Moving iWork (Pages, Keynote and Numbers) From An Old Apple To A New One

A couple of days ago, my Apple Macbook Pro’s hard disk started acting up on me.  Now, over the years, I’ve had several hard drives crash – so I was not going to take any chances.  I went to a local computer store and bought a new 128GB SSD HD (I’ve had my eye on this SSD for a month or so).

Replacing the hard disk in one of the new Macbook Pro machines is pretty easy.  Unscrew the ten screws on the bottom of the clamshell and crack the computer open.  Unscrew the two screws holding the HD into the case.  Unscrew the pins from the HDD itself (you need a Torx #6 for this).  Finally, remove the SATA cables.  To install the new hard drive, simply reverse the order on the new disk.

Since the machine was acting up, I didn’t want to clone and restore the disk (the new one is significantly smaller anyways…) – so I backed up all of my critical data onto an external hard disk and installed Snow Leopard clean and fresh on the new SSD.

Once the operating system was installed, I simply copied back the critical files and applications onto the new disk.

What joy!  The new SSD drive operates significantly (5 to 10 times) faster than the old one.

But I ran into a problem.

Once I copied the iWork folder back to the applications folder, pages (and keynote and numbers) wouldn’t open.  They simply failed with an error stating that they needed to be reinstalled from the disk.  The version I’ve been using is iWork ’09.  It is now 2011 – I’ve purged my desk and cupboards several times.  I have no idea where my disks are.

So after a bit of research, I found the files that needed to be copied from the old hard disk (which, luckily has not yet failed).  The files are listed below to help anyone who ends up in the same situation.

These first ones are the critical files that *must* be in the correct locations in order for the applications to run.

  • Macintosh HD:Library:Preferences:com.apple.iWork09.Installer.plist
  • Macintosh HD:Library:Preferences:com.apple.iWork09.plist
  • Macintosh HD:Library:Application Support:iWork ’09
  • Macintosh HD:Applications:iWork ’09

These second ones only need to be copied if you had extensive changes to the default preferences.  They are created automatically with the default values if they are not already in existence.

  • Macintosh HD:Users:<userAccount>:Library:Preferences:com.apple.iWork.Keynote.plist
  • Macintosh HD:Users:<userAccount>:Library:Preferences:com.apple.iWork.Numbers.plist
  • Macintosh HD:Users:<userAccount>:Library:Preferences:com.apple.iWork.Keynote.plist

Finally, this file is only in place if you originally installed the software using the downloadable trial from Apple.  It is not necessary to have the applications run, but I’ve included it for the sake of completeness.

  • Macintosh HD:Library:Receipts:iWork09Trial.pkg

Comments 17

  1. G’day,

    I have an early ’08 4,1 MacBook. I am in a similar situation, in the I am upgrading from a HDD to SSD.

    I am using iWork ’08 and iLife ’08.

    Will the *must* have files be the same, just swapping 08 for 09?

    I am a bit green about computers, and so appreciate your help.

    Cheers, William.

  2. Woohoo! Thanks so much for sharing this. Just what I needed. You’d think the App Store would recognize that I owned it and just let me install from there, but nooooo… 😉

    thanks!
    -Joseph

  3. Pingback: iWork (Pages, Keynote and Numbers) von einem alten Apple zu einem neuen übertragen – so geht es! – Internetblog › Internet-Blog

  4. You just made my day!! I feel so lucky to have found the solution that actually worked!!!

    I now use Mountain Lion (from snow leopard). I found an update for iwork 09 that is iwork 9.3 Do you recommend that I update?

    Thank you Ben.

  5. Thanks for posting this. I copied Pages ’09 over to an iMac that had a hard drive problem and ran into launch errors. Following these instructions worked like a charm, though I couldn’t find, and did not need, Macintosh HD:Library:Preferences:com.apple.iWork09.plist.

    Many thanks.

  6. Thanks for posting the complete list of resources to copy over!

    Just recently completed a clean install while upgrading SSD and moving from 10.8 to 10.10, and while in the process of reinstalling applications, I’d found the packaging for my original copy of iWork ’09, but the install disc had wandered off!

    So while I’d copied over the main bits from /Applications and /Library/Application Support, I hadn’t thought to look for the system level preferences that it wanted!

  7. Pingback: how to move keynote from one mac to another | Tony Saad

  8. Thank you so much! I did a clean reinstall earlier this week and thought I lost my iWork. I was able to pull those files off my external drive. This saved me a trip to the Apple store to get iWork back.

    The first few “critical” files were all I needed. Like Brandon, I couldn’t find, and did not need, “Macintosh HD:Library:Preferences:com.apple.iWork09.plist”

  9. Thanks! I thought I had done all this, but apparently I missed something. This allowed me to get iWork ’09 working on OS X 10.11, as I could copy it over but I was unable to get the installation directly from the IMG files to work.

    iWork ’09 has massively superior support for vector graphics, while Keynote 6 still falls short and rasterizes all vector graphics as soon as you save and close the presentation… very annoying. I keep all my images in vector graphic formats so that I can copy and modify a figure later on in Illustrator if I need to, and this no longer works in the new Keynote.

  10. Thank you thank you thank you!!!! It worked, even on El Capitan. Went from Snow Leopard to El Capitan and partitioned my disk, and my old iworks is still working on the new partition with your instructions, soooo happy right now!!!

  11. Just wanted to add another big Thanks.
    Updated from an old MacPro 1,1 running 10.6.8 (the newest OS it could run) to a 4,4 with 10.11.6.
    Like you, couldn’t find my iWork installer disc.
    Your solution worked great!

  12. Thanks so very much! Just wanted to comment about a couple things that might help people in my situation:

    -If you bought the original installation CD, it has a “iWork09.mpkg” file that can be transferred to another drive (for example, thumb drive), and opening that file installs iWork ’09 successfully *ONLY on OS X 10.9 Mavericks or earlier*. As explained elsewhere, the 9.3 update is needed after this initial installation.

    -Any computers purchased after the release of Mavericks, installation is not possible, but as you noted, transferring the relevant files gives you a functional iWork ’09 suite.

    -The files in OS X 10.11 El Capitan are slightly different. I had 15 files in my “Preferences” folder. I used Migration Assistant to transfer everything from my old (2011) Macbook Air to my new (2016) Macbook (both on 10.11). Stupid Apple literally copied everything but the iWork ’09 applications and they appear as question marks on my dock. Actually, the supporting files in the Preferences folder were transferred by Migration Assistant, so all I needed to do was go back and manually grab the iWork ’09 folder in the Applications folder and move it to the Applications folder on my new Mac. Upon opening the apps they seem to work just fine!

    Hope this is helpful for others. And hope Apple finally listens to their dedicated customers and fixes the most recent, horrendous versions of iWork. I’m content with iWork ’09, but to think I’m working with software that has no better version than the one nearly 8+ years old is pretty mind boggling.

  13. Thanks a million!!
    Your method worked like a charm on El Capitan, from a OS X Mountain Lion, and iWork ’08 (Pages 3.03). That’s all I needed. Have a great day and enjoy the Holiday season 😎

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