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Take Control of iCloud
Oct 27, 2015
The Author

Joe Kissell has written more than 50 books about the Mac, including many popular Take Control ebooks. He runs Joe On Tech and is also a contributing editor of TidBITS and a senior contributor to Macworld.

Take Control of iCloud, Fourth 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 when you want everything to work efficiently so you can spend your time enjoying your media or doing actual work, instead of just fiddling with your computer.

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, 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.

More Info

You’ll be flying 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 these two services. 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 to pay for more. Find out what of your iCloud holdings counts in your storage allocation and what does not, and how to delete unwanted data.
  • iCloud Drive: Understand the iCloud Drive folder in the Finder, find the iCloud Drive app in iOS, get a grip on iCloud Drive peculiarities, and read real-world directions for using iCloud Drive to sync files.
  • 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 a get a grip on using 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, 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 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?
  • How can I share iCloud contacts with another person?
  • What’s the difference between iTunes Match and Apple Music, and is either one 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 club 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 OS X 10.11 El Capitan, iOS 9 or later, Windows 7 or later, and Apple TV software version 7 or later. 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

This heavily revised fourth edition covers changes in OS X 10.11 El Capitan and iOS 9, as well as significant feature changes in the iCloud service and Web site since the last edition of the book was published in late 2014. 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

  • Made several clarifications in Which Apple ID Should I Use for iCloud?

  • Mentioned important iCloud settings changes in iOS 9; see Set Up iCloud on an iOS Device

  • Added a sidebar, Your Child’s Password, about choosing passwords for young children when using iCloud Family Sharing

  • Revamped the coverage of how iCloud handles syncing music using iTunes Match, and how Apple Music (which is not an iCloud feature) factors in; see Use iCloud Music Library

  • Extensively overhauled Manage Your Photos to include iCloud Photo Library on Macs and cover changes to My Photo Stream

  • Removed the information on Documents in the Cloud, which does not apply to newer operating systems, while adding coverage of new iCloud Drive features; see Keep Documents and App Data in Sync

  • Added information on using the new iCloud Drive iOS app; see Use the iCloud Drive App for iOS

  • Explained how to enable Mail Drop in the Mail Web app; see Use Mail Drop

  • Added instructions for addressing email in iOS 9 to a group (while pointing out the limitations of this new feature); see Work with Contact Groups

  • Explained how to share a reminder list in iOS 9; see Share a Reminder List

  • Expanded the coverage of Notes to include new features; see Work with Notes

  • Updated the description of iCloud Keychain to reflect minor changes in behavior and appearance, especially when you have more than one set of credentials for a site; see Work with iCloud Keychain

  • Added details to the Use the iCloud Web Site chapter about changes in Photos (The Photos Web App) and Notes (The Notes Web App), as well two apps that appeared on the iCloud Web site recently (see The Find Friends Web App and The News Publisher Web App)

  • Added instructions showing how to Restore Deleted Data from Contacts, Calendars and Reminders, and iCloud Drive


What are the software and hardware requirements for this ebook?

For the most part, this book assumes your operating system(s) are OS X 10.11 El Capitan or later, iOS 9 or later, Windows 7 or later, and Apple TV software version 7 or later. 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

Update Plans

September 5, 2016 - To keep up with the many changes coming to macOS Sierra and iOS 10, Joe is working on the fifth edition of Take Control of iCloud. We hope to publish it late September or early October. Customers who purchase this book now will receive a free update when the new version is released.

Posted by Lauri Reinhardt

  1. Apple Releases New Remote App

    Apple has released its new Apple TV Remote iPhone app, designed specifically to emulate the physical Siri Remote that controls the fourth-generation Apple TV. Because the new Apple TV Remote app controls only the fourth-generation Apple TV, it does not replace Apple’s previous Remote app, which remains in the App Store with a new name: iTunes Remote. Unlike the Apple TV Remote app, iTunes Remote can access iTunes libraries and control older Apple TV models.

    However, Apple TV Remote can do almost everything the Siri Remote does, with the exception of volume control. It includes a Siri button so you can issue voice commands to your Apple TV with your iPhone. It also features a game controller mode optimized for playing games.

    For more information, see my TidBITS article Apple Overhauls the Apple TV Remote App.

    Posted by Josh Centers (Permalink)

  2. Acoustic Fingerprinting Comes to Apple Music, Some DRM Leaves

    Yesterday, the Apple news world was abuzz with a change that Apple is rolling out to Apple Music subscribers. The change effects the way that iCloud Music Library tracks are matched. Instead of using metadata, as it had before, iTunes will now employ the same acoustic fingerprinting technique used by iTunes Match.

    This change means that iTunes is more likely to accurately match your music. And, now, if you want to download your matched tracks to another Apple device, those tracks come down without DRM (digital rights management). This makes is easier to not lose your music if you unsubscribe from Apple Music without carefully checking that you have at least one copy of all your tracks locally.

    To read about all the picky details, see Kirk McElhearn’s Macworld article.

    According to Jim Dalrymple in his article at The Loop, Apple is rolling out the new matching service to 1% or 2% of its users per day. If your iCloud Music Library is now matching with acoustic fingerprinting, you’ll see Matched in the iCloud Status column for newly matched music, instead of Apple Music.

    Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)

  3. 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)

  4. iCloud Photo Library: The Missing FAQ

    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)

  5. 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)

  6. 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 Engst (Permalink)

  7. 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)

  8. 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)

  9. 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)