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Take Control of iCloud
Understand the features, get set up, and enjoy iCloud!
iCloud may seem simple, but complexity lurks below the surface. In this essential title from best-selling author Joe Kissell, you'll learn how to set up and use iCloud successfully on Macs (running 10.7 Lion or 10.8 Mountain Lion), iOS devices, second- and third-generation Apple TVs, and Windows-based PCs. You'll also find advice on handling Apple IDs and solving problems with shared Apple IDs, non-email Apple IDs, multiple Apple IDs, and more.
With setup completed, Joe explains the key aspects—and hidden gotchas—of iCloud's core features: iTunes in the Cloud (including iTunes Match), iCloud Backup, Photo Stream, Documents in the Cloud, Find My iPhone, Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Notes, Reminders, and Back to My Mac.
You'll learn how to handle many aspects of iCloud, including:
You'll find answers to questions such as:
iPad & Kindle
About the Author
Joe Kissell has written numerous books about the Macintosh, including many popular Take Control ebooks. He's also Senior Editor of TidBITS and a Senior Contributor to Macworld, and previously spent ten years in the Mac software industry.
Table of Contents
Read Me First
iCloud is the latest incarnation of Apple’s suite of Internet services, in the lineage of MobileMe, .Mac, and iTools. Although iCloud is designed to be largely invisible in everyday use, setting up all its related components optimally can be a challenge, and you may need to learn new ways of thinking about your data. This book helps you make sense of iCloud, configure it for your needs, and form new habits that will enable you to get the most from the service. Take Control of iCloud was written by Joe Kissell, edited by Tonya Engst with help from Dan Frakes, and published by TidBITS Publishing Inc.
It seems like I’ve been here before. Three years ago I was writing a book about MobileMe, and three years before that I was writing a book about .Mac. I didn’t write a book about .Mac’s precursor, iTools, but I could have done so four years earlier still. I’m starting to feel a certain rhythm to the way Apple revamps its online services—it’s one of those things I’ve come to expect about as often as the Olympics or presidential elections. This time around, we say goodbye to MobileMe and hello to iCloud.
iCloud is both a new name and a new collection of services in the lineage of MobileMe, .Mac, and iTools. I wouldn’t be so foolish as to predict that it’s the ultimate iteration, or that it will still be around in its current form five years from now. But one thing is clear: iCloud is dramatically different from any of its predecessors. It represents not merely a shift in service offerings but a fundamental change of strategy for Apple. It’s a big deal, and many former MobileMe users are still struggling to adapt to the New World Order.
Here’s a quick quiz. Can you name all the features from the original iTools, launched in January 2000, that still exist in iCloud? There are only two. First is email: iCloud gives you a full-featured email account in the icloud.com domain; iTools included accounts with the mac.com domain name. (Those who have stuck with the service since its earlier days can still use their mac.com addresses.) The second “feature” is more subtle. It’s the price: iTools was free, and so is iCloud; both .Mac and MobileMe required a paid subscription. Other than those two things, iCloud is utterly and completely different from Apple’s initial vision of what an Internet-based service should be.
Much has been said about the loss of MobileMe services people had come to depend heavily on, such as iDisk and Mac-to-Mac syncing of certain personal data. But what I find even more significant is the new philosophy underlying iCloud—the concept that your documents, music, photos, and other data should propagate to all your devices so immediately and automatically that you never even think about where your data is anymore. It’s everywhere; why wouldn’t it be? In this model, syncing becomes a distant, unhappy memory, and users are largely freed from worrying about files as such. You simply go about your daily activities, like taking photos or creating spreadsheets or buying TV shows, and wherever you go, there they are.
What could be easier? Hey, problem solved! No need for a book about it, or even an article. Flip the switch and everything just works.
Indeed, that may be exactly the experience of many new iCloud users. The rest of us have to understand iCloud’s different way of thinking about data and come to grips with the changes in behavior it will require. But having done these things, we can go a step further—we can explore entirely new ways of using our digital devices that were either impractical or even unthinkable before. Better still, we can learn how iCloud enables us to focus more on the tasks, objects, and people at hand than on hardware and software. That has to be a good thing.
In this book, I explain what iCloud is, discuss setting it up, and then walk you through each major feature in turn. I breeze lightly over the more obvious parts of iCloud but spend a bit more time talking about elements that may be more confusing or harder to discover on your own. Along the way, I hope to show you not only how features work— after all, many of them truly are self-explanatory—but how best to think about them, and how to think about your needs and tasks in the context of the new Apple ecosystem of which iCloud is a part.
Because iCloud works best with Apple hardware, that’s what I focus on here. Recent-vintage Macs, iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch), and the Apple TV are the best tools with which to experience iCloud. I do touch on iCloud in Windows, too, but I say pretty much nothing about other platforms (such as Linux and Android) where you can’t do much with iCloud beyond accessing a handful of features in a Web browser.
Since MobileMe was discontinued on June 30, 2012 and most MobileMe users wisely migrated their accounts to iCloud before then, this version of the book says little about the transition process, except to note the options still available to those who missed the window of opportunity. Similarly, I no longer cover third-party services that can replace features from MobileMe that don’t exist in iCloud. If you’re still looking for recommendations for Web hosts, file or photo sharing services, and the like, you can download the previous version of this book (1.2), which contains such information.
Although you can skip around freely in this book to learn about the topics that interest you most, I strongly encourage you to read (or at least skim) the first two chapters—Get to Know iCloud and Set Up and Explore iCloud—before moving on to the rest. Those chapters provide important foundational information, without which much of the material later in the book may not make sense.
In the months since version 1.3 was published, Apple introduced iOS 6 as well as new iPhone and iPad models; updated the Apple TV software; and rolled out numerous improvements to the iCloud Web apps and a long list of individual Mac apps, including iTunes 11—a major update. (I no longer discuss iTunes 10 or earlier.) Version 1.4 of this book attempts to cover all these changes. Here are the highlights:
Note: Version 1.4.1 is a minor update to include a sidebar about Apple’s recently announced Two-Step Verification for Apple IDs.
Version 1.3 brings the book up to date with OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion and covers changes that occurred with the final shutdown of MobileMe on June 30, 2012. Major differences from version 1.2 include:
Coming in iOS 6: In iOS 6, signing in to iCloud will bring about world peace and free ice cream for everybody.
Version 1.2 of the book included the following major changes:
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"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
March 21, 2013 -- Having just released version 1.4.1 of this ebook, I'm happy to say that it is once again completely up-to-date. Given that Apple is likely to continue making changes to iCloud, we'll probably update this ebook again in the future. At the moment, however, we have no specific plan for when we might create an update.
March 28, 2013 --
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.
—Michael E. Cohen
July 20, 2012 --
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.
—Michael E. Cohen
October 21, 2011 --
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.
—Michael E. Cohen
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