How to use iCloud for Windows

iPhone and iPad owners don’t have to own Macs, as it's possible to use iCloud on a Windows PC or laptop. Apple provides an app that allows your to automatically upload and store photos, keep documents safe online, and make sure that all contacts, calendars and bookmarks are synced across devices.

By Martyn Casserly Mar 15th 2018

iPhone and iPad owners don’t have to own Macs, as it's possible to use iCloud on a Windows PC or laptop. Apple provides an app that allows your to automatically upload and store photos, keep documents safe online, and make sure that all contacts, calendars and bookmarks are synced across devices.

For more information on setting up and using iCloud on your iOS device read our How to use iCloud guide.

How do I install iCloud on Windows?

If you’re running Windows 7, 8.1, or 10 then you’ll be able to go to the iCloud for Windows page and click on the Download button.

Once the iCloudsetup.exe file has been downloaded, double click on it to begin the installation. You’ll need to agree to the Terms & Conditions first, then click the Install button to get things underway.

When the process has completed, click the Finish button and you’ll then be asked to restart your PC. Click Yes and let your machine reboot.

After Windows launches you’ll be presented with a login window for iCloud. Enter your account details and click Sign In. If you have two-step verification setup on your iOS you’ll need to enter a six-digit number that will automatically be sent to your iPhone or iPad.

With all this done you should now see the main iCloud settings window. Here you can decide which features you want to sync on your PC.

The top one is iCloud Drive, which works in basically the same way as OneDrive, Google Drive, and all the other cloud storage offerings you may already be using, in that it creates a folder on your hard drive that syncs with an identical one in the cloud.

Also read: Best cloud storage services 2018

Photos has a few different settings that decide which content to sync. Click the Options button to the right of it and you’ll open up a secondary menu with all of the choices available.

Here you can determine where to store your content, and whether to use the My Photo Stream feature (which only holds the last 1000 photos – not videos – or images from the past 30 days) or the full iCloud Drive.

We’d recommend the latter as it allows you to see all your photos and videos on all your devices; so long as iCloud Library is enabled on them as well.

If you use Outlook 2007 or later then you’ll be able to sync Mail, Contacts, Calendars and Tasks by ticking the box next to it, and the options for Bookmarks mean you can save any settings from your iPhone or iPad in Internet Explorer, FireFox, Chrome, or all three.

When you’ve got everything the way you like it, click Apply. Once all of the changes have been completed by iCloud close the settings window and you should be good to go.

How to use iCloud for Windows

Open the Start Menu and you should find several new icons in the Recently added section at the top of the left column.

These will include iCloud Drive, iCloud Photos, Contacts, Notes, Mail, and any other folders that were already on your iCloud account.

iCloud Drive

Clicking on iCloud Drive will open a File Explorer window with all of the folders and files displayed. Now you can drag whatever items you want to store into this window and they will be synced to the iCloud servers where your other devices can find them.

You can pin the iCloud Drive folder to the Quick Access menu if you like or create a shortcut on the desktop just like any other folder. That way you’ll be able to access it quickly at any time.

iCloud Photos

Selecting iCloud Photos from the Start Menu will open up an empty window with three icons labelled Downloads, Uploads, and Shared. At the moment the first two will be empty. To change that click on the Download photos and videos option in the upper left corner.

This will open a menu where you can decide which content to sync to your PC. Obviously, you’ll need to take storage space into consideration, as well as whether you have a fast Wi-Fi connection to carry out the task, which could take quite a while.

The Upload photos and videos option allows you to choose content from your hard drive that you want to store on the iCloud servers.

Notes, Contacts, Calendar, Reminders, and others

Many of the other shortcuts found on the Start Menu, such as Notes, Contacts, Find my iPhone, Calendar, and Reminders, will launch Internet Explorer and take you to the iCloud webpage where those details are stored.

Opening Outlook will initiate it syncing contacts and the like, but this could take some time, so maybe do it when you’re not in a hurry. After the initial sync Outlook will be just as fast as normal, plus you’ll now have access to all of the extra data from iCloud.