Understand iCloud’s capabilities and limitations, and put its key features to good use!

Take Control of

Sixth Edition
Joe Kissell

Apple’s iCloud service is highly useful, but it can also create headaches for the average user. In Take Control of iCloud, Sixth Edition, newly updated for Mojave and iOS 12, Mac expert Joe Kissell explains how to avoid frustrations and make iCloud work for you.

All Take Control books are delivered in three ebook formats—PDF, EPUB, and Mobipocket (Kindle)—and can be read on nearly any device.


iCloud is a simple idea in theory—access to all your data on all your devices, via the cloud—that can become complicated when put into practice. Instead of wasting time fiddling with iCloud, when there are many other more important things to be done with the information it contains, learn how to minimize frustrations with Take Control of iCloud, Sixth Edition!

Whether you want a quick tip or a deep dive into the inner workings of iCloud, you’ll find what you need in this best-selling book by Mac expert Joe Kissell. 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.

Then, move on to finding out the key aspects—and hidden gotchas—of iCloud’s core features, including:

  • Photo features: iCloud Photo Library, My Photo Stream, and iCloud Photo Sharing
  • Family Sharing
  • iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library
  • iCloud Drive
  • Mail and Mail Drop
  • Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, and Notes
  • iCloud Keychain
  • the iCloud website
  • Location features: Find My iPhone, Find My Mac, and Find My Friends
  • Two-factor authentication
  • Activation lock
  • Back to My Mac (High Sierra and earlier only)
  • Backing up and restoring data

Joe also looks at what has changed in iCloud with the release of macOS 10.14 Mojave and iOS 12, including the removal of Back to My Mac, syncing for News, Stocks, Home, and Voice Memos, and the revamped Shared Albums feature in Photos—plus Messages in iCloud (for syncing iMessage and SMS messages), added in iOS 11.4 and 10.13.5 High Sierra.

Joe Kissell

About Joe Kissell

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

What’s New in the Sixth Edition

Version 6.1 of this book is a relatively small update to cover a few changes in iCloud that have occurred since the previous version of the book was released in October 2017, and to make a handful of other corrections and improvements. This book now includes coverage of macOS 10.14 Mojave and iOS 12, plus the following significant changes:

  • Added mentions of additional Apple apps that now sync using iCloud in Mojave and iOS 12: News, Stocks, Home, and Voice Memos
  • In About Your Apple ID, referenced a new book, Take Control of Your Apple ID, by Glenn Fleishman
  • Updated the sidebar The All-Purpose iCloud Troubleshooting Procedure with additional details
  • In Set Up iCloud on an iOS Device, clarified which devices support the Wallet feature
  • Explained in Use iCloud Family Sharing that in-app purchases cannot be shared within a family
  • Updated the chapter Manage Your Photos to cover the feature now named Shared Albums (called iCloud Photo Sharing in High Sierra and earlier, iOS 11 and earlier, and Windows)
  • Added a note in Activate iCloud Drive about syncing System Preferences
  • Expanded the topic Enable Desktop & Documents Folder Syncing to describe in greater detail the steps to follow if you enable this feature on multiple Macs, and updated Disable Desktop & Documents Folder Syncing with more details as well
  • Added a discussion about backing up files from iCloud Drive locally, and using the Unclouder app, to the sidebar iCloud Drive and Backups
  • Clarified in Use In-App Data Syncing and Sync Your Contacts that Mail’s VIPs and previous recipients sync as part of Contacts
  • In Use Mail Drop, noted that POP accounts aren’t supported
  • Added a description of how iMessage/SMS sync now works
  • Rewrote significant portions of the chapter Work with iCloud Keychain to cover new behavior in current versions of Safari
  • Included a warning in Activate Find My Device about a simple way an attacker could potentially disable Find My Mac
  • Noted in Use Back to My Mac that this feature has been removed from Mojave

The sixth edition covered changes in macOS 10.13 High Sierra and iOS 11, as well as significant feature changes in the iCloud service itself since the previous edition of the book was published in late 2016. 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 “About iCloud Storage” and “Upgrade Your Storage” to reflect the new pricing for the 2 TB tier and the removal of the 1 TB tier
  • Added a topic, “Share Storage Space,” that explains how to share additional (paid) iCloud storage space with your family members
  • Updated “iCloud Photo Library” to mention that it now syncs the People album
  • Replaced the discussion of the iCloud Drive app for iOS with coverage of the new Files app, including how to share files stored in iCloud Drive; see “Use the Files App for iOS”
  • Added topics to cover new types of data you can now (or soon) sync via iCloud; see “Sync Health and Siri” and “Sync Messages”
  • Brought the information in “Work with iCloud Keychain” up to date with the latest setup and usage instructions, including how to use credentials from iCloud Keychain in apps other than Safari
  • Added AirPods to the list of devices you can find with “Find My Nouns” and mentioned that you can use iCloud to pair them, and then play sound to them, from your Apple TV in “Set Up iCloud Account Features”
  • Updated “Use Two-factor Authentication” and “Use App-specific Passwords” to cover recent changes in Apple’s policies for using two-factor authentication
  • Changed “Check Activation Lock” to explain the new procedure that’s now required to do this

What are the software and hardware requirements for this ebook?

For the most part, this book assumes your operating system(s) are macOS 10.13 High Sierra, iOS 11 or later, Windows 10 or later, and Apple TV software version 7.2.1 or later (fourth-generation Apple TV or Apple TV 4K). Although it occasionally calls attention to differences in operating systems, it doesn’t provide detailed instructions for using iCloud with older software.

  • Read Me First
  • Introduction
  • iCloud Quick Start
  • Get to Know iCloud
  • Set Up iCloud
  • Use iCloud Family Sharing
  • Keep Your Media in Sync
  • Manage Your Photos
  • Keep Documents and App Data in Sync
  • Keep Mail, Contacts, and Calendars in Sync
  • Sync Other iCloud Data
  • Work with iCloud Keychain
  • Use the iCloud Web Site
  • Find My Nouns
  • Back Up and Restore iOS Data
  • Use iCloud on an Apple TV
  • Use Back to My Mac
  • Manage Your Account
  • Manage iCloud Security and Privacy
  • About This Book
  • Apple Developers Told 2FA for Apple ID Soon Required

    Posted by Glenn Fleishman on February 15, 2019

    Apple recently told software developers that two-factor authentication (2FA) will be required as of February 27, 2019, for Apple ID accounts used to log in to the company’s developer website, and which are used for other purposes to create identification and encryption documents. That’s a concern for some developers who haven’t enabled 2FA on the account or accounts they use for development purposes.

    Apple requires that you use macOS or iOS to enable 2FA for an Apple ID, as I describe in Take Control of Your Apple ID in some detail (along with how to take steps so that you set up 2FA with the right recovery details in case you have a problem with the account or someone tries to hack into it). That requires a given Mac or iOS device has that Apple ID used as its iCloud login account.

    But some developers use one or more Apple IDs for development that they don’t employ with iCloud on any device. They were left wondering how they could possibly enable 2FA, even though they can use telephone-based SMS or automated-voice codes to confirm logins after setting it up.

    Fortunately, Take Control of Your Apple ID has the answer (in the section “Set up 2FA Without a Device”). Here’s a brief rundown:

    1. Set up a separate login account on a Mac, even one you don’t routinely use.
    2. Log in to iCloud via the iCloud preference pane using the Apple ID you want to upgrade to 2FA.
    3. Make sure to set at least a couple phone numbers to use as verification codes in the process of set up.

    Now, whenever you log into a developer resource or any Apple site or service that requires that Apple ID, Apple will attempt to send a verification code to the macOS account you logged in with, which won’t do anything. Instead, click or tap “Didn’t get a verification code” and then you can choose to receive an SMS or voice-based code to complete the login (as explained in depth in the section “Log In with 2FA by SMS or Voice Call”).

    June 26, 2020—We plan to release an update to this book to cover changes in Catalina and iOS 13/iPadOS 13 in mid-2020.


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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 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

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