Dealing with Pages’ file-conversion and email-attachment problems

Christopher Breen
31 October, 2013
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Reader Chris Watkins, like some other people, has a couple of bones to pick with Pages. He writes:

I downloaded the new version of Pages and I discovered that when I opened an old Pages document and made a change, I could no longer open it with the old version, which I find more capable. Also, I can’t seem to send these file through Gmail. Can you offer any help?

Some. As has been widely reported, today’s Pages differs from the Pages of old in significant ways – most troubling to many people is that features found in the previous version are missing in this year’s Pages (the other iWork applications have received the same criticism). And, as you’ve discovered, when you open an old Pages file in the new version and make even a single change to the document, the file format likewise changes and you can’t open that document in Pages ’09. What to do?

I’ve updated this answer since the original was posted. In that first answer I swore that you could go into a Pages document’s Info window, choose a different version of Pages in the Open With area, click Change All and any future Pages documents you double-clicked on would open in the old version. After a nudge or two from readers to try it again I did and, lo, it didn’t work. The setting wouldn’t stick.

This leaves you with one of a couple of not-entirely-desirable options. The first is that you can trash the new copy of Pages so that it can’t taint your old Pages documents in the future. Alternatively, if you want to use the new Pages to create new documents but continue to use the old version of Pages for the documents you’ve already created, keep a copy of that old Pages application in the dock or some other handy place and drag your old files to it, rather than double-click on them.

So, are files that you’ve already opened and changed in the new Pages lost forever to Pages ‘09? Not entirely. Within Pages 5 (the new version) you can choose File > Export > Pages ‘09. (Keynote and Numbers have similar options for exporting their files to the old iWork ‘09 versions.) These exported files will open in the old version. However, if you’ve lost content in the transition from the old file format to the new one, this won’t restore it. Pages 5, for better or worse, has done its work. But at least the files open again in the version of Pages you may prefer.

As for your Gmail issue, you’re not alone. Gmail identifies these files as executables and, for security reasons, will not send or receive them (yes, even when they’re compressed in a .zip archive). So, even if you’re using an iCloud account to send such files, if the person you’re sending the message to has a Gmail account (as many individuals and companies do), no joy for you or your message.

Although the executive teams at Apple and Google may not regularly meet for skittles and beer, I have to think that somewhere in Cupertino there’s a red phone that connects directly to Google HQ. If that phone hasn’t yet been put into service to deal with this issue I expect it soon will be.

Until this is ironed out you’ll have to send your file in a form that isn’t blocked. Again, turn to the Export command and you’ll find that in addition to the iWork ‘09 format it can be saved in the PDF, Word, ePub and plain text formats. Attach a file in one of these formats and the mail will go through. Or, if you absolutely have to share files in the new Pages format, use a file sharing service such as Dropbox as an intermediary.


By Christopher Breen. Macworld

One Comment

One person was compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Tim.EH says:

    While you can’t use “Change All”, you can change “Open with” manually for either individual files or multiple files (using Cmd-Opt-I for multiple file info). Note that, if you subsequently use Change All it will reset any manual changes that have been made.

    If a document has been opened and changed in Pages 5, some people in the Apple forums have described success using versions with Pages 5 to restore the ’09 version and then reopen in Pages ’09.

    I just wish Apple had told us Pages 5 was incompatible with earlier versions and automatically opened new copies rather than trashing our work.

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