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  1. Computer Skills
  2. Finder
Computers

Do More With Finder for Mac: iCloud

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:ShortLanguages:

Mac applications have been able to store their documents in iCloud for a few years. On iOS, however, each application had its own private location in iCloud that no other application could see. 

They were accessible to the same application on each device. For example—you could never access a note saved in a notetaking app by using a different note-taking app.

iCloud Drive gets rid of this type of tedious workflow; you’ll see all the files you’ve saved, regardless of which application they were originally created with.

iCloud Drive synchronises data in real-time. If you start writing in Pages, on Mac, you can pick up where you left off on an iPhone or iPad. 

To take advantage of this feature you must upgrade apps to the latest versions to ensure they work. To use iCloud Drive a device must meet these minimum requirements:

  • iOS device with the latest operating system iOS 8
  • Mac with OS X Yosemite
  • PC with Windows 7 or later and iCloud for Windows 4.0
  • At least Safari 6, Firefox 22, or Google Chrome 28 to access the file on iCloud.com

Using iCloud Drive

Once you've upgraded the iOS devices to iOS 8 and the Mac(s) to OS X Yosemite, it’s easy to get started. 

Using iCloud Drive on a Mac

On a Mac, go to System Preference > iCloud and check the box next to iCloud Drive. Click Options to select which applications will store data in iCloud. You can turn their access on and off in this window.

toggle-icloud-drive-mac
Toggle iCloud Drive on Mac. Click Options to select which applications will store data in iCloud

Using iCloud Drive on iPhone and iPad

On an iOS device, go to Settings > iCloud and tap on Upgrade to iCloud Drive. Any files stored in iCloud will be automatically migrated to iCloud Drive, though once upgraded to iCloud Drive you can’t revert to iCloud

You’ll also see a list of apps below that are already using iCloud Drive to store documents and data. Enable or decline their access with these settings.

toggle-icloud-drive-iPad
Toggle iCloud Drive on iPad. Select the applications to enable or disable access to iCloud Drive

When you first open iCloud Drive in Finder, situated in Favorites sidebar, you’ll notice a number of folders with application icons; these folders represent the applications associated with the files within. 

You won’t find data synced with the Contacts, Calendar, and Notes applications as these are strictly application files.

To add files in the iCloud Drive, drag and drop them from your Mac. If you’re using an iCloud Drive compatible app on an iPhone or iPad, you should see an option to save the file to iCloud via iCloud Drive.

drag-and-drop-files-from-mac-to-icloud-drive
Drag and Drop files from Mac to iCloud Drive. The numbers from 1 to 5 denote various application icons

Unlike the Mac having separate iCloud Drive section, there is no standalone iCloud Drive app for iOS. There is no way to show the entire file system in the way that Dropbox does, say.

On an iOS device, iCloud Drive is an integrated feature. You can see what’s in iCloud Drive only within individual apps that support open and save documents.

In all these apps, there’s an Open button or an icon that presents the presents the iCloud Drive contents. 

In Pages app for iPad tap + key and select iCloud from the list of options. A new window will open showing files saved from the Mac.

access-icloud-drive-ipad
Remember in iOS, iCloud Drive is an integrated feature. The screenshot is just an example to demonstrate open feature in iCloud Drive. The ways to access iCloud Drive may vary from apps to apps

You can store any type of file in iCloud Drive, as long as it’s less than 15GB in size. There’s no restriction in file type, so you can keep all your work documents, school projects, presentations, and more up to date across all the devices. With iCloud Drive you can:

  • Store and access all your documents in one place from any of the devices
  • Keep files and folders up to date across all devices
  • Create new files and folders from iCloud-enabled apps
  • Work on the same file across multiple apps

Using iCloud Drive on Windows PCs

iCloud Drive is not only limited to Apple’s platform, you can access it from a web browser meaning that you can access data from a Linux or Windows PC. 

You can manage all the files and folders, download and upload files, create new folders, and move files into new folders or to the root level of iCloud Drive

Any changes made on the web are propagated to all iCloud Drive enabled devices, ...though in reality it may take few minutes for this to happen.

iCloud-drive-accessible-from-any-browser
iCloud Drive is accessible from browser too. 1. Create new folder 2. Upload new photos 3. Status Bar

On a Windows PC install iCloud for Windows. Enter your Apple ID and choose the content types that you want to keep updated across your devices. 

When you enable iCloud Drive and Photos, the application automatically creates new folders for those content types in File Explorer. When you save files in those folders, the files will automatically appear on your other devices.

To use Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and Reminders, install Microsoft Outlook 2007 or later and if you want to keep your Firefox or Google Chrome bookmarks in sync with Safari, install the respective extensions for Firefox and Google Chrome.

iCloud Pricing Structure

iCloud Drive is a part of iCloud. The storage space is shared by iCloud Drive, Mail, Photos and Backups, so as time goes on it is increasingly likely that you will have to upgrade from the free iCloud plan. 

iTunes media (whether from Apple or you), iBooks books, applications, and My Photo Stream don't count as part of the free storage. 

To upgrade on iOS, go to Settings > iCloud > Storage and tap Buy More Storage

On a Mac, go to System Preferences > iCloud > Manage and click Buy More Storage. You can also upgrade or downgrade your plan at any time.

iCloud Drive Pricing in USA

  • 20 GB - $0.99 per month
  • 200 GB - $3.99 per month
  • 500 GB - $9.99 per month
  • 1TB - $19.99 per month

iCloud Drive Pricing in Worldwide

Go through this helpful Apple knowledge base article for prices in other countries.

Conclusion

With OS X Yosemite and iOS 8, Apple has made efforts to make iCloud Drive easier to understand and easier to use, though it still faces huge competition from Dropbox. 

A native iCloud Drive for iOS device can clear up a lot of confusion.

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