iWork Files Unveiled as ZIP Archives with PDF Previews

David Chartier, formerly of TUAW, now writing for Finer Things in Mac, has recently uncovered a fascinating aspect of the seemingly ordinary iWork ’09 files. His discovery is quite intriguing.

It turns out that an iWork ’09 document, whether it’s from Pages, Numbers, or Keynote, is not just any file, but a ZIP archive in disguise.

This method of using ZIP as a container format is not entirely new for Apple, as seen with the iPod/iPhone software packages. Previously, iWork versions would generate bundle files that were more like folders, complicating tasks like uploading to cloud services or sharing via email.

By simply renaming the iWork file extension to .zip and decompressing it, you’ll find the expected XML and plist files that detail the document’s structure and formatting, along with a PDF preview of the document.

This feature allows anyone to view the contents of an iWork document, regardless of their operating system or the software they have installed, by just unzipping the file and accessing the PDF.

For Windows users, this process involves changing the file extension to .zip and using any preferred decompression tool. While this might seem a bit cumbersome, it’s curious that Apple has not promoted this capability more widely.


Mary is a dedicated writer for TUAW, your go-to source for all things Apple. With a deep love for technology, Mary brings insightful and engaging content to the blog. She has a knack for breaking down the latest updates on the iPhone, iPad, and MacBook, making them accessible to all readers. Mary’s expertise and enthusiasm for Apple products shine through in every article, helping readers stay informed and excited about the tech world.