Apple now offers its spreadsheet program to anyone that has an iCloud account. You can access the spreadsheets from most browsers which effectively opens up the program to Windows users. You do not get the same functionality that you would from iWork for Mac, but you can access the same files and perform the most common tasks.
Apple’s Numbers spreadsheet has a sharing option that allows you to invite others to collaborate with you on a spreadsheet. You can give them the ability to view or edit the spreadsheet and you can decide the level of privacy to afford it.
You can find this option by clicking on the sharing icon shown in the image above (the arrow inside the square). However, tread carefully, as this can leave your file open to viewing by others as will be explained in this article. At the time of the writing of this article, the sharing feature is only for the entire spreadsheet. There are no options to specify sharing and editing permissions on a specific cell, range, or worksheet. If you want to share only a portion of the spreadsheet, you will have to use another spreadsheet options such as Google’s Sheets which has more granular security features.
Once you choose to share the spreadsheet, you are presented with a few different options for how to share it. This is where things get a little fuzzy. If you are new to the concept of sharing documents over the web, it is important that you understand what is happening here.
Before you share anything, your files are locked down in iCloud and only someone who knows you username and password can access them. Hopefully that’s just you. However, if you choose to share a file, you are opening up this particular file to other users on the web outside of your iCloud account. Others will know be able to access the file even if they do not have an iCloud acount.
Letting someone see but not edit
If you want to grant a user permission to see the spreadsheet, but not edit it, you choose this option during the sharing process.
However, there is a catch here. This spreadsheet is secured from others by the long, random URL that you see above for the spreadsheet link. This means that no one else will be able to stumble upon this spreadsheet becasuse it is near impossible to guess the link. You should feel pretty comfortable that your spreadsheet is still private, but you should also understand what is making it private. If anyone found this URL, they would be able to see the spreadsheet. There is no login required for this option and no password has been specified. If you shared this spreadsheet with multiple people, then decided that one of the peoople should not be able to see it anymore, you cannot remove just that particular user’s access. If you still want it to be shared, you would have to add a password and control who gets the password.
Letting someone edit
If you want to grant a user permission to use the spreadsheet with the same permissions that you have, specify “Allow Editing” during the sharing process shown in the picture above. This will give anyone with the link the ability to edit the spreadsheet.
This is Number’s method of allowing a user to share a spreadsheet while still keeping it confidential. While other cloud spreadsheet programs allow you to share spreadsheets with specific people, Numbers gives you the ability only share your password with specific people. This accomplishes the same thing, but gets you there differently.
The options described above offer enough flexibility to allow simple collaboratoin in Numbers. As your spreadsheets get more complicated, you may encounter the needs to specify certain ranges or worksheets that you want to protect in different ways. If all you want to do is share spreadsheets with others to allow them to see or edit, then Numbers has the ability to get this done.