Use the all-new iCloud online web app | Cult of Mac

Use the all-new iCloud online web app

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Find your photos and files online.
All of your photos and files are in the cloud anyway — with iCloud.com, you can access them from any computer.
Image: Matthew Bowden/Wikimedia Commons, D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

You can use iCloud online to access all of your online Apple services from any computer, tablet or phone. This includes Find My, Mail, Photos, Files, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Notes, Calendar and Reminders. It’s really convenient if you need to find a lost device, print a file or download a picture from a different computer you’re not signed into.

The site has just been redesigned to make it easier to use than ever before. Let me show you how it works.

How to use the new icloud.com online

Signing into iCloud.com on Windows
You can even access your iCloud stuff from lesser operating systems like Windows.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

You can go to icloud.com from any web browser on a PC, Mac, iPhone or iPad. Click Sign In and enter your Apple ID and password.

Right away, you’ll see a widget-style dashboard with quick access to some important apps. You’ll see a preview of your photo library, the top emails in your inbox, files saved in iCloud Drive, recent notes, and the full list of apps you can launch in your browser.

If you scroll down, you can see how much storage you pay for, how much you’re using and where you can recover things you may have accidentally deleted.

Customizing iCloud.com layout
If you use the site often, you can customize the widgets.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Click Customize Home Page to change which widgets you see. You can click the  to remove a tile. Click Add Tile to add a widget for an app you might use often.

You can rearrange them while you’re at it. If you want to swap one tile out for another but leave everything else in its place, click Edit.

Here’s a quick rundown of the apps on iCloud.com.

Find My

Find My in iCloud
Find My is a great way to find your phone if it gets lost.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Find My is perhaps the most useful feature not enough people know about, so I’m putting it first. If you only have one Apple device in your life, like your iPhone, how do you find it if it gets lost?

Sign into your PC (or really anyone’s PC, it doesn’t matter) and use Find My from the website. It’ll tell you where your phone is — even if your phone runs out of battery, for a little while, at least.

If you think it’s in the house but you can’t find it, click Play Sound to make a siren play out of the speaker, even if it’s on silent.

If it’s lost or stolen, click Lost Mode. That will let you write a message on the lock screen with information on how to contact you. Your phone will be locked and mute all notifications except for phone calls. If this has happened to you, read more information on Apple Support.

If you think your phone is unrecoverable or it has fallen into the wrong hands, you can click Erase iPhone to remotely delete all of your personal information from the device. You can always restore a new phone or get your information back from an iCloud Backup.

Double check you have that turned on in Settings > Your Name > iCloud > iCloud Backup.

Photos

Photos in iCloud
You can organize your photos into albums using the website, like I have for my album of partially-lit store signs. And you can even view the detailed photo metadata, too.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Photos is a great way to access your photo library from another computer. You can upload pictures to sync to your devices or download pictures you need in their full quality.

The dropdown menu at the top will let you switch between your personal or shared library, if you have that set up. You can mark photos or videos as favorites to appear in the special Favorites album. Click and drag a photo (or a selection of photos) to organize them into albums.

When viewing a photo, click the i to see detailed information like the location, date and camera lens used for the shot.

There are a few missing features: you can’t see or tag face names. There’s no search bar to find photos by date, location or subject. Smart albums aren’t shown among the rest of your albums, either — that remains a Mac exclusive.

Pages, Numbers and Keynote

Pages in iCloud
Editing a document in Pages online.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Pages, Numbers and Keynote are all excellent and fully featured web app counterparts to their desktop and mobile apps. Using it can be a little awkward compared to the Mac app, but most of the features are there.

Keynote in iCloud.com
Create your Steve Jobs-esque presentations in Keynote.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

This is in part because around ten years ago, in order to make the Mac, iOS and web apps fully cross-compatible, Apple removed many of the advanced features of the time. Apple nerfed the Mac app in order to deliver what was technically a fully-featured web app, which is an unconventional way to tackle the problem, but it’s what happened.

Numbers in iCloud.com
Numbers is a little awkward on the web, but it gets the number crunching done all the same.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

The user interface is a near-perfect replica of the interface on the Mac app, so it’ll look very familiar if you’ve ever used it before. Certain actions like entering formulas in Numbers or inserting and dragging around images in Keynote can be a little awkward, but I’d take this user experience over Google Slides any day.

Files

iCloud Drive in iCloud.com
As you can see, I mostly use iCloud Drive for recipes and sheet music.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Files, as well, is a bit rudimentary compared to Google Drive. You can see everything you have stored in iCloud, but you’re fixed in Icon view. You can’t switch to List or Column view.

Click the Upload cloud icon to add files from your computer or the Download cloud icon to save files. The email icon will automatically compose a new email with the selected file as an attachment in a new window.

Click Sort by Name to switch how files are sorted. You can sort by file type, size or date. You can’t reverse the sort. Name is always sorted ascending; Size and Date are always sorted descending.

Click the i when you have a file selected to rename it and see details like its file type and last modified date. Double-clicking any file will open it in a new tab.

Notes

Notes in iCloud.com
Spoilers for my upcoming articles.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Notes online is a useful web app. You can create and edit notes with all the basic formatting options. If you take notes on an iPad and need access from a PC, for school or work, this is a convenient way to see, edit or contribute to them on a bigger screen.

It’s missing some of the modern features — inline images and Apple Pencil sketches might not load properly; smart folders and tags are nowhere to be found.

Mail

Reading and composing mail on iCloud.com
iCloud Mail is good for the basics of reading and composing. In other words, it’s not missing much from Mail.app.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Mail will let you see the inbox of your @icloud.com email address, but nothing else.

It’s light on features compared to the Gmail web app. It just has the basics: moving, archiving, deleting and flagging emails; replying and composing from any of your iCloud email addresses; downloading attachments. It all syncs with Mail on all of your other devices.

From any of these apps, click iCloud in the top left corner to go back to the home screen or click the app grid in the top right to switch to a different app.

Contacts

Contacts in iCloud.com
There’s not much to the Contacts app, but if you need a phone number or email address, it’ll get it for you.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Contacts is an extremely basic web app. It’s ripe for a refresh.

It doesn’t sync the settings from your iPhone if you sort your contacts by first name or last name. It has all your contacts, but it doesn’t let you see your contact folders.

You can pick a contact from the list; click + to add a new contact; click Edit to make changes. Click the settings gear to change some basic preferences and print, delete, export or import a contact.

Calendar

Calendar in iCloud.com
Calendar on iCloud is one of the more feature-complete web apps compared to the Mac app.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

The tab bar at the bottom switches between single day, week and month view (no year view). The calendar icon to its left will let you turn on or off your calendars; the arrow to the right (that looks like a download icon) will show you any pending invitations.

You can create an event just by double-clicking on the calendar. You have advanced options for setting recurring schedules, reminders, URLs and notes. You can enter a location, but unfortunately it doesn’t look up or autocomplete contacts, businesses and locations from Apple Maps like the iPhone and Mac apps.

Click the settings gear and click Preferences for a fully featured panel of settings. You can change the day of the week to start on, how many hours in the day should be visible at once, date formatting, the default calendar, time zone settings and more.

Reminders

Reminders in iCloud.com
It’s like they haven’t made any updates to Reminders in iCloud since it only had three features in iOS 7.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Reminders is also a bare-bones implementation of its native app counterpart. You can see lists, check off items, add items and show completed items. But there’s no implementation of the i menu to set details on a task: you can’t add images or URLs to your reminders, set repeating tasks nor any of the advanced features.

And it goes without saying that smart lists and tags are snubbed, too.

A modest improvement

The updates to iCloud.com are a step in the right direction, but clearly it needs some more attention. The new landing page is great, but some of the web apps haven’t been updated in a while.

Their priorities are in the right place, though. Not a lot of people are signing into iCloud.com to check their Calendar appointments or their Reminders list, anyways.

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