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Take Control of Pages

Take Control of iWork!

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Dec 10, 2014
The Author

Michael E. Cohen has taught English composition, worked as a programmer for NASA’s Deep Space Network, helped develop the first commercial ebooks at the Voyager Company, and co-founded a major university’s Humanities computing center. He has authored several books, including Take Control of PDFpen 8, Take Control of Pages, Take Control of iBooks Author, and Take Control of TextExpander.

Take Control of Pages

Work effectively in Pages in OS X Yosemite, iOS 8, and iCloud!

Apple’s Pages word processor is a big, sprawling app with hundreds of features tucked away in nooks and crannies, making Michael E. Cohen’s comprehensive book an essential resources for newbies and experts alike. Those new to Pages, or still getting their sea legs in the transition to Pages 5 will appreciate Michael’s guide to finding familiar tools, formatting text, and iCloud Drive quirks. And everyone will benefit from the book’s discussion of advanced features like snaking columns (snarky columns are left as an exercise to the reader), list styles, layout options, and collaboration tools.

Whether you need quick help with a particular feature or steel-toed documentation with which to kick Pages into shape, this book is for you.

Still running 10.9 Mavericks? Mavericks users can still find plenty of Pages help here. To find out what’s different, read What about Mavericks?.

More Info

The book offers plenty of help with word processing:

  • For everyday word processing, you’ll find directions for working with fonts, tabs, indents, rulers, search and replace, spell checking, and more.
  • For longer, more complex documents, you’ll learn how to control headers, footers, page numbers, footnotes, and section breaks. Plus you’ll find oodles of help with character styles, paragraph styles, and even list styles.
  • For projects that go way beyond the norm, you’ll learn how to create your own templates, complete with master objects.
  • For collaborative projects, you’ll come up to speed with the track changes and commenting features. You can also use the newfangled Share icon to collaborate with others (simultaneously) in an iCloud-based Pages document.

Layout and graphics merit attention too, in terms of:

  • Turning off the usual word processing text flow so you can lay out independent objects more easily (perfect for posters!)
  • Inserting text boxes, vector graphics, and all manner of media
  • Styling text boxes and vector graphics with whizzy object styles (for example, you can specify a specific color and shadow)
  • Being precise with smart guides and vertical rulers
  • Creating a custom look with fills, shadows, opacity, and more
  • Working in tables (which can act as mini spreadsheets) and creating charts

You’ll also find thoughtful directions for managing your documents:

  • What happens with fonts and features when you move Pages documents between Mac, iOS, and iCloud
  • Whether and how to work with Pages documents in iCloud Drive
  • How to import from Pages 4 (aka Pages ‘09), Word, text, and RTF
  • How to export to Pages 4, Word, text, EPUB, and PDF

And lots more!

Reader Comments


p>With the first release of this pre-book, we received some lovely comments:

I recently purchased your Take Control of Pages ebook and find it very helpful.

I’m incredibly excited about this book. I can’t wait to devour every word. I’ve wanted to purchase Pages for ages but waited (sensibly) until Apple replaced the ageing Pages 09 with the current version.

I just purchased the pre-book Take Control of Pages and I have found it to have plenty of great information about Pages. It is nice to have the information in one location, and I am waiting for more.

The “pre-book” for Take Control of Pages is a great idea.

Update Plans

January 23, 2015 – At the moment, we don’t have a specific plan to update this title – and the title is up-to-date. We will keep an eye on future updates to Pages, and it is quite possible that we’ll want to update the book in order to keep pace with Apple.

Posted by Adam Engst

  1. Track Changes Support Changed in Pages for iCloud

    In the previous versions of Pages for iCloud, if you attempted to edit a Pages document that had tracked changes, Pages offered you two options: either accept all the tracked changes, or create a duplicate of the document with all tracked changes accepted. Now that Pages for iCloud is no longer in beta, you no longer have those options. Instead, you can open a document with tracked changes and view the change tracking — however, you cannot edit the document; neither can you accept the changes, nor create a duplicate with the changes accepted. So, if your workflow relies upon the ability to open and edit a change-tracked document in your browser (after accepting changes), be warned: change-tracked documents in Pages for iCloud are now view-only on that platform (though, of course, you can still edit them in Pages on iOS and Mac).

    Posted by Michael E. Cohen (Permalink)

  2. Pages Updates for Mac, iOS, and iCloud

    As Agen Schmitz noted in his TidBITS Watchlist article, “Pages 5.6, Numbers 3.6, and Keynote 6.6 for Mac,” 16 October 2015, Pages has been updated on all three platforms: Mac, iOS, and iCloud. Among the many enhancements are support for Split View in El Capitan, support for Force Touch on Macs and 3D Touch on iOS, the ability to revert to previous versions on both iOS and iCloud, and the ability to open documents created with Pages ’08 and Pages ’06. Also of interest is the removal of the “Beta” status for the iCloud version of Pages. Apple supplies a list of enhancements on its “What’s new in Pages, Numbers, and Keynote” page.

    Posted by Michael E. Cohen (Permalink)

  3. How to Stop Doing the Same Thing Over and Over

    Although this ebook covers many features, it doesn’t discuss scripting with Apple’s Automator and AppleScript tools to automate repetitive tasks that would be better carried out by a script than by you. To learn more about what’s possible and get started, check out the iWork & Automation portion of the Mac OS X Automation Web site.

    If you’ve never thought about creating automation on a computer before, Automator or AppleScript may be a little much to jump into, though there are helpful introductory materials on the site. For even more help, check out Take Control of Automating Your Mac, by Joe Kissell, which introduces you to the automation mindset, helps you understand a variety of common automation techniques, and helps you take those first few baby steps toward Automator or AppleScript proficiency.

    Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)

  4. Chuck and I Talk about Pages on MacVoices

    It is inevitable, but always fun, to spend an hour chatting with Chuck Joiner of MacVoices whenever I finish a book. Our last chat was no exception as we discussed the book, how it came to be, and why Apple made Pages into the three-platform app that it is today.

    Posted by Michael E. Cohen (Permalink)

  5. Mail Merge and Labels in Pages

    When Apple introduced Pages 5.5 in October, the update included AppleScript support for mail merge, but omitted to provide a user interface for it. Rather than roll your own mail merge solution with the Script Editor, you should first check out the Pages Data Merge script application available at the iWork & Automation site.

    And if you are thinking about using mail merge in Pages to create mailing labels, you probably want to use standardized label layouts. While Pages doesn’t offer a set of Avery label templates, you can get label templates for Pages ’09 from Avery. Pages 5.5 can open and convert those templates, so you can save the ones you need to the Template Chooser in Pages 5.5.

    Posted by Michael E. Cohen (Permalink)

  6. What about Mavericks?

    We’ve heard from a few users of 10.9 Mavericks, asking how they can get help from this book, given that it says right on the cover that it’s about Pages in 10.10 Yosemite. We understand that not everyone wants to upgrade to Yosemite right away. Even so, with this book already covering three versions of Pages (Pages for Yosemite, for iOS 8, and iCloud), we felt it would be impractical to also cover Pages for Mavericks. Fortunately, if you are using Mavericks, you can still take control of Pages with this book. The rest of this article looks at the nitty-gritty details…

    …Apple appears to have stopped developing Pages for Mavericks with Pages 5.3. If you are running Mavericks, you can update to Pages 5.3 and that’s it. Folks running Yosemite can update to Pages 5.5.1 at the moment, and as Apple releases more Pages updates, we expect them to be available in Yosemite but not in Mavericks. Further, if you have a Mavericks Mac and a Yosemite Mac (as many Take Control staffers do right now), you’ll find that you cannot open Yosemite Pages documents in Mavericks Pages (I get around this by working in Pages for iCloud on my Mavericks Mac; this requires iCloud Drive to be on, keep reading for more about that).

    This ebook was finalized against Pages 5.5.1, but the differences between Pages 5.3 and 5.5.1 are minimal. You can certainly use the directions in this book for Pages 5.3 and all will be well. However, when it comes to interactions between the three different versions of Pages—Pages for Mac, Pages for iOS, and Pages for iCloud, if you are using Mavericks, some directions in the book do not apply, because Mavericks doesn’t work with Apple’s new iCloud Drive system for storing/syncing Pages files within iCloud.

    For example, although you can work on the Web in the iCloud version of Pages from a Mavericks Mac, the files you create there are stored in iCloud Drive and thus are not available to Pages on your Mavericks Mac. And, choosing the Share > Share Link via iCloud command, which makes it so that multiple collaborators can work on the document at once in iCloud, results in an error message, because Pages 5.3 doesn’t work with iCloud Drive.

    Now, if you never use Pages in iCloud or on an iOS device, or save your files in iCloud in order to move them between Macs, you don’t care about these features, so all you need to know is to skip the parts of the book that talk about them.

    More about iCloud Drive

    • Pages in Mavericks does work with Apple’s older Documents & Data iCloud storage system (also known as “Documents in the Cloud”). At the moment, as it has in the past, this system allows you to sync Pages files through iCloud between Macs and iOS devices that are all signed in to iCloud with the same Apple ID, but only so long as you do not turn on iCloud Drive for that Apple ID.

    • As soon as you turn on iCloud Drive for a given Apple ID, the Documents & Data system no longer functions for that Apple ID. For a device signed in with that Apple ID that aren’t running iCloud Drive (such as a Mavericks Mac), the device can still access the local copy of any Documents & Data file, but syncing through Documents & Data ceases. If you, for instance, subsequently update your Mac to run Yosemite and turn on iCloud Drive, then syncing can resume, though if you’ve worked on files in the interim, you may experience sync conflicts. It is usually best to keep iCloud Drive off on all your devices until you are ready to enable it on all your devices.

    • For even more information, and a nice chart showing which apps work with which other ones with iCloud Drive on or off, please read Michael’s blog post, New from Apple: iWork Cross-Platform Incompatibility. And, Apple has a nice FAQ about iCloud Drive.

    What Changed between Pages 5.3 and Pages 5.5

    Pages 5.5 has grown a sidebar for displaying comments and tracked changes, and you can filter those comments and tracked changes by author. Pages also lets you insert inline images into headers, footers, and table cells. Also added are alignment guides for inter-table alignment and other table enhancements. Though Mail Merge has not yet returned as a user-facing feature, the update does provide AppleScript support for it (see this page at for more about using Mail Merge in Pages).

    The Pages 5.4 update added Yosemite compatibility.

    Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)