Updated: Mar 14, 2021
If you have an iCloud account and have been using it for a year or more, the chances are pretty good that you’ve received an email alerting you that your iCloud storage is full. Chances are also good that you’ve puzzled over what to do next; sign up for a larger storage plan and give Apple a bigger chunk of money each month, or wade into the amorphous “cloud” and attempt to decrease your degree of entanglement by deleting photos and files.
Everyone’s needs are different, so you’re the only one who can decide what your best iCloud settings should be. Over the years I’ve noticed that a lot of people turn on iCloud services unwittingly or only with a vague understanding of what they are signing up for. This can lead to them having a difficult time disengaging from the paid storage levels of the service.
Often this happens to folks who have been slowly uploading photos from their devices into iCloud. Here’s a great article that gives a good overview of a fews different ways to download your photos from iCloud so you can have them on hand and store them locally.
The last section of the article deals with downloading your photos directly from the iCloud website. I highly encourage anyone who isn’t sure about what is specifically saved in their iCloud account to visit iCloud.com, sign in with their Apple ID, and check it out for themselves.
Once you're there you can look in the photos section and see all the photos that you have stored within iCloud. Similarly you will be able to see all the contacts, notes, calendars and files that are “in the cloud.” This can be really illuminating for folks because it takes the guess work out of trying to figure out if a particular item that you see on your Mac, iPhone or iPad is actually being stored in iCloud or only locally on your device.
If it shows up in the web browser on iCloud.com, then it’s “in the cloud.”
Another tip that might seem like a no-brainer, but is worth mentioning, is for those confused by their Macs, iPhones, or other Apple devices not sharing the same data in iCloud. Make sure all your devices are signed into the same Apple ID. I’ve seen a good number of people confounded by having unwittingly created more than one Apple ID and being signed into different ones on different devices. You can check which Apple ID you’re signed into on each of your devices by following these directions.
If all your devices are all on the same Apple ID, it’s worth a quick checkup to make sure that you’re not signed into more devices than you realize with that particular ID. You can secure your account and remotely sign out of the old devices you're no longer using by following these directions.
Many of the services included within iCloud are phenomenally useful and can be utilized with great aplomb while never nearing the free 5GB storage allotment that Apple offers to all users.
Apple’s free iCloud Keychain password manager rivals 1Password's $2.99/month features in security and usability, helping you create and store super-secure, complex passwords for websites and apps. It allows you to conveniently auto-fill those strong passwords into Safari login fields or iOS apps on any devices that are signed into your Apple ID and have the iCloud Keychain preference turned on.
For years I have massively increased the productivity and flexibility between my multiple Apple devices, utilizing iCloud keychain, calendars, contacts, notes and Safari preferences and have never once exceeded my 5GBs of free storage!
I can help you figure out the iCloud configuration that is just right for you and we can do it step by step so that you understand each part of the process. Also, you don't even have to get up off the couch or risk letting your coffee get cold, because we can to do it all over Zoom! Drop me a line to set something up and let's fine tune your iCloud!