Backing Up Calendars & Contacts from iCloud

I ran into a situation with a client this week in which she had already upgraded to iCloud on her iPhone but not her Mac, so the two sets of syncing data were different. I wanted to back up both sets to guard against data loss before asking iCloud to merge them. As I’ve mentioned in a previous tip, backing up local data on your Mac is pretty easy, but how do you copy calendars and contacts that don’t live anywhere else except iCloud? The benevolent Apple has given us a simple way to do it, and here’s how. Because I’m all about being prepared with backups, yessiree.

To start the process, go to and sign in. To first back up your Address Book, click on the giant “Contacts” button.

Then click on the small gear icon to choose Select All.

The next step is to click on the gear icon again and choose Export vCard. When you do that, your browser will save a .vcf file of all your contacts to your default download location. It’ll dub it “[Name of your first contact] and [number of] others.vcf.” Such a catchy name. 

That was easy, huh? Strap in now, ‘cause calendars are a little harder. 

Click on iCloud’s cloud icon in the upper-left of your browser window to go back to the main screen, and then select the big “Calendars” button. Apple’s method for backing these up is actually pretty cool, but it requires quite a few steps.

When your calendars are loaded, click on the small “share calendar” icon beside one you’d like to back up.

From the dialog box that is revealed, choose the “Public Calendar” radio button, and click Share.

In the box that results, you’ll see a crazy URL that looks like this:

Copy the link out of the box and paste it into your browser’s URL bar. Before you hit Return, though, change the “webcal” part of the address (it’s at the very beginning) to “http.”

Now when you hit Return, the calendar you’ve published will be downloaded to your default location as an .ics file.

Boy, iCloud’s just rolling in the pretty names for exported files.


You can go back and redo these steps for all of the other calendars you need to back up, and when you’re finished, just unpublish each one by clicking on that same sharing icon and choosing Stop Sharing.

Now you’re prepared to back up your data should any situation arise. And those types of situations always seem to arise, don’t they?