How To Share a Numbers Spreadsheet With a Non-Apple User

Many people share Numbers spreadsheets with others by exporting to Excel. This creates a cumbersome process where the spreadsheet is exported and imported multiple times and rules out using some of the best features of Numbers. But you can use the Collaborate feature to share a document with another users regardless of whether they are on Mac or Windows and what software they have installed or whether they have an iCloud account. You can password-protect the document and even collaborate in real time.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: How To Share a Numbers Spreadsheet With a Non-Apple User.

From time to time I get people asking me about sharing a Numbers spreadsheet with somebody that's say on Windows and using Excel. People automatically think well I can go to Export and Export to Excel. Send them an Excel document and they work on it and send it back to me and I have to Import that into Numbers. Go back and forth and it seems rather clunky. It is. Especially since Excel really doesn't work with multiple tables per sheet in the way that Numbers does and all of that.

A much better way to share your spreadsheet with somebody that's either on Windows and uses Excel or maybe for some other reason doesn't have Numbers or just about any platform that they're on is to share it using the Collaborate feature.

So here I've got a sample Numbers spreadsheet. I'm going to go and Save it and I'm going to save it to my iCloud Numbers folders although you don't necessarily have to. Once I Save it I'm now going to go and turn on Collaboration. This will allow other people to see and edit the document. So I'm going to click on Collaborate and I get to turn on Share Options here. So I'm not going to worry about adding people right now.

I'm just going to turn on Share Options and for this example I'm going to say Anyone with a Link can actually view and edit this. But I'm also going to add a password. So I'm going to go in here and add a password and I'm going to Set it. So now this is a password protected sheet. So sending this to somebody it's now as insecure as you might think because they need the password to get in. But by not using the People I Invite means they don't have to have an iCloud account.

So Anyone With the Link and I can set it to View Only or Make Changes. So choose which one you want. I'm going to say they can make changes. I'm going to hit Copy Link as the way to share with them. Now I could do Mail and just automatically send an email message. But I'm just going to hit Share. Now it's going to copy the link to this in my Clipboard. I can paste it into an email. I can paste it into Messages. Whatever I want. So now this is shared. You can see Collaborate is turned on. It's green and all of that. So now I'm going to show you what it looks like if somebody else gets ahold of this link.

You send it to them. So let me go and create a new private window in Safari. So this is a private window. The reason I made it private is that it means I'm not logged into anything. That's what the privacy does. I'm not logged in. There's no cookies. None of that. So it's kind of simulating if somebody on another Mac got this link. I'm going to paste the link in. You can see here it's and then a long thing. So this could be somebody on Windows, on Edge browser, somebody using Chrome on any machine. They go to this link and this is what's going to happen.

It's going to load up this spreadsheet and it's going to ask them for a password. It's that password that you created. I'll hit okay. Now they have access to that spreadsheet. It gives them a little welcome message there. It asks them for a name because it doesn't know who they are. You haven't used an iCloud account so this person is an anonymous person at this point. So we'll just do Test Guy and hit Join. Great. Then it tells you here under Shared that there's Test Guy and the original owner. Great. There's colors. A little pinkish color there and a yellowish color there.

Now I can view the spreadsheet pretty much with the same functionality that you have in Mac Numbers it's just that it's in a web browser. I can make changes. So I can change this 106 to 107. Now look what happens when I go back to Numbers here. See that 107 was updated. The updates happen in realtime. So I can actually move these windows around so you can see the private browser here. So this is the other person and this is me in Numbers here. You can see wherever I click they see in yellow. Wherever they click I see in red and numbers can be made in realtime and reflected in both.

Now it's very instant here but, you know, somebody half way across the world with a slower internet connection it may take a second or two for it to update. But you know you don't have to be on. You cannot be using this spreadsheet at all. This can be closed. They could access it at a completely different time. View things. Make changes. Then you go back to the spreadsheet. Open it up again and then you'll see those changes reflected there.

So it's a great way to share spreadsheets with somebody. They don't need to have Numbers. They don't need to have Excel. They just basically need a modern web browser on a device and they'll be able to go and view and edit the information. You don't have to mess with exporting to Excel and reimporting back in.

Comments: 9 Responses to “How To Share a Numbers Spreadsheet With a Non-Apple User”

    8 months ago

    When I try this is says I must move the numbers file to iCloud drive

    8 months ago

    Keith: Yes, that is right. This is a function of iCloud.

    8 months ago

    Gary, I am wondering if this sharing via iCloud is also possible in the newest Pages? I have 5.6.2 and do not see it. Thanks for this post!!!!

    8 months ago

    Thia: The most recent version of Pages is 7.x. 5.6.2 is an old version.

    8 months ago

    Hi Gary! When I follow your directions, the other person clicks the link I sent them, then it asked them to sign into icloud–the spreadsheet doesn’t open like yours showed in the video where in the upper right had corner I noticed there was a sign in (on your example shared spreadsheet). I watched your video several times but I’m not getting the results as you did. Thank you for your time. ~David

    8 months ago

    David: Not sure what the difference could be. Did it work after he signed in?

    8 months ago

    Hi Gary! I’m sorry I should have mentioned the other person dosesn’t have an icloud account–do they need to have one, if so then that may explain it. Gary thank you for your help I appreciate it. ~David

    8 months ago

    David: No, they don’t need an iCloud account. But you have to set the sharing options to “anyone with link” so make sure you do that. You can then easily test this on your own Mac by opening a private browsing window in Safari and trying the link.

    8 months ago

    Hi Gary! Thank you again for your help! Got it to work (I had sharing options to “anyone with link” checked), but went through the steps again a little slower. I appreciate your help and also learn so much from your videos. ~David

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