How to Use iCloud For Windows

Manage your iCloud files on your Windows PC

iCloud is Apple's cloud storage service for backing up data and syncing it between devices such as your Mac computer, iPhone, and iPad. It is possible to access your iCloud on a Windows PCs; however, there might be some limitations depending on which version of Windows you're using.

Information in this article applies to computers and tablets running Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7.

A man in an office syncing his iCloud data from his iPhone to his Windows 10 laptop.
JGI/Tom Grill/GettyImages

How Does iCloud Work on Windows?

All you need to access iCloud on a Windows device is an Apple ID and password, which you should already have if you've ever owned an Apple product or used iTunes. There is an iCloud for Windows program available exclusively for Windows 10, but those using Windows 7 or Windows 8 can still access iCloud via the web.

You can access the iCloud website from any web-enabled device including Chromebooks and Android phones.

How to Use iCloud on PC With a Web Browser

To access iCloud on any PC, log in to the iCloud website with your Apple ID and password in any web browser.

The official iCloud website sign in screen.

From the iCloud website, you'll be able to access and manage the following Apple apps and services:

  • Mail
  • Contacts
  • Calendar
  • Photos
  • iCloud Drive
  • Notes
  • Reminders
  • Pages
  • Numbers
  • Keynote
  • Find Friends
  • Find iPhone
  • Settings

While not as smooth as their standalone app counterparts, most of the web apps on the iCloud website are fully functional and allow you to access information and media and make changes where needed. You can add or remove iPhone contacts from the Contacts app, and photos and videos can be uploaded or downloaded from Apple Photos.

The official iCloud website app interface

Unfortunately, the iCloud website cannot interact directly with your Windows device. For example, while you can manually upload photos to the Photos app on the website, it's not possible to automatically sync your computer's files with iCloud in the background. For this feature, you'll need to install the iCloud for Windows app.

How to Get iCloud For Windows

iCloud for Windows is an official Apple app for Windows 10 that allows data syncing between your PC and your iCloud account. The iCloud for Windows software can be downloaded for free from the official Apple website. It also sometimes comes bundled with iTunes, so you may already have it installed on your PC. You can check to see if it's installed by using the search feature in the Windows taskbar.

After installing iCloud for Windows, log in with your Apple ID and password. You will be asked to confirm if you want to sync data for iCloud Drive, Photos, and Bookmarks.

Your Apple ID must be linked to an iOS or macOS device to use iCloud for Windows 10.

How Does iCloud's Photos Work On Windows 10?

By installing iCloud for Windows, a new iCloud Photos folder will be created on your Windows device. Depending on the options chosen during the iCloud setup, this folder can be used for viewing files from your linked iCloud devices, or for uploading files from Windows to your iCloud account.

Select Options next to Photos during setup to specify how you want this new folder to work.

Select Options next to Photos during setup to specify how you want the new iCloud folder to work.

A new menu will pop up with a list options. Here's what each option enables:

  • iCloud Photo Library: Upload any media saved to the iCloud Photos folder on your Windows 10 device to your iCloud account automatically. You will then be able to view these files on your Apple devices. Once enabled, additional options will appear that let you customize how your files are uploaded and downloaded.
  • My Photo Stream: Photo Stream downloads your recent photos from your other linked iCloud devices for viewing on your Windows 10 device. It will also upload your recent photos from the iCloud Photos folder on Windows to iCloud.
  • Download new photos and videos to my PC: Automatically download photos and videos from the iCloud service to the iCloud Photos folder. This option is only visible once the iCloud Photo Library option is enabled.
  • Keep high-efficiency original if available: Download the original versions of files that haven't been compressed or had their lighting or colors changed. This option is only visible once the iCloud Photo Library option is enabled.
  • Upload new photos and videos from my PC: Upload new files from your PC to iCloud. Disable it if you only want to view videos and photos taken on your iOS devices. This option is only visible once the iCloud Photo Library option is enabled.
  • iCloud Photo Sharing: View photos and videos taken by others and allow them to add files to the chosen folder for you to view.

Select Change next to each option to choose a different folder for iCloud photo and video syncing. Be sure to select Apply to save your preferences.

iCloud for Windows app setup process.

How to Find The New iCloud Folders

Setting up the iCloud for Windows app will create iCloud Photos and iCloud Drive folders on your Windows 10 device. Each folder will sync files and data to your iCloud account and connected devices depending on your selected preferences.

Both folders will be automatically pinned to the Quick Access menu in File Explorer. You can change the way these folders sync data at any time by opening up the iCloud for Windows app and changing the settings as described above.

Once you set up iCloud for Windows, you will only need to use the app to manage your preferences. All of your file management will take place within the new folders.

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