Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

It often happens that I create a Pages document on my home laptop, upload it to iCloud, then want to download it from iCloud at school. For some reason, iCloud doesn't support this—I need to, at some point between those two steps, open Pages on an iOS device synched with my iCloud account. Then it'll work fine.

I assume this has something to do with a preview being included in the file, as in iCloud it shows up as a generic .pages document rather than the customary document preview image thing, but I can't see why. Pages does include a preview in its saves, and "Include preview in document by default" is checked.

What's happening, and is there any way I can get around it without use of an iPad or iPhone?

share|improve this question
Use Dropbox. It can support this and much more. It's not an Apple product, but works great with Macs, iPads, and iPhone. You can get a free account here: – james.garriss Jan 18 '12 at 12:18
How are you downloading it? from or automatilcy through your Apple ID onto the computer? – Graeme Hutchison Jan 18 '12 at 12:26
Well, there's no way to automatically download iWork documents to the computer, so Or did you mean the Mobile Documents folder? – timothymh Jan 18 '12 at 13:39
I am not sure why, but I always have to open files uploaded from a computer on my iPad at least once before I can download them from iCloud. – Synesthetic Symphony Jan 18 '12 at 13:39
What I mean is are you going to to download teh docs, or are you just opening Pages and finind them in recent? – Graeme Hutchison Jan 18 '12 at 14:01
up vote 4 down vote accepted

The same things happens to me. After some digging around I found this from Apple:

Important: You cannot download a document from to your Mac or Windows computer until the document has been opened on an iOS device.

My guess is that this is a symptom of iCloud's "work in progress" status, and that this functionality will eventually be there. Considering that you are only asking to download the exact same file that you uploaded, though, it is a pretty silly restriction.


For me, the behavior has recently changed. Now if you upload a file from your computer to, you can download the original file to any computer from You still must download the document to an iOS device before you can download the file as a PDF or other format.

share|improve this answer
Thanks! I agree. :) – timothymh Feb 1 '12 at 21:34

The format used by iOS Pages is slightly different to the format used by OSX Pages. (who knows why Apple though this was clever?)

As the OSX iWork apps don't have iCloud document sync built in, primarily works with iOS devices.

But with Mountain Lion, it looks like at least the file formats will become interchangeable, if not the same, as the iWork document sync appears to built into the OS itself, rather than just the iWork apps (probably the reason why the iWork apps still dont' have iCloud built in)

You are pretty much stuck (I say stuck, in many ways better) with services like DropBox, in the hope that iCloud/com is vastly improved for Mountain Lion.

share|improve this answer

I have reda somewhwere that the files actually sync to a folder on the Mac if you have iCloud enabled. But I don't know if you can open those files in iWork on the Mac.

share|improve this answer
It's the Mobile Documents folder, in ~/Library/. I'll try that. – timothymh Jan 18 '12 at 13:40
It didn't work. But thanks! (The file's missing an internal index file of some sort, which I can't locate.) – timothymh Jan 18 '12 at 13:48
Sorry about that. Apple insider talks about the Lion 10.7.3 beta that it should focus on iCloud doc storage. So there might be hope. Article – Ahermanssom Jan 19 '12 at 22:16
Thanks for your help. :) – timothymh Jan 19 '12 at 23:33

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.