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Understanding the functions of iCloud, Apple's cloud storage and sync service

O iCloud, Apple's cloud storage and synchronization service, still not 100% reliable, the company still needs to evolve a lot when it comes to online service. Even so, it has very interesting features that, if used correctly, make life much easier for OS X and iOS users.

iCloud cone

Today I will explain how storage works and what you can do if you reach the space limit for your account. But first, a brief explanation of the functions that make up iCloud.


  • iTunes in the Cloud (iTunes in the Cloud): buy a movie / music on your iPhone, for example, and the content will automatically download to your Mac / PC or your iPad.
  • Share Photos (Photo Stream): take photos with your iPhone and they are automatically shared among yours (iPad, iPod touch, Mac / PC and Apple TV).
  • Cloud Documents (Documents in the Cloud): Create documents and presentations on Mac, iPhone, iPod touch and iPad and iPod touch and keep them updated and automatically synced across all devices.
  • Safari: with iCloud, your favorites, sites you bookmark to read later (Reading List) and even pages open in the browser are synchronized / available on all Apple devices you have.
  • Calendar, Contacts and Mail: there is no mystery here. With an iCloud account, your calendar, contacts and emails are automatically synchronized across all iProducts.
  • Apps: just like iTunes in the Cloud, apps purchased from the App Store on one device are automatically downloaded to others if you wanted to. Inside the store there is also a space where you can find all the apps you have already purchased, making it easy to download that old game you bought and had even forgotten that exists.
  • iBooks: same thing as apps, but with the difference of remembering where you stopped reading a certain book. So, you can start reading on the iPhone and finish on the iPad. There are also functions to mark some part of the text, make notes, etc. all of this synchronized between your iGadgets.
  • Backup and recovery: if you don't usually plug your iGadget on your computer and sync it to iTunes, this feature was made for you. ICloud backs up your iOS devices daily, via Wi-Fi, whenever you place a device to charge or manually request the backup. Your data, in addition to purchased music, movies, apps and books, will be saved and can be easily recovered in case of loss or theft of the current device.
  • Search iPhone (Find My iPhone): this is Apple's official tool for finding lost or stolen iPhones, iPods and iPads, as long as the devices are still connected to the internet. Through an application or through the website, we can locate the devices, display a message on the screen, configure a lock password or even remotely erase all the contents of each device.
  • Search My Friends (Find My Friends): tool to share your location with friends and vice versa. The cool thing is that you can set up location-based notifications to, for example, be alerted when your child has left school.
  • Back to My Mac (Back to My Mac): was launched on Mac OS X Leopard and, among other things, allows sharing files and computer screens.

Configuring iCloud

Setting up the service is very simple: if your device is new, reset, just follow the instructions on the home screen, as soon as the iPhone / iPod touch, iPad or Mac is turned on for the first time. In case you haven?t done that, you don?t have a mystery either.

iCloud on iOS

In iGadgets, just go to Settings (Settings) iCloud and subscribe to the service, activating all the functions (those mentioned above) that you want to use. If you already have your own email (a Gmail for life) and don't want to create another one, no problem. You can easily subscribe to the service and take advantage of data storage and synchronization using this existing email. If you want, you can create a new email (@

If you already have an iTunes / App Store account with an existing email, I suggest creating an iCloud account with that same address, to simplify, to concentrate things.

iCloud on iOS

It is worth remembering that, if you wanted to use the automatic download feature of music, applications and books, you need to go to Settings iTunes Store and App Store and activate automatic transfers.

iCloud on OS X

On Mac, to activate iCloud, just go to System Preferences (System Preferences) iCloud, login and choose the functions you want to keep activated. If you still have questions, Apple explains exactly how to set up iCloud on all possible devices on this page.


IOS does not have a file management system. This means that, unlike OS X and Windows, there is no Finder or Windows Explorer to control where we want each document to be kept. On iOS, the document is stored within the application. For example: if you are going to write in Apple's Pages text editor, the created file is stored in Pages itself. As it is natively integrated with iCloud, your document is stored in the cloud (Documents in the Cloud). So, if you create and start editing a file on the iPad, you can finish it later on OS X Pages, if you want.

iCloud on OS X

This is not restricted to Apple apps. Pixelmator (famous image editor for Mac) compatible with iCloud. Here on my Mac I keep all the documents in iCloud, as we can see in the image above (detail in the upper left corner, showing that the files are stored in iCloud and locally). For those who have more than one machine (one at work and one at home, for example), this is great, as it facilitates access and keeps the file updated regardless of the machine used.

But back to iCloud Initially, an iCloud account has 5GB of space and I have 25GB (image) more about that below. But it is important to mention that music, apps, books and Share Photos are not part of this account. These 5GB are used only for emails, documents and backup.

iCloud on iOS

To see how your storage is doing on iOS, just go to Settings iCloud Storage and Backup. There you find the total storage available, an option to manage that storage, as well as another option to change your plan and, of course, the option to activate the backup.

Managing storage

Here is the place to see exactly what is consuming space on our account. In my case, as I spend the whole day using my Mac to work, I prefer to backup via iTunes, so I have plenty of space left over in iCloud the backup feature which consumes the most space.

iCloud on iOSiCloud on iOS

If iCloud is warning you that it is close to the storage limit, you can delete these documents / data / backups directly from the device. Just touch the desired section (in this case, Pixelmator), choose the option ?Edit? and delete document by document or all at once.

Changing the storage plan

iCloud on iOS

Another possibility is to acquire more space for iCloud. For that I need to go to Settings iCloud Storage and Backup Change Storage Plan and choose the desired option: 10GB – US $ 20; 20GB – $ 40; and 50GB – $ 100. Always remembering that you already have 5GB free, which will be added to the purchased space. I, for example, have 25GB.

iCloud on OS X

All of this can also be managed by the Mac, in the iCloud Manage System Preferences. In this space you have control of everything, being able to delete documents and data individually or all at once, in addition to being able to change your storage plan.


The backup of iCloud was one of the best things that Apple did for those who usually use the device and do not connect it to the Mac / PC (iTunes). By enabling iCloud backup, you can be ?carefree?. Daily, whenever you are connected to a Wi-Fi network and put the device to recharge, iCloud will back it up. So, if you lose your iPhone or if it is stolen, it will be very easy to recover the content.

iCloud on iOS

To force a backup, go to Settings iCloud Storage and Backup Backup Now. If you are leaving home to buy a new iPhone, for example, this is a good time to force a backup.

When buying a new one, just follow the recovery instructions on the device's home screen. In a few (good) minutes, your brand new iPhone will be set up (emails, photos, documents, apps, etc.) like the old one.

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It is common for some iCloud functions to be unavailable for a few minutes / hours so I said the service is still not 100% reliable.

New Apple page with online services status

If you happen to notice something wrong with your account (incoming / outgoing emails, documents that are not updated, contact synchronization problems, etc.), it doesn't hurt to visit the iCloud support page to see if any these functions are down. Apple recently gave it a makeover, making it much more complete.

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