Iwork Suite

File Format
  • Electronic File Formats
    • Document
      • iWork
Extension(s).pages, .pages.zip, .numbers, .numbers.zip, .key, .key.zip
PRONOMfmt/824, fmt/825, fmt/646

iWork is an Apple application suite available as apps for OS-X and iOS as well as in a cloud-based version on iCloud. It comprises Pages (word processing and desktop publishing), Numbers (spreadsheets), and Keynote (presentations). As of 2014, Apple seems to have deprecated the 'iWork' name, but they haven't introduced any other collective name for their office-suite applications, so people discussing and reviewing them still tend to call it by this name even if Apple isn't.

Iwork Suite Download

The web-based cloud version can be run in a browser (Not all browsers are fully supported; when you try it in Firefox, it says that it is an unsupported browser, but seems to work anyway, though it is possible some features aren't fully functional), and is free for iCloud users. The app versions are paid, though apparently they come free with newly-purchased iOS devices since late 2013; they will sync automatically with iCloud to access cloud-stored documents.

Documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. With everybody’s best thinking. Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are the best ways to create amazing work. Templates and design tools make it easy to get started. You can even add illustrations and notations using Apple Pencil on your iPad. And with real‑time collaboration, your team can work. IWork, Apple’s office productivity suite, is the easiest way to create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations the Mac way. Pages is both a streamlined word processor and an easy-to-use page layout application. It allows you to be a writer one minute and a designer the next, always with a perfect document in the works.

Current versions of the iWork applications can load and save the corresponding Microsoft Office file types (using, apparently, the 2003 file versions): DOC (Word), XLS (Excel), and PPT (Powerpoint). (Apparently earlier versions couldn't, as the Wikipedia article claims a lack of interoperability with Microsoft's programs.) They can also save as PDF, producing a static document that can be useful for viewing, but not so much for editing or import into other software. And then there is the native iWork format, used in slight variations for each of the three applications, and bearing .pages, .numbers, and .key extensions respectively, or double extensions .pages.zip, .numbers.zip, and .key.zip in some versions when saved in a ZIP file.

iWork files, when saved under Mac OS-X, are in a bundle format that is actually a directory/folder. Saved in other systems, or exported as e-mail attachments, they are ZIPped and have sometimes used the double extension as noted above (but in newer versions seem to be saved with a single iWork-specific extension without the zip suffix, even though they're still zipped). (Reportedly, the 2014 versions save in a different single-file compressed format if saved on a Mac system, unless you reconfigure them to save in the traditional bundle format.)

  • 2File format info

File preservation

Anybody interested in long-term access to iWork-format files should be concerned about Apple's cavalier attitude toward backward and forward comaptibility. Their file formats are prone to changing in an arbitrary and capricious manner between different versions of their software, and the ability to open files from other versions tends to be limited even within Apple software. A new iWork document probably won't open in older versions of the software, and old iWork documents might keep opening for several subsequent versions, but eventually have support for 'archaic' formats dropped. You may not have access to older iWork versions if you use it on the 'cloud', or if your downloaded 'app' version got automatically upgraded, overwriting the old version, or if the old version was tied to particular hardware that's no longer available.

Let's say you've got a document that you feel may be of great historical interest in the distant future. Like, once you finish revolutionizing (fill in name of field you specialize in), you'll be so world-renowned that scholars centuries from now will want to pore over all of your personal papers, and here's one of them... but it happens to be currently stored on iCloud in an iWork document format. Now, the first thing you need to do in order to increase its chances of long-term preservation is to get a copy of it off of the cloud. (Hey, you, get off of my cloud!) Clouds are, by their nature, fuzzy and insubstantial, whether they're the ones in the sky or the ones on the Internet. If you don't believe this, try and get any files you may have stored in Mobile Me, the predecessor of iCloud. When Apple transitioned from one service to the other, they didn't preserve all the old data; only a few specific things like contacts, calendars, and e-mail got kept, while general file storage got dumped, with a period of a few months to download it if you really wanted to save it. So if you keep your only copy of anything in an iCloud document, be sure to be attentive to your e-mail in case Apple sends a notice that they're eliminating iCloud in favor of the fantastic new iWhizBang, and you'd better move over your documents while you still can.

So now you've decided to download copies of your documents for safe keeping, the next question is 'what format?' Of the ones offered, PDF is probably the most widely-supported, well-documented, and likely to still be readable in some manner long after you're dead. However, it is designed for viewing of static documents rather than editing or data import, so you might want your documents in some other format. That leaves the MS Office formats and the native iWork formats. They're both proprietary and rather byzantine in their complexity; no truly open and nonproprietary formats (such as plain text, CSV, or HTML) are supported for export by iWork, unfortunately. You're probably best off with the Microsoft formats, even if you're a Microsoft hater, since they're so widely used now that even many years from now, the art of figuring out how to open them won't entirely be forgotten, though the multiplicity of incompatible versions may give future archivists some headaches. Perhaps you can save it out in all three formats, then open the MS Office ones in some program that handles them (whether MS Office itself or something else like OpenOffice) and save it from there in a few other formats including plain text and HTML. Then put the whole heap of files on as many different types of media in as many different physical locations as you can, and hope at least one survives and is readable a few hundred years from now.

File format info


The format has changed between different versions. It's been reported that sometimes attempts to load files (perhaps from earlier versions of the apps?) produce the error that the file 'can't be opened for some reason', which doesn't go far in the helpfulness department.

iWork 2008

The package file/directory/folder contains these items (perhaps varying a bit depending on document contents and which application was used):

  • buildHistoryVersion.plist (Property List)
  • Contents (subdirectory)
  • index.xml.gz (GZIP-compressed XML containing main document body)
  • QuickLook (subdirectory)
    • Preview.pdf (document preview as PDF)
    • Thumbnail.jpg (document thumbnail as JPEG)
  • thumbs (subdirectory)
    • PageCapThumbV2-1.tiff (thumbnail as TIFF)
    • PageCapThumbV2-2.tiff (thumbnail as TIFF)

iWork 2009

Similar to the 2008 format except the XML file was not GZIPped; apparently the entire bundle file was ZIPped even on Mac versions.

iWork 2013

In contrast with the earlier versions, the 2013 format adds use of the IWA format, which consists of a Protobuf data stream compressed under a variant of Snappy; this is found in files within subdirectories within a ZIP file within a subdirectory within another ZIP file (in the case of ZIPped versions of the file format; native Mac bundles dispense with the outer ZIP). While the various parts are open-source, this complexly nested structure of them makes it an effort to figure out how to make any non-Apple software interoperate with it, which was perhaps Apple's aim.

The structure of the bundle (ZIP versions have the whole directory contained in a ZIP) is:

  • Directory named with appropriate extension for application; e.g., TestSpreadsheet.numbers
    • Data (subdirectory containing images and objects that are part of the document, often in multiple sizes)
    • Metadata (subdirectory)
      • BuildVersionHistory.plist (an XML property list giving history information such as what template was used to create the document originally)
      • DocumentIdentifier (ASCII text in an extensionless file; contains a unique identifier for the document, probably used in cloud storage; example: 14743B2F-402B-4AB7-B30B-54B8E54AF30B)
      • Properties.plist (a binary property list with some other document metadata
    • Index.zip (ZIP file; apparently constrained to a subset of the features of ZIP, excluding compression)
      • Index (subdirectory containing various IWA files with the main content of the document; the structure here varies by application)
        • Tables (some more IWA files)
    • preview.jpg (720 x 552), preview-micro.jpg (53 x 41), preview-web.jpg (225 x 173) (JPEG graphics of top screenful of document in three different sizes)

iWork 2014

Reportedly, when saved on a Mac system, these are saved in yet another new single-file compressed format instead of the bundle format used before, though there's a configuration option to make it use the bundle format instead. When exported as an e-mail attachment, ZIP format is still used.

iWork 2020

By 2020, the format is saved in a ZIP format file with the extension of the application (.pages, etc.) and no .zip extension anywhere. The contents are still similar to 2013, except the Index directory is directly within the top archive instead of in a nested ZIP.

Iwork Suite

Sample files


Retrieved from 'http://fileformats.archiveteam.org/index.php?title=IWork&oldid=38026'

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

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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.

iWork is available on Mac, iPad, iPhone, and on the web

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:

The busy Microsoft Office toolbar vs. the clean toolbar in iWork

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.

Pages on iPadOS allows you to draw, shade, annotate, and animate with the Apple Pencil

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.

An example of the visual flair you can add to Pages docs

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 now serves as Apple's eBook-creating tool for authors

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 Suite

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.


Iwork Suite Cost

Iwork Suite

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.

Just in time for the Magic Keyboard, Apple added trackpad support to iWork apps for iPad

In 2020 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.

Iwork Suite Free

iWork apps received new icons as part of the macOS Big Sur update.
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