Wednesday, March 4, 2015

iCloud Essentials Part 1

Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Notes and Reminders.

iCloud has more than lived up to it's promise of being your personal contents "Master" storage location.  I've been using iCloud since it's public release in October of 2011, and only have the highest praise for it's many services.  This blog, iCloud Essentials Part 1, will cover Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Notes and Reminders.  It will be followed, in the coming weeks, by two additional blogs covering the other features.

To begin, let's start with why we need a "Master" storage option, and why that should be iCloud (for iPhone, iPad and Mac users especially, iCloud only recently opened up to non Apple users).  In the not to distant past, those of you with multiple devices probably used your computer as the "Master".  In order to get content from the computer to your device(s), you plugged the device in, and synced content through iTunes (and iPhoto).  A very manual, very un-sexy way to share content.  Fast forward to today, now we have a sleek, sexy way for all our iDevices to share content, iCloud.  

iCloud requires a user id and password.  In some cases, it will be the Apple ID you use for iTunes.  In some cases, it will be a separate account.  On your iPhone or iPad, to get to iCloud, you'll go into the Settings App, and click on the iCloud setting.  On your Mac, you'll go into System Preferences, and click the iCloud preference.  On a PC, you'll have to download the iCloud Control panel to access your iCloud content.

On your iPhone and iPad, the Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Notes and Reminder settings are quite simple.  You either switch them on (green) or leave them off (grey). 

On your Mac, it's just as simple.  You check the settings you wish to use, and leave the settings you are not using unchecked.

You'll notice in my settings, on my iPhone and Mac, I've got the Notes and Reminders settings turned off.  The reason for that is that I use other apps in their stead, so no sense having the settings turned on.

If it's not immediately obvious, you need to be signed into iCloud with the same account information across your devices.  That may seem like a no brainer, but believe me, it has happened on way more occasions than you might want to believe where people have been signed in under one account on one device, and another account on a second device.  Needless to say, those folks had an impossible time sharing their content!  By signing into iCloud with the same account information, across your devices, you have made sharing your content a breeze.  Example:  Enter a contact on your iPhone, and it will appear on all other iCloud devices.  Similarly, enter a calendar event on your Mac and it will be shared across your devices.  

I recently converted a paper using calendar client, who is also a PC, to the iCloud calendar (no names will be given, but you know who you are).  He's been hesitant to make the switch to a digital calendar, but when he saw how easy it was, he's slowly leaving that calendar book behind.

It's that easy.  Flip the switches, check the boxes and share your content seamlessly across your devices, through iCloud.  


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