Welcome to the new Take Control Web site!

Please let us know about any quirks or bugs that have slipped through our testing!

Take Control of iCloud
Nov 20, 2014
The Author

Joe Kissell has written many books about the Mac, including many popular Take Control ebooks. He’s also a contributing editor of TidBITS and a senior contributor to Macworld, and previously spent 10 years in the Mac software industry.

Take Control of iCloud, Third Edition

Understand its features and limitations, get set up, and enjoy iCloud!

iCloud is a simple idea — all your data on all your devices, via the cloud — that becomes complex in the real world, such as when you want to manage your photos via the old My Photo Stream and/or the new iCloud Photo Library, sync your Web logins, or understand how the new iCloud Drive works.

In this best-selling title from Joe Kissell, you’ll start by learning what iCloud can do, how it differs from other cloud services, and how to set it up on Macs, iOS devices, the Apple TV, and Windows-based PCs. The book is completely updated for all the changes in OS X 10.10 Yosemite, iOS 8.1, and Apple TV 7.

Joe then explains the key aspects — and hidden gotchas — of iCloud’s core features including Family Sharing, Apple Store integration, iTunes Match, My Photo Stream, iCloud Photo Sharing, iCloud Photo Library, iCloud Drive, Documents in the Cloud, Mail and Mail Drop, Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, iCloud Keychain, the iCloud Web site, Find My iPhone, Find My Mac, Find My Friends, two-factor authentication, activation lock, Back to My Mac, and backing up and restoring iOS data.

More Info

You’ll be flying high with iCloud as you learn how to use:

  • iTunes and App Stores: Turn on automatic downloads so that the music, apps, and ebooks that you buy from Apple can appear automatically on all your devices. Also, re-download deleted items if they are still available.
  • My Photo Stream, iCloud Photo Sharing, and iCloud Photo Library: Move your photos around with My Photo Stream and/or iCloud Photo Library, and understand the many differences between these two services. Plus, share photos with iCloud Photo Sharing.
  • iCloud Drive: Understand the iCloud Drive folder in Yosemite, get a grip on iCloud Drive peculiarities, and find real-world directions for using iCloud Drive to sync files between your Apple devices. Also find out what’s stored in your iCloud Drive.
  • Family Sharing: Quickly set up a group to share a calendar, photos, Find My iPhone map, apps and media, and more. Also, take control of what children in the group may purchase.
  • Mail: Understand what’s on offer with an iCloud email account, and a get a grip on the new Mail Drop feature.
  • Calendar, Contacts, and other bits: View and manage calendar and contact data, share calendars, and send invitations to events. Plus, get going with browser bookmarks, iCloud Safari tabs, Safari Reading List, Reminders, and Notes.
  • iCloud Keychain: Store and sync login credentials and credit card details within Safari so you can access them later from any of your Apple devices
  • iCloud Web site: Use iCloud’s Web interface for apps such as Mail, Contacts, Calendar, and Find My iPhone.
  • Find My…: Look in Find My iPhone/iPad/iPod touch/Mac to locate a device that’s gone missing, and keep tabs on friends and family with the Find My Friends iOS app.
  • iCloud Backup: Manage your iOS backups in iCloud, and find steps for restoring your backup after a problem!
  • Apple TV: Get more out of your Apple TV with iTunes Match, iCloud Photos, and iMovie Theater.
  • Back to My Mac: Connect to a far-away Mac over the Internet and use file sharing and screen sharing just as though you were on the same network.
  • Two-factor-authentication: Find savvy advice about setting a good password, and discover how easy it is to further secure your account with two-factor authentication.

You’ll also find answers to many questions, including these:

  • How can I use multiple iCloud accounts without messing things up?
  • What’s the real deal with the new iCloud Drive folder on my Yosemite Mac, and how does it relate to what documents are found where in iOS?
  • My Photo Stream, iCloud Photo Sharing, and iCloud Photo Library all relate to photos, but which one should I use for what?
  • How can I store my Web logins in Safari so I can enter them without hassle, whether on a Mac or in iOS?
  • I’m freaked out about someone accessing my iCloud account. How can I set up two-factor authentication easily and what happens after that?
  • How can I tell if a secondhand iOS device was stolen?
  • How can I create, update, and share a calendar for my club, even if some club members don’t use iCloud?
  • What workarounds can you recommend for sharing contacts with a family member?
  • How do I configure my email software to use my iCloud email address?
  • How does Dropbox’s Camera Uploads feature compare to My Photo Stream?

Compatibility check: For the most part, this book assumes your operating system(s) are recent—namely, OS X 10.10 Yosemite or later, iOS 8.1 or later, Windows 7 or later, and Apple TV software version 7 or later (available only on the third-generation Apple TV). In addition, it assumes that all your iCloud-connected apps (such as iTunes, iPhoto, and Pages) are up to date. Although it occasionally calls attention to differences in operating systems, it doesn’t provide detailed instructions for using iCloud with older software.

What's New

What’s New in the Third Edition

This heavily revised third edition covers changes in OS X 10.10 Yosemite and iOS 8, as well as significant feature changes in the iCloud service and Web site since the last version of the book was published only 6 months ago. Numerous topics were added and, in some cases, rearranged or rewritten—and almost every page had at least a few updates. Here are the highlights:

  • Added a chapter to bring existing iCloud users up to speed with the latest feature changes and storage options; see Catch Up with iCloud Changes.

  • Revised the list of Major iCloud Features to reflect the current truth, and updated About iCloud Storage with Apple’s new pricing tiers.

  • Added a new chapter all about Family Sharing; see Use iCloud Family Sharing.

  • Revised the Manage Your Photos chapter to include information on how to Use iCloud Photo Library.

  • Added an extensive discussion of iCloud Drive; see Keep Documents and App Data in Sync.

  • Explained how to Use Mail Drop in Apple Mail for Yosemite.

  • Expanded the chapter Use the iCloud Web Site to include The Photos Web App and The iCloud Drive Web App.

  • Added a detailed chapter on security and privacy issues in iCloud; see Manage iCloud Security and Privacy.

What Was New in Version 2.0.1

Version 2.0.1 of this book is an extremely minor update, just to address the following matters:

  • Added a sidebar, Local Sync for Contacts & Calendars, about a new option in OS X 10.9.3 Mavericks and later to sync contacts and calendars between an iOS device and a Mac without going through iCloud, if you prefer.

  • Included a tip about troubleshooting Documents in the Cloud in Use Documents in the Cloud on a Mac.

  • Updated the discussion of Safari’s preferences to note that you can no longer opt to override sites that block iCloud Keychain from autofilling your credentials. See Autofill Passwords.

  • Noted in View and Edit iCloud Keychain Contents that, as of 10.9.2 Mavericks, Keychain Access supports secure notes.

What Was New in Version 2.0

This heavily revised second edition covers changes in OS X 10.9 Mavericks and iOS 7, as well as feature changes in the iCloud service and Web site since the last version of the book was published. It also removes obsolete material. Numerous topics were rearranged and, in some cases, rewritten. Here are the highlights:

  • Removed details of MobileMe features and discussion of upgrading from MobileMe accounts

  • Rewrote the discussion of how to Manage Your Photos to match the significantly changed My Photo Stream and iCloud Photo Sharing features

  • Combined information about email, contacts, and calendars into a single chapter called Keep Mail, Contacts & Calendars in Sync

  • Expanded the chapter previously devoted to Documents in the Cloud to encompass other types of in-app data syncing (see Keep Documents & App Data in Sync)

  • Moved the discussion of syncing Safari data (Bookmarks, Tabs, and Reading List), reminders, and notes to a new chapter called Sync Other iCloud Data

  • Added a completely new chapter about how to Work with iCloud Keychain

  • Consolidated the discussion of using iCloud’s Web-based apps into a single, new chapter called Use the iCloud Web Site

  • Moved all the information about using iCloud with an Apple TV to a new chapter called Use iCloud on an Apple TV


What are the software and hardware requirements for this ebook?

For the most part, this book assumes your operating system(s) are recent — namely, OS X 10.10 Yosemite or later, iOS 8.1 or later, Windows 7 or later, and Apple TV software version 7 or later (available only on the third-generation Apple TV). In addition, it assumes that all your iCloud-connected apps (such as iTunes, iPhoto, and Pages) are up to date. Although it occasionally calls attention to differences in operating systems, it doesn’t provide detailed instructions for using iCloud with older software.

Reader Comments

"I just read Take Control of iCloud cover to cover, and it helped me sort out several problems and clear up my confusion on how iCloud works with my iMac, MacBook, iPad, and iPhone. Your book has helped me get more out of my devices and I can see it'll make my life easier. Thanks for a job very well done!" —Andy Staab

"Brilliant and concise information on using current iCloud systems. I love TC books, they teach me real-world how to make the most of my Apple stuff." —Brian Murray, Dec. 2013

Update Plans

July 3, 2015 – We’ll probably update this book at some point, in order to keep pace with changes made by Apple. For example, the latest information about iCloud Photo Library isn’t yet in this title, so we’d like to get that added if Joe can find room in his busy writing schedule.

Posted by Tonya J Engst

  1. The Limits of the iWork for iCloud Beta

    Apple has posted a support document, Size limits of iWork for iCloud beta documents. Among other interesting facts provided by the document are these: the iWork for iCloud beta can share a document with as many as 100 users at a time, an iWork document can be as large as 1 GB (though a few such documents can use up your iCloud storage allocation quickly), and each image in a document (JPEG, PNG, or GIF) can be as large as 10 MB (except in IE 9 on Windows, where the limit is 5 MB).

    Some app-specific notes:

    • In Numbers you can create as many sheets as you like, and change as many as 100,000 table cells at one time. Furthermore, tables can have as many as 255 columns, 65,536 rows, and 130,000 data-containing cells.
    • In Pages you can paste about 2 million characters at a time into a document.

    Posted by Michael E. Cohen (Permalink)

  2. iCloud Photo Library: The Missing FAQ

    OS X 10.10.3 Yosemite is out, bringing with it Apple’s new Photos for Mac and its associated iCloud Photo Library, which was previously in beta testing. Although Apple has posted an iCloud Photo Library FAQ, it doesn’t answer many of the questions that users have raised. That’s why Joe Kissell took on that chore, compiling a list of those questions and the answers to them in his iCloud Photo Library: The Missing FAQ, published on TidBITS. If you want to know about the system requirements, how much it costs to use, whether you can share the photos in it with family members, how it differs from My Photo Stream, how the iCloud Photo Library affects photo syncing to your iOS devices via iTunes, and much more, check it out.

    Posted by Michael E. Cohen (Permalink)

  3. Joe Looks at iCloud with Chuck Joiner

    Though he doesn’t mention seeing rows and flows of angel hair (nor ice cream castles in the air), Joe does talk with Chuck Joiner on MacVoices about all the changed and new features (and frustrations) in iCloud that he documents in his book. (By the way: it’s worth a trip to the MacVoices page just to see the interview’s poster frame, in which it appears that Chuck and Joe are about to wrestle.)

    Posted by Michael E. Cohen (Permalink)

  4. What’s the Big Deal about Pages 5?

    Listen to (or watch) MacVoices #14040 as Chuck Joiner at MacVoices interviews author Michael E. Cohen about what all the fuss is about Pages 5, and why Apple has changed so many features in the transition from Pages 4 to 5. Michael also talks about why we’ve initially published Take Control of Pages in a pre-book format.

    Posted by Tonya J Engst (Permalink)

  5. iCloudy, with a Chance of Chuck and Joe

    Chuck Joiner and Joe Kissell got together on MacVoices recently to talk about iCloud: the good, the bad, and the what’s-up-with-that? Listen or watch.

    Posted by Michael E. Cohen (Permalink)

  6. Joe Kissell and Adam Engst Say Adieu to MobileMe

    If you haven’t yet had the time or temerity to move from MobileMe to iCloud (and you really should, since MobileMe has been MobileDeadToYou since June 30th, 2012), you can find helpful migration tips and observations in the TidBITS Presents event that Joe and Adam hosted live on on June 16th. A TidBITS article, Watch Joe Kissell and Adam Engst in TidBITS Presents: Adieu MobileMe, describes the event and provides some useful links; the event itself can be viewed on YouTube.

    Posted by Michael E. Cohen (Permalink)

  7. Joe Speaks from the iCloud

    When it comes to flying through the clouds, it helps to have good navigational aids. Watch, or listen, as Joe fires up his in-flight radar to show you the shape and direction of Apple’s iCloud in an interview with Chuck Joiner via MacVoices and MacVoicesTV about Joe’s latest book, Take Control of iCloud.

    Posted by Michael E. Cohen (Permalink)