When you need to work on a project with others, you may need to use a specific tool. But did you know that you can collaborate right in the Messages app on iPhone, iPad, and Mac? You can share files, work on them together, see activity updates, and more. This guide shows you how to collaborate on all of these platforms in the Messages app.
System and iCloud Requirements for Collaborating in Messages
Before you start using Messages to collaborate on a project, be sure you meet the following requirements:
- You and your collaborators must use iMessage.
- You and your collaborators need iOS 16 or later, iPadOS 16 or later, or macOS Ventura or later.
- You must save the file you want to share on an accessible location, such as iCloud Drive.
- You must have iCloud enabled for the app you plan to use, for instance, Pages, Notes, or Numbers.
For viewing, editing, or inviting others to a shared iCloud document, you must meet one of the following minimum requirements:
- An iPhone or iPad running iOS 15 or iPadOS 15 or later with Pages, Numbers, or Keynote 12.2 or later.
- A Mac running macOS Monterey or later with Pages, Numbers, or Keynote 12.2 or later.
Features Unavailable for Collaborating on Shared Documents
The features mentioned below aren’t available when working together on a shared document in Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.
- Creating, deleting, or reordering styles
- Creating or editing custom cell formats
- Dragging columns and rows between the body and headers of tables
- Editing using Ruby in Asian languages
- Replacing all font occurrences
- Reducing the file size
If you want to make one of the above changes, you can stop sharing the document, make the edit, then reshare it.
For additional features that unavailable for each application, check out the Apple Support site.
How to Collaborate in Messages on iPhone and iPad
To start working on a project together in Messages on iPhone or iPad, share the file from one of Apple’s applications, like Notes, Pages, Numbers, or Keynote. From there, you can discuss the project and view its activity in Messages. Follow the steps below to get started.
How to Share a File on iPhone and iPad
To share the file to Messages, open the app, then follow these simple steps.
- Tap the “Share” button in the top right.
- In the drop-down box that appears at the top of the pop-up window, select the “Collaborate” button. If you choose the “Send Copy” option located further down the list, this only shares a copy of the file and doesn’t activate the collaboration features.
- Tap “Only invited people can edit” to adjust document access and permissions.
- Listed below are the following access and permission options. When you finished toggling these settings, select “Done” on the top right.
- Who can access: choose either “Only invited people” to limit access to people you choose or “Anyone with link” to expand the access to anybody who has a link.
- Permission: choose either “Can make changes” to allow collaborators to edit the file or “View only” to prevent edits and give read-only permission.
- Allow others to invite: turn on this toggle if you want to allow collaborators to invite others to the file.
- Choose one of your recent Messages conversations or start a new one by selecting “Messages” in the row of share options.
- When the file appears in the text field of the Messages app, you can adjust the access and permission settings once more, if necessary, and add a message. Tap the blue “Send” button.
How to View the File Activity in Messages on iPhone and iPad
When a collaborator makes a change to the file you’ve shared, you’ll see this activity in the Messages app. This is a great way to stay on top of edits without the need to open the file and check manually.
- Open the project conversation in Messages to see whether changes were made to the file at the top of the conversation. You can also see who made the change and when they made it.
- Tap “Show” or “Review” next to the activity to see the changes.
How to Stop Collaborating on iPhone and iPad
When the project comes to an end or if you simply want to stop collaborating, use the sharing options in the corresponding app to remove access from the file. The exact steps vary depending on the app but are similar in those like Notes, Pages, and Numbers. For example, take a look at how to collaborate with the Notes app.
- Open the app and tap the “Collaboration” icon. If collaborator(s) are active, the icon will feature their contact photo as shown below.
- Select the “Manage Shared Note” menu option.
- Choose the “Stop Sharing” button at the bottom.
How to Collaborate in Messages on Mac
You can collaborate on shared files in Messages on Mac, similarly to sharing on your mobile device. Add the file to the Messages app directly or share it to Messages from the application you’re using.
How to Share a File in Messages on Mac
As a Mac user, you probably how how easily you can perform actions with drag-and-drop. You can even use it to share a file to Messages by following the steps below.
- Open the folder containing the file you want to share along with the project conversation in the Messages app. You can do this by placing the windows side by side.
- Drag the file from its folder into the conversation in Messages and release.
- When you see the file appear in the text field, use the drop-down box to select “Collaborate.” If you pick “Send Copy,” this only shares a copy of the file.
- Optionally add a message to the text field below the file, then press Return to send the message.
How to Share a File From Another App on Mac
If you’re actively working on the file, you may find it easier to share it from the app you’re using.
- Select the “Share” button on the top right or use “File -> Share” from the menu bar.
- At the top of the pop-up window, select “Collaborate” in the drop-down menu.
- Expand the drop-down menu beneath for “Only invited people can edit” to adjust the access and permission settings. You’ll see the same settings for “Who can access,” “Permissions,” and “Allow others to invite” that were offered in the mobile app. Choose the options you want.
- Select one of your recent Messages conversations or start a new one by picking “Messages” in the list of share options.
- When the file appears in the text field of the Messages app, optionally add a message, then press Return to send it.
How to View the File Activity in Messages on Mac
If a collaborator makes a change to the file you’ve shared, you’ll see this in the Messages app just as you would on your mobile device.
- Open the project conversation in Messages and look to the top for changes made to the file. You’ll see who made the edit and when.
- Select “Show” or “Review” next to the activity description to open the file and see the changes.
How to Stop Collaborating on Mac
If it’s time to stop collaborating, you’ll use the sharing options in the corresponding app to remove access from the file. Again, the exact steps vary depending on the app. Following, is an example using the Pages app:
- Open the app and tap the “Collaboration” icon.
- Select “Manage Shared Document.”
- Choose “Stop Sharing” at the bottom.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I add or remove collaborators in Messages?
You can add or remove people the same way you add or remove them from an ordinary group conversation in Messages.
Select the Details icon (small letter “i”) and choose “Add Member” to add someone new or select the person you want to remove and choose “Remove From Conversation.”
Visit the corresponding app to adjust the access and permissions as needed.
Can I adjust the access and permissions after sharing a file?
Open the corresponding app per the type of file you shared. Select the Collaboration icon and choose “Only invited people can edit.” You’ll see the same options as when you initially set up the file for sharing.
Can I use SharePlay to collaborate on projects in Messages?
SharePlay is a handy feature for watching videos and listening to music with friends and family in Messages and FaceTime on iPhone and iPad or FaceTime on Mac. You can use the SharePlay feature in apps like Music, TV, TikTok, and Spotify. However, there isn’t currently a SharePlay option in apps like Pages, Notes, or Numbers.
Image credit: Pixabay. All screenshots by Sandy Writtenhouse.
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