Quick Tips: iWork ’09



Having used Microsoft Office for many years, despite my utter disdain for it, nobody was happier than me when Apple (s aapl) launched the iWork applications. For my light office application needs, Pages, Keynote and Numbers are just perfect. Here are a few tips I use to make my time in the iWork apps a little easier.

Multiple Inspector Palettes

If you use any of the iWork ’09 apps on a daily basis, you’ve no doubt been frustrated by the fact that you’re forever clicking different Inspector tabs to get to various features. Wouldn’t it be handy if you could have more than one Inspector palette open at a time, with different tabs displayed? Thankfully, Apple offers a way to do just that in all the iWork applications.

Multiple Inspector palettes in iWork apps

Multiple Inspector palettes in iWork apps

Hold down the Option key while clicking any of the tab icons at the top of the Inspector palette to have a new palette open with that group of settings showing. This works in Pages, Keynote and Numbers.

Saving Palette Locations

Open and arrange multiple iWork Inspector palettes in all three iWork apps and they’ll be “saved” for the next time you launch an app, opening in the same location as you last left them. As obvious as it may seem, many users never even notice this feature.

Using Document File Info

The Document tab of the Document Inspector palette in Pages contains some great features. Here you can view raw stats of your document, such as word and character count, enter author, title, and keyword info, and file comments.

At the bottom of the palette, just below where Pages indicates how many times the document has been printed, you’ll find a Show File Info button. Clicking this button opens the File Info box of your document in the Finder. From there, you can adjust permissions, hide the file extension, view more data about your file, and enter Spotlight comments for easy searching.

Saving Spotlight comments in Pages '09

Saving Spotlight comments in Pages '09

The one thing that I’m left wondering is why Apple didn’t have Pages automatically place the Comments from within the Document Info palette into the Spotlight Comments area in the Get Info box, instead of forcing you to copy/paste.

Keynote and Numbers offer the same feature in their Document Inspector palette.

Protecting your files

Protecting your files

Password Protecting Files

In iWork ’09, Apple added the ability to password protect your documents. Microsoft Office apps have had this feature for quite a long time, so it’s nice to finally see it in iWork’s applications.

In the same Document tab of the Document Inspector at the bottom, you’ll find a checkbox, which when clicked will pop open a dialog box where you can enter a password and hint for your file. This is a great addition to the iWork suite, especially if you work in a server/multi-user environment.

M.I.A.: Drag & Drop

Much of the Mac OS offers the ability to drag and drop files, text, and images from one app to another. For some inexplicable reason, iWork apps are different. Though you can drag text from one app to another, you can’t do the same with objects and images. For this reason, you should keep the Media Browser palette open to make it easy to drag images into your documents from iPhoto, or folders located on your hard drive.

Adding More Shadow

You probably know you can add a shadow to your text simply by selecting the text container and clicking the Shadow button in the main toolbar. If you’re looking for a bit more from your shadow, try adding a second one.

Adding a second drop shadow to text in Pages

Adding a second drop shadow to text in Pages

Once you’ve customized the appearance of your shadow using the Graphic Inspector, select the text itself (rather than the text container) and apply a second shadow using the Fonts palette Shadow button. A second shadow will appear beneath your text, which is completely customizable separate from the original shadow.

While these tips are certainly not Earth-shattering, I hope I’ve been able to share at least one tip you didn’t know about. How about you, do you have any handy tips for using any of the iWork applications?



I’m trying to move images from media window inside of a cell in a table in Pages 09. Unfortunately it places the image outside of the table and then I have to copy and paste it in the cell. Since Im moving lots of images is there an easier way to do this?

Vasile Filat

Dear James,

I just switched to Mac and I use iWork 09. I have a problem with the tables in Pages. When I make a column which has to be extended on the next page, it does not goes more, just stops and I can’t find what is the problem. There is shown a little + at the end of the text and I suppose that the solution is bound to it, but have no idea what I have to do. Can you help me? I made a search on the net and found no answer. May be is a good topic for an article for you.


You seem to be using some sort of theme in those screenshots.

Could you tell me a bit more about it? Like what it is, where to get it and how to use it?


Yes, me too. I wonder if he’s using a super-secret build of Snow Leopard…


Wow what great dicoveries! Thanks for your tips, i’ll bookmark your pages – discovered through twitter

Ryan Pendleton

Thanks for the tips! The multiple inspector windows will be a huge productivity booster for future use. Thanks again!


Regarding the MIA section… You can copy and paste objects between iWorks docs but you can not drag and drop them.If you need to drag an object (image, movie, ect) click it and go to Inspector then the Metrics button (little ruler button) and click on the objects ICON to drag it out of the iWork document.

I actually discovered this tip here http://twitter.com/marrathon/status/1760251552 (No affiliation but he has some very good daily mac tips!)


I use Keynote the most of the iWorks suite. My favorite is to use it in combination with Omni Outliner Pro.
I make my text while I am planning the presentation in Omni Outliner Pro using inset paragraphs etc.
When the text is ready I save the file as a Keynote file, a little known ability. Open that file in Keynote.
Keynote asks what theme I want to use and voila! the slides are all ready. Then it’s only a question of setting pictures in, transitions etc.

Richard Overall

iWork has been rocking my world for the last couple of years. I too was desperate for a solution to Word. Pages is such a powerful program – I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even worry about photoshop for much of my quick graphic work.
Option click – great tip.


I’m not sure if I’m reading the M.I.A. section correctly or not.

I can drag and drop images from folders and applications into any iWork ’09 document just fine (including, Photoshop, Illustrator, and PDFs.)

What seems to be the problem officer? :)

James Dempsey

Well maybe I have a wonky installation, but I can’t drag an image/graphic/object from an open Keynote document into an open Pages document – that’s what I mean by MIA. But as you said, you CAN drag & drop from the desktop.


Wow, thanks for the option click to open a new palette window tip. Im going to love that one!

James Dempsey

You’re welcome. I actually came across it by accident – my fingers got a little too happy one day and bam, there it was.

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