Easily reading a .pages file on a Mac without iWork (or under Windows or Linux, etc.)

Aside from a Windows laptop my employer forces me to use our family is 100% Macintosh (both PowerPC and Intel). I received a .pages file today from a neighbor. I needed to access the information in the document but the trial copy of Apple's iWorks had expired.

When people email me Microsoft Word .doc files Gmail quite conveniently provides a link to view the document as HTML. No such luck for a .pages file.

Personally, I wish people would just use open file formats, rather than proprietary ones. If I need a text editor I usually use vi. If I need to typeset something I'll use either LaTeX or ConTeXt. But I didn't want to ask the sender to convert it to another format; I was just grateful she sent the information I needed in a timely fashion.

I briefly did some Google searching; when I didn't see anything that seemed remotely relevant on the first page of search results I suddenly had a hunch: perhaps a .pages file is a .zip archive?


michael$ unzip -l June\ 09.pages 
Archive:  June 09.pages
  Length     Date   Time    Name
 --------    ----   ----    ----
    70187  07-19-09 11:10   QuickLook/Thumbnail.jpg
    20084  07-19-09 11:10   QuickLook/Preview.pdf
      335  07-19-09 11:10   buildVersionHistory.plist
   361897  07-19-09 11:10   index.xml
 --------                   -------
   452503                   4 files

No need for iWork; I just unzipped the QuickLook/Preview.pdf and I could easily open that. The .xml file, especially when pretty-printed with extra whitespace and appropriate layers of indenting, was also quite humanly readable.

So, if you need to read a .pages file under Linux, Unix, Windows or on a Mac without iWork, just run: unzip -j document.pages QuickLook/Preview.pdf

—Michael A. Cleverly


  1. John Cowan wrote (at Sun, 19 Jul 2009, 13:04):

Note that OpenOffice.org 3.0 and NeoOffice both support reading *and editing* Microsoft Word .doc and .docx files on the Mac, as well as other Microsoft Office formats.

  1. RBB wrote (at Sun, 09 Aug 2009, 14:12):

Thank you! It is unfortunate that this solution is buried so deeply in the search results at Google.

  1. Phil wrote (at Thu, 24 Sep 2009, 17:30):

Thank you very much. I was able to unzip and get the PDFs without any problem.

  1. mark wrote (at Tue, 26 Jan 2010, 07:19):

wow! how clever indeed. i found your blog post in the first page of my google search results (sixth result). i just searched using the following terms: (".pages") (file). I didn't completely understand your instructions at first but I played around with the file I was attempting to open. From Windows Explorer I right-clicked on the file, went to SecureZip (my Zip program), then "Extract." From there you just decide where to extract to (which folder) and when done you will see the QuickLook folder. That folder will contain the PDF version of the document. Brilliant!

  1. Alan Wallwin wrote (at Tue, 09 Feb 2010, 05:50):


  1. Danny wrote (at Sat, 13 Feb 2010, 13:05):

Great, thanks.

  1. Jim wrote (at Mon, 01 Mar 2010, 07:55):

Great info - thanks. All the other forums said there was no way to view a .pages file on a Windows PC.

  1. k wrote (at Wed, 03 Mar 2010, 04:36):

you, my friend, are a genius.

  1. Carla wrote (at Tue, 09 Mar 2010, 06:04):

Very useful - thanks so much!

  1. TBW wrote (at Sun, 14 Mar 2010, 21:21):

You saved my daughter! I changed the .pages extension to .zip on my Windows box, and opened the zip file.

  1. Suzy wrote (at Wed, 24 Mar 2010, 13:45):

Oh that's awesome! You just saved me a big headache.

  1. PHT wrote (at Mon, 24 May 2010, 01:48):

Many thanks is really really useful!!!!

  1. GigHappy wrote (at Thu, 24 Jun 2010, 22:05):

Hey Cleverly...this is fantastic!! Saved me tedious time also!!! What a SWEET piece of information...thank you!!

  1. Calvin wrote (at Tue, 27 Jul 2010, 21:36):

WOW...amazzing, thank you so much.

  1. PWendell wrote (at Wed, 25 Aug 2010, 12:49):

Perfect. Renamed the file to .zip and was able to get the PDF out of it. Thanks for the post!

  1. Angie wrote (at Thu, 02 Sep 2010, 07:06):

Thank you! Incredibly helpful! (And easy!)

  1. Yuu wrote (at Wed, 08 Sep 2010, 10:16):

My Quicklook folder does not have a pdf... only a tiny jpg. :(

  1. Alex wrote (at Sun, 26 Sep 2010, 12:39):

Brilliant! I love smart people.

  1. Stan wrote (at Mon, 18 Oct 2010, 07:03):

Thanks. I've never had iWorks on any of my Apples so was a bit disconcerted when I received a .pages file. However this works fine here under both MacOSX and RISC OS.

  1. Stan wrote (at Mon, 18 Oct 2010, 07:06):

Thanks for the hint about the .zip file. Under MacOSX changing the extension to .zip and under RISC OS changing the filetype to Archive allowed access to the files enclosed in the pages file.

  1. bolete wrote (at Wed, 20 Oct 2010, 12:33):

Extrapolating from this most useful info, my son and I just discovered that in Windows, which hasn't a clue about a .pages file, you can extract with 7zip (http://www.7-zip.org/). A simple right-click on the file provides the options if 7zip is integrated into the shell.

  1. Jules wrote (at Thu, 28 Oct 2010, 07:16):

Brilliant! You just saved me hours of recreating an outline. I have no computer savvy and I figured out how to do it.

  1. Toms Mom wrote (at Wed, 10 Nov 2010, 06:07):

Thank you thank you thank you! I was sent a file for a project from a newer version of Pages, and didn't want to pay to upgrade iWork for one file. This shortcut was a lifesaver!!

  1. Sean wrote (at Tue, 07 Dec 2010, 18:41):

Thanks so much for your hot tip!

  1. Eva Thury wrote (at Wed, 15 Dec 2010, 06:00):

Thanks so much!

  1. jdog wrote (at Thu, 16 Dec 2010, 10:52):

Thank you so very much!

  1. FB wrote (at Wed, 29 Dec 2010, 18:32):

Thank you. In Mac I changed .pages for .zip. This generated 3 files: 1) QuickLook, 2) .plist, 3) index.xml

Then you open the Quicklook folder and will find the file Preview.pdf

  1. Mark wrote (at Fri, 28 Jan 2011, 00:37):

Great info. It saved me time and money. That rocks. Thanks!

  1. Yvette wrote (at Wed, 20 Jul 2011, 09:07):

Thank you so much for posting this!

  1. K2 wrote (at Wed, 27 Jul 2011, 07:04):

posted on July 2009, still helping lost souls in July 2011 - pretty big splash with this pebble - Thanks :o)

  1. Ricardo wrote (at Thu, 28 Jul 2011, 21:36):

Thank you! This is very helpful

  1. B wrote (at Sat, 27 Aug 2011, 14:04):

Brilliant. After reading your note, I simply changed the extension from .pages to .zip, and clicked. (For mac users, it created a new folder, with file Preview.pdf in the QuickLook subfolder.) On a PC, you might have to (a) change the extension and (b) unzip.

  1. Anna wrote (at Mon, 12 Sep 2011, 13:58):

Thank you so much!!! You're a total star :-)

  1. E wrote (at Thu, 06 Oct 2011, 10:46):

Worked perfectly! Thank you so much for taking the time to share this with us!

  1. Traci wrote (at Wed, 12 Oct 2011, 10:58):

I have never commented on any help forum, but had to comment on this. It is genius. Thank you!

  1. Sarah wrote (at Wed, 26 Oct 2011, 02:03):

Thanks for posting this info, that was very helpful, i've never come across a .pages file before so was VERY confused!

  1. Catherine wrote (at Fri, 28 Oct 2011, 10:03):

Excellent detective work. Thanks.

  1. Joao Paulo wrote (at Tue, 29 Nov 2011, 17:55):

Thanks a lot for your tip! Worked perfectly!

  1. Molly wrote (at Thu, 05 Jan 2012, 09:46):

Thank you so much for posting this article. I've received .pages files before (I have a Mac 10.5.8 but don't have iWork), and I was really not wanting my client to send another format. I'm already behind!

You're a lifesaver!

  1. sjc wrote (at Thu, 05 Jan 2012, 15:09):

Thank you!

  1. PW wrote (at Fri, 06 Jan 2012, 09:48):

Thanks so much for this easy solution! (Mac user who doesn't have iworks).

  1. Candace wrote (at Mon, 23 Jan 2012, 14:38):

Thank you so much! That was super easy. I am a Mac user and designing a newsletter and people keep sending me the copy in Pages docs. Its really annoying!

  1. Denah wrote (at Thu, 26 Jan 2012, 11:31):


  1. Steve wrote (at Fri, 17 Feb 2012, 12:05):

Awesome!! Thank you so much!!

  1. Konstantin wrote (at Mon, 27 Feb 2012, 09:37):

Excellent! Thank you so much for the hint!

  1. Walt wrote (at Sun, 04 Mar 2012, 10:27):

Thanks for the tip!

Alternatively, on a MAC, you could drag the .pages file into STUFFIT expander, (or ctrl-click and "open with" STUFFIT; same as changing the file extension to .zip and double clicking), and Stuffit it will unzip into a separate folder which contains a separate folder with a Preview pdf.

  1. Jeff wrote (at Tue, 20 Mar 2012, 18:58):

Unbelievable! How did you ever come up with hunch! Worked great! Thanks!

  1. Emily wrote (at Tue, 10 Apr 2012, 20:34):

WOW. That is amazing! Many thanks!! Would have never figured it out alone.

  1. Natalie Jones wrote (at Mon, 07 May 2012, 10:15):

You, sir, are the shit!Thanks for ridding me of my stress-induced head pain.

  1. AMC wrote (at Mon, 11 Jun 2012, 20:14):

Brilliant, thank you!

  1. christiane R wrote (at Sun, 12 Aug 2012, 23:58):

thank you! this just saved me a lot of hassle.

  1. Sal A. wrote (at Wed, 22 Aug 2012, 00:48):

Thanks! I took your guidance, renamed the extension .zip and was able to open the Preview file.

  1. Phil wrote (at Wed, 19 Sep 2012, 15:13):

Many thanks, had promised a co-worker that the work in the file emailed to me was good! Now I've read it - it was!

  1. Kizzi wrote (at Tue, 13 Nov 2012, 07:37):

You can also use Google Docs to open these.

  1. Q wrote (at Mon, 26 Nov 2012, 07:10):

thank you!

  1. Mark Beattie wrote (at Thu, 29 Nov 2012, 09:21):

Unfortunately, if the user has chosen to not save the "Preview.PDF" this will not work. There is a Windows utility on SourceForge that will extract the raw text, but I find it a bit ironic that Apple doesn't even support a file format they invented natively within OS X. I can preview the file but when examining the contents I can see there was no .PDF created. Only an XML file.

  1. Raymond Conchu wrote (at Sun, 16 Dec 2012, 10:38):

You don't know how much I love you. You smart fucker.

  1. r wrote (at Wed, 20 Mar 2013, 09:40):

Here we are in March, 2013 and this advice is still saving folks like me loads of trouble. Thank you much!

  1. Laura G wrote (at Sun, 21 Jul 2013, 21:42):

You are still a genius. Thank you.

  1. Alex wrote (at Thu, 07 Nov 2013, 13:58):

Thank you for this.. wish I found this earlier.

  1. Emily wrote (at Thu, 28 Nov 2013, 02:23):

Thank you!!!!

  1. amy janczy wrote (at Thu, 16 Jan 2014, 23:54):

I opened a .pages attachment to my e-mail when I was logged into google, and I was able to open the file in google docs. Easy to view/print from there.

  1. Gareth wrote (at Tue, 29 Apr 2014, 13:08):

Based on this tip, I tried right clicking on the attachment icon in the email and I directly selected "open with Preview". It works fine, no need to bother with zip etc.

  1. Linda Fox wrote (at Mon, 12 May 2014, 17:30):

Thank you so much!!!

  1. AY wrote (at Mon, 08 Jun 2015, 13:21):

Renaming the file from .pages to .zip let me preview the .pdf! on my mac

  1. W. Everdell wrote (at Thu, 23 Jul 2015, 15:32):

Well, I made my 474-page .pages file into a .zip file, and unzipped it by clicking it. That created a folder with three .jpg files in it, all of which will come up in Preview and save as .pdf files. That was encouraging, until I discovered that each one shows only the first page of the 474 pages in the original file.

I'd like to thank you, but can't do it yet.

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