Forcing a Mac to get updates from iCloud

I’ve had trouble with one of my macs not syncing to iCloud.

Specifically, if I update a document on my second mac, it goes to iCloud just fine (I can see the updates on iCloud.com, my iPhone, and my iPad) but I don’t get the update on my first mac.

The best workaround I’ve found is to make sure both macs are awake and online when a document is modified. it seems if a mac is offline and misses the new data push from iCloud, the mac never requests new data from iCloud.

if one mac is offline when I change a document and I need the changes on that sleeping mac later, the best thing to do is modify the document again (via the other mac or iCloud.com) after the sleeper wakes.

iWork, iCloud, And an iPad

In an attempt to plan more laptop-less trips, I wanted to get a few critical spreadsheets onto the iPad: the budget spreadsheet, and the car fuel-and-maintenance-tracking spreadsheets.

I exported them out of gnumeric in the Microsoft Excel 97/2000/XP format and imported them into Numbers ’09 on my MacBook. Numbers threw open a sheet saying it didn’t have the fonts referenced in the spreadsheet and allowed me to pick new fonts. I spent a bit of time cleaning up formatting.

After opening Safari and logging into iCloud.com, I used the Finder to drag the spreadsheets into iCloud.

When I opened Numbers on iPad, the new spreadsheet had a generic icon, not a preview of the document. Upon tapping the spreadsheet, I was surprised to again be confronted with a sheet complaining about attributes of the document. This time, it was sheet headers and footers as well as fonts. The iOS version of numbers appeared to be going through a conversion process to open the spreadsheet! I ok’d the sheet and the spreadsheet opened. It looked nice.

After making a few changes, I opened up my mac, downloaded the updated spreadsheet, and opened it in Numbers for mac. The fonts had changed both face and size, and all the grid lines were gone! I fixed the fonts and the gridlines, dragged into icloud.com, and tried to open the spreadsheet on iPad. However, I simply received a generic error saying there was a failure opening the spreadsheet!

This was 100% reproducible for me, too: create a document in Numbers for mac, open on iPad, convert, then find it re-formatted on the mac after download from iCloud. Clean it up on the mac, then it fails to open on iOS.

In the end, I picked a canonical source for each spreadsheet. My car mileage spreadsheets I’ve decided will only be updated on iPad, so I never download them from icloud.com anymore. My budget spreadsheet, though, I need to edit on the mac because I want to sort on multiple columns (not possible on Numbers for iOS); that one lives on the mac. After each edit I upload it to icloud.com, where I treat it as read-only in Numbers for iOS.