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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.
You'll be flying high with iCloud as you learn how to use:
You'll also find answers to many questions, including these:
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.
iPad & Kindle
About 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.
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. This book helps you make sense of iCloud, configure it for your needs, and choose the best ways of using each feature. Take Control of iCloud was written by Joe Kissell, edited by Kelly Turner, and published by TidBITS Publishing Inc.
Anyone who has been using Apple devices for more than a few years has surely heard of—and most likely uses—iCloud, Apple’s collection of online services. Although iCloud, which launched in October 2011, replaced MobileMe (which, in turn, followed .Mac and iTools), it has been morphing into something much different from its predecessors.
A year ago, I said the basic concept of iCloud was that your documents, music, TV shows, movies, photos, contacts, calendars, passwords, and other data should propagate to all your devices so immediately and automatically that you never think about where your data is anymore.
All that is still true, but now, with iOS 8 and Yosemite, iCloud’s tentacles reach even deeper into Apple’s operating systems and apps. Almost any feature you use on a Mac, iOS device, or Apple TV wants to involve iCloud in some way. You can use your Apple device without an iCloud account, but many common tasks will be more awkward or even impossible. And, from Apple’s point of view, why would you want to use a device without iCloud? Accounts are free and the iCloud infrastructure makes everything work together much more smoothly.
Were you laughing a bit just now? Yeah, me too. iCloud is great when it works, but it’s so complex that problems are bound to occur, and frequently do. Since Apple has made so much of your experience dependent on iCloud, network outages, software bugs, and server malfunctions can make the simplest tasks frustrating.
And what about privacy? You can sync your photos and videos instantly across all your devices—great! And the data from your iOS devices is automatically backed up to the cloud—great! And you can share anything with a couple of taps or clicks—great! But if someone guesses or finds your iCloud password, or you tap the wrong button by mistake, your private moments, your home address, and tons of other personal details could be plastered all over the Internet. That’s no longer a hypothetical worry; it’s front-page news.
Another sore spot is that, although iCloud is pretty good at keeping your own data in sync across your own devices, it’s less good at sharing data between users. New features like iCloud Drive and Family Sharing are steps in the right direction, and they’re useful as far as they go. But you still can’t easily share a whole address book with your spouse, a folder full of mixed documents with a work group, or a keychain containing usernames and passwords with your family.
There’s also the question of hardware support. A handful of iCloud’s features are available on Windows, and a smaller subset can be used (after a fashion) on Linux and Android devices. But Apple is in the business of selling hardware, so it stands to reason that iCloud works best on Apple devices. Recent-vintage Macs, iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch), and Apple TVs offer the best support for iCloud.
In this completely revised third edition of Take Control of iCloud, I focus on what I think of as the interesting parts of iCloud. I show you what iCloud is capable of, how to think about it, and how to put its key features to good use. In the process, I hope to expose you to useful capabilities you never knew existed. But I also tell you how to keep private information secure (even if it reduces iCloud’s utility), point out cases in which iCloud may not be the best tool, and occasionally mention other options you can consider.
iCloud is constantly changing. Therefore, I don’t attempt to give you specific instructions for using every last feature—I’m confident that you can figure out how to send an email message or delete a contact, even if the exact steps change tomorrow. But I do try to help you grasp what iCloud is capable of and decide how best to use it.
For the most part, I assume 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. I also assume that all your iCloud-connected apps (such as iTunes, iPhoto, and Pages) are up to date. Although I occasionally call attention to differences in operating systems, I don’t give detailed instructions for using iCloud with older software.
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 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. But if you already read an earlier edition, you can skip those chapters and instead start with Catch Up with iCloud Changes, which gives a quick overview of what’s changed in iCloud since the previous edition.
Discover what’s new in the last year or so in Catch Up with iCloud Changes.
Learn about iCloud features in Get to Know iCloud.
Set up your Mac(s), PC(s), and iOS device(s) to use iCloud. See Set Up iCloud.
Get your family set up to share purchases, calendars, location data, and more. See Use iCloud Family Sharing.
Use iTunes in the Cloud—and related capabilities for other media—to access your purchased media (including music, movies, TV shows, books, and apps) everywhere. Read Keep Your Media in Sync.
Use iCloud Photo Library to sync all your photos between iOS devices and with the cloud, My Photo Stream to put your recent photos on all your devices, and iCloud Photo Sharing to share photos with other people. See Manage Your Photos.
Keep your documents and app data current everywhere using iCloud Drive (or, for devices running older operating systems, Documents in the Cloud) and other forms of in-app syncing. See Keep Documents and App Data in Sync.
Make sure your major forms of personal data (email, contacts, and calendars) are automatically mirrored across all your devices. See Keep Mail, Contacts, and Calendars in Sync.
Learn about syncing Reminders, Notes, and browser data. See Sync Other iCloud Data.
Keep usernames, passwords, and credit card numbers in sync across devices, generate new random passwords, and edit your saved credentials as you Work with iCloud Keychain.
Access Web-based versions of the core iCloud apps on nearly any platform. See Use the iCloud Web Site.
Locate a wayward Mac or iOS device, or find a friend or family member. See Find My Nouns.
Learn how iCloud can back up and restore crucial data from your iOS devices in Back Up and Restore iOS Data.
Apple TV owner? Find out which iCloud features your set-top box can use and how. Read Use iCloud on an Apple TV.
Access stuff on a faraway Mac. Read Use Back to My Mac.
Update account details. See Manage Your Account.
Keep your iCloud account safe and protect your private data. See Manage iCloud Security and Privacy.
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.
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.
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
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.
There are lots of great ways to read our ebooks on these devices. For more details, please read our latest Device Advice.
Feel free to ask us if you have a question about this title!
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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
"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
December 3, 2014 -- We'll probably update this book at some point, in order to keep pace with changes made by Apple. At the moment, however, the book is up-to-date and we don't have a particular plan for when we might update it.
—Tonya J Engst
April 27, 2015 --
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:
—Michael E. Cohen
April 15, 2015 --
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.
—Michael E. Cohen
November 22, 2014 --
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.)
—Michael E. Cohen
February 4, 2014 --
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.
—Tonya J Engst
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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