iWork changes irk some business users

Erik Eckel highlights what's good and bad about Apple's new iWork applications.


Business users eagerly awaited Apple’s new iWork platform, released in October of 2013. The office productivity suite, last refreshed in 2009, had grown stale. Upon releasing the new upgrade, Apple touted many new improvements. Unfortunately, not everyone is pleased with the new version, particularly power business users who are dependent on the platform for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation tasks.

What’s good

According to Apple, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are now free with every Mac and iOS device. Most users who previously purchased the suite will find that they can upgrade for free too.

The iWork applications now boast 64-bit architecture, which means performance improvement. iCloud is also built into each app, making it easier to share files between devices (an fairly common requirement). Redesigned interfaces, meanwhile, simplify user interaction and increase efficiencies.

What’s bad

Many users complain that the iWork suite is now overly simplified -- sometimes, at the expense of functionality. Yes, Apple’s improvements provide a consistent interface for the apps across OS X and iOS platforms -- encouraging collaboration, simplifying sharing between different devices, and even adding Web-based app compatibility. However, AppleScript support is lacking, particularly within Numbers and Keynote. Also, alignment guides need improvement, toolbar customizations have changed, and presentation options are limited, as are keyboard shortcuts. Another frustration is that users creating or editing files with the new version are finding that other people are unable to open the files using older iWork versions.

What’s going to happen?

Apple is assuring iWork users that many important features will be added with upcoming releases. In a recent announcement, Apple informed customers that “some features from iWork ’09 were not available for the initial release” of iWork ’13. According to Apple, the following list of features will be added within six months:


  • Customize toolbar
  • Vertical ruler
  • Improved alignment guides
  • Improved object placement
  • Import of cells with images
  • Improved word counts
  • Keyboard shortcuts for styles
  • Manage pages and sections from the thumbnail view


  • Customize toolbar
  • Improvements to zoom and window placement
  • Multi-column and range sort
  • Auto-complete text in cells
  • Page headers and footers
  • Improvements to AppleScript support


  • Customize toolbar
  • Restoring old transitions and builds
  • Improvements to presenter display
  • Improvements to AppleScript support

Apple also confirmed the ’13 platform’s new unified file formats can be exported to the old iWork ’09 versions for compatibility purposes by selecting File, choosing Export To, and then selecting the appropriate option (Pages ’09, Numbers ’09, or Keynote ’09). Another compatibility option is to revert files that haven’t been edited using iWork ’13 by selecting File and choosing Revert To.

More information on the iWork ’13 suite is available on Apple’s web site. Pages, Numbers, and Keynote all possess their own web pages, if you'd like to obtain more information about those specific apps as well.

Does your organization or department use iWork? Share your experience about the new iWork applications in the discussion thread below.


By Erik Eckel

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...