How to enable and disable iCloud Private Relay in iOS 15 and macOS Monterey

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How to enable iCloud Private Relay
Keep your Safari browsing habits a secret.
Image: Apple/Cult of Mac

iCloud Private Relay is a new privacy feature baked into iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and macOS Monterey that’s designed to hide your browsing habits inside Safari. Here’s how you can enable or disable it on iPhone, iPad and Mac.

Although Apple won’t describe iCloud Private Relay as a VPN — because it isn’t — it does have some similarities. The feature masks your real IP address so that no one can see your exact location or browsing activity.

Private Relay does this by routing your traffic through two relays, much like a VPN. The big difference between this and a real VPN is that it only works inside Safari, and it allows others to see you’re using a “proxy server.”

Nevertheless, for most iPhone, iPad and Mac users, iCloud Private Relay — included in iCloud+ — is more than enough to keep your browsing habits under wraps. So, here’s how to use it.

How to enable or disable iCloud Private Relay

To enable iCloud Private Relay, you’ll first need to upgrade to a premium iCloud+ subscription. If you’re paying for extra iCloud storage right now, you already have one. If not, prices start at just $0.99 a month.

Here’s how to sign up for iCloud+ on iPhone and iPad:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap your name to open Apple ID settings.
  3. Tap iCloud, then tap Private Relay.
  4. Select Subscribe to iCloud+ to sign up for the most affordable plan, which includes 50GB of iCloud storage. To subscribe to another plan, tap See Other Plans.
  5. Tap Subscribe, then authorize with Face ID, Touch ID, or your Apple ID password.
How to enable iCloud Private Relay
Inside the Settings app, tap your name, then iCloud.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Once you have upgraded your subscription, you can return to the iCloud settings menu and enable Private Relay.

And here’s how to subscribe to iCloud+ on Mac:

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click Apple ID.
  3. Alongside Private Relay, click the Upgrade button.
  4. Click Choose a Plan, select the plan you want, then click Next. Follow the onscreen instructions to complete the subscription.
How to enable iCloud Private Relay
Inside System Preferences, click Apple ID.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Now return to the Apple ID menu inside System Preferences to enable Private Relay for your Mac.

To disable iCloud Private Relay, simply follow the same process, but deactivate the feature when you get to step three.

Customizing Private Relay

Unlike a traditional VPN, iCloud Private Relay doesn’t give you many options, such as allowing you to choose a specific relay location. However, you can ask it to maintain your general location or your country and time zone.

To do this, select IP Address Location after enabling Private Relay.

Beware the bugs

Note that there’s currently a bug that prevents iCloud Private Relay from being activated inside Apple’s newest iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and macOS Monterey betas for some users. Even if you’re already paying for iCloud+, you may be prompted to upgrade before you can enable the feature.

Sadly, it seems there is currently no workaround for this glitch. If you attempt to subscribe again, you’ll simply get an error that says the process could not be completed. You can try restarting your device, but if that doesn’t work, you’ll need to wait for bug fixes in a future beta release.