The complete guide to iCloud on Your Mac

“iCloud is a big part of Apple’s ecosystem and it has a number features of which OS X can take advantage,” Jordan Merrick writes for Mactuts+. “In this guide, I’ll show you how to set up and begin using iCloud on your Mac, as well as the features and benefits it provides.”

“iCloud is Apple’s ‘cloud’ service that is available, free, to anyone using an iOS device or OS X Lion or Mountain Lion,” Merrick writes. “It originally started life as MobileMe (which started out as .Mac, which started out as iTools) as a paid-for email service and method to keep more than one Mac in sync with regards to certain data such as calendars and contacts. This meant you could add a contact to one Mac and it would appear on another Mac or iOS device if you were signed in.”

Merrick writes, “iCloud builds upon this and still provides an email service as well contacts and calendar syncing. The main difference is that iCloud is predominantly a free service that provides a 5GB account, with the option to pay an annual subscription to increase this, depending on the space required. iCloud builds not only an array of features designed to make using multiple devices much easier but also online storage of documents and pictures to make accessing them as easy as possible.”

Much more in the full guide here.


  1. Just wish it worked better. Syncing used to work for me (financial iPhone/Mac app), but about two months ago it just stopped completely, rendering the iPhone app useless.

    Here’s hoping iOS 7 fixes these issues, as the root cause is the iCloud Sync API.

    1. Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, etc. have and continue to work flawlessly, so iCloud isn’t totally useless.

      I should clarify that it’s the Database Sync API that doesn’t work. Developers’ only recourse is to write their own database sync system.

          1. Exactly. How the hell (my favorite word today, apparently) did Apple mess that up? HOBBLE your developers? Apple doesn’t do that! I want a PUBLIC FLOGGING of whoever let that happen.

            Was it YOU Scott Forstall? If so, firing you was NOT sufficient punishment. To the pillary with you! Rotten tomatoes have I many! Rotten cabbages have I also aplenty! Thou shalt wreak of moldering vegetables! 👿

            1. The most egregious thing is that it’s been a known issue for months upon months, with no fix. Apparently Apple is content to wait until the release of iOS 7 and 10.9 to remedy the issues.

      1. Contacts in particular remain a problem for me, with contacts disappearing, iCloud reverting to old details (i.e. old address) that go back to ancient .Mac days, changing all ‘work’ and ‘home’ email/phone etc to ‘other’, etc.

        Calendar has problems with duplicates and changed dates, I had all the ‘Birthdays’s shifted over by three days at one point, so all on the wrong day.

        Huge PITA.

        1. I had this problem on two different accounts a few years ago on MobileMe. The solution was to delete the Contacts and Calender accounts on all devices for each AppleID account, wait half an hour or so, turn the account back on at the first (main) device and run a MobileMe sync reset routine that separately zeroed out the server data. Then we could safely repopulate the data from the first device onto the server, followed by other devices. I don’t know that iCloud has this same server reset workaround, but it may. I wish I recalled how it worked…but it did, and I haven’t had another sync or duplicate file problem since.

  2. I’m one of the Apple early users of Guinea pigs. Heck I was even beta testing eWorld! LOL iCloud is amazingly slick and works extremely well with all its services, TODAY. Yes there were growing pains as expected, but today is pretty darn 99% working as it suppose to. There are still many more iterations regarding document creation and sync, which I can be pretty sure Apple is not sitting on their collective butts doing nothing with it. So good job Apple! iCloud works great.

    iTunes Match also works amazingly well. Even though the concept and action is simple, it still confuses users easily. I think a graphical representation, rather than text would be helpful for most users to understand iTunes Match.

    1. I was an eWorld beta boy as well! Fun place, sad to see it die.

      But I have to disagree with you about ‘slick and works’ regarding iCloud. Specifically, the functionality difference in iCloud between OS X 10.7 and 10.8 are deal killers. NASTY deal killers. And Apple has been extremely subtle about letting us know the differences. The one and only piece of information I have ever found at Apple about this incredibly disparate functionality of iCloud on 10.7 vs 10.8 is a little footnote stuck near the bottom of THIS document. Shameful:

      iCloud: System Requirements

      * Note: Although you can use iOS 5 and OS X Lion as noted above, you will not be able to take advantage of some iCloud features, such as Shared Photo Streams, iCloud Tabs, Find My iPhone Lost Mode, Documents in the Cloud for iWork, and Find My Friends location-based alerts.

      By necessity I use my old MacBook 2006-11 for much of my writing. It doesn’t go any higher than OS X 10.7 Lion. I can’t sync any of my writing on it to my 2011 Mac Mini server via iCloud. And me with 25 GB of iCloud space sitting there waiting to be used. Shameful. /rant

      1. Oh your right about that regarding system requirements. It’s really BS to try and move users to new machines. Powerful yes, but not really necessary to do everything that iCloud can offer. Thanks for pointing that out! 🙂

  3. I have lost respect for iCloud. I was hoping/praying that Apple would finish the job and provide ALL the features from MobileMe and .Mac. But nooooo.

    I have two huge gripes about iCloud:

    1) The support on OS X 10.7 Lion is meagre. I am so sick of ‘YOU CAN’T DO THAT ON LION’ when it comes to iCloud. Ultra annoying. For example: If you want to use any of the apps that force iCloud to allow actual full blown file sharing, darn! They ALL fail on OS X Lion. Every single one. I’ve done them all. HATE it!

    2) Why the hell do I have to rely on a third party hack to FORCE iCloud to allow full blown file sharing?! The one I like best is from a 15 year old kid in New Zealand, who has no Apple Developer credentials. He came up with it on his own, it’s elegant, it just works. WTF is wrong with Apple that they can’t simply toss that hack into iCloud BY DEFAULT! I mean, REALLY Apple! Wake the hell up!

    So here I am with Apple kindly handing me 25 GB of space on iCloud, because I was a long-time .Mac and MobileMe paying user, and I can’t use it. How am I supposed to be ABLE to use it?! It’s like Apple hates iCloud and hasn’t bothered to think it out. It’s just some blunderous bogosity replacement for MobileMe to allow syncing between apps to continue. Why would anyone WANT to buy more iCloud space?! Huh?

    Possible great usage: Anyone who is a publishing/graphics/photo professional. THAT I can see eating up lots of GB of space. But for Joe and Jane Blow, ordinary users, who even needs 5 GB? Apple, don’t you WANT people to use iCloud? Why isn’t it at all competitive with DropBox and the dozen other cloud services? Is this deliberate? If so, just come out and say so! Don’t leave us WANTING and EXPECTING and then leave us with what’s just a meagre syncing service. Not good. Not good at all.

  4. Our one-step guide to clouds:

    Just say no.

    It’s really not that hard or costly to host one’s own data. If and when enough gullible people give away their data, you can be assured that server services will no longer be free.

  5. Apple sucks at web services and has for as long as there is a web. I do not see that getting any better any time soon.

    One of the biggest problems with Apple in current form is that they still create ad hoc development teams and do crash development and then abandon software until the next cycle- condemning the end user to a less than stellar experience. That was to be expected when Apple was a small company, but that phase ended long ago.

    The end result is a collection of half baked, out of date, poorly performing beta iterations of software or services that deliver far less than the initial promise. Later on stuff becomes abandon-ware without notice.

  6. What disappoints me most is Apple’s incomplete follow through with iCloud. Garageband files can sync from iOS to iOS only, not iOS to Mac. PDFs can sync only from Mac to Mac, not Mac to iOS. You can’t put your documents in folders to organize and sort. You can’t log into on an ipad or an iPhone. Foolish.

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