iCloud: What is iCloud?

What is iCloud?

iCloud connects you and your Apple devices in amazing ways. It makes sure you always have the latest versions of your important information—like documents, photos, notes, and contacts—on whatever device you’re using. It lets you easily share photos, calendars, locations, and more with friends and family. It even helps you find your device if you lose it.

Don’t have an iOS device or a Mac? You can still get web-only access to create and share documents using Pages, Numbers, and Keynote by signing in to iCloud.com. With web-only access, you also get 1 GB of free storage for any documents you create.

The same Pages document shown on iPhone, iPad, and a Mac

Get started

To get started, just set up iCloud on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac, or get iCloud web-only access right on iCloud.com. Then you can use iCloud.com from your computer’s web browser.

iCloud features

After setting up iCloud on your iOS device or Mac, you have access to the following features.

Note:   iCloud requires an Internet connection, and some iCloud features have minimum system requirements. iCloud may not be available in all areas, and iCloud features may vary by area.
  • Content everywhere: Automatically get purchases from the iTunes Store, App Store, and iBooks Store on all your devices, and download past purchases anytime. For more information, see What is content everywhere?

  • Photos: Use iCloud Photo Library to store your entire library of photos and videos in iCloud, and let iCloud keep them up to date on all your iOS devices (iOS 8 or later) and Mac computers (OS X v10.10.3 or later) and on iCloud.com. Use iCloud Photo Sharing to share albums of photos and videos with just the people you choose, and let them add photos, videos, and comments to your shared albums. iCloud also stores all photos you recently added to your devices in My Photo Stream.

  • iCloud Drive: Safely store and organize all kinds of documents in iCloud. Work with them in iCloud Drive on iCloud.com and on your devices set up for iCloud Drive.

  • Family Sharing: Up to six family members can share their iTunes Store, App Store, and iBooks Store purchases without sharing accounts. Pay for family purchases with the same credit card and approve kids’ spending right from a parent’s device. Plus, share photos, a family calendar, reminders, and locations. For more information, see the Apple Support article Family Sharing.

  • Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Notes, and Reminders: Keep your mail, contacts, calendars, notes, and reminders up to date using Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Notes, and Reminders on iCloud.com, and using apps on your iOS devices, Mac, and Windows computer.

  • Find My iPhone: Find your missing iOS device or Mac, or one belonging to a family member, by using Find My iPhone on iCloud.com. Find My iPhone includes Activation Lock, which makes it harder for anyone to use or sell your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch if it’s ever lost or stolen.

  • Pages, Numbers, and Keynote: Use beta versions of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote on iCloud.com and the corresponding apps on your iOS devices and Mac to store your spreadsheets, presentations, and other documents in iCloud Drive. iCloud keeps those items up to date everywhere you view and edit them.

  • Bookmarks, Reading List, and iCloud Tabs: See the webpages you have open on your Mac and iOS devices (your iCloud Tabs). Read articles from your Reading List, even when you’re offline. Plus, use the same bookmarks on your iOS devices, Mac, and Windows computer. For more information, go to the Safari section in the user guide for your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Or, on your Mac, click the Safari icon in the Dock, then choose Help > Safari Help.

  • iCloud Keychain: Keep your passwords, credit card information, and more up to date, and have it entered automatically on your iOS devices and Mac computers. For more information, go to Basics > Security > iCloud Keychain in the user guide for your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Or, on your Mac, click the Finder icon in the Dock, choose Help > Mac Help or Help > Help Center, then search for iCloud Keychain.

  • iMovie Theater: Watch your finished movies and trailers on all your devices. For more information, see iMovie Help for iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

  • Backup and restore: iCloud automatically backs up your iOS device daily over Wi-Fi when your device is turned on, locked, and connected to a power source. You can use your iCloud backup to restore your iOS device or set up a new one.

  • Back to My Mac: Securely connect your Mac to your remote Mac over the Internet, then share the screen or files of your remote Mac. For more information, on your Mac, click the Finder icon in the Dock, choose Help > Mac Help or Help > Help Center, then search for Back to My Mac.

With iCloud set up on your devices, you get an email account and 5 GB of free storage for your mail, documents, photos, and iOS device backups. Your purchased music, apps, TV shows, and books don’t count against your available space. See iCloud storage and backup overview.

Last Modified: Oct 9, 2015
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