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What is iCloud & How to Use It?

Updated on Saturday, July 13, 2024

iBoysoft author Anna Yuan

Written by

Anna Yuan
Professional tech editor

Approved by

Jessica Shee


Summary: This post tells what is iCloud and what is iCloud+. Also, it offers how to set up an iCloud account on iPhone, iPad, Mac, and even on Windows PC.

what is iCloud

iCloud is one of Apple's brilliant products to easily sync your data between your Apple device using the Bird process and other backup daemons like fileproviderd. You may see it every day on your iOS devices or Mac computer. But do you know what it exactly does and how to use all its features? 

In this post, we'll explain what is iCloud and what is iCloud+. In addition, we'll talk about how to set up an iCloud account to make you get the most use of its services and features.

What is iCloud?

To understand what is iCloud, it's necessary to know what cloud storage is first. Cloud storage is a storage space available to allow you to store data on remote storage systems. Now, let's come to iCloud. iCloud is a cloud storage and cloud computing service designed by Apple Inc. and was launched on October 12, 2011.

iCloud enables you to securely store data such as documents, photos, videos, and music of all your Apple devices on remote servers, which means you don't need to purchase a portable external disk to back up files. With iCloud, you can access your saved data across any of your Apple devices or on the web at iCloud.com.


What is iCloud+?

iCloud+ has everything iCloud offers plus advanced features including iCloud Private Relay (beta), Hide My Email, HomeKit Secure Video support, and all the storage you need for your data.

Apple iCloud plus

iCloud Private Relay: An internet privacy service that hides your IP address in Safari and allows you to browse the web more securely and privately.

Hide My Email: Create unique and random email addresses to use with apps, websites, and more so your personal email can stay private.

HomeKit Secure Video: Connect your home security cameras in the Home app to record your footage so that you can view it from anywhere.

Custom Email Domain: Personalize your iCloud Mail email address with a custom domain name. You can invite your family members to use the same domain with their iCloud Mail accounts.

If you want to use the above premium features that iCloud Plus provides or use more iCloud storage due to the "iCloud storage is full" notification, you can upgrade to iCloud+ plans, which prices may vary in different regions. And you can also downgrade your iCloud + plan if you find that you have more storage space than you need.


iCloud features

When you first sign in and set up iCloud on a device, some iCloud features are turned on automatically. You can turn these on or off at any time and customize the settings for each device by yourself. Now let's see what features are included in Apple iCloud:

  • Photos: Sync photos and videos up to date on all your Apple devices and you can access them on the web at iCloud.com. The iCloud Shared Photo Library designed in macOS Ventura helps you share photos with your family. If you want to delete photos on your Mac but not iCloud, the temporary way is to stop iCloud from syncing photos on the Mac.
  • iCloud Drive: Keep your files up to date on all your devices and access them on the web at iCloud.com.(Is iCloud Drive the Same as iCloud?)
  • iCloud Backup: Automatically back up your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to iCloud.
  • iCloud Keychain and iCloud Passwords: Keep your passwords, credit card information, internet accounts, and more up to-date on all your devices. 
  • Safari: Keep your Safari bookmarks, reading list, and open tabs up to date on all your devices.
  • Find My: Use it to track down your friends, family, Apple devices, or everyday items. If one of your Apple devices is lost, use Find My to lock it down and erase all data on it.

In addition to the above-mentioned features, iCloud is also able to sync data with compatible apps such as Calendar, Contacts, Reminders, Notes, Messages, Mail, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, and more.

How to set up iCloud on your iOS device or Mac

To use iCloud functions, you need to set it up first. Since your iCloud account is based on your Apple ID. So if you haven't got an Apple ID already, try to create one before setting up iCloud. As some iCloud features are only available on more recent versions, you may also need to update the OS on your device. If you're ready, let's step into how to set up iCloud on your iOS device or Mac now.

How to set up iCloud on your iPad or iPhone

  1. On your iOS device, go to Settings.
  2. Click on Your name, then tap iCloud.
  3. Enter your Apple ID and password.
  4. Then, turn on the iCloud features you want to use.
    turn on iCloud on iOS devices  
    Source from: Apple.com

How to set up iCloud on your Mac

  1. Click the Apple Menu from the top left corner of your screen, then choose System Preferences.
  2. Select Apple ID, find iCloud in the left column, and click it.
  3. Enter your Apple ID and password, then turn on the iCloud features you want to use.
    turn on iCloud on Mac  
    Source from: Apple.com

If you want to use iCloud on Windows PC, you need to download and install iCloud for Windows. Then, open it and sign in with your Apple ID. Finally, put a tick next to the iCloud services you want to use. With iCloud for Windows, you can access your photos, videos, mail, calendar, files, and other important information on your Windows PC.

By the way, there is another backup software that you can put into use, that is, Time Machine backup, and you can make clear the difference between them in Time Machine vs iCloud battle. 

If you accidentally deleted useful documents, photos, videos, and more data from iCloud Drive, be easy, you can restore deleted files from iCloud Drive on your Mac devices without a hitch.

Read moreFixed! Cannot Connect to iCloud on Mac

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