AppleScript Support Comes Back to Numbers, Could Signal a Return of Power User Features

Tuesday January 28, 2014 3:38 PM PST by Jordan Golson
NumbersLast October, Apple angered a lot of iWork power users when it introduced new versions of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.

The new versions were rewritten from the ground up for improved usability and cross-platform compatibility across OS X, iOS and iWork in iCloud, but, as a result, some power user features didn't make it into the machine at release.

Apple promised to restore the lost features and last week's iWork update is the first step in restoring those features.

As Macworld notes, Numbers has gained significant AppleScript support, almost fully backwards compatible with previously created scripts for Numbers 2009. The iWork team has also added a number of new scripting features. It seems likely that scripting support will be added to Pages and Keynote in a future update.
The latest update of Numbers reintroduces AppleScript support in a big way. While Apple could have taken an iterative approach, reintroducing a few commands here and there, it chose instead to go whole-hog: The entire suite of scripting terminology originally supported by Numbers in the 2009 edition of iWork has returned.

This means that, if you have Numbers scripts you used with that 2009 version, most of them should (in theory) now work with Numbers 3.1; those scripts may require tweaks, though, because some features of Numbers itself have changed.
Users with feedback for Apple regarding the iWork apps, including complaints about missing features or suggestions would be well-served to give Apple feedback on its website. With these changes to Numbers, Apple does appear to listen to its users.

Numbers is a $19.99 download from the Mac App Store. [Direct Link]

Top Rated Comments

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11 months ago
Apple took nothing away. (Old versions remain.) New versions have gained a new mix of features on a schedule some people don't like, but which makes good sense from a software development perspective. I wish more companies had the guts to "start fresh" more often. (Adobe: YOU!)
Rating: 8 Votes
11 months ago

They weren't deleted, they just weren't re-added yet. They did a rewrite..


Oh, I see. They didn't go away, they just went out for a stroll and will return before dinner.
Rating: 7 Votes
11 months ago
Focus on Pages please Apple. It isn't as if it was the best before you totally stripped it of features. But it had great potential and it would be a shame to have it all thrown away.
Rating: 6 Votes
11 months ago
Will the option to have a single or multiple inspectors servicing multiple documents return so that muscle memory and screen real estate actually count for something?

Or will it remain like Office where buttons are always on the move and duplicated in every document being edited?

Even before you consider all the lost features, this smack in the face to power users upsets me the most.
Rating: 5 Votes
11 months ago

Apple took nothing away. (Old versions remain.)


Just don't try to download those older versions from the Mac App Store if you dare to purchase a new computer, etc. :rolleyes:
Rating: 4 Votes
11 months ago


My concern is full support in IOS. If AppleScript support is only for the Mac versions Apple has already lost its way. We need feature parity across platforms.


I don't quite get that concern, if you choose to automate some tedious task on the Mac in Numbers, that will still result in a Numbers document you can open on iOS regardless if it was produced by hand or automated. Automation is a strength of the desktop, I say they should take advantage of that. As long as the end result is a valid iWork document, then that will be compatible with iOS regardless if it's machine or human made. :)
Rating: 3 Votes
11 months ago

Apple took nothing away. (Old versions remain.) New versions have gained a new mix of features on a schedule some people don't like, but which makes good sense from a software development perspective. I wish more companies had the guts to "start fresh" more often. (Adobe: YOU!)


The problem is people don't understand the goodness of software rewrites. Specially something like IWork which is a very old code base. Or was, this rewrite obviously is an attempt at a modern code base.

My concern is full support in IOS. If AppleScript support is only for the Mac versions Apple has already lost its way. We need feature parity across platforms.
Rating: 2 Votes
11 months ago

AppleScript in Numbers? I'm sure that matters to some people.

A lot more than "some" features didn't make it into the new version. More like dozens were deleted from Pages.


They weren't deleted, they just weren't re-added yet. They did a rewrite.

The problem is people don't understand the goodness of software rewrites. Specially something like IWork which is a very old code base. Or was, this rewrite obviously is an attempt at a modern code base.

My concern is full support in IOS. If AppleScript support is only for the Mac versions Apple has already lost its way. We need feature parity across platforms.


AppleScript will never be on iOS. I don't think iOS even has support for AppleEvents... That would be a prerequisite.
Rating: 2 Votes
11 months ago

Actually, all it takes is a Mac running (at least temporarily) Mountain Lion. Doesn't have to be yours. Just log into the App Store and you can download 4.1. Then just copy Pages.app to the Mavericks system. Of course, keep a copy around as a backup!

IMHO, the *real* problem is that Software Update keeps insisting that you upgrade if the new version is not installed, and if the new version is installed insists on opening it by default -- You can't change the default back to the old version! Only "cure" I've found is to have Pages/Numbers/Keynote old versions launch at login, and then never shut them down (never use Cmd-Q, always Cmd-W, a good idea anyway). As long as they are running existing documents will open in them.


Go under spotlight preferences and add the old versions of pages, keynote and numbers to indexing exceptions and it will stop asking you to upgrade :-)
Rating: 1 Votes
11 months ago

I'm a longtime Keynote user, and use it in a professional capacity. Keynote 6.0 has been a disaster. The lastest update (6.1), removed one of the most important features, which is the ability to copy/paste vector objects freely between Keynote and Illustrator while keeping them in vector format in both applications. It's a dealbreaker, and I'm not even getting into the corruption bug that's affected Keynote 5 presentations which have been converted into Keynote 6 format.

Anyway, I really wish Apple would create a "pro" version of Keynote (something that would be to Keynote what FCP X is to iMovie, or what Logic is to GarageBand, or Aperture is to iPhoto, etc.). Even better? A cross-platform "reader" app so you could deliver a read-only presentation to a PC-based client. I know my company would be happy to pay for it if it offered support and stability.


Wow you just scared me with the Illustrator copy and paste… I still use the old version for most stuff so I didn't test this out until now. For me though it works with AI CS6 and Keynote 6.1…

I'm with you on the Pro version of Keynote. Though the comparison with Apple's Pro Apps is not so great: We switched to Premiere from FCPX since the latter isn't really pro anymore… ;-)
Rating: 1 Votes

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