How to use iCloud with Windows

If you have an Apple ID, you can use iCloud with Windows.

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If you have an Apple ID, you can use iCloud with Windows, which means you can access your email, photos and other data from your PC – useful when you’re at your desk or travelling without an Apple device, or if you are inside Boot Camp on your Mac.

How to use iCloud with Windows

There are two ways to use iCloud with Windows.

The most straightforward is to access your iCloud account from your web browser, but for deeper compatibility with your Windows system you should download and install Apple’s iCloud for Windows software on your PC.

The difference between these two approaches is that while you can access your iCloud data via a browser, none of the data on your Windows system will sync. In other words, if you want photos, documents and bookmarks from your PC to update automatically across all your Apple devices, you’ll want to use iCloud for Windows.

How do I access iCloud using a browser?

Navigate to iCloud.com using your browser and log in using your Apple ID and password. Any active Reminders will appear at the top of the iCloud main page, where you’ll also find links to open:

  • Mail
  • Contacts
  • Calendar
  • Photos
  • iCloud Drive
  • Notes
  • Reminders
  • Find iPhone
  • iCloud Settings

You’ll also find a variety of apps, including fully functional online versions of Pages, Numbers and Keynote, the Find My Friends tool and News Publisher (if you have enabled that app).

You can also achieve some useful tasks using iCloud through your browser, such as creating rules to help improve email management across all your systems.

This is a good way to access your digital data when you travel, as you can log in to your account from almost any computer. If you want your data to sync with a PC, you’ll need to follow the instructions below.

How to set up iCloud for Windows

Apple’s iCloud for Windows software should install automatically once downloaded. If it does not, open File Explorer, launch iCloud Setup and restart your PC. Once the computer boots up, check that iCloud for Windows is open – it should be, but if it isn’t, you’ll open it via your Start menu.

What are the system requirements?

iCloud for Windows requires that you are running Windows 10, have iCoud for Windows 7 installed, iTunes 12.7, Outlook 2010-2016 and a web browser (Microsoft Edge, Firefoc 45 or later, Chrome 54 or later). Some iCloud services will work with slightly older versions of Windows, as detailed here.

Once the software is installed and open, you’ll be asked to enter your Apple ID to sign into iCloud, and you’ll then need to choose which iCloud features you want to use: iCloud Drive, Photos, Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Tasks and Bookmarks. Here is how to use each of these features:

How do Photos work?

When enabled, iCloud for Windows creates an iCloud Photos folder in File Explorer. Any images of videos you add to this folder will then be synced across all the devices you own that logged into this Apple ID. You can share galleries of images using iCloud Photo Sharing.

How does iCloud Drive work?

If you already use iCloud Drive you’ll be familiar with what it does. If not, then the easiest way to understand the feature is as online storage for all the files and projects you are working on. Anything you save into any folder of the iCloud Drive will sync across all your Apple ID devices (it’s very like Dropbox in this). You will also be able to access items saved to iCloud Drive on your Mac, iPhone, or iPad within this folder on your PC. Fully searchable, the service also lets you share your files with others.

Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Tasks and Bookmarks

The final selection of iCloud items you can access using Windows. Once you enable this all your iCloud mail (typically sent to yourname@icloud.com) will be made available in the folder pane on Outlook. You’ll also find all your other calendaring data there, and bookmarks will be made available through your browser.

Everything else

If you have any problems with these features, please refer to Apple’s extensive Support pages that should help you resolve them. (Don’t forget, you won’t receive email if you failed to create an iCloud email address when setting up your Apple ID).

There are some iCloud services that just don’t work on Windows: Find My iPhone, Back to My Mac, Backup, Notes and Reading List. All these require deeper OS integration, though in the case of Find My iPhone you will be able to track lost devices using iCloud in your browser.

However, if you have valuable data that you want to sync between your Macs, iOS devices and Windows PC, iCloud for Windows should help – though that 5GB of storage Apple supplies remains miserly at best.

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