Setting Up an iCloud Account on Your Mac

Get Your Mac and iCloud Working Together

iCloud Preference Pane
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Apple's iCloud provides a host of cloud-based services you can use on your Mac, including Mail & Notes, Contacts, Calendars, Bookmarks, Photo Stream, Documents & Data, Back to My Mac, Find My Mac, and more. Each service lets you store data on the iCloud servers, and keep your Mac and all of your devices, including Windows and iOS devices, in sync.

What You Need to Use the iCloud Service

iCloud on the Mac requires OS X 10.7.2 or later.

Or

macOS Sierra or later.

Once you have the proper version of OS X or macOS installed, you'll need to turn iCloud on. If you updated to OS X 10.7.2 or later after the launch of the iCloud service, the iCloud preferences pane will open automatically the first time you boot your Mac after updating the OS. If you updated to OS X 10.7.2 or later before the iCloud service launched, you'll need to access the iCloud preferences pane manually.

If you're not sure if iCloud is active on your Mac, you can proceed with the manual method of setting up iCloud outlined below.

We'll assume you're going to start this process by accessing the iCloud preferences pane manually.

Turn on iCloud

  1. Click the System Preferences icon in the Dock, or select the System Preferences item in the Apple menu.
  2. In the System Preferences window, click the iCloud icon, which is located under the Internet & Wireless group. In later versions of the Mac operating system, the category names for the system preferences is turned off as the default state. If you don't see the category names, just look for iCloud preference pane in the third row from the top.
  1. The iCloud preferences pane should display the iCloud login, asking for your Apple ID and password. If instead, the iCloud preferences pane displays a list of available iCloud services, then you (or someone else who uses your computer) have already turned iCloud on.
  2. If iCloud was enabled using someone else's Apple ID, check with that individual before you log out of iCloud. If iCloud has already pushed data to your computer, he or she may want to back up that data before you disconnect from the service.
  1. If you do decide to turn iCloud off for the current account, simply click the Sign Out button at the bottom of the iCloud preference pane.
  2. With the iCloud preference pane now asking for an Apple ID, enter the Apple ID you wish to use on the iCloud service.
  3. Enter your Apple ID password.
  4. Click the Sign In button.
  5. You can choose to have iCloud upload and store your contacts, calendars, photos, reminders, notes, Safari bookmarks, keychain and bookmarks on its servers, so you can access this data from any iOS, Mac, or Windows device. Place a checkmark next to this option if you wish to upload this data.
  6. iCloud Drive allows you to store any files you like in the cloud. Apple provides a limited amount of free space and then charges for additional space.
  7. Find My Mac, one of the features of iCloud, uses geolocation services to pinpoint where your Mac is currently located. You can also send your Mac a message, remotely lock your Mac, or even erase the data on the startup drive. Place a checkmark next to this option if you wish to use the Find My Mac service.
  8. Click Next.
  9. If you chose to use Find My Mac, you will receive a warning asking you to allow Find My Mac to use your Mac's location data. Click Allow.

    iCloud will now be activated and will display a list of the iCloud services you can use. Don't forget you can also login to the iCloud website to access the iCloud features, including the online versions of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.

    Getting iCloud's Mail Working on Your Mac

    Originally published: 10/14/2011

    Update history: 7/3/2015, 6/30/2016

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