatisfaction with the free app:

The only problem is that once I've filled all the fields in the app in order to merge the data, I would like to keep and save the filled window to be able to reuse it a next time instead of needing to refill it again. But Save As in the menu remains gray.

In the current state of the app, you can't save the state of your field assignments. The app is still being updated, and I'd suggest visiting an Apple Support Communities thread, where there's an active discussion going, and making a feature request. (You'll note I asked the question there in case I missed a setting.)

Jan Taylor has a merge question, too, which I'm not sure relates to Pages 4 or Pages Data Merge, but the answer is the same:

I think I have followed the steps, and my placeholder tag in my Pages document is fine: the placeholder "Name" is the same as a column in my Numbers spreadsheet. When I begin the merge I get the following message: The import table contains no assigned placeholder tags. How do I create assigned placeholder tags?

Select your placeholder text in Pages, choose Format > Advanced > Define as Placeholder Text.

One from column A, 700 from column back

Shirley Allan is trying to take just the names field from a Numbers spreadsheet for her computer club. (It's over 700 names! Congratulations on having a thriving club!)

 

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