How to Use iMessage to Collaborate on Work with Others

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Working with notes, reminders, documents and projects on your iPhone or iPad seems like a solitary endeavor, but with iOS/iPadOS 16, you can collaborate on those items with other people through the Messages app.

LAKE: iCloud vs OneDrive: Which is best for Mac, iPad and iPhone users? (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

For this to work, the item must be synchronized through iCloud for you and the recipients. You can then share the specific file or content by texting an invitation to one or more people in which you ask them to collaborate on the item. After the other people accept your invitation, all of you can view and edit the item in real time. You can even track the edits and changes as they’re being made. Let’s see how this plays out by using Notes as an example.

What you’ll need to collaborate with iMessage

First, make sure you’re running at least iOS 16 or iPadOS 16 on your device. Go to Settings, select General and then Software Update. You’ll be told that the OS is up to date or asked to download and install the latest update.

Next, make sure that iCloud synchronization is enabled for the app whose content you wish to share — not just for you but also for your recipients. To check, go to Settings and select your name at the top of the screen. Tap iCloud and then Show All. Turn on the switch for the type of content you want to share, if it’s not already on (Figure A).

Figure A

Tap iCloud and then Show All.  Turn on the switch for the type of content you want to share.
Image: Lance Whitney/TechRepublic

How to collaborate with iMessage

Collaborate on a note

Open Notes and create a note on which you’d want to collaborate with other people. Tap the Share icon. Tap the Collaborate option and make sure it’s set to Collaborate.

Then tap the option underneath that says: “Only invited people can edit.” At the next screen, confirm or change the permissions for collaborating on the note. Decide who can access the note; this is either only the people you’ve invited or anyone with the link.

Under Permissions, choose whether people are able to access the note can make changes or only view it. Finally, determine if people able to access the note can invite others to access it too. tap done

Send the invitation

Next, choose a specific person with whom you want to collaborate on the note, or select Messages or Mail to send an invitation to multiple people. If you wish, add a comment to the invitation before sending it (Figure B).

Figure B

Choose a specific person with whom you want to collaborate on the note, or select Messages or Mail to send an invitation to multiple people.
Image: Lance Whitney/TechRepublic

Each recipient taps the invitation message and is prompted to open the note in the Notes app. They then tap Open in response to the message and can now work with the note in the app (Figure C).

Figure C

Each recipient taps the invitation message and is prompted to open the note in the Notes app.
Image: Lance Whitney/TechRepublic

Edit the note

When someone with access to the note makes an edit to it, a notification appears in the message thread for the invitation alerting you that a specific person made edits. Tap Show to see the note with the edits (Figure D).

Figure D

Tap Show to see the note with the edits.
Image: Lance Whitney/TechRepublic

Each person can collaborate on the note by making their own edits or changes. If the note is open, the changes will appear on each person’s device shortly after they’re made. With you as the owner and creator of the note, you can view and control the sharing and collaboration.

With the note open, tap the Person icon at the top. At the menu, tap the option for Show All Activity to see who edited the note. Tap the option for Show Highlights to see the changes to the note (Figure E).

Figure E

Tap the option for Show Highlights to see the changes to the note.
Image: Lance Whitney/TechRepublic

Control sharing of the note

You can also control the sharing of the note. Tap the Person icon again and select Manage Shared Note. Turn on the switch for Highlight All Changes to see any edits in the note. Turn on the switch for Hide Alerts to disable alerts if someone edits the note (Figure F).

Figure F

Turn on the switch for Hide Alerts to disable alerts if someone edits the note.
Image: Lance Whitney/TechRepublic

To manage someone’s access to the note, tap that person’s name. You can now change their permission for the note and enable or disable their ability to add more people. To remove the person entirely, select Remove Access. To invite another person to collaborate on the note, tap the option for Share With More People and then select the person you wish to invite or the app for sending the invitation (Figure G).

Figure G

tap the option for Share With More People and then select the person you wish to invite or the app for sending the invitation.
Image: Lance Whitney/TechRepublic

To change the access and sharing options for everyone, tap the setting for Share Options. Make whatever changes you wish. To turn off sharing and collaboration entirely, tap Stop Sharing (Figure H).

Figure H

Tap the setting for Share Options.
Image: Lance Whitney/TechRepublic

Collaborate on other items

Beyond sharing notes, you can collaborate on other items. Open a specific list in the Reminders app, tap the Share icon, and then share the reminder. The recipient then opens the list on their device (Figure I).

Figure I

Open a specific list in the Reminders app, tap the Share icon, and then share the reminder.
Image: Lance Whitney/TechRepublic

Finally, you can collaborate on content created through Apple’s iWork suite — Pages, Numbers and Keynote. To do this, you and your recipients will need the iWork app you wish to use installed on your device.

Open the app whose content you wish to share. Alternatively, launch the Files app, go to iCloud Drive and then select the folder for Pages, Numbers or Keynote. Open a specific document, spreadsheet or presentation. Tap the Share icon and make sure the option is set to Collaborate. Send the invitation. The recipient then opens the file on their device so you can all collaborate on it (Figure J).

Figure J

Tap the Share icon and make sure the option is set to Collaborate.
Image: Lance Whitney/TechRepublic

Discover more tutorials with this guide on getting the most out of Apple Maps in iOS 16and how to create and manage multiple reminder lists using Apple devices.

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