iWork update adds hundreds of cool new emoji-style symbols

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iWork symbols
Apple invents clip art!
Photo: Cult of Mac

The iWork suite just got an update across iOS and macOS, with some neat new features for Keynote, Pages, and Numbers. But the headline new feature is the addition of a brand new Shapes Library across all the apps. You know that section that always let you put little squares and circles into your documents? That’s still there, but those lame-o shapes have been joined by hundreds of new shapes that will actually be useful. They’re kind of like silhouetted emojis.

New iWork Shapes

Customizing the shapes is easy.
Customizing the shapes is easy.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Along with the basic stars, squares, and circles that have always been ignored in Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, the iWork suite now has over 500 new shapes, in the following categories: objects, animals, nature, food, symbols, education, places, activities, transportation, arts, people, and work. You can find trees, trams, and tower blocks; bikes, basketballs, and beakers; pretzels, planes, and pizza. In short, pretty much anything you’ll need.

One way to think of this is that Apple just reinvented emoji with some cool, vector-based shapes. Another is that iWork just got clip art. In 2017.

Using the new shapes in iWork

Adding shapes is just like adding any other object, from tables to bar-charts to photos. Just tap the + symbol at top right, then choose the Symbols icon. From there you can browse the zillions of neat new “clip emojis,” as nobody calls them. Once you have picked symbols, just tap and drag (or click and drag on Mac) it into the documents. You can resize it and move it around, and if you want to customize the color, the shadows, or the outline, you can just tap or click the Paintbrush symbol in at the top to access all the usual formatting options.

… Finally

Pages gets another “new” feature in this update that it should have had since forever: Linked text boxes. If you have a number of text boxes in your document, you can now link them together so they behave like one big text box. Text flows automatically from one to the next. This is how proper layout apps like Indesign do it, and it is essential to pro-level work. For instance, if you’re creating a book, you don’t want to have to re-format every single text box on every other page if you just make a change to the text on page 1. In a sane app, where the boxes are all linked, editing one automatically reflows anything after it to fit.

It seems absurd that Pages hasn’t offered this since the Great Simplification that put the Mac and iOS on feature parity, but at least it’s here now.

Finally.