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How To Set Up And Use iCloud On A Mac

If you want to get the most out of your Mac, you should use iCloud. Here’s how you can get started.

iCloud is an essential component of the Apple ecosystem. When you enable the service, you can sync data across multiple devices using a secure server. If you use multiple Apple products, iCloud is great for keeping important information, such as contacts and calendar events, up to date. And if you drop your Mac down a well, have it stolen by a monkey, or suffer any other misfortune, your valuable data will be safe on a server somewhere, waiting to be retrieved.

For modern Mac users, iCloud is a must-have feature. So let’s take a look at how to configure and use iCloud on your Mac.

Creating an iCloud Account on a Mac

If you already have an Apple ID, simply sign in to iCloud via System Preferences > Apple ID and follow the on-screen instructions to set up iCloud. If you do not already have an Apple account, you can create one in the same location on your Mac.

Here’s how to sign up for an iCloud account:

  • Go to System Preferences > Apple ID from the Apple menu.
  • Click the Create Apple ID button.
  • Enter your birth date and click Next.
  • Enter your name, email address, and password, then click Next. If you don’t want to use your current email, you can create a new one by clicking Get a free iCloud email address.
  • To finish the setup, simply follow the prompts.

In most countries, the minimum age for creating an Apple ID without parental permission is 13. However, ages vary by region, so you should consult Apple Support for more details. If a child is too young to create their own account, you can create one for them using Family Sharing.

Once you’ve created your Apple ID and verified it, macOS should sign you into your new iCloud account. You’ll eventually get a prompt asking if you want to merge certain information, such as contacts and calendars.

To begin syncing the listed data, choose Merge. If you prefer to select items individually, click Don’t Merge and proceed with the setup once you’re fully signed in. When prompted, you can also enable Find My Mac by clicking Allow.

What iCloud Features on Your Mac Should You Use?

Once you’ve signed in to iCloud, you’ll see a list of features you can enable in the Apple ID System Preferences. If you don’t see this list, go to the side menu and select iCloud.

The decision on which services to enable is based on one simple question: What data do you want to sync with iCloud? You probably don’t need to waste storage syncing some of the services listed if you don’t use them. Having said that, most services won’t take up much space, so you might as well enable them.

Let’s go over each iCloud feature so you can decide what to enable and what to disable.

Photos

When Photos is enabled, iCloud will sync photos and videos with other devices that use the service. However, media content can take up a lot of space, so if you have a lot of items, you may need to upgrade your iCloud storage.

After you’ve enabled Photos, you can change your settings in the Photos app by going to Photos > Preferences > iCloud.

Keychain

iCloud Keychain is ideal for syncing your usernames, passwords, and billing information across multiple devices in a secure manner. Of course, you should only enable this feature on devices over which you have complete control.

iCloud Storage

iCloud Drive functions similarly to an online hard drive in that it can be used to store other important files such as documents. The service is ideal for backing up any items you can’t bear losing, especially if you don’t perform a Time Machine backup regularly.

By selecting Options in System Preferences > Apple ID > iCloud, you can specify which additional items are saved in iCloud Drive. You can access iCloud Drive from the Finder sidebar to manually add files to the server.

iCloud Mail

When you enable iCloud Mail, your iCloud email address is added to the Mac Mail app. Additional settings, such as blocked senders, signatures, and rules, will sync to the server if you also have iCloud Mail selected in your iCloud Drive options.

Calendars, Contacts, Reminders, and Notes

If you own multiple Apple products, keeping your Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, and Notes synchronized across all devices is extremely beneficial. Furthermore, if something happens to your Mac, all of your important data will still be available on the server.

Safari

When you enable Safari for iCloud, you can sync bookmarks, reading lists, and open tabs across multiple devices. This feature is excellent for providing a consistent experience and increasing productivity.

Find My Mac

Find My Mac allows you to remotely locate, lock, and erase your Mac. In most cases, there is no compelling reason not to enable this feature. If your Mac goes missing, you’ll have a better chance of finding it or preventing a sticky-fingered thief from using it.

News

Enabling News in iCloud syncs certain information to the server, such as channels, saved stories, and reading history. This feature is especially useful if you read the news on multiple devices.

Stocks

When you enable iCloud Stocks, your watch list is synced to other devices.

iCloud Home

When you enable iCloud Home, data about your HomeKit accessories is synced to the server for use with other devices.

Siri

Siri’s behavior changes based on how you interact with it. When you sync it to iCloud, you’ll be able to access your trained and personalized version of Apple’s AI assistant across multiple devices.

Private Relay and Hide My Email

You can use the Hide My Email and Private Relay features if you have an iCloud+ subscription, which is just any paid iCloud upgrade.

Hide My Email allows you to create a bogus email address to use online to avoid providing your real information. This feature is an excellent way to avoid spam. A private Relay is a security tool that enables private web browsing. When you enable the service, your IP address and other identifying information are hidden from prying eyes.

How to Increase iCloud Storage

If you run out of iCloud storage space, you can always pay for more. Apple provides several iCloud payment plans from which to choose. Here’s how to increase your iCloud storage space on a Mac:

  • Go to Apple ID in System Preferences.
  • In the side menu, choose iCloud.
  • At the bottom of the window, click Manage.
  • Select Add Storage.
  • Choose a new storage plan, then click Next to finish the upgrade.

iCloud Is a Must-Have App for Today’s Mac Users

If you own a modern Mac, iCloud is an invaluable (and practically required) convenience tool. Syncing important information allows for easy access from other devices and can aid in data loss prevention.

Some iCloud features are more exciting than others, but the vast majority of us will find at least one that simplifies our lives.

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