Configuring iCloud on a Macintosh

iCloud is Apple’s sync service, and it’s an essential part of the Apple experience. Learn more about what iCloud does here.

  1. Click the Apple menu and choose System Preferences. Click iCloud.
  2. Check your account information & password. Use the same account on all the devices and computers you personally use. Use a different iCloud account for each person.
  3. Get a free iCloud email address ending in @icloud.com for two-way sync. Read or delete a message in the Mac Mail app and it’s read or deleted on your other Apple devices. (Note that this is a new email address – your existing email accounts still work the same as always. Set them up in Mail, Contacts & Calendars.)
  4. Sync Contacts between the Mac Contacts app and iPhones, iPads & iPod touch devices.
  5. Sync Calendars – appointments you create on your Mac will be updated on your iPhone & iPad (and vice-versa).
  6. Sync Reminders between the Mac, iPhone & iPad Reminders apps.
  7. Sync notes between the Mac Notes app and Notes on iOS. You can enable this only if you have an iCloud email address. With Gmail, Exchange and other systems, enable note syncing in Mail, Contacts & Calendars.
  8. Sync Safari and your bookmarks and Reading List sync with Apple devices.
  9. Keychain syncs passwords between your Macs and devices. So when you tell Safari to remember a password or you join a wi-fi network on your Mac, your iPhone & iPad can connect automatically.
  10. Enable Photo Stream and your last 1000 photos are synced between your Mac and your Apple devices. You can even share particular photo streams with others. iCloud Photo Library takes it a step further and syncs all your photos & videos. Organize photos in albums or edit pictures and these changes are also reflected on all your devices.
  11. Sync iCloud Drive and your apps can share files between select Mac and iOS devices. For example, create a document in the Apple Pages word processor on your Mac and continue working on it a moment later in Pages for iPad.
  12. Back to My Mac lets you access your Mac's files from any other Mac through the internet. You can even see your Mac's screen and run its apps (as long as it's turned on). Just sign into iCloud on another Mac and look for it in the Finder sidebar.
  13. Find My Mac is probably the most important service to enable. Misplace your laptop? Just sign into www.iCloud.com and display its current location on a map, play a sound, display a message or even wipe its contents remotely. Enable this function now!
  14. Change storage and backup options. We recommend backing up iPhone & iPad to iCloud but you can back up to your computer if you prefer. Need more storage for iCloud documents? Buy it here. iCloud does not back up everything on your computer. Use Time Machine.
  15. If you’re having trouble with iCloud or you need to sync with a different account, sign out. You can sign in with another iCloud account.

Switching iCloud accounts on a Mac

Can you change iCloud accounts? Yes, but it’s not something to take lightly. You’ll be removing a lot of data on your Mac and adding different data. You may lose access to things you need. If several people share a Mac, each needs their own Mac user account. They’ll log into their own desktop which is signed into their iCloud account with all their data. See instructions.

If you understand the consequences of switching iCloud accounts, here’s how to do it safely. All data will be preserved in the iCloud accounts. If you need help migrating data between accounts, let us know.

  1. Log into your Mac account.
  2. In System Preferences–iCloud, turn each service off.
  3. Delete all data from the Mac except keep Photos, Safari and Keychain data. (All data is preserved in iCloud).
  4. Sign out of iCloud. Wait at least 10 minutes before signing into new iCloud.
  5. Sign into the new iCloud. Enable all (except possibly iCloud Photo Library, Mail & Notes if not using). Merge all data when asked. This also copies Safari & Keychain passwords from this computer to iCloud.

Learn more about iCloud, configure iCloud on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch or Windows computer. Access your contacts, calendars, reminders, notes & iCloud email on the web. Use iCloud for all your music, photos & videos. Manage iCloud storage & backups. Learn more about Apple IDs.

Learn more Mac basics.

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