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(Pocket-lint) - Apple launched iCloud support for iMessages, known as Messages in iCloud, in May 2018. Prior to the support, it wasn't possible to use iCloud for text messages.

Following the update however - which was iOS 11.4 - the Messages in iCloud feature enables you to treat your iMessages as you would treat photos. Messages sync across all devices when turned on so you can keep up to date with all your Messages, no matter what Apple device you are using.

Here's what you need to know about Messages in iCloud and how to switch the feature on or off.

What is Messages in iCloud?

It's worth noting that "Messages" also means iMessage, which is Apple's app that iOS device owners and Mac owners can use to send and receive texts, photos, videos, Animoji, Memoji and more. iCloud, meanwhile, is built into every Apple device so you can keep your photos, files, notes, and more, safe, up to date, and available wherever you are.

The Messages in iCloud feature syncs your messages across all your Apple devices. When turned on, your entire message history stays up to date across all of your Apple devices signed into your Apple ID. If you delete a message, attachment or conversation on one of your devices, it will delete from all of your devices.

Previous to the Messages in iCloud feature launching, any messages you sent or received on your iPhone would sync to your Mac and iPad. However, if you set up a new device, you would not see any of your old messages or conversations on that device. Of course, there were workarounds. You could restore your new iPhone from an old backup in order to carry over to your new iPhone for example, but it wasn't as streamlined as it is now.

Each of your devices also backed up its entire Message library, which wasted iCloud storage space. The Messages in iCloud feature sees messages stored in a central spot however, and sent to any device you connect to now or in the future. If you need to free up iCloud storage space, you can just turn the Messages in iCloud feature off.

How does Messages in iCloud work?

Messages in iCloud essentially boils down to making your messages sync better across all your devices (old or new), allowing you to keep on top of them from any device you are using.

If you choose to turn the Messages in iCloud feature on, all your messages will appear on a new device when you sign into it with the same Apple ID account and you get the same view everywhere you use iMessage. As mentioned, when you delete messages and conversations from one device, they are instantly removed from all your devices.

If you delete a message, you can't get it back. If you don't want to keep your conversations up to date across all your devices, you can turn the Messages in iCloud feature off. If you turn it off on iPhone or iPad, your message history is included in a separate iCloud backup.

How to turn on Messages in iCloud

To enable Message in iCloud, make sure you have set up iCloud and are signed in with the same Apple ID across all your devices. You will also beed to be using two-factor authentification with your Apple ID and have turned on iCloud Keychain.

iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users

To turn Messages in iCloud on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Tap on [your name] at the top
  3. Tap iCloud
  4. Turn on Messages

Mac users

To turn on Messages in iCloud on your Mac, follow these steps: 

  1. Open Messages on your Mac
  2. Select the Messages menu in the top left corner
  3. Tap on Preferences from the menu
  4. Click iMessage
  5. Select the box next to Enable Messages in iCloud

How to turn off Messages in iCloud

If you turn off Messages in iCloud on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, your message history will be included in a separate iCloud backup, as we mentioned above.

You can choose to turn Messages in iCloud off for just one device, or for all your devices. Any device where Messages in iCloud remains on will continue to store what you send and receive from that device in iCloud.

iPhone, iPad and iPod users

To turn Messages in iCloud off on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, follow the steps below:

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  1. Go to Settings 
  2. Tap on [your name] at the top
  3. Tap iCloud
  4. Toggle off Messages

Mac users

To turn Messages in iCloud off on your Mac, follow the steps below: 

  1. Open Messages on your Mac
  2. Select the Messages menu in the top left corner
  3. Tap on Preferences from the menu
  4. Click iMessage
  5. Unselect the box next to Enable Messages in iCloud
Writing by Maggie Tillman and Britta O'Boyle.