If you want to take the plunge into iWork ���05 — Apple’s word processing (Pages) and presentation (Keynote 2) combo — you might have a little trouble during installation. Thanks to a bug in the software, it rejects perfectly valid serial numbers.

I couldn’t find the solution on Google, but Apple’s discussion groups had the answer. (Linking to specific posts is difficult, but drill down through iWork ’05 > Keynote > iWork serial number tip.) The dirty details follow, as compiled by a user named Peggy:

First, enter the serial number while logged in as an administrator. Otherwise Keynote & Pages will ask for the serial number each time you launch them.

The letter O & the number 0 (zero) are easily confused. Check closely. The zero has a dot in the middle. This is the most common problem.

The letter S & the number 5 can also be confused. Also, the lowercase letter l & the number 1.

Type the letters using the shift key, not Caps Lock. “Caps Lock-entered” numbers are rejected.

Don’t forget to type the hyphens.

Edited June 22, 2005: Some new information provided by James Macallister: When I had typed the entire number in, the Continue button stayed ghosted. The problem was that the last dash and three digits had not gotten printed on the software serial number stickers packed with my copy of iWork. In my case (and I don’t think this is revealing too much) the missing characters were “-SFA”.

In my case, adding “-SFA” was indeed the answer.

Trouble can also arise if you’ve previously installed the trial version. There’s a solution for that, too, at iWork ’05 > Pages > iWork: Can���t install iWork after using the iWork trial:

The most likely cause of this is that the iWork you bought is version 1.0 & the trial is the updated version, 1.0.1. As the stock of retailers is replaced, this problem for new purchasers will likely disappear. In the meantime, you will have to manually remove all traces of the iWork trial before installing from the retail disk. Don���t worry, any necessary files will be reinstalled.

First, the applications – Hard Drive > Applications – Delete the entire iWork folder (containing the Keynote & Pages applications).

Second, the preferences – Hard Drive > Users > [your account] > Library > Preferences – Delete com.apple.iWork.Keynote.plist, com.apple.iWork.Pages.plist & com.apple.iWork.Installer.plist. Then do a search for iWork in Spotlight & trash any files or folders.

Third, receipts – Hard Drive > Library > Receipts – Delete Pages.pkg & Keynote 2.pkg. If there are any other packages with Pages, Keynote or iWork in their names, delete these as well.

If you have created any templates, you may not want to delete them. They are located in Hard Drive > Users > [your account] > Library > Application Support > iWork > Pages/Keynote > Templates > My Templates. Just move that iWork folder to the Desktop & you can move it back later. It would be worthwhile to repair permissions before installing your purchased iWork. Don’t forget to repair permissions after installing, too.

Addendum, 1 June: Another user, Anthony, has another method – reinstall the trial over the existing trial of iWork but enter the serial number when requested. No need to hunt for files to delete!

Updated July 25: Apple now reports “New copies of iWork may not accept the serial number until Keynote has been updated to 2.0.2 & Pages updated to 1.0.2. Run Software Update after installing or you can find the Keynote updater here & the Pages updater here.”