Opening Apple Pages '09 docs

First time here, so please be kind. I have Apple’s Pages '08 on my iMac. I have a friend who often sends me Pages '09 documents that can’t be opened in Pages '08. I don’t wish to purchase Pages '09. A poster on the Apple forums suggested that I download LiberOffice. I have OpenOffice, but it can’t open Pages '09 docs. I don’t much like OpenOffice since it runs slowly on my iMac. I’d get rid of it if I had a good alternative that opened Pages '09 docs.

Will LiberOffice open Apple’s Pages '09 documents? How about newer versions of Pages?

And help appreciated. Thank you.


Perhaps surprisingly, on the few occasions I have been sent a Pages file, I used Google Docs to read it. Worked well. The other thing you can do is “Unzip” it and find the enbedded PDF (if you don’t need to edit and only need to read).

You will need to get you friend to export the iWork '09 documents to a format that LibreOffice / OpenOffice can read i.e., Microsoft Office formats (DOC, XLS, PPT).

How about newer versions of Pages?

iWork 2013 appears to be a complete fiasco (Apple Insider and MacRumors articles). It will not even open file versions prior to iWork '09 (InfoWorld article) i.e., the previous major release of the product. iWork 2013 is a complete re-write of the software to make it run on iOS and is one more indication of MacOS gradually being subsumed by iOS.

I agree, and I point also to this article by a dedicated Apple blogger who, like me, used to rely extensively on Pages and is now reconsidering his options. He is quite pessimistic and considers that there is no viable alternative (he calls the whole word-processing-on-the-Mac situation an utter mess), but I believe that LibreOffice is bound to become the best alternative (we’re just a few minor versions away from the ideal!) ;-).

Unfortunately, LibreOffice does not (yet?) have an import filter for iWork Pages documents. Writing one could be an interesting challenge, but also a pain since the Pages format is ill-defined and has no official public documentation.

Extracting the PDF from the Zip archive is indeed a satisfactory solution. In the unlikely event that the Pages user has disabled the inclusion of the PDF in the .pages file bundle and if the original author cannot be relied on to provide another version, here is the more involved solution:

  • Unzip the archive and, in the unzipped directory, locate the index.xml file, which contains the whole text of the document.
  • Depending on your familiarity with XML, you might choose to transform the XML into something else (many ways to do so, but none are trivial) or simply open the XML file in a Web browser and copy the text nodes, export them to simple text, etc. If you know some CSS, you can even style the text elements by writing CSS rules in the browser’s developer tools and then use this laid out text as a starting point for further processing.

Interesting. Thanks for the info. It is getting more difficult to see a clear future for Apple-produced application software that is anything other than a sand-boxed app. Does not bode well for interoperability.

Indeed. What I find most deplorable is that, while free software communities like LibreOffice’s are trying to raise awareness about formats and standardization, the likes of Apple try to shield users from such considerations as much as possible, as though such things were harmful. The effect is that, after all those years of near-universal use of office suites, people still don’t distinguish between an application and the formats it consumes and produces.