What is and how to use iCloud

Updated April 17, 2017

iCloud is designed to overcome the problem of sharing your music, photos, contacts and even apps between devices. Instead of having different files on different machines, iCloud lets you store stuff wirelessly online. So, if you download a music track to your iPhone, iCloud makes it available on your iPad--provided you have an Internet connection. Though iCloud is native to most new Apple devices, you can also download software to run iCloud on a Windows PC. If you're using an iPhone, iPad or Mac, update your device to the latest operating system. Earlier versions don't include iCloud.

iPhones and iPads

Tap the "Settings" button on your iPad or iPhone screen. Choose the "iCloud" option from the list--usually found near the top. Make sure you're using the right Apple ID for your device. This will be used for your iCloud login ID.

Toggle the options to "On" for each type of content you would like to share with iCloud--documents, photos and your general data. Tap "Storage and Backup" to allow iCloud to backup your data and settings automatically.

Turn on "Passbook" to sync all of your gift cards and electronic tickets with iCloud. Useful if you often use your iPhone to show e-tickets for gigs and events.

Use your phone as normal. With all the iCloud settings switched on, the phone will automatically sync with iCloud.

Apple Macs

Click the Apple logo in the top-left of your screen and select "System Preferences" from the drop-down menu. A panel full of little icons will appear.

Select the iCloud icon under the "Internet and Wireless" section. The iCloud login screen will appear. Enter your Apple ID and password. Use the same ID for all your devices so that you can share the data wherever you are.

Click on the iPhoto icon in your program list or dock bar. Select "Photostream" from the options on the left-hand side and choose "Turn on Photostream." This options syncs your images with iCloud.

Open iTunes and click the "Store" tab. To share your purchases with other devices, select the music, apps and books options, as well as "Always check for available downloads."

Windows PC

Go to to download the iControl Panel for Windows. You'll need this to enable iCloud to work with your machine.

Click the Windows "Start" menu and find the iCloud Control Panel in your program list.

Turn on "Automatic downloads" in your iTunes program in the same way as you would for a Mac machine.

Make sure your PC is connected to the Internet wirelessly. All documents and files should now sync automatically with iCloud.


Make sure that your device has the latest operating system updates.

Set up a free iCloud email address when you register for the first time. You'll be prompted to do so with an email address such as:

Tweak your storage settings in the "Storage and Backup" section.


iCloud offer free basic accounts with limited storage. You'll need to pay for extra storage space.

It may take some time to sync your music, photos and documents the first time you launch iCloud.

iCloud won't work with Windows versions earlier than Vista with Service Pack 2.

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