A common request I get is to explain the basic functionality of iCloud. What is it? What does it do? Where are my documents / pictures?
In essence, iCloud lets you store information online, and then access this information from all of your devices - iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac, even Windows PCs.
A lot of the time, iCloud works quietly in the background; if you've allowed iCloud to do its thing (which in many cases is the default setting) you'll simply find that documents you created on one device are available on another, calendar events and contact details sync seamlessly as do things like passwords (keychain).
In iOS or ipadOS (iPhones and iPads), open Settings and tap your ID at the top of the screen; you'll see all the apps and services that can use iCloud. Tap your chosen app so the slider turns green. (A few apps, such as Photos, are more complex - tap to see a list of permissions.) There is a built in App called 'Files' in these devices that shows you the files that you have put into iCloud - a particularly useful feature when travelling.
On MacOS (Mac Computers), open System Preferences and click iCloud, and do likewise - except this time you're placing ticks instead of tapping sliders. You will see an 'iCloud Drive' tab appear in your Finder window - this is where you can drag files to and store them in the cloud.
Once you have it set up, make sure to go to iCloud.com and sign in with your Apple ID. There you'll see all of the various elements of iCloud, including the extra useful 'Find iPhone'. In MacOS Catalina, this feature has evolved to become the 'Find My' app covering all your Apple devices.
Here's some of the highlights:
Contacts: If you let it, iCloud will sync Contacts across your iOS and macOS devices. This means you need to maintain only one list of contacts, because any changes you make on your iPhone will apply to Contacts on your Mac and other devices.
Calendar: Likewise, iCloud (if permitted) syncs events across all of your devices.
iCloud Drive: A simple way of storing files in the cloud. These can be accessed on any device that allows you to sign in to iCloud.
Keychain: iCloud Keychain's seamless integration with not only websites in Safari but also apps on your various Apple devices makes setting and remembering passwords for each individual site a breeze.
iWork: You can use Pages, Numbers and Keynote as web apps, thanks to iCloud. It also allows you to easily save TextEdit documents to the cloud, and access them from other devices.
iCloud is free... to start with. You can set up iCloud without paying a cent, and this comes with a fairly modest 5 Gigabytes of storage across all your devices.
If you want more space - and if you plan to back up multiple devices to the cloud, or store significant collections of photos, videos or documents off-device, then you'll need it - then you'll have to fork out some dosh.
Here's what it costs to upgrade your iCloud storage:
- 50Gb: $1.49 per month
- 200Gb: $4.49 per month
- 2Tb: $14.49 per month
How to upgrade your iCloud storage plan
Upgrading your iCloud plan is easy. You can do it from an iPhone or iPad, from a Mac, or even from a Windows PC.
On iPhone or iPad: Go to Settings, and tap your name at the top of the screen (or tap to sign in).
In the second group of options, tap iCloud; at the top of the next screen, under the heading STORAGE, you'll see a little graph showing what your storage is being used on. Tap Manage Storage under the graph, then Upgrade and follow the instructions.