Everything You Need to Know About iCloud

Of all of the features in Apple’s eco system, iCloud is the most interesting, and the most potentially confusing.

There is a lot of misinformation out there about ‘the cloud’ and what it does, how safe it is, and how to use it. The truth is, the iCloud system is one of the most useful features on your iOS device. It’s what sets Apple apart.

It’s hard to understand iCloud, because much of the work is in the background. Occasionally, it will be in the foreground, but a lot of the time it’s working in the background – keeping your data safe, linking your data between devices, etc.

If you didn’t have iCloud, you would also miss out on many other amazing features; Apple Music, iMessage, Notes, automatic backups, and more.

Something that few people realize about iCloud is how secure it is. If you follow all of Apple’s security recommendations, you’ll end up with an iCloud account that is iron clad.

In this guide, we’re giving you a complete iCloud masterclass. Apple has been able to massively expand the capabilities of iCloud, as it has become more stable and quicker.

We’re going to explain what iCloud can do and how you can make the most of it!

How does iCloud work?

In Apple OS, iCloud is a group of services that are collectively referred to by one name. All of the services involve storing data off of your phone in a remote location (the cloud) to save space on your phone.

Then, as long as you have an internet connection, you can access this data whenever it’s required.

The beautiful thing about iCloud, is that when data is changed on one device, the data will also update on all of the other device connected to that iCloud account. When you add a new device, you’ll be able to immediately download all of the data that exists on your other devices.

So, a Contact book can be updated at any time, and the changes will be spread to any other connected device. All of your information stays current.

Some apps go even deeper. Apple Notes can be shared amongst may different iCloud users, and when another user makes edits to the note, those changes will be reflected in real time.

Third-party app developers are also able to harness some of the iCloud software to deliver the same fast and secure experience that you’ll experience within the Apple apps.

With all this exchange of data, you might expect that some data would get lost or corrupted. However, this is not usually the case. Apple is well known for having a very stable and secure cloud.

Generally, if data is lost, it’s because the user didn’t properly backup and set up their iCloud account.

On that note, let’s find out how to set up your first account.

Setting Up Your iCloud Account

Apple has made setting up iCloud very easy.

Basically, when you get a new device, it’s almost impossible to use it without an Apple ID. iCloud is baked right into the Apple ID, so if you have an Apple ID, then you also have an iCloud account.

However, if you want to make a new iCloud account, you can do so on your desktop by following these steps:

1. Go to appleid.apple.com and tap on Create your Apple ID.

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2. Go through the Create Your Apple ID form. Make sure to make your password as complicated as you possibly can. This is your main protection against hackers. Write down the password and put it in a safe place.

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3. Once you’re logged in, make sure that all of the devices that you want connected to iCloud are connected. Delete old devices that you no longer want having access to iCloud.

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And there you have it! You now have an Apple ID and an iCloud account. Let’s make sure that all of the preferences are the way you want them.

Setting Up iCloud Preferences

The iCloud preferences are fairly simple. You should be able to make all of the big picture decisions about your account in a matter of minutes, and make future changes whenever you want.

Here’s how to access the settings on an iOS device:

1. Open up the Settings app and tap on the Apple ID tab.

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2. Then, tap on iCloud.

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3. Now you’ll see the different categories of settings.

4. First off, let’s talk about storage.

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5. When you set up iCloud, you’ll automatically have 5GB of storage. This is a good place to start, and you can use it to keep photos, videos, backups and more.

6. Take a look at your storage bar. If it’s filling up, you’re running out of space. To buy more space, tap the Change Storage Plan. It’s surprisingly cheap to buy more storage. You can get 50GB for $0.99/month, 200GB for $3.99/month, or 2TB for $12.99/month

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7. Back on the iCloud settings page, scroll through the various apps that have access to iCloud. If you’re concerned about storage, turn off iCloud access to those apps that don’t need it.

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8. Then, go back to the Apple ID settings page, and tap on Name, Phone Numbers, and Email. Go through all of this information and ensure that it is accurate.

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Amongst those apps that have access to your iCloud account, you’ll need to tweak some of their unique settings.

For example, one of the most useful apps to have iCloud turned on for, is Photos. Photos take up a lot of space, and we take a lot of photos. You want to keep all of them, and take more all of the time, so it makes sense to store photos in the cloud.

To edit the iCloud settings for the photos app, follow these steps:

1. Open the settings app and tap on Photos.

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2. Make sure that iCloud Photo Library is turned on. This ensures that your photos are backed up and available on every device.

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3. You can then go through and edit specific features within the Photos app, like having it set to Optimize iPhone Storage.

You can edit each apps individual iCloud settings like this. Just enter that app’s settings and go through it.

Settings Up Family Sharing

Family Sharing is a very handy feature, and there are many reasons to use it. One of the principle reasons to use Family Sharing is the cost savings. You save money on Apple Music and on iCloud storage when you have Family Sharing.

You can also easily manage your children’s purchasing, at once making it easier for them to purchase things (by having your credit stored on their phone) but also being able to control what they buy (they can’t buy anything without your approval.

Here’s how to set Family Sharing up.

1. Open the Settings app and tap on the Apple ID tab.

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2. Then, tap on Family Sharing.

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3. Tap on Add Family Member…

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4. Here you can invite members via iMessage or in Person.

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5. Once they’ve accepted your invitation, you can tap on their name and turn Ask to Buy on and off.

6. If the person is an adult, you can remove them from the Family Sharing by tapping Remove.

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7. Within the settings for someone’s account, you can turn Ask to Buy on or off. When it’s on, your child can use your card to buy things, but cannot do so without your permission.

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You can now do all sorts of things within Family Sharing.

Within the Family Sharing settings, tap on Purchase Sharing. When this is turned on, anything you buy can also be downloaded and used by your family members. This means music, TV shows, and apps.

This is a big cost savings and very useful.

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You can also share an Apple Music subscription with your whole family. For only $5 more than then the personal subscription, your whole family can have Apple Music.

If you’ve bought additional storage, you can share your storage with your whole family. Simply tap Share Storage.

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Finally, you can share your location with your family members. You may not want this on all of the time, but it’s definitely handy.

Simply tap on the Location Sharing button, and then slide Share My Location to On. Your family members will then be able to see your location. You can do this on your child’s device as well.

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The Files App

The Files app is a very new addition to the Apple family and it is fantastic. At first, it was a little bit buggy and hard to use, but with Apple’s recent updates, the Files app has become very usable and an indispensable part of the iOS workflow.

Files used to be called iCloud Drive, but Apple has now separated iCloud Drive into the backend system, and Files is how iCloud Drive is accessed. Before using the Files app, you need to understand what iCloud Drive is and how it works.

Basically, if you have iCloud Drive turned on, you can safely store literally all of your data in the cloud. You can work on files remotely with other people, and you can organize it however you want.

If you have a Mac, you can turn on iCloud Drive, and then access all of your documents on your Mac, from your phone. You can do this anywhere, anytime (as long as you’re connected to the internet) and it’s all organized exactly like it’s organized on your computer.

With iCloud Drive, there’s no more wondering where your files are saved. Every file is saved everywhere and you can access it anywhere.

First off, you have to enable iCloud Drive. To do this, follow these steps:

1. Open the Settings app and tap on the Apple ID tab.

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2. Tap on iCloud.

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3. Then, turn on iCloud Drive.

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On your Mac, follow these steps:

1. Open the System Preferences app.

2. Tap on iCloud.

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3. Then, tick off the iCloud Drive box. Click the Options button beside iCloud Drive.

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4. Then, tick off all of the data that you want to be synced to iCloud Drive.

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Back on your iOS device, open up the Files app. Follow these steps to acquaint yourself with the app.

1. Open up the Files app and tap on iCloud Drive under locations.

2. Here, you should have all of the files that are on your computer. Tap on Documents (or any folder you like).

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3. Here, you can tap any document to download it and then view it. Depending on the file, you can even edit it right within the app.

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4. You can add new folder by tapping the add folder button in the top left hand corner – you can organize your files however you see fit, and these changes will be reflected on all of your devices. You can create folders within other folders as well.

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Many people do not take full advantage of the Files app and the iCloud Drive function. If you use it properly, you’ll never be without your files and documents. It’s incredibly handy.

The best part is, it doesn’t take up any space on either your computer or your phone. Your files are all stored in the cloud, and you can get them whenever you need them.

iCloud Backup

Have you ever seen a friend make a post about losing all of their contacts when they upgrade to a new phone? This needn’t ever happen to you. It’s incredibly inconvenient and very avoidable.

All of the information you have on your phone can be automatically backed up to iCloud every night while you sleep. It’s awesome and you should absolutely be using it.

Almost all of the default Apple apps use iCloud. From Calendars, to Photos, to Contacts. Third-party apps also use iCloud to store their information. All of the data in all of these apps gets backed up along with your unique settings for your iPhone.

Without ever having to plug your iPhone into a computer, you can back it up. When you get a new phone, you can just download all of your data and settings from the cloud. It’s simple!

Here’s how to get set up:

1. Open up the Settings app and tap on the Apple ID tab.

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2. Tap on iCloud.

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3. Then tap on iCloud Backup.

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4. Make sure that iCloud Backup is turned on.

5. Tap Back Up Now to back up your iPhone right then and there.

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That’s literally all there is to it. It’s so simple, but so effective. It’s crazy that not everyone does this. All you need is a Wi-Fi connection and enough space to back up your phone.

Using iCloud Keychain

One of the most convenient features that iCloud opens up is the iCloud Keychain. It’s nearly impossible to remember every username and password for your various memberships and accounts.

Luckily, iCloud keychain can remember those things for you. Typically, you’ll just have to enter your name and password once, and then iCloud will remember it for you.

All of the usernames and passwords are synced across devices as well, so that even if you enter a site on your phone, your username and password will be right there for you.

Here’s how to set it up.

1. Open the Settings app and tap the Apple ID tab.

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2. Tap on iCloud.

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3. Tap on Keychain. Make sure that it’s turned on.

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4. You can access this information by tapping on Accounts and Passwords.

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5. Tap on App & Website Passwords and you can go through all of your save usernames and passwords.

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Find my iPhone

The Find my iPhone function works hand in hand with iCloud Backup and iCloud Drive to keep all of your data safe.

When you have Find my iPhone enabled, you can track down a lost iPhone, find it on a map, erase it or lock it remotely, and even set a message on it for those that find the iPhone.

To turn on Find my iPhone, follow these steps:

1. Open the Settings app and tap on the Apple ID tab.

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2. Tap on iCloud.

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3. Tap Find my iPhone.

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4. Turn the function on and turn on Send Last Location.

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Then, you can open the Find my iPhone app and use it to track down your items.

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Using iCloud.com

You can log into your iCloud account from your desktop as well as from your phone. This can be handy, because you can access your files from anywhere and work on them. To do this, follow these steps:

1. Log in on icloud.com.

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2. Here, you can access your iCloud Drive (and all of your documents from there) as well as your Mail, Photos, Notes, Calendar, and much more.

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3. You can use the Pages and Numbers app within icloud.com to create new documents from wherever
you are.

Using iCloud on your desktop is sort of like being able to use Dropbox and Google Drive combined. You can store anything you want in the cloud, and you can also create and collaborate on new documents right form within iCloud.com.

Troubleshooting iCloud

The nice thing about iCloud, is that it’s generally doing all the work for you, behind the scenes. However, like anything else, it’s possible that your iCloud services could have glitches.

We’ll help you troubleshoot a few of the most common problems with some quick tips:

Single device failures

If your iPad is not working well with Notes (for example) but you iPhone and Mac are working just fine, it’s possible that you have a corrupted file.

This can cause apps to freeze up and slow down. It can happen in almost any app, but it can definitely happen in any iCloud app, considering how much data transfer there is.

Here is the simple fix for this:

1. Go to your iCloud settings and find the app that is giving you trouble.

2. Turn the green slider on and off – your phone will warn you about this, but it’s okay, all your data is stored in the cloud.

3. When you enable the feature again, you iCloud syncing should work just fine.

iOS device not backing up with iCloud

If you find that your iPhone has stopped making daily backups of your data using iCloud, there are a few things you should check:

1. Do you have enough storage? If your iCloud account runs out of storage, or just doesn’t have enough to begin with, you’ll need to buy some more storage.

2. Try backing up over mobile data instead of Wi-Fi – perhaps your hardwired connection is the issue. Just be warned, this will use a fair bit of data.

3. Backups do not works when songs or apps are being downloaded, so if you’re downloading something large over a long time, that may be why you haven’t been able to back up.

iCloud’s Last Resort

If you’re having general functionality problems, it’s probably time to reach out to Apple. Youd don’t need to wait for permanent damage to be done in order to reach out, they would help you instantly.

Apple views any iCloud problem as very important, so you should get great service and leave satisfied.

That’s all there is to our iCloud masterclass. We hope you have learned more about how ‘the cloud’ works and how you can make the most of it!


This article originally appeared in our monthly subscription newsletter, iExpertnews.

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February 14, 2018

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