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How Does It Work?

Of course, all this automatic storage and synchronization doesn’t just happen by magic. There are a couple of things you have to put in place to make all this work. After that, though, everything else is pretty much magic. First and foremost, you must have iCloud enabled on your devices. Second, your devices need to have a WiFi Internet connection to be able to send data to iCloud and synchronize the data with your other devices.

Turning On iCloud

When you turn on a new Mac for the first time, the Setup Assistant guides you through a short process of setting up your computer. At that time, it requests your Apple ID so it can turn on iCloud for you. If you did not turn on iCloud during setup, you can turn it on at any time by following these steps:

  1. Click the System Preferences icon in the Dock or open Launchpad and click the icon there.
  2. Click iCloud. The window shown in Figure 5.1 opens.
    Figure 5.1

    Figure 5.1 iCloud requires an Apple ID.

  3. If you have an Apple ID, enter it and your password; then click Sign In.
  4. Enter an administrative name and password in the dialog box (shown in Figure 5.2) and click Modify Configuration. The two options in the iCloud window are selected for you by default.
    Figure 5.2

    Figure 5.2 You see this dialog box only when you turn on iCloud for the first time or if you have signed out of iCloud and you want to turn it on again.

  5. Click Next. All services that can be turned on are enabled.
  6. Close the System Preferences window.

At this point, you have turned on iCloud, but you still need to take some additional steps to be able to synchronize your iTunes purchases. Follow these steps to turn on iTunes synchronization:

  1. Launch iTunes by clicking its icon on the Dock or in the Launchpad.
  2. Click iTunes (in the menu bar), Preferences, Store. The dialog box shown in Figure 5.3 opens.

    Figure 5.3

    Figure 5.3. The Automatic Downloads option is for all subsequent downloads and does not download previous purchases.

  3. Click each of the options for Automatic Downloads that you want to keep synchronized (Music, Apps, and Books). Selecting any of these options means that iTunes will download all files to all devices. This option does not, however, take care of previously purchased files. To download these files, sign into the iTunes store and click the link in the sidebar for Purchases. There you can see everything you’ve purchased before and decide which ones you want to download to the current computer.

  4. Click OK.

Accessing iCloud Data Without Your Apple Devices

Even if you don’t have access to your Mac, your iPhone, your iPad, or your iPod touch, if you can get on the Internet, you can access your information. Just go to icloud.com and log in to your account. Figure 5.4 shows my iCloud account.

Figure 5.4

Figure 5.4. The Find My iPhone icon on the iCloud home page gives you access to finding all your devices, not just an iPhone.

From your iCloud account online, you can use any of the applications you are synchronizing. You can read and send email, look up or edit a contact, and so on. Additionally, if one of your devices is lost or stolen, you can find out where it is by clicking the Find My iPhone icon on the home screen. (Even if you don’t have an iPhone, this is the icon you see when you want to find one of your devices.)

iCloud uses GPS to locate your device on a map for you. If the map shows your current location, your device is probably just covered up by something. If that’s the case, you can make the device play a sound so you can find it. Or if the location is somewhere else, and it is a location you recognize and trust, you might want to send a message to your device for whoever finds it. If you feel the location of your device is not secure, you can lock the device remotely, or, in dire circumstances, you can even wipe the device remotely. Of course, your device must be turned on and connected to a WiFi source for this to work.

Stopping iCloud Services

If you want to stop synchronizing a particular application, you can open the iCloud System Preferences window and uncheck the application. When you do that, the data for that application will be deleted from your Mac.

If you want to stop using iCloud on your Mac completely, you can open the iCloud System Preferences window and click Sign Out. This deletes all iCloud data on your Mac but doesn’t delete the data on the iCloud.

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