Last updated: 3 weeks ago
iWork is an office productivity suite that allows users to create word-processing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. The three apps (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) are free to anyone with an Apple ID. They're available on macOS, iPadOS, iOS, and the web.
● Pages - a word processor
● Numbers - a spreadsheet app
● Keynote - for slideshows
● Available on all Apple devices and the web
● Collaborative features
iWork is Apple's suite of office apps, available for macOS, iOS, iPadOS, and web apps through iCloud.com. The collection of apps includes Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, which are a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation software, respectively.
The iWork Suite
The iWork suite serves as a sleeker and simpler alternative to the industry-standard Microsoft Office and more limited Google Docs. iWork stands out from its rivals with a clean, sophisticated design and intuitive user experience.
Many a Microsoft Office user is familiar with the toolbar in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. It has a row of menus, each of which houses a wide variety of settings. By contrast, the iWork toolbar is clean and straightforward:
iWork conceals a more extensive toolset than its clean interface may suggest. In addition to the taskbar, you'll find additional tools waiting in the Format sidebar on the right. The apps strike a nice balance between minimalism and depth.
Like all modern Apple apps, the iWork suite automatically saves your work in your iCloud account, syncing instantly across devices. And Apple's Handoff lets you immediately pick up where you left off if you're jumping from iPad to Mac.
The iOS versions of iWork apps originally had missing features compared to their Mac counterparts, but they now appear to have feature parity with macOS. And the iPad version adds Apple Pencil capabilities. With the Pencil, you can draw, annotate, shade, and chart animation paths in your documents.
iWork apps initially launched as paid software (and were later included for free with new Apple-device purchases), but they are now free-to-use for anyone who creates an Apple ID. There's no longer a requirement to have ever bought Apple hardware.
With the web version, users of Windows, ChromeOS, and Linux can now use the iWork suite even without access to Apple devices. Though the limits of the web variants make them less-than-ideal primary office apps, iWork apps on the web could come in handy if a team member who doesn't use Apple gadgets collaborates with those who do.
iCloud-based collaboration is built into all three iWork apps, allowing teams to track each other's changes, create highlights, and hold threaded conversations – all in real-time. And though individual document-sharing has been part of the apps for more than a decade, in 2020, Apple added the ability to share entire folders with a team. Just add a new document to the folder, and every team member will instantly be able to view and edit it.
Apple describes Pages as "a canvas for creativity." Pages provides a variety of templates and tools that allow users with a penchant for artistry to enhance word-processing documents with an Apple-esque visual flair.
Pages also offers all the familiar basics you'd expect from a word processor. It has a straightforward layout that lines up with Apple's modern software design language.
When it first debuted in 2005, Pages' primary focus was on creating documents intended to be viewed as printed hardcopies. But in today's digital world, the app now includes support for image galleries, embedded videos (including YouTube links), audio, animations, and display text filled with color gradients or images.
Pages includes over 70 Apple-designed templates for projects like resumes, newsletters, books, flyers, cards, and posters. You can also create your own templates on both macOS and iOS.
In 2018, Apple added the ability to create eBooks in Pages. In 2020, the company discontinued its previous book-creation software (iBooks Author), pointing wordsmiths to Pages for Apple Books publishing.
Pages saves documents in Apple's standard format (.pages), and it can open and edit Microsoft Word and other standard word-processing documents. Users can also export their work to formats like Word (DOCX), PDF, EPUB for eBooks, plain text (TXT), rich-text (RTF), and legacy Pages '09.
Numbers, Apple's answer to Microsoft Excel, makes it easy for users to add Apple-designed visuals to the world of spreadsheets.
Rather than starting a new document with an endless grid of cells the way Excel does, Numbers launches a blank canvas, allowing you to organize the space as you see fit.
Numbers includes a variety of ready-made templates. Categories range from the basic (things like classic tables, charts, and checklists) to financial (budgets, stocks, and savings), personal (calendars, schedules), business (invoices, employee schedules), and education (attendance, grade books, and GPA).
For math-oriented spreadsheets, Numbers supports hundreds of functions for both simple and complex formulas. And suppose you want a visual representation of your data. In that case, you can insert a variety of donut charts, bars, and interactive graphs, all in the design language you'd expect from Apple.
Numbers saves documents in Apple's standard format (.numbers), and it can also open and edit Microsoft Excel documents. Users can export their work to Excel (XLS), CSV, TSV, and legacy Numbers '09 formats.
Keynote is iWork's presentation app, serving as a rival to the industry-standard Microsoft PowerPoint as well as Google Slides.
Keynote includes beautiful Apple-made templates (ranging from simple and minimal to bold and colorful), a variety of slides, and customizable transitions. The app makes it easy to adjust themes to your liking, add new slides, find and tweak the transition that works just right for you, embed audio or video, and customize the appearance of presentation mode.
Keynote saves documents in the iWork presentation format (.keynote), and it can also open and edit Microsoft PowerPoint docs. Users can export their work to PowerPoint (PPTX), PDF, movie (Apple's M4V), GIF, various image formats, HTML, and legacy Keynote '09.
iWork Updates in 2020
Nothing has defined 2020 more than the COVID-19 pandemic and the widespread shift from physical work to virtual. Perhaps as a response to that, Keynote added an option to play slideshows in a window rather than only full-screen. This change could make it easier to present slideshows while teleconferencing.
One significant 2020 update was more about subtraction than addition. A recent update to Pages, Numbers, and Keynote removed the ability to upload documents from these apps to a WebDAV server. Anyone who once ran one of those for their business now has to seek alternatives.
This year, we saw Apple continue to push the iPad Pro's functionality closer to that of a laptop. Early in the year, the company added mouse and touchpad support to the iPadOS versions of the iWork apps. iPad owners who use the Magic Keyboard, a wireless mouse, or other cursor options can now use the iWork apps just as they would on a Mac.