How to Set Up and Use Apple’s New iCloud.com

| How-To

For the remaining two or three of my readers who don’t yet know, iCloud lets you access your music, photos, documents, and more no matter which of your devices you’re on. It’s easy to set up and use. If you have purchased a new iOS device in the last couple of years or so, you probably already have and established iCloud account.

With iCloud’s Content Everywhere feature, your iTunes media and apps, your photos and videos, many of your documents including those created in third-party apps as well as in Pages, Numbers and Keynote, and much more… all of these are synchronized across all your devices.

Having your Apple ID and iCloud account all properly configured and enabled, you have lots of good things going for you in your digital life. And… for the most part – I don’t mind saying it once again – “it just works!”

One of the benefits of Apple’s online service is the ability to access much of your iCloud data using any modern computer web browser running on either Mac or Windows. This service is called iCloud.com. It has just been given additional functionality, including a facelift coinciding with the release of iOS7.

The iCloud.com Home Screen after a successful sign-in.

After successfully signing onto your iCloud.com account, you are presented with a handsome new look to your Home Screen.

With iCloud.com, even without having your iOS device in hand, you are able to access your iCloud Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Notes, Reminders, Find My iPhone, and now – in beta – the iWork triumvirate: Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. No matter where you are on this ball we call Earth, as long as you have Internet connectivity, you can get to your iCloud data.

All you do on the computer, is go to iCloud.com, and sign in with your Apple ID credentials. This lands you on your iCloud.com Home Screen. You are then presented with the site’s web apps which match your iDevice apps – Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Notes, Reminders, etc.

The Sign-in panel on iCloud.com

Sign in with your Apple ID credentials.

Back at the sign-in screen, if you ticked the “Remember me” checkbox, whenever you return to iCloud.com within two weeks, you won’t be required to sign in. The one exception is the Find My iPhone app, which continues to prompt for your password. You stay signed in to iCloud.com even if you either refresh your browser window, close the browser window where you are logged into iCloud, or quit your web browser.

Privacy and Security

To prevent anyone from accessing your iCloud information at iCloud.com while you’re away from the computer you are using, be sure to sign out.

You are also able to sign in to iCloud.com on more than one computer at a time. However, it’s very important to remember that signing out of iCloud.com on one computer does not sign you out of iCloud.com on other computers.

To log off your iCloud account, click your account name at the top of the iCloud.com window, then choose Sign Out. If you did not enable “Remember me” when you originally signed in to iCloud.com, you can also sign out by quitting your browser app.

A detail from the iCloud.com home screen.

Click on your account name to access Account Settings and to sign out of iCloud.com.

Account Settings

To review and edit your iCloud.com account settings, click on your account name at the top of the iCloud.com window, then choose Account Settings. There isn’t much to configure here as it’s really for only how iCloud.com works on your browser. However, there are three not-so-obvious options to look for in Account Settings:

Photo – click on your existing photo or image placeholder above your Apple ID to select and edit a photo that represents you (known as an Avatar).

The Account Settings panel in iCloud.com

There are some hidden editing features in the Account Settings panel.

Your photo is synchronized with what’s showing in your own Contact record in your devices’ Contacts app (what’s officially known as your “My Card”). People with iCloud accounts whom you correspond with via iCloud mail will see your photo on any email correspondence they receive from you – and vice versa.

Apple ID – When you click on your Apple ID, a browser window will open onto the My Apple ID page on Apple’s support site (Apple ID.apple.com). Here, you can manage and troubleshoot issues with your Apple ID or even create a new one.

A view of the My Apple ID support page at Apple.com.

You can resolve many Apple ID issues at Apple’s Support site.

iCloud Help – I find that people seem to tune-out buttons and links to Help resources; but, Help is a valuable facility not only to help with  troubleshooting, but for instructions as well. It will not only for help with iCloud.com, it exposes all Apple help on anything to do with using the iCloud service with your Mac and iOS devices.

iCloud Help – I find that, just as with banner ads on web pages, people seem to tune-out buttons and links to Help resources. This is a valuable facility not only to help with  troubleshooting, but for instructions as well. And, it’s not only for help with iCloud.com, but it exposes all Apple help on anything to do with using the iCloud service with your Mac and iOS devices.

You owe it to yourself to always review built-in Help facilities.

Navigating iCloud.com

New to iCloud.com is the ability to easily and intuitively switch between the iCloud web apps you see on your iCloud Home Screen.

An iCloud.com pop-up menu showing the other iCloud web apps that you can switch to.

A new feature is that you can switch directly to the other iCloud web apps or to your Home Screen.

No matter which iCloud.com app you are in while using your browser, locate and click on the app’s name at the top-left of your browser’s window. From the colorful list that pops up, select which other iCloud.com app you wish to switch to. You also have the option to return to your iCloud.com Home Screen.

Getting Everything in Sync

We’ve confined our discussion to accessing your iCloud data via iCloud.com on a web browser. As for your Macs and iOS devices, by turning features on and off, you can change which iCloud features you’re using on any of your devices as well as synchronizing with iCloud.com. You can also disable iCloud completely.

To configure your devices, go to System Preferences > iCloud on the Mac, and/or Settings > iCloud on your iOS device.

Conclusion

The establishment and evolution of iCloud services has been a colossal undertaking for Apple when you consider how many hundreds of millions of computing devices avail themselves of these resources. Given the complexities involved and the inevitable growing pains, I would say Apple has done a superb job; fortunately, they don’t rest on their laurels. The recent upgrade of iCloud.com’s appearance and functionality is an example of changes for the better as we move forward.

I know that I could never go back to how things were before we had the Content Everywhere feature enabled on our computing devices.

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Comments

Lee Dronick

I don’t like the circular frame for the avatar. It is fine, I suppose, if you are using a graphic, but not for a photograph.

Vincent Tumeo

I have to agree.  Why the circular avatar.  If we want a circle then we will make it a circle.  Don’t fence me in.  smile

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