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“Take Control of iCloud” Answers Your iCloud Questions

We’re not proud of this, but of everything Apple has done over the last few years, nothing has caused us more confusion and consternation than iCloud. We’ve had long staff discussions about problems with multiple Apple IDs, old Apple IDs, how to switch while maintaining MobileMe calendar sharing with spouses whose Macs don’t run Lion, and more. We’ve even started drafting an article about common (because some of us had them!) misconceptions about what iCloud can and cannot do.

Throughout all this, Joe Kissell has been our ace in the hole, since although he can’t help with things that are Apple’s problem (like the inability to merge Apple IDs), he probably knows more about iCloud than anyone outside Apple, thanks to spending months with betas of Mac OS X 10.7.2 Lion and iOS 5 while writing his latest book, the 143-page “Take Control of iCloud.” In it, he explains how you get started with iCloud regardless of whether or not you used MobileMe, helps smooth the transition to iCloud for MobileMe users, and teaches you how to use iCloud’s features once you’re up and running.

Regardless of whether or not you used MobileMe before, you’ll learn:

  • Exactly what capabilities iCloud provides today and how they compare to previous online offerings from Apple.

  • How to prepare your computers and devices for iCloud. (You’ll need iOS 5 and Mac OS X 10.7.2 Lion, so you might want to read Joe’s “Take Control of Upgrading to Lion” as well.)

  • What to do if you have multiple Apple IDs, and how to associate your primary email address with the desired Apple ID.

For those upgrading from MobileMe, Joe explains:

  • Which MobileMe features will disappear instantly once you upgrade to iCloud, and which will stick around until June 2012, when Apple has announced it will shut off MobileMe.

  • The best ways to handle old data stored on MobileMe, such as photos in Gallery and files in iDisk, and what alternatives you can use to replace that functionality.

  • How to migrate MobileMe Family Pack accounts to separate iCloud accounts.

  • How you can replicate MobileMe-based group calendar sharing in iCloud, especially if not everyone in your group can upgrade to iCloud.

Either way, once you’ve made the move to iCloud, “Take Control of iCloud” covers iCloud’s core features, including:

  • iCloud Web site: Learn what you can and can’t do in iCloud’s Web-based interface for Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Find My iPhone, and iWork documents.

  • iTunes in the Cloud: Learn how to turn on automatic downloads so nearly anything you buy from Apple — music, apps, and ebooks, though not TV shows or movies — appears on all your devices. You’ll also learn how to re-download previously purchased items (including TV shows, for those with accounts in the U.S. iTunes Store).

  • iCloud Backup: Find out what data on your iOS device backs up, how to handle your backup, and — most importantly — how to restore your backup after a problem!

  • Photo Stream: Having all your recent photos appear on all your devices sounds great, but there are gotchas. Joe explains how the 1,000-photo and 30-day limits work, as well as what’s necessary to get a truly embarrassing photo out of your Photo Stream.

  • Documents in the Cloud: Start changing your habits and expectations as your documents begin living in the cloud and within apps instead of on a local disk. But beware, since Documents in the Cloud isn’t always seamless, with both manual effort required and data loss possible at the moment.

  • Calendar and Contacts: Joe provides directions for working with iCloud’s Calendar and Contacts Web applications, along with pointers on the relatively few ways they differ from the Mac’s iCal and Address Book and from iOS 5’s Calendar and Contacts apps. You’ll learn how to handle invitations to calendar events, plus get guidance on how reminders work within iCloud’s calendaring system.

  • Mail: As with Calendar and Contacts, Joe explains how to set up and use iCloud’s Web-based Mail app, which is similar to the iPad Mail app.

  • Find My…: Learn how to use Find My iPhone/iPad/iPod touch/Mac to locate a device that’s gone missing, and get an overview of how you can keep track of friends and family with the new Find My Friends iOS app.

  • Back to My Mac: With Back to My Mac, you can connect to your Mac at home or the office over the Internet and use both file sharing and screen sharing just as though you were on the same network. Joe explains the basics.

Take Control of iCloud” covers every platform that iCloud supports, which includes Mac OS X 10.7.2 Lion, iOS 5, Windows Vista and Windows 7, and even the second-generation Apple TV. If your computers and devices aren’t running — or can’t run — those operating systems, they won’t be able to participate in iCloud, but the ebook offers some workarounds.

We won’t pretend that “Take Control of iCloud” is comprehensive; iCloud is too new and changing too quickly for that, both in terms of support from developers and bug fixes from Apple. But this is the book that we at TidBITS are all reading right now to learn the best ways to transition from MobileMe and get our devices talking to iCloud.


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Comments about “Take Control of iCloud” Answers Your iCloud Questions
(Comments are closed.)

Joe Kissell may have answered this question for you: "What to do if you have multiple Apple IDs", but I don't see that addressed in the description of his book.
So far the only answer I've seen is "Apple is working on it."
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-10-23 17:20
Well, yes, the book is 143 pages, so obviously we're not going to answer everything in an announcement of it. :-)

The short answer is that you can have multiple Apple IDs, with one used for syncing and another for purchases. And you can tweak around what email address goes with which Apple ID. But you cannot merge Apple IDs or transfer purchases in anyway between them.
Tonya Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-10-24 17:55
Yes, Adam has it right. Much as Joe wanted to include directions for smoothly and wonderfully handling a multiple Apple ID scenario, all he could do was to describe the options and express the wish that Apple will offer better choices in the future.
Mandy SB   2011-12-06 10:12
So i have my itunes account for purchases, all good.
A mobile account which i have moved to icloud, that shows in the mail account list - - all good that address is working @me referenced as iCloud
I had to do that over WiFi as i dont have windows 7
Switched to the new iphone BUT on the iphone the icloud account (above the mail, contacts, calanders) is set as the purchases account not the iCloud account - can i change that on the iPhone itself? I have tried and failed, can anyone help?
Joe Kissell  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-12-07 08:07
Yeah, for whatever reason Apple doesn't let you change your iCloud credentials directly on an iOS device, so you have to delete the incorrect iCloud account on your iPhone and then set up an iCloud account with the correct Apple ID.

So, on the iPhone, go to Settings > iCloud, scroll down to the bottom, and tap Delete Account and confirm that you really mean to do it. (Remember, this just deletes the account from your iPhone; the account itself remains active and intact.) Then set up a new iCloud account on the phone with the Apple ID and password you want to use for mail, contacts, calendars, etc.
charlesdale  2011-10-25 02:17
Will the pictures in your Pictures folder be in iCloud? I am not talking about the pictures in iPhoto, I am talking about pictures I take by pressing Shift + Command + 4 from my desktop and images I get from the web and than dragging them into my Pictures folder in Finder. Also, will iCloud hold them for only 30 days? If so, what happens after 30 days? I was thinking that if I should buy a new iMac in the future, instead of transferring those pictures with the Migration Assistant when you first set up a new iMac, my pictures would be available from iCloud.
Michael E. Cohen  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-10-25 06:21
No, the pictures you drop in your Pictures folder on your Mac will not show up in the Photo Stream. iPhoto is the conduit between your Mac and the stream (well, not quite: you can also use Aperture as a conduit).

iPhoto does have a Photo Stream preference setting that you can enable to send all new photos that you add to iPhoto to the stream. iPhoto also has a setting to send new photos that appear in the stream to an event in your iPhoto library; photos sent from the stream to an iPhoto event stay in your iPhoto library even when they eventually leave the stream.
Norman Turrill  2011-10-25 04:41
You seem to acknowledge that iCloud is evolving as well as our understanding of it. Will new updated versions of this Take Control of iCloud ebook be issued and available to those who have already purchased a copy as we learn more about iCloud?
Indeed. This is more important than ever I think.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-10-25 13:02
Of course, as with all Take Control books! We've already released a free update to version 1.0.1 of the book (last night, after I finished publishing the TidBITS issue).

If you check the What's New tab on the book's page, you can see what we changed.
jimsanders1  2011-10-26 01:38
I love the Take Control books, and am looking forward to Joe's new book; but I really want right now is some overview of how to get the most out of staying with Snow Leopard as I gradually migrate our three Macs to Lion. Simply do not have the time to switch off Quicken and other old apps and dive into the deep end.

One more nit re Lion/iCloud -- As MobileMe goes away, is the MacOS Mail application still IMAP with all Mail in ~/Library/Mail/? Cannot verify whether I will have only web mail like the iOS gadgets. Why not a "MobileMe Goes Away" Take Control book? Or at least a good article on the subject?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-10-31 19:54
I understand the feeling, Jim, but the problem is the number of variables. For instance, if you have three Macs, you can move to Lion as quickly or slowly as you want, assuming you don't need iCloud. If you can stick with MobileMe entirely, you're OK until June 2012, at which point you'll be forced to make a move.

I'm in much the same boat actually - my main Mac still runs Snow Leopard, but needing to switch everything to iCloud (mostly calendar sharing) is going to force me to make the jump to Lion. Since I want to do a clean install and reinstall of apps, it's a lot more work than just a simple Lion upgrade.
I was recently in that boat, too, and am finally close to finishing up post-install tasks on my main Mac after a clean install of Lion. I always underestimate how much work that is. And this time it hasn't been as satisfying as after previous major OS updates, e.g. Finder is mysteriously misbehaving more on this Mac than on another that I'd used Migration Assistant with for pulling Users data from Snow Leopard. Still, decluttering during this process always feels good.

I haven't switched from MobileMe to iCloud yet. I've got a few Apple IDs, two which have been used for iTunes App Store purchases. Even if I use the newer (current) one for iCloud I'd still have to switch to the older (deprecated) one to update any apps associated with it, like with MobileMe. I made the unfortunate mistake of using the same Apple ID for App Store purchases as my active MM mail address. I've never liked publicly sharing what I prefer be treated as private mail addresses in order to use non-mail services, which Apple makes it tough to avoid. Thankfully, at least I could delegate a new, unique address from my main Apple ID (and MM mail address), intended only for iMessage usage.

So far I haven't seen any benefit to creating yet another Apple ID for iCloud (non-store usage). Seems that would just make things more fragmented and harder to manage, while not resolving public/private ID/address concerns.

jimsanders1  2011-10-29 00:53
Thanks, sjk -- I hear you.
See my reply to Adam above.
jimsanders1  2011-10-29 00:51
I recognize the truth of what you say, Adam; and I know that sooner or later, there will be a "Take Control of Mail /Safari/Managing/Whatever in Lion". Since Apple does not appear ready to prioritize traditional MacOS users, however, we rely on "youse guys" to find the bear-traps and let us know in one way or another. I can live without my iPad, but not without functional mainstream operations.

Dropbox has helped a lot already. No more data on iDisk at all, and now I can share at will, and sync with only minor effort.
LCPGUY  2011-11-01 10:07
Dropbox is the way to go IMHO. Straightforward, simple and it just works. iCloud is just way to complicated for me and it loused up my calendars by duplicating all entries, past, present and future.

iCloud = YUCK!
Russell Tolman  2011-11-01 15:09
I purchased Take control of Icloud. One question. I can't find. When I merge contacts; my address book shows Contact on my man and on the Cloud. Problem. All my contact are in the Cloud nothing shows on my mac. Now when I turn off Contacts in the Icloud pref. pane all are back on my computer. Question Should my address book on my mac show all contact in both cloud and Mac. I have chosen to merge each time I have tried this thanks.
Joe Kissell  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-11-01 15:39
I can't quite understand what you're seeing, but if your contacts are appearing on the iCloud Web site and you have them turned on in the iCloud pref pane on your Mac, they should certainly show up in Address Book on your Mac too. But you should not be seeing two sets of contacts—if you merge them, then you should just have one set that's in the cloud, and also cached locally.
Russell Tolman  2011-11-01 19:59
Thank you for your quick reply. I now understand how it should be. In the past it has not been as you have described. It appears to be correct now. Thanks again for all the e-book that you have written. I have several and look forward to your continued expertise.
victoria presnell  2011-11-05 23:01
Is it possible to delete iCloud...I do not like what it does, with my photos! I get one from my email or message and I can not delete it...I love my grand daughter but I have 6 of the same photo!
Joe Kissell  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-11-07 19:49
I can't tell for sure, but I gather that you're having trouble with iCloud's Photo Stream feature—specifically, the fact that you can't delete individual photos from your Photo Stream.

If I'm correct, then it's true, you can't delete individual photos from Photo Stream, although you can delete ALL the photos from your Photo Stream if you like, and you can prevent it from automatically importing new photos into iPhoto. Or, you can turn off Photo Stream entirely in the iCloud pane of System Preferences.

None of this requires disabling iCloud altogether. You can't "delete iCloud" anyway, because iCloud isn't a piece of software; it's a set of Internet services that's tied into Mac OS X and iOS.

I do have complete instructions for using Photo Stream in my book.
lemketron  2011-11-12 04:33
If I buy "Take Control of iCloud" on my Kindle, will I still get free updates? Or are those only available if I buy it from Thanks!
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-11-15 00:37
You can get free updates if you buy it from the Kindle store, but it will be a LOT harder to access them due to the Kindle's significant limitations (you'd basically need to load the book in a Kindle app, sign up for an account on our site, and then access your account from a Web browser on something other than the Kindle). I strongly recommend you buy from us for easy updates - the only downside is that you'll have to download the .mobi file manually and load it onto your Kindle yourself - but that's just a matter of a click or two and dragging into your Kindle when it's attached to your Mac via USB (we do it all the time for testing).
Mary Dwight  2011-11-23 01:36
When syncing my original iPad with my Mac, on the Summary page in iTunes, under Backup, I have the option to check either Backup to iCloud or Backup to this Computer. I don't understand the difference and am confused as to which one to chose. I don't want pictures and contacts duplicated on my devices. What should I do?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-11-23 13:51
The article linked below has more about that topic, but for the full story, you probably want to read Take Control of iCloud.