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How to Access iCloud Files on iPhone, Mac, and Windows

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Founder & Editor-in-Chief

Herby has a healthy obsession with all things technology, especially smartphones. He loves to rip things apart to see how they work. He is responsible for the editorial direction, strategy, and growth of Gotechtor.

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iCloud simplifies saving and accessing your files across Apple and Windows devices in the cloud.

When you activate it, your files will be available everywhere—on all devices connected to the internet and signed in with the same Apple ID.

But what about if I want to see those photos, videos, and files? How do I access iCloud files? 

Accessing your iCloud files is similar to accessing iCloud Drive. In this guide, you’ll learn how to access iCloud files from any device.

How to Set Up iCloud on iPhone 

First and foremost, let’s set up iCloud on your Apple device. Before iOS 11, managing your files in iCloud was a real pain.

how to access icloud

Now, with the Files app, you can easily access your personal iCloud storage.

Here’s how to set iCloud on your iPhone:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap your name at the top.
  3. Then, select iCloud.

You’ll see how much storage you use for photos, messages, backups, and files and how much is still available.

Below, you should find a list of apps using iCloud. Go ahead and toggle on the ones you want to sync to iCloud. You will know the content is synced to iCloud when you see the green slider next to the apps.

Now that you’ve set iCloud, it’s time to access iCloud on your Apple devices.

How to Access iCloud Files on iPhone

Go to your iPhone home screen and look for the Files app, assuming your iPhone is updated to iOS 11 or later.

how to access icloud

If not, go ahead and update it. To do so, tap Settings, then select General and Software Update. It will notify you if there are any updates available to download.

If you open Files, you’ll see iCloud Drive and any other cloud storage services you use, such as Dropbox, OneDrive, Box, or Google Drive.

Select iCloud Drive to view your iCloud Drive files and folders.

iCloud Drive folder on iPhone

You can organize all your files in one spot for easy access. When you upload files on any iCloud-enabled device, they’ll automatically be accessible on all your devices. It’s that simple!

How to Set Up iCloud on Mac

You likely have iCloud already set up on your Mac. When you first set up your Mac or update its operating system, you’ll get a prompt asking if you want to use iCloud to save your data.

If you chose “Yes” during setup, you’re good to go. If you picked “No,” here’s what to do.

  • Turn on your Mac and click on the Apple icon at the upper left corner of the screen.
  • Then click System Settings.
  • Once there, click on iCloud and enter your Apple ID and password to sign in.
  • You’ll see a list of iCloud services. Check the box next to those you want to use.
how to access icloud

How to Access iCloud on Mac

To access iCloud on a Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Apple logo at the top left corner of the screen.
  2. From the dropdown menu, click System Settings.
  3. Click your name on the left sidebar.
  4. Then, select iCloud from the right panel.

You’ll see a multi-colored horizontal bar that depicts your storage and shows how much of each kind of item there is stored in iCloud according to the following categories:

  • Photos and Videos (Yellow)
  • Messages (Green)
  • Backups (Purple)
  • Documents (Orange)
  • Mail (Blue)
  • Available Space (Gray)

Beside the readout, there’s a “Manage…” button. Tap this button to access a more detailed view of your storage, which consists of a menu of usage and apps.

Alternatively, you can go to iCloud’s official website. Once you’re there, you’ll be asked to sign in.

After you’ve signed in with your Apple ID, you’ll see a list of all Apple services with data synced to iCloud.

how to access icloud

Scroll down and click “Your Storage” to see a breakdown of your storage.

From there, you’ll also have the option to manage your iCloud storage by sending a notification to your Apple devices.

iCloud storage breakdown

How to Access iCloud from a Windows Computer

With your Apple ID, you can use iCloud with Windows, which means you can access all synced data to your iCloud account from your PC at your convenience.

iCloud for Windows
Courtesy of Apple

To access iCloud from your Windows computer, download iCloud for Windows from the Microsoft Store. But before you do that, ensure you have set up iCloud on all your Apple devices.

After installing iCloud for Windows, log in with your Apple ID and password.

You’ll see the following options within iCloud for Windows:

  • iCloud Drive
  • Photos
  • Mail, Contacts, and Calendars
  • Bookmarks
  • Passwords

Then, select all the features and content you want to sync automatically across your devices. Click Apply to finish.

At the bottom, you’ll see a breakdown of your storage usage similar to what you normally see on Apple devices.

You might wonder why I should go through all this instead of using iCloud on a web browser. Well, you can do that, and it’s pretty easy, but there’s a little trick to it.

Your data on your Windows computer won’t be accessible because it won’t sync. This includes your photos, documents, and bookmarks.

Use the iCloud for Windows app to ensure that all your photos, documents, and bookmarks automatically update on your Windows PC and Apple devices.

If you’re using a shared or public computer, it makes sense to use a web browser to access your iCloud data on a Windows computer.

Founder & Editor-in-Chief

Herby has a healthy obsession with all things technology, especially smartphones. He loves to rip things apart to see how they work. He is responsible for the editorial direction, strategy, and growth of Gotechtor.

Herby Jasmin

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