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With the arrival of iOS 8 What's New In iOS 8? What's New In iOS 8? After last year's big iOS 7 redesign, you'd expect a muted iOS 8 announcement at this year's Worldwide Developer Conference – but you'd be wrong. Read More and OS X Yosemite, Apple transformed iCloud into a fully-fledged cloud storage solution What Is iCloud Drive & How Does It Work? What Is iCloud Drive & How Does It Work? If you have updated your iPhone or iPad to iOS 8, and your Mac to OS X Yosemite, then you're ready for Apple's iCloud Drive. But what is it, and why should use it? Read More . Apps can already use iCloud to store and share data, and now Apple allows you to store whatever you like in a folder that syncs across devices.

The only problem is that your iPhone doesn’t come with an iCloud Drive app, and other platforms have seemingly no way of accessing iCloud Drive altogether. Today we’ll be exploring how to get file system access to iCloud Drive, regardless of your device or operating system.

Upgrading to iCloud Drive

In order to use iCloud Drive, you’ll need to first upgrade to it — something you may have already done when you updated your iPhone software. To do this on your iPhone or iPad, head to Settings > iCloud > iCloud Drive and look for an option that says Upgrade to iCloud Drive.

On a Mac you can do this by going to System Preferences > iCloud > iCloud Drive. On a Windows PC you should download iCloud for Windows, sign in, select iCloud Drive and you should be prompted to upgrade.

It’s also possible to do this on the web if you don’t have access to the other methods. Just head to iCloud.com and launch Pages — if you need to upgrade, you will be prompted to do so (otherwise you’re good to go).

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iCloud Drive provides a place to store any file you like, within the limits of your available iCloud storage. MP3s, movie files, PDFs — they’re all supported, and you can create folders in order to organise your drive as you would any other volume.

Note: You will need to set up iCloud Drive on each of your devices, and once you’ve upgraded, there’s no downgrading.

iPhone & iPad Access

Unfortunately, Apple didn’t provide file system access to iCloud Drive from iOS devices, and though your other apps have access to iCloud Drive, there’s no method of accessing the folder on iOS without a third-party app.

Apple’s own Pages, Numbers, and Keynote apps can access iCloud Drive and allow you to create new documents within the cloud that sync automatically with other devices. These apps do not provide access to the iCloud Drive filesystem, so I’d recommend a third-party document manager app like Documents 5 (free) to get around this.

Once downloaded, you can access your entire iCloud Drive by tapping on the iCloud tab followed by iCloud Drive in the top-left corner. Tap a file to access it, and Documents 5 will read it if it’s supported. Then hit the Share button and choose Open In… to import the file into another application.

Different apps will support different files. Apple’s Pages also allows you to browse your iCloud Drive. As more apps are released and updated to take advantage of it, more apps will have direct access — just like the recently released Ulysses for iPad Ulysses, Pages & Write: 3 Very Different Writing Tools for iPad Ulysses, Pages & Write: 3 Very Different Writing Tools for iPad We're no strangers to the Mac versions of Pages and Ulysses or the earlier version of Write for iOS, but which is of these apps is best for writing on your iPad? Read More .

Got Weird Filetypes?

Unfortunately, if Documents 5 doesn’t support the file, there’s no way of sending it to another application (fingers crossed this changes soon). In order to have access to unsupported files, you’ll need to open your wallet and purchase Panic’s Transmit for iOS ($10 launch price), a file-transfer toolbox that allows you to access iCloud Drive, FTP, Amazon Web Storage, and more from your iPad.

Using Transmit you can take advantage of the revised app permissions that came with iOS 8 and use the Share menu to access remote and local locations within other supported iOS 8 apps. The team first encountered some resistance from Apple over this one, as it also allows you to send files back to iCloud — read about it on the Panic blog.

iCloud Drive on OS X Yosemite

iCloud Drive is built into OS X Yosemite and is always accessible via Finder. Launch a new Finder window and click on iCloud Drive on the left-hand side. You can drag and drop files here and create new folders, and OS X will update you on the progress of files yet to sync underneath the filename.

One thing I noticed about accessing iCloud Drive within Yosemite is that if an application creates a folder and it is empty, it will not show up on your Mac like it will your iOS device.

Windows & iCloud

Ever since iOS 5, Apple has produced Windows software that allows users to download photos and administer various other parts of iCloud from their PCs running Windows 7 or greater. Now this same application is used to provide compatibility with iCloud Drive, straight from Windows Explorer.

Download iCloud for Windows, install it, and sign in with your Apple ID. The installer will place a folder within your User folder into which you can drag any files (and organize by folder) in order to share with other devices.

Browser Access to iCloud Drive

You may be running an older version of OS X that doesn’t come with built-in iCloud support, or if you’re using Windows XP or Vista, you won’t be able to use iCloud for Windows. Linux users with iPhones or iPads Can You Get An iOS 7 Device To Work Well With Linux? Can You Get An iOS 7 Device To Work Well With Linux? Having issues with connecting your iOS device to your Linux machine? Here's what you can do to get it working right. Read More may also want access to iCloud Drive. Fortunately, these platforms can still use the service via a Web browser.

Simply login to iCloud.com and click on iCloud Drive. You can drag and drop to rearrange files, create folders, and upload items by dragging them into the browser window (or clicking the “up arrow in cloud” button at the top of the screen).

It’s also possible to launch any text documents, spreadsheets, or presentations within the iWork for iCloud suite, simply by clicking on them. You can make changes to supported documents within your browser, without the need for dedicated software.

No Android Support?

As you have probably noticed, not every platform is supported by Apple — in particular, Android. It’s not clear whether or not iCloud.com access is possible from any Android device, but in all my tests (including tablet-sized devices courtesy of Manymo), iCloud simply said that the browser is not compatible.

This isn’t such a big issue for Android users, though, since there are some far more generous storage services than iCloud out there. Check out Dropbox, OneDrive or BitTorrent Sync for truly cross-platform alternatives.

Not Elegant, But Functional

iCloud Drive in its current state is a bit confused. It’s great to have filesystem access to iCloud from Mac OS X and in-browser, but the lack of an iCloud Drive app for mobile devices (Finder for iOS, anyone?) feels like a hurdle that prevents easy access to your data.

For documents, pictures, and the odd sound or video file, it works like a treat. For more obscure files (like password databases), you may need to shell out for an app like Transmit for them to be useful — and at that stage, you might want to think about using something like Dropbox or Google Drive instead The Cloud Storage Showdown - Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive & More The Cloud Storage Showdown - Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive & More The cloud storage scene has heated up recently, with a long-awaited entry by Google and a revamped SkyDrive from Microsoft. Dropbox has gone unchallenged by the major players for a long time, but that’s changed... Read More .

What do you use iCloud Drive for? Or do you use it at all? Let us know in the comments!

  1. karen kellock
    November 24, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    I have four imacs and it DOESN'T SYNC

    folders with nothing in them, etc

    not at ALL reliable--i always end up carrying an ext hard drive around with me

    VERY INCONVENIENT---can anyone tell me of a reliable cloud for four pcs?

  2. Sarijuana
    June 9, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    Thanks for this. Before this app I could access the usual icloud stuff, but not my text documents. Now I can. AWESOME!

  3. lola
    March 10, 2016 at 11:32 pm

    You can easily access icloud from an Android device.
    I use chrome as my default browser on my Android tablet. If I need to access my icloud I simply go to icloud.com then once the page has loaded I select request desktop website in the browser settings and you can log into icloud.

    • Bev
      May 22, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      Android 6/Motorola Moto G2: "Your browser is not supported. To use iCloud, we recomend using the latest version of Safari, Firefox, Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer."

      I have the latest android versions of Chrome and Firefox. Same message from linux versions of both.

      All I want to do is see my daughter's 25K travel pictures that she took with her iPhone and uploaded.

      • Tim Brookes
        May 23, 2016 at 4:32 am

        Hey Bev,

        That's odd, you should be able to access iCloud via a desktop version of Linux as you stated. You could always try using a User Agent spoofer in Firefox to imitate one of the explicitly supported browsers?

        Here's an extension that should work: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/user-agent-switcher/

        Let us know how it goes.

        Tim

        • Bev
          May 23, 2016 at 3:24 pm

          I used to have that, but it stopped working a long time ago. No popup. I re-enabled it, but same problem -- no popup, no way to access it. I just emailed the author. There are a lot of extensions that are supposed to supply toolbar popups that just DON'T, and I guess this is one of them. I can't find it in the 'tools' or any other menu.

        • Bev
          May 24, 2016 at 10:11 pm

          OK, I had to download BOTH versions of UAS. One was dated 2011 so I thought it was obsolete, but it wasn't. No idea why the date was wrong. Anyway, now I have the popup BUT apple wasn't fooled.

        • Tim Brookes
          May 25, 2016 at 1:41 am

          So you've tried multiple user agents? Internet Explorer, Safari etc?

          Are you using some sort of restricted version of Firefox? Are you running Ghostery or NoScript? Have you disabled JavaScript? Enabled cookies?

          I've never encountered iCloud not working from a browser before, I've seen it work on Windows XP and Ubuntu so I'm pretty sure the browser must be the issue. If you're running a bunch of extensions, I'd recommend disabling them and testing again.

          Tim

    • Mike
      July 6, 2016 at 3:37 am

      Sudja pula

    • Mike
      July 6, 2016 at 3:38 am

      Sudja pula Vanessa

  4. CraigJoubert00
    October 22, 2015 at 10:17 am

    Good share.

  5. Budd Smithy
    September 5, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    I purchased a Mac computer, thinking it would be more compatible with my iPhone. Wrong. It's no more compatible and linked than my windows pc was. I need a 3rd party app to access iCloud drive on my iPhone? Incredible.

    • Mihir Patkar
      September 6, 2015 at 6:00 am

      Huh? You don't need a third party app for iCloud on Mac or iOS.

    • Tim Brookes
      September 7, 2015 at 12:45 am

      Yes technically you need a third party app that's capable of *browsing* iCloud, but iCloud functionality is built into your other apps in an almost transparent way. For example if you have the iPad version of word processor Ulysses, and you buy the Mac version and install it, you'll find iCloud automatically syncs content between them without you having to "browse" for it.

      It's Apple's "user-friendly" version of cloud storage, and though it's a bit ham-fisted it does work most of the time.

  6. Triguy
    April 28, 2015 at 4:03 am

    Until Apple finally gets competitive with iCloud usefulness and pricing, there is no need to bother. This is quite sad, especially given Apple had even better, free solutions nearly 20 years ago with iTools and iDrive.

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