So... you have no clue what iCloud Drive is or how to use it.
Well, you’re not the only one. Apple isn’t exactly good at launching streamlined, simplified services. It’s great with hardware and software interfaces, but as you likely know, it’s stumbled a bit in the past when it comes to cloud storage, photo management, and even music social networks (though more recently, with Apple Music, it seems to be doing alright in that department).
Anyway, iCloud Drive is the company’s latest effort at giving you better ways to manage all your files. Apple’s iCloud Drive is an online storage service; a place to keep all your files and access them from across all your Apple devices, including your iPhone, iPad, and Mac. It might sound complicated, but thankfully, it’s not too hard to understand.
Apple, in our opinion, has hit a home run with iCloud Drive. Our only complaint is that it still takes guides like this for people to figure out how to enable it, pick a storage plan, access their files, and whatnot.
What is iCloud Drive?
It's part of iCloud - Apple's cloud storage service that launched in 2011.
iCloud Drive lets you save photos, videos, documents, music, and app data to iCloud. Not only does it let you store all your stuff in one place, but it lets you access all of your files and data from your iOS device, Mac, and Windows PC, and then keep those files and folders up to date across all your devices. It even allows you to create new files and folders from iCloud-enabled apps and work on the same file across multiple apps. Simples.
Note: iCloud Drive also works with iCloud.com. You can use it to create, save, and share documents using Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. You get 1 GB of free storage with iCloud.com. This support page has more information about how to get started with iCloud.com
How much is iCloud Drive?
It’s technically a free feature. You can store any type of file in iCloud Drive, as long as it's less than 15 GB in size and you doesn’t exceed your iCloud storage limit. When you sign up for iCloud, you get 5 GB of free storage for Mail, Backup, iCloud Photo Library, and iCloud Drive.
- If you need more iCloud storage, you can upgrade to a total of 50 GB ($0.99/£0.79), 200 GB ($2.99/£2.49), or 1 TB ($9.99/£6.99) of iCloud storage.
- Learn more about pricing from here and how to upgrade using your iOS devices, Mac, or PC from here.
How to access and set up iCloud Drive
New iOS devices running iOS 9 or new Macs running OS X El Capitan have iCloud Drive enabled. If you updated your device from an earlier version of iOS or OS X, go here for more details about enabling iCloud Drive. You can also sign into iCloud.com and upgrade that to iCloud Drive as well as enable iCloud Drive on your PC with iCloud for Windows and Windows 7 or later.
Before you set up iCloud Drive, make sure your iOS device is running iOS 8 or later and that your Mac is running OS X Yosemite or later. PCs must also be running Windows 7 or later and iCloud for Windows. As for iCloud.com, you need Safari 6 or later.
iPad or iPhone (iOS 8 or later)
- Tap Settings > iCloud
- Sign in with your Apple ID
- Tap iCloud Drive
- Tap Upgrade to iCloud Drive
Mac (OS X Yosemite or later)
- Go to Apple menu > System Preferences and select iCloud
- Sign in with your Apple ID
- Select iCloud Drive, then select Continue
- Go here to download iCloud Drive for Windows 7 or later
- Sign in to iCloud.com
- Select Pages, Numbers, or Keynote
- You'll be asked if you want to upgrade to iCloud Drive
- Click Upgrade to iCloud Drive
How does iCloud Drive work?
To access iCloud Drive from a Mac, click on the Finder icon in your Mac dock, then click on iCloud Drive in the Favorites sidebar, and click on iCloud Drive. You can also find iCloud Drive from the Go menu of any Finder window.
iCloud Drive by default has folders for each of your Apple iWork apps (Keynote, Pages and Numbers), along with folders for apps like Preview, QuickTime Player, Script Editor, TextEdit, and Automator. But you can create any folder and keep it in iCloud Drive. You can also store whatever you want, so long as it isn't bigger than 15GB and doesn't exceed your iCloud storage allotment.
Think of iCloud Drive as any other remote volume, external hard disk, network drive, or storage service. You can create new folders, drag and drop stuff into your iCloud Drive from your Mac or elsewhere, and you have the option to save files and data from apps into your iCloud Drive. This isn't rocket science, folks. It's a hard drive in the sky that you can access from all your devices.
Note: You can create a folder in iCloud Drive just like you would in any other place on your Mac.
iPhone or iPad
To access iCloud Drive from an iPhone or iPad, first add the app to your home screen. Go to Settings, then tap on iCloud, and tap on iCloud Drive. From there, toggle on “Show on Home Screen”. Return to your home screen and find the iCloud Drive app. If you have trouble finding it, swipe down to bring up Spotlight Search and start typing "iCloud" until it appears.
We love that iCloud Drive for iOS is dead simple. There's nothing for you to do. Just make sure you're signed into your iCloud Drive account, and then any mobile apps that support iCloud Drive will give you the option to open and save files to it when you're using them. Not only can you choose to save files to iCloud Drive from apps, but you can also navigate through folders and choose where you'd like to save.
Also, because iCloud Drive is fully integrated with OS X (and work with Windows), you can drop any files you want into iCloud Drive from your computer, and they'll instantly sync and be available to any mobile app that supports them on your iPhone or iPad, and vice versa.
To access iCloud Drive from your PC with Windows 7 or later and iCloud for Windows, go to iCloud Drive in File Explorer.
Windows PC owners who want to use iCloud Drive have been able to do so for a while, while Mac users had to wait. On a new support page recently launched, Apple unveiled an updated Windows version of iCloud that lets Windows users download and install a pared-down iCloud Drive.
The Windows version of iCloud Drive lets you sync everything from mail and documents to contacts and calendars (between your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac, and Windows PC) You can also store any file in iCloud by dragging your documents and photos into iCloud Drive folder on your PC. The feature will even keep your IE, Firefox, or Google Chrome bookmarks on Windows in sync with your Safari bookmarks on an iPhone or iPad.
How to access iCloud Drive on the Web
To access iCloud Drive from the web, go to iCloud.com, then sign in, and select iCloud Drive. You will then be able to see all your folders, and you'll be able to create new folders, upload files, download files, delete files, share files. It's really just the web version of iCloud Drive on the Mac.
Want to know more?
Check out Apple’s iCloud Drive support hub for more information.