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How to skip iCloud.com upload process for iWork documents

iWork users who want to sync documents using iCloud currently are only able to do so by using the iCloud Web site. We are going to show you a method that allows you to upload documents in Finder on OS X.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani

iCloud and iOS 5 brought with it a slew of new features with them when Apple launched the software duo earlier this month. One of the advertised features was the ability to sync iWork documents (Pages, Keynote, Numbers) using iCloud with the iWork apps on iOS.

The downside to the current setup for syncing iWork documents with iCloud is that the only way to sync documents is to go through the iCloud Web site and either upload or download. It cannot be done natively on OS X via any of the iWork apps.

Hopefully Apple will release an update to remedy this, but in the meantime there is an easier way of at least uploading documents to iCloud.

Please note, any time you are using an unofficial method such as the one described below you may encounter unexpected behavior such as the deletion of documents. Use this workaround at your own risk.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani
  1. Open Finder. In the menu bar navigate to Go > Go to Folder.
  2. Screenshot by Jason Cipriani
  3. In the text field enter ~/Library/Mobile Documents and press Go when done.
  4. Screenshot by Jason Cipriani
  5. Finder should then take you to that directory. In this location you will see a folder for any iOS app you use that is storing information on iCloud. If you have set up Pages, Keynote, or Numbers to use iCloud on your iOS device, you will see a folder for each one listed here.

    If your Mac is not running the latest update (10.7.2) of OS X Lion, you will not have this folder and will need to update your Mac OS before this workaround will work for you.
  6. Screenshot by Jason Cipriani
  7. Clicking on the folder for the respective app you want to upload documents to will reveal a Documents folder, as well as a iWorksPreviews folder. You only need to be concerned with the Documents folder. You can either drag and drop any compatible files to the Documents folder (or subfolders) or save files directly from the iWork app itself to this location.

Open the app on your iOS device that you uploaded the file to, and you should see the file show up as if it was uploaded via iCloud.com. If it doesn't appear right away, close the app and relaunch it.

There is one limitation to syncing documents with iCloud using this method: it's a one-way sync. Once you open a document on your iOS device, and the app saves the document back to iCloud, the file type is changed.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani

The change made to the file renders it useless on OS X. As you can see in the screenshot above, the file extension was changed from .pages to .pages-tef. Changing the file extension back to .pages doesn't fix the issue; you will see an error when you attempt to open the file.