iCloud is Apple’s solution to store your contacts, reminders, photos, passwords, backups, and more, and seamlessly make them available everywhere. It is built into every modern Apple device. If you have recently bought your first iPhone, iPad, or Mac, you might wonder how to get, set up, and access iCloud.
Let us begin by telling you a bit more about iCloud and its requirements. After that, we will go over the quick steps to enable and use iCloud on Apple and non-Apple platforms.
Why you may want to set up iCloud?
iCloud is the adhesive that binds all your Apple devices together and ensures your data syncs wirelessly. As mentioned, you can use iCloud to store and sync photos, videos, device backups, passwords, files, contacts, calendar events, reminders, notes, messages, and more.
Your iCloud data is encrypted. And thanks to two-factor authentication, only you can access it on trusted devices and browsers.
Additionally, you can use iCloud to share stuff like photos, photo albums, notes, files, shortcuts, and more, with family members, friends, and colleagues.
Related: How to quickly share iPhone photos with a link
With iCloud Tabs, you can see opened web pages from one Apple device on another. For example, say you have opened iDB in Safari on Mac. Now, when you open Safari on iPhone, you will see it there too. iCloud also ensures your Safari bookmarks, Reading Lists, etc, are up to date on all your devices.
iCloud Drive is similar to Google Drive, One Drive, and Dropbox. You can store almost anything safely in it. Plus, third-party iOS apps can also store data here. For example, WhatsApp keeps your chat backups in iCloud Drive.
Finally, you also get a free @iCloud email that you can use like any other email.
Additionally, if you pay and upgrade to iCloud+, you get premium services like Hide My Email, Private Relay, and HomeKit Secure Video support.
In short, iCloud is one of the essential things to set up on your Apple devices. And it is effortless to do that, as shown below.
Requirements for getting iCloud
iCloud offers lots of features, and many of them require a specific version of iOS or macOS. For example, Account Recovery Contacts is available only if you are on iOS 15 or later. Shared Notes require iOS 9 or later. iCloud Drive is available on iOS 8 and later. For iCloud Drive folder sharing, you must have iOS 13.4 or later. And so on.
Therefore, we can say that as things progress and new iCloud features are added, they require modern versions of iOS, iPadOS, or macOS. But in general, if you are on the latest version of iOS, you should have everything currently offered.
That all being said, to use iCloud (and at least its initial core features), you need:
- An Apple ID
- Internet connection
- iOS 5 or later on iPhone 3GS, iPod touch (3rd gen), and later
- Any iPad, as even the first iPad released in 2010, supports iOS 5
- Mac running OS X Lion 10.7.5 or later
- PC running Windows 7 or later
Just for the record, iOS 5 and OS X Lion were released in 2011. So, you do not need to worry. Almost certainly, the iPhone or Mac you are using supports iCloud. Here’s how to access it.
How to set up and get iCloud on iPhone and iPad
When you buy a new iPhone or set up one after erasing it, you are encouraged to sign in using your Apple ID. Once you do that, it automatically sets up iCloud and switches on the default options.
However, if you skipped doing that while setting up your device. Or, if you just want to ensure whether iCloud is active on your iPhone or not, here are the steps to do that.
- Open the Settings app, and on the top, you should see Sign in to your iPhone. Tap it and sign in using your Apple ID. After that, follow the next steps. If you see your name instead of Sign in to your iPhone, that means you are already signed in. Just follow the steps below to ensure desired iCloud services are set up.
- Tap iCloud.
- Here, you have several options. Turn on or turn off the switches to enable or disable the said services.
- After you enable iCloud Drive, you will see additional third-party apps appear at the bottom of this screen. You can allow or deny these apps to save data to iCloud Drive.
And that’s about it. You have successfully set up iCloud on your iPhone or iPad. To access them, open the respective apps. For example, let’s say you enabled iCloud contacts in step 3 above. Now, you can access all your iCloud contacts in the Phone or Contacts app. Plus, from now on when you add any contact or delete one, the same will update in iCloud too.
If you set up iCloud on your other iPhone or iPad, it will sync everything and every change on them as well.
How to use iCloud on Mac
When you power on your new or erased Mac, the Setup Assistant asks you to sign in using Apple ID, which also enables iCloud. But if you did not do that, here is how to set up iCloud on your MacBook, iMac, Mac Pro, Mac mini, or another macOS computer.
- Click the Apple icon from the top left and choose System Preferences.
- In System Preferences:
- On modern macOS versions, you will see an option to Sign in to your Apple ID. Use your Apple ID to sign in and then follow the next steps.
- If you see your name, it means you are already signed in. In this case, click Apple ID, and follow the next steps.
- If you are on an old version of the operating system, click iCloud and follow step 4.
- Click iCloud.
- Check or uncheck the desired boxes to enable or disable these services.
You have successfully set up iCloud on your Mac. To use the enabled services, open the respective app. For example, if you enabled Notes in step 4, you will find all your iCloud notes in Mac’s Notes app. Plus, the new notes you create here will save to iCloud and be available on other devices and even the web.
How to access your iCloud on Windows PC
After you set up iCloud on your Windows PC, you can access the photos, contacts, calendar, files, etc., stored in it. Here’s how to do that.
- On Windows 10 or 11, download and install iCloud from the Microsoft Store. If you are on Windows 7 or 8, use this Apple link.
- Restart your PC.
- Open iCloud for Windows and sign in to iCloud using the Apple ID you have on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.
- Check which services you want to enable.
- Finally, click Apply.
You have successfully set up iCloud on your Windows PC. Now, you should see folders for the compatible enabled services in Windows File Explorer. For example, if you enabled iCloud Drive, you will see its folder in File Explorer. Same for iCloud Photos. Any files or photos you add to these folders on your PC will sync and show on your Apple devices.
How to access iCloud in computer or iPad browser
You can also use iCloud in Google Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Opera, or Safari to see, add, edit, download, or delete certain things like contacts, notes, photos, etc.
- Visit iCloud.com and sign in using your Apple ID. If you are using Safari, you may see an option to sign in by Touch ID, Face ID, or by entering device passcode instead of Apple ID details.
- Choose one of the app or services here.
- Additionally, iCloud on the web also lets you see Account Settings. You can manage several options here. It even enables you to restore recently deleted files, contacts, calendars, and bookmarks.
On iPhone, you can sign in to iCloud web, but it will only show six options – Mail, Photos, iCloud Drive, Notes, Reminders, Find iPhone. Plus, on some Android phones, you can force sign in to iCloud using the desktop mode, but the experience may be poor and unusable.
This is how you can get to iCloud, set it up, and access it on different devices. Usually, it is a “do once and forget it” kind of thing. You set it up, and now it will store and sync everything on your Apple devices. I hope this guide was helpful and you have a good time using iCloud.