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Take Control of iCloud
Oct 18, 2016

Take Control of iCloud, Fifth Edition

Understand its many features and limitations, get set up, and use iCloud!

iCloud is a simple idea — all your data on all your devices, via the cloud — that becomes complex in the real world when you want it to work seamlessly so you can spend your time enjoying your media or doing actual work, instead of just fiddling with your computer.

Whether you want to get a quick tip or take a deep dive into the inner workings of iCloud, this best-selling book is your ticket. You’ll start by learning what iCloud can do, how it differs from other cloud services, and how best to set it up on Macs, iOS devices, Apple TVs, and Windows-based PCs.

Joe then explains the key aspects — and hidden gotchas — of iCloud’s core features, including iCloud Photo Library, My Photo Stream, iCloud Photo Sharing, Family Sharing, iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library, iCloud Drive, Mail and Mail Drop, Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, Notes, 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.

Joe also looks carefully at iCloud’s new Desktop and Documents folder syncing feature in macOS 10.12 Sierra, as well as what the Optimize Mac Storage checkbox will do behind the scenes. Plus he helps you get started with copying and pasting between Apple devices using the new Universal Clipboard.

More Info

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

  • iCloud Photo Library, My Photo Stream, and iCloud Photo Sharing: Move your photos around with iCloud Photo Library and/or My Photo Stream, and understand the many differences between the two. Plus, share photos with iCloud Photo Sharing.
  • iCloud Storage: Apple gives you 5 GB of free storage space, and is happy to take your money if you want more. Find out which of your iCloud holdings count toward your storage allocation and which do not, and how to delete unwanted data.
  • iCloud Drive: Understand the iCloud Drive folder in the Finder, get a grip on iCloud Drive peculiarities, consider the implications of Sierra’s Optimize Mac Storage checkbox, and get real-world directions for using iCloud Drive to sync files.
  • Desktop and Documents folder syncing: Read Joe’s take on this feature, consider its quirks, and, if you do decide to turn it on, find directions for how to proceed.
  • 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 a child may purchase with Ask to Buy.
  • Mail: Understand what’s on offer with an iCloud email account, and see how you can use Mail Drop for large attachments.
  • 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, Find My iPhone, and Find My Friends.
  • 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 Find My Friends.
  • 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, 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 to further secure your account with two-factor authentication.

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

  • How can I use multiple iCloud accounts without messing things up?
  • How can I share iCloud contacts with another person?
  • What should I know before I turn on Desktop and Documents folder syncing?
  • What’s the difference between iTunes Match and Apple Music, and is either right for me?
  • 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 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 members don’t use iCloud?
  • 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 macOS 10.12 Sierra, iOS 10 or later, Windows 7 or later, and Apple TV software version 7 or later (third- or fourth-generation Apple TV). 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 Fifth Edition

This fifth edition covers changes in macOS 10.12 Sierra and iOS 10, as well as significant feature changes in the iCloud service and Web site since the last edition of the book was published in late 2015. Numerous topics were added and, in some cases, rearranged or rewritten—and there were hundreds of changes throughout the book. Here are the highlights:

  • Explained what’s new in iCloud since the last edition of this book; see iCloud Feature Changes

  • Expanded the Major iCloud Features list to include newly added capabilities

  • Updated the information in About iCloud System Requirements

  • Added the new 2 TB tier to About iCloud Storage and Upgrade Your Storage

  • Updated the instructions and system requirements in Set Up iCloud under Windows

  • Updated the chapter Use iCloud Music Library to cover recent changes to iTunes Match

  • Expanded and updated the instructions in Activate iCloud Drive

  • Added two major topics to the iCloud Drive chapter: Sync Your Desktop and Documents Folders (or Don’t) and Optimize Mac Storage

  • Added a new sidebar, About Optimized Storage

  • Updated Use Mail Drop to state that the feature now works in iOS as well as macOS

  • Added the topic Use Universal Clipboard, as well as the sidebar Continuity and iCloud.

  • Revamped the discussion of two-step verification and added a major new explanation of two-factor authentication in Use Enhanced Security Features


What are the software and hardware requirements for this ebook?

For the most part, this book assumes your operating system(s) are macOS 10.12 Sierra, iOS 10 or later, Windows 7 or later, and Apple TV software version 7 or later (third- or fourth-generation Apple TV). 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 Take Control books—they teach me how to make the most of my Apple stuff in the real world.” —Brian Murray

“As someone who hadn’t invested a lot of time in setting up iCloud before, I found this book very informative—particularly the information about managing multiple iCloud accounts and the Photos section. Thanks!” —Kelly

  1. Find My AirPod Added to Find My iPhone

    Because Apple’s new wireless AirPod earbuds lack cabling, they are easy to misplace. Although the best method for keeping track of them may be to place them in their charging case whenever you remove them from your ears, it’s safe to say that many people aren’t going to do that, or even if they do, they’ll lose the case.

    To solve this problem, with the release of iOS 10.3, Apple has added AirPods to the list of devices that you can track using Find My iPhone. You can see them on a map and make a sound play on both your AirPods or just one — just one is helpful if you’ve lost only one. If your AirPods are out of range of their paired iOS device, you’ll get information about where and when they were last within range. You can search from the Find My iPhone iOS app or from Find My iPhone on the iCloud Web site.

    Note that you must set up Find My iPhone before your AirPods go missing. Read the TidBITS article, Setting Up and Using Find My iPhone, for help.

    For more information, see Apple’s support article, If your AirPods are missing.

    Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)

The Author

Take Control publisher Joe Kissell has written more than 60 books about technology, including many popular Take Control ebooks. He also runs Joe On Tech and is a contributing editor of TidBITS and a senior contributor to Macworld.