Apple recently announced that iWork apps for iPad (Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iMovie, iPhoto etc.) will come free with any new iPad purchase. But many users are experiencing problems pushing out the free apps through Apple Configurator. Here’s how to resolve the problem.

We recently purchased fifteen new iPads and, if you’ve been following the tech news, you’ll know that Apple recently announced that any iPad purchased after the 1st of September 2013 will receive the iWork suite of apps for free. The problem is many administrators are struggling to claim the free apps to install on their school iPads.

When we logged into both the  iTunes and Volume Purchase Program store to download the apps they were still listed as paid apps. There didn’t seem to be any way to download the free apps as Apple has stated.

A number of readers have emailed giving different experiences. Some have opened iTunes on their iPad and been prompted to install the free apps, others are only ever offered the paid versions. The situation is very unclear.

One solution that works, albeit being rather labour intensive, is to contact Apple direct. To claim your free iWorks apps and push them to your iPads via Apple Configurator do the following:

  1. Note down the serial numbers of the affected iPads.
  2. Visit the Apple VPP support page (this may differ depending on your region) and inform them of the issue and your iPad serial numbers.

Several readers have stated that Apple has then returned to them a list of VPP codes to allow them to install the apps for free.

If you had this problem, let me know how you resolved it in the comments.


About Author

Profile photo of Karl Rivers

Karl is an award winning Director of IT for the Royal Grammar School Guildford, based near London, England. He has been working in education for more than ten years and founded ClassThink in 2013 to share technology best practice with other schools. In 2014 he won the NAACE Impact Award for support services in schools, and writes edtech articles for Education Executive Magazine.


  1. Do not have a Mac only to iPads. One in my user name and the other in my wife’s. How do I go about getting the Pages app on my ipad. We’ve already paid for it and down loaded it to my wife’s ipad. Thank Hank.

    • Profile photo of Karl Rivers

      Hi Hank,

      Really if you have two iPads used by two people you should purchase the app twice.

      You can download it on both, however, by signing into the App Store on both iPads with the Apple ID you have purchased the app on.

      Hope this helps.

  2. Karl,
    My name is Jon Montgomery. I work with the Alexandria intermediate school in Indiana grades 3 through 6. I am looking for an app that helps keep kids focused on school tasks. Too many are asking what they should be working on all day. Below is the simple description of the program I would like to find.

    Home screen program for iPads home screen
    Implementation of program limiting usage for students who are not caught up on school assignments. Required school work ( or a set percentage) must be done before non-classroom programs can be accessed.
    The goal of the program is to encourage appropriate usage to increase responsibility of students and increase efficacy of this technology tool.
    Any grade using personal school assigned electronic device would follow the same protocols — only the characters and message syntax would need to be changed for each grade or ability level.
    End goal is to generate an effective business like approach to assignment completion, a “reminder” window on home screen set to appear each time the iPad is activated, suggestions for responsible students who are caught up with work, and enhance individual student driven responsibility.
    If a student is not focused on school work, each type of adult guidance personnel will have the ability to open home screen and refocus the student. Each student has a set of required assignments, the program would be in charge of restrictions based on percentage of work completed.

    Other side thoughts
    Allowance for approved games or non-class related programs based on percentage of schoolwork completion. Teachers would be able to lock students out of any program if student loses privileges.
    All other sections of iPad programs restricted until percent of work completed.
    Teachers, paraprofessionals, and substitutes would be able to guide each student.
    Responsible caught up students would have suggestions for extra credit projects.

    Any suggestions would be great.
    Thanks, Jon Montgomery

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