Thanks to iCloud, Apple's cloud data storage and syncing service, sharing data such as contacts, calendars, emails, and photos across multiple computers and devices is easy. With iCloud enabled on your devices, each time you connect to the internet and make changes to iCloud-enabled apps, those changes automatically upload to your account. iCloud then shares the updates to your compatible devices.
With iCloud, keeping data in sync is as simple as setting up each of your devices to use your iCloud account.
To use iCloud, you need an Apple ID. These instructions apply to iTunes 10.5 and higher, Mac OS X 10.7.5 or later, Windows Vista or 7 or higher, and devices running iOS 5 and later. To use the web-based iCloud apps, you need at least Safari 5, Firefox 21, Internet Explorer 9, or Chrome 27.
How to Set up iCloud on macOS X
To set up iCloud on a Mac, there's little you need to do because the iCloud software is part of the operating system. As a result, you don't need to install anything. Here's what to do:
To access your iCloud settings, click on the Apple menu in the top left corner and choose System Preferences.
If you aren't already signed in to your iCloud account, sign in when prompted to do so.
Check the box next to iCloud Drive to turn it on.
Click Options to customize iCloud Drive.
Check the box next to each iCloud feature you want to enable and then click Done to save the settings.
How to Set up iCloud on Windows
Windows doesn't come with iCloud, so you need to download the iCloud software. Here's how to set it up.
Open the Microsoft Store on your PC.
Search for iCloud in the search bar.
Click Get to download the software.
Click Launch to open iCloud.
If Windows asks if you want to allow iCloud to make changes, click Yes.
Sign in with your Apple ID/iTunes account.
If you have two-factor authentication set up for your Apple devices, validate the device you just signed in on.
Check the box next to each iCloud feature you want to enable.
Click Apply to save the changes and then click Close to close the settings window.
How to Set Up and Use iCloud on iOS Devices
All iOS devices running iOS 5 or higher have iCloud. You don't need to install any apps to sync data across your computers and devices. You do need to configure the features you want to use, however. Here's how to set up iCloud on mobile devices.
Open the Settings app.
Tap your name at the top of the screen.
If you're not signed in, tap the Account field and sign in with your Apple ID.
Move the slider to On/green for each feature that you want to enable.
At the bottom of the screen, tap the iCloud Backup menu.
If you want to back up the data on your iOS device to iCloud (this is great for restoring from backup wirelessly via iCloud), move the iCloud Backup slider to On/green.
Using iCloud to sync data between your computers and devices means you have a backup of your data available at all times. You can not only back up data there but also restore backed-up data over the Internet. All iCloud users get 5 GB of storage for free. You can upgrade for more space for a fee.
Programs That Back Up to iCloud
The following programs include iCloud backup features. For most of them, you just need to turn the backup feature on to have their contents uploaded to iCloud.
Other apps are also iCloud compatible. Check the options pages on your platform for a complete list.macOS/iOS apps: Safari (for bookmarks), Mail, Address Book, Calendar, Notes, Messages, Home, Health, Wallet, Reminders, Pages, Keynote, and Numbers 1.5 or higher, and Photos.Windows apps: Safari (for bookmarks), Photos, Mail.
How to Check Your iCloud Storage
To find out how much of your 5 GB iCloud backup space you're using and how much you have left:On Mac and Windows: Open the iCloud Preferences. The bar across the bottom shows how much you're using and how much is available.On iOS: Tap the Settings app and then tap iCloud. Tap Storage & Backup. Look for the Storage menu.
Managing iCloud Backups
If your iCloud storage is filling up and you don't want to pay for the upgrade, you can clear some space on it. Here's how.
Return to the iCloud screen on any platform and click or tap Manage.
The next screen shows a list of all of the apps that use space in your iCloud account. Click one to see how much room it's taking and click Delete Documents and Data to remove it.
Deleting an app's data doesn't stop it from uploading more. Remove the permission from the Settings menu to prevent it from taking up space in the future.
Click Done when you're finished managing iCloud storage.
How to Upgrade iCloud Storage
To add more storage to your iCloud account, access your iCloud software and select an upgrade.
On Mac and Windows, click Buy More Storage in the iCloud management window. Select the upgrade you want and then click Next. Enter your Apple ID password and click Buy to upgrade.
If you're already paying for extra iCloud space, the button says Change Storage Plan.
On iOS, return to the iCloud settings screen (Settings > [your name] > iCloud), and tap Manage Storage. Select Change Storage Plan/Buy More Storage. Pick one of the options and tap Buy.
Upgrades to your iCloud storage charge monthly to the payment card you have on file in your Apple ID.
Once you have iCloud enabled 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.Mail: If you have an iCloud.com email address, enable this option to make your inbox available on all your iCloud devices. You can also use your iCloud.com email via webmail.Contacts: The information stored in your contacts or address book apps stays in sync across all devices.Calendars: All your compatible calendars stay in sync.Reminders: Syncs all your to-do reminders in the iOS and Mac versions of the Reminders app.Safari: Makes sure that the Safari web browsers on your desktop, laptop, and iOS devices all have the same set of bookmarks.Notes: The contents of your iOS Notes app sync to all your Apple devices when this is turned on.Apple Pay: Manage Apple's Wallet app in iCloud on any connected device to sync your current credit or debit card and remove all payment options to disable Apple Pay on that device.Keychain: 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.Photos: 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 and your iOS devices and Mac.Find My iPhone/iPad/iPod/Mac: Use GPS and the internet to help you locate lost or stolen devices.Automatic Downloads: Automatically download apps to all of your devices as soon as the initial purchase finishes downloading.Web Apps: If you're away from your computer or devices and still want to access your iCloud 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.