What Is It?
iCloud is not an application, but rather an application suite. It is One that’s directly baked into the framework of nearly all Apple products. It designed to be a repository of your digital life, a place to store and backup your photos, personal files, and application data so you never lose anything. Despite its slick design and simple execution however, setting it up for the first time can be a pain.
It used to be that keeping data in sync across multiple computers and devices could be a challenge that required syncing, add-on software, or a lot of coordination. Even then, data would almost inevitably get lost or older files would accidentally replace newer ones. Thanks to iCloud, Apple’s web-based data storage and syncing service, sharing data like contacts, calendars, emails, and photos across multiple computers and devices is easy. With enabling this on your devices, each time you connect to the internet and make changes to iCloud-enabled apps, those changes will automatically be uploaded to your account and then shared to all your compatible devices.
With this, keeping data in sync is as simple as setting up each of your devices to use your iCloud account.
Anyone immersed in the Apple ecosystem can readily access it for no extra charge, but many don’t know how to make the most of it.
What You Need to Use It?
- An Apple ID/iTunes account. Your iCloud account will use the same username and password.
- A Mac running OS X 10.7.5 or higher, OR
- A PC running Windows Vista or 7 or higher and iCloud Control Panel, OR
- An iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 5 or higher, AND
- iTunes 10.5 or higher
To use the web-based iCloud apps, you’ll need Safari 5, Firefox 21, Internet Explorer 9, or Chrome 27, or higher.
Assuming you’ve got the required software, let’s move on to setting up it, beginning with desktop and laptop computers.
Setting Up and Signing Into It
Signing up with iCloud is completely free and simple to do with an Apple ID. Each free account automatically grants you access to 5GB of remote storage — available for backups, mail, app data, documents, and other components stored in the cloud — with 50GB, 200GB, and 2TB storage offerings available at an additional cost.
If your devices are recent, you shouldn’t have any issues with compatibility. But we recommended quickly scanning over the minimum requirements to get a better understanding of what will and will not work on your device. Afterwards, follow the guidelines for your respective device below.
1. Set up It on Mac & Windows
You can use iCloud without connecting your desktop or laptop computer to it. It does have great features for iPhone and iPad users but you’ll probably find it most useful if you’re syncing data to your computer, too.
How to Set up It on Mac OS X?
To set up iCloud on a Mac, there’s very little you need to do. As long as you have OS X 10.7.2 or higher, the iCloud software is built right into the operating system. As a result, you don’t need to install anything.
Here’s what you need to know:
- To access your iCloud settings, click on the Apple menu in the top left corner and choose System Preferences.
- You may already sign in to your iCloud account. If not, sign in here with your Apple ID/iTunes account.
- Check the box next to each iCloud feature you want to enable.
How to Set up It on Windows?
Unlike the Mac, Windows doesn’t come with iCloud built in, so you need to download its Control Panel software.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Download the iCloud Control Panel software from Apple.
- Install the software.
- Once you did it, launch the iCloud Control Panel.
- Sign in with your Apple ID/iTunes account.
- Check the box next to each iCloud feature you want to enable.
2. Set Up and Use iCloud on iOS Devices
All iOS devices–the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch–running iOS 5 or higher have it built in. As a result, you don’t need to install any apps to use it to keep data in sync across your computers and devices.
You do need to configure the features you want to use. Within minutes, you’ll be enjoying the magic of automatic, wireless updates to your data, photos, and other content.
To Access Its Settings on Your IOS Device:
- Tap the Settings app
- Tap iCloud
- Depending on the choices you made during your device set-up, iCloud may already be turned on and you may already be signed in. If you’re not signed in, tap the Account field and sign in with your Apple ID/iTunes account.
- Move the slider to On/green for each feature that you want to enable.
- At the bottom of the screen, tap the Storage & Backup menu. If you want to backup the data on your iOS device to iCloud, move the iCloud Backup slider to On/green.
Backing Up and Restoring iOS Devices with iCloud
Apple’s iCloud may be a terrific way to sync data between your iPhone, iPad and computer, but the software also offers an effortless way to back up your devices. Backed-up information includes everything from device settings, like your chosen wallpaper and app organization, to direct purchases from the App Store and text messages.
1. How to back up to iCloud?
Step 1: Navigate to the iCloud storage settings — Tap Settings >> Your Apple ID up at the top >> iCloud
Step 2: Toggle on iCloud Backup — At the bottom of the page you’ll be able to toggle on the iCloud Backup option. It allows the software to automatically back up your camera roll, accounts, documents, and settings when your device is plugged in, locked, and connected to Wi-Fi. Alternatively, tap the Back Up Now option to manually back up your device when connected via Wi-Fi.
2. How to restore from it?
Step 1: Start from the beginning — All recent iOS devices offer a setup assistant that allows you to restore your device from a backup. However, if you’ve already opted out of restoring from iCloud during the initial setup process, you merely need to reset your device to its factory defaults to access the same setup assistant featured on new devices. To do so, tap Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Contents and Settings. Tap Erase iPhone to confirm. If you have an older iPhone, your steps might vary a little.
Step 2: Restore from backup — Once you’ve begun the initial setup assistant, you’ll be prompted to either setup a new device, restore from it, or restore from iTunes. Select Restore from iCloud Backup, enter the Apple ID corresponding to your iCloud account, and tap whichever option you’d like to use. If you chose iCloud backup, you’ll see the three most recent backups for each of the devices on which you’ve enabled iCloud Backup.
Once chosen, the setup assistant will handle the rest. A progress bar will appear beneath indicating how long it will take download and install the iCloud backup, and when finished, your iPhone or iPad will reset and begin downloading the same version of any apps you had previously installed on the device. Enter the appropriate password when prompted and ensure you connect via Wi-Fi or your download could take a while.
Deleting iCloud backups
If you haven’t figured it out already, it is a terrific and autonomous way of syncing and storing data from all your connected iOS devices. Unfortunately, the provided 5GB of storage only goes so far when you’re constantly backing up an iPhone, iPad and MacBook using the same iCloud account. Luckily, select backups can always be manually deleted directly on your iOS device to free up storage when they become extremely outdated or in the event you no longer posses the device to which the backup belongs.
Step 1: Navigate to backup — Tap Settings >> Your Apple ID >> iCloud >> then up at the top, tap Manage Storage.
Step 2: Delete the backup — Once you’re at your storage management page, select Backups then select the backup you wish to delete and tap the red Delete Backup option at the bottom of the resulting menu. Each backup will show its relative size and the specific date when you initially upload it and which device it’s from. So you shouldn’t have much trouble distinguishing between the various backups. However, you’ll typically want to keep the most recent backup.
Once you have enabled it on your devices, and have configured the backup (if you want to use it), here’s what you need to know about using each iCloud-compatible app.
If you have an iCloud.com email address (free from Apple), enable this option to make sure that your iCloud.com email is available on all of your devices.
- You can also use your iCloud.com email via webmail.
- It can’t sync iCloud email accounts.
Enable this and the information stored in your contacts or address book apps will stay in sync across all devices. Contacts is also web-enabled.
When you enable it, all of your compatible calendars will stay in sync. Calendars is web-enabled.
This setting syncs all of your to-do reminders in the iOS and Mac versions of the Reminders app. Reminders is web-enabled.
This setting makes sure that the Safari web browsers on your desktop, laptop, and iOS devices all have the same set of bookmarks.
The contents of your iOS Notes app will be synced to all your iOS devices when this is turned on. It can also sync to the Apple Mail program on Macs.
Apple’s Wallet app (formerly Passbook on older iOS) can be managed within it on any connected device. You can sync your current credit or debit card and remove all payment options to disable Apple Pay on that device.
This feature of Safari adds the ability to automatically share usernames and passwords for websites to all of your iCloud devices. It can also save credit card information to make online purchases simpler.
This feature automatically copies your photos to the Photos app on iOS devices, and into iPhoto or Aperture on the Mac for photo storage and sharing.
Documents & Data
Sync files from Pages, Keynote, and Numbers to iCloud (all three of those apps are web enabled, too), and your iOS devices and Mac when this is turned on. This is also web-enabled to allow you to download files from it.
Find My iPhone/iPad/iPod/Mac
This feature (Find My iPhone) uses GPS and the internet to help you locate lost or stolen devices. You can use the web version of this app to find lost/stolen devices.
Back to My Mac
Back to My Mac is a Mac-only feature that allows Mac users to access their Macs from other computers.
iCloud allows you to have iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore purchases automatically downloaded to all of your devices as soon as the initial purchase finishes downloading. No more moving files from one device to another to stay in sync!.
If you’re away from your computer or devices and still want to access your data, go to iCloud.com and log in. There, you’ll be able to use Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Notes, Reminders, Find My iPhone, Pages, Keynote, and Numbers.
To use iCloud.com, you need a Mac running OS X 10.7.2 or higher, or Windows Vista or 7 with the iCloud Control Panel installed, and an iCloud account (obviously).