How to use iCloud?


What is iCloud, and what is it for? We explain how to set up, use and get the most out of Apple's iCloud services.

iCloud is one of Apple's most mysterious products. What is it, and what does it do? How to set up an iCloud account and how to use all its features?

In this article, we tell you everything you need to know to use iCloud and get the most out of its many services and features.

What is iCloud?

iCloud is the name Apple gives to its range of cloud services, covering areas as diverse as email, contact and calendar synchronization, locating lost devices (Find My iPhone/iPad) and data storage. music in the cloud (iTunes Match).

The point of cloud services in general, and iCloud in particular, is to store information on a remote computer, called a cloud server, rather than locally. This means that you do not take up storage space on a particular device and can access this information from any internet-connected device.

What does iCloud do?

Essentially, iCloud allows you to store information online and then access that information from all your devices – iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac, and even Windows PC. But if you go to and log in to your account (we'll tell you how to create one in a moment), you'll see the wide range of applications for this simple concept.

Here are some examples:

Contacts : If you allow it, iCloud will sync your contacts across your iOS and macOS devices. This means you only need to manage one contact list, because any changes you make on your iPhone will apply to contacts on your Mac and other devices.

Calendar : Likewise, iCloud (if allowed) syncs events across all your devices.

iCloud Drive : An easy way to store files in the cloud. To learn more, see How to use iCloud Drive.

Notes : You can choose to save notes locally, but syncing them between devices is extremely convenient. This is how we prepare notes for podcasts: we enter them into Notes on a Mac, then play them back on an iPhone in the studio.

iWork : You can use Pages, Numbers and Keynote as web apps, thanks to iCloud.

iCloud also allows you to easily save TextEdit documents to the cloud, and access them from other devices.

iCloud Price

iCloud is free…to start. You can set up an iCloud without paying a cent, but it comes with a limited amount of cloud storage: 5GB across all your devices.

That's not a lot of space. If you want more space – and if you plan to back up multiple devices to the cloud, or store large collections of photos, videos or documents off-device, you'll need it – then you'll have to cough up the piece.

Here's what it costs to upgrade your iCloud storage:

50 GB: 79p/99c per month
200GB: £2.49/$2.99 ​​per month
2TB: £6.99/$9.99 per month

How to upgrade your iCloud storage plan

Upgrading your iCloud plan is simple. You can offer it from an iPhone or iPad, a Mac or even a Windows PC.

On an iPhone or iPad: Go to Settings, and tap your name/photo at the top of the main menu (or tap to sign in).

In the second group of options, tap iCloud; At the top of the next screen, under the STORAGE heading, you'll see a small graph showing your storage usage. Tap Manage Storage below the chart, then tap Upgrade (or Change Storage Plan) and follow the instructions.

If you're already subscribed to a paid storage tier, you can also downgrade on this screen.

On Mac : Open System Preferences (click its icon in the Dock, or use the Apple icon at the top left of the screen), then select iCloud and click Manage at the bottom right of the next screen. Then click Buy more storage or Change storage plan (top right) and follow the instructions.

Again, you will be offered downgrade options (the button is at the bottom left) if you are already paying.

On PC : Open iCloud for Windows, click Storage and select Buy more storage or Change storage plan, then follow the instructions.

How to configure iCloud

Your iCloud account is based on your Apple ID. So if you don't have an Apple ID yet, you'll need to create one. You may also need to update your device's operating system (some iCloud features are only available on newer versions). The next step depends on the device you are using.

On the iPad or iPhone: In the middle of setting up an iPhone or iPad, iOS will ask you if you want to use iCloud. If you didn't enable it during setup, you can later go to Settings, tap your name at the top (or tap to sign in), select iCloud, then enter your Apple ID and password.

On Mac: Open System Preferences and click iCloud. Now sign in with your Apple ID and check the services you want to use.

On Apple TV (fourth generation or 4K): If you didn't choose to enable iCloud (by entering your Apple ID) when you first installed, go to Settings > Accounts > iCloud, then select Sign in.

On PC: Download and install iCloud for Windows. Open it and sign in with your Apple ID, then check the iCloud services you want to use.

That's the gist, but we cover this process in much more depth elsewhere: How to Set Up iCloud.

How to use iCloud

Most of the time, iCloud works quietly in the background; If you have allowed iCloud to do its job (which in many cases is the default setting), you will simply find that documents you created on one device are available on another, calendar events and contact details sync seamlessly, etc.

If you want to test iCloud capabilities in an app, make sure it's enabled.

In iOS, open Settings and tap your ID at the top of the screen; you will see all the apps and services that can use iCloud. Tap the app you want so the slider turns green. (Some apps, like Photos, are more complex – tap to see a list of permissions).

On Mac, open System Preferences and click iCloud, then do the same, except this time you have to check the boxes instead of tapping the sliders.