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Survive with an iPhone and a Windows computer



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Just because you're using Windows does not mean that you can not use iCloud.


Sarah Tew / CNET

Using a iPhone or iPad ($ 249 at Walmart) with a Windows PC as the main computer has always been a difficult task. You must accept that you will not be able to Apple services such as iMessage and will not be able to sync photos via AirDrop easily between your computer and the iPhone. Paying for additional iCloud storage and relying on having your files synced on multiple devices makes it increasingly difficult. Apple has always offered an iCloud app that lets you access photos, iCloud Drive files, and other information on Windows. It worked, but it felt slow and somewhat limited.

Last week Apple released a new version of iCloud for Windows in the Microsoft Store. The same Files on Demand feature that Microsoft uses for OneDrive improves iCloud file synchronization. The new app update makes it easy to keep all your files in sync, and saves the photos you take on your iPhone to your Windows PC for easier editing and sharing. Unfortunately you still do not get an iMessage or AirDrop.

The good news is that installing, setting up, and using iCloud for Windows takes only minutes. Once that's done, you can decide which files and folders you save locally on your PC and sync in real time with the rest of Apple's devices. You can also sync bookmarks and access your iCloud emails, contacts, and calendars through Outlook.

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Make sure Windows is up-to-date

Before you set up iCloud on your PC, make sure your Windows computer is up-to-date. Apple recommends using Windows 10 version 1903 with the new iCloud App for best performance.

You can search for and install any pending updates by clicking the Windows icon, then clicking the Gear Settings, and clicking Update & Security . Click Check for updates and follow the instructions.

After you install pending updates, revisit the Update & Security section to check for more updates. Sometimes you have to install two or three rounds of updates.

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The iCloud app provides the core features you need to access on a Windows PC outside of iMessage.


Screenshot by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Installing and Setting Up iCloud

Download the iCloud app from the Microsoft Store while your PC is up to date. After installing the app, you must sign in to the same iCloud account that you use on all Apple devices.

After logging in, a screen similar to the one shown above will be displayed. Select what you want to sync with your PC, and then click Apply .

If you choose to set up iCloud mail, contacts, and calendars in Outlook, clicking Apply will take a few minutes to complete the setup process. Please complete the process before making any further changes to the iCloud App settings.

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It's pretty easy to manage what's stored on your PC and what's left in iCloud.


Screenshot by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Managing your iCloud files and folders

Depending on how many files and folders you have stored in iCloud Drive, the first synchronization of your information takes a while.

To see all the contents of your iCloud Drive, open File Explorer and select iCloud Drive from the shortcut menu on the left. Next to each file and folder, a status icon appears. Two arrows forming a circle indicate that your computer is downloading the file or folder:

  • A cloud icon means that a particular item is stored in the cloud and you have access to it as long as you use the connected are internet.
  • A green check mark indicates that the item has been downloaded to your PC and is currently syncing with iCloud Drive.

As far as I know, there is no option to select what was downloaded and saved on your PC PC before the first sync. If you do not want your entire iCloud drive downloaded to your PC, you'll need to change the sync status for each folder individually. To do this, right-click a folder that is being synchronized and select Free up space . If a particular folder is not set up to download to your PC, you can also right-click on the folder and select Always keep on this unit .

Both settings are not limited to the top-level folder only. So you can specify that a folder is always available on your PC. However, select the subfolders or files that you do not want to download (or vice versa).

To check the current status of uploads or downloads running in the background, click the iCloud icon in the system tray (see below).

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View your iCloud Photos and iCloud Drive Sync status with one click. [19659003] Screenshot of Jason Cipriani / CNET

Sync your iCloud photos too

On a Mac, all your photos and videos are automatically synced through the Photo app on your iOS device and your computer. Windows users do not have an Apple Photos app. Instead, you can sync photos and videos stored in folders on your computer.

When you enable iCloud Photos sync, the iCloud app creates an iCloud Photos folder on your computer's hard drive. This folder contains a download folder and an upload folder. The Download folder downloads only new pictures or videos you've taken on your iPhone, not the entire current library.

Remember to save any photos or videos in your iCloud account in the Uploads folder. Then you should do a relatively quick sync between your PC and your iPhone or iPad.

As with iCloud Drive Sync, you can monitor the status of your iCloud Photos library by clicking the iCloud icon in the system tray.

The rest of the iCloud app is straightforward. Bookmarks sync your iCloud bookmarks from (from Safari) to the default browser on your PC. If you change your default browser, you should open the iCloud settings and click the Options button next to Bookmarks and select your new default browser.

There are no additional settings or options for the Mail, Contacts, Calendar, and Tasks list. If you've enabled it, the iCloud app will set up all your personal information and sync it with Outlook. Of course, the headline feature here is the new content sync feature you've stored on your iCloud drive.

$ 999

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