How do I set up iCloud? Is it possible to use iCloud on a Windows PC? 

iCloud, which replaced MobileMe in 2011, is Apple's remote storage and cloud computing service, and allows you to access your photos, contacts, email, bookmarks and documents anywhere you can get online. It's a useful and - if you can manage with the pretty stingy base storage allocation - free set of services, available to anyone with an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV, Mac or even Windows PC.

In this article we explain how to set up iCloud on any of those devices: how to sign up for an Apple ID and iCloud account, and how to activate iCloud in general and specific iCloud services in particular. Let's get started.

Read more: Alternatives to iCloud

How to set up iCloud: Create an Apple ID

Your iCloud account is based on your Apple ID. So if you haven't got an Apple ID already, you'll need to create one. If you've already got an Apple ID, you can skip ahead to the next section.

There's two ways to sign up for an Apple ID: on your iPad or iPad, as part of the device's setup process, or in a browser on any device at any time.

If you're setting up a new iPad or setting up a new iPhone, the simplest option is to create an Apple ID then and there. At the appropriate moment during setup, tap 'Don't have an Apple ID or forgot it', and 'Create A Free Apple ID'. Then enter your details.

But you don't need to be on an Apple device, or even own an Apple device, to create an Apple ID: anybody, even curious Windows or Linux users, can create an account. You simply have to visit the ID section of Apple's website and click Create Your Apple ID at the top right.

We walk you through the process in more detail here: How to create an Apple ID.

How to set up iCloud: Update your device to the latest OS

Apple advises you to make sure that the device you'll be using iCloud services on is running the most recent version of its respective OS. (Newer versions of iOS, Mac OS X and tvOS may add extra iCloud features, fix bugs or tweak the way it works.) If your device is brand-new you shouldn't need to update its OS, although it's still worth checking in case some bug fixes have been released since it was boxed up.

For iPads and iPhones, go to Settings > General > Software Update. iOS will either tell you that the operating system is up to date, or give you details of a newer version and let you download and install it. Read more about upgrading iOS on your iPad or iPhone.

How to set up iCloud on iPhone

On Apple TV, open the Settings app, scroll down and select 'System' and then, under the Maintenance submenu, click on 'Software updates'. Select 'Update Software' and the new update will be downloaded to the Apple TV. After a while you'll see a tvOS update prompt: select 'Download and Install'. Read more about updating the tvOS software on your Apple TV.

To update Mac OS X, click the apple icon at the top-left corner of the screen, and select About This Mac. Click Software Update. You'll see any software updates that are available for your Mac: you can either select them all or choose to only update Mac OS X itself. Read more about updating Mac OS X.

How to set up iCloud: Turn on iCloud on iPad, iPhone or iPod touch

It's easy to switch on iCloud. As with signing up for an Apple ID, this can be done during the setup process for your Apple device, or later on if you declined the option initially.

Partway through the setup process for an iPhone or iPad, iOS will ask if you want to use iCloud. (You'll be given the self-explanatory options 'Use iCloud' and 'Don't use iCloud'.) You'll just need to tap Use iCloud, enter your Apple ID and password, and proceed from there.

How to set up iCloud on iPad

If you didn't activate it during setup, you can go to Settings > iCloud later on, and then enter your Apple ID and password.

How to set up iCloud: Turn on iCloud on fourth-gen Apple TV

This one's easy. When you first turn on the Apple TV you'll be asked for your Apple ID and password. Fill in your details and you'll be able iCloud for photo sharing, iTunes Match and various other features.

If you didn't enter your Apple ID when you first set up, you can do so by going to Settings > Accounts > iCloud, then selecting Sign In.

How to set up iCloud: Turn on iCloud on Mac

Start the System Preferences app and click iCloud. On the next screen you'll be able to sign in with your Apple ID (or sign out), and tick the iCloud services you want to use on your Mac.

How to set up iCloud on Mac

How to set up iCloud: Turn on iCloud on PC

It's a bit trickier, but even Windows PC users can benefit from iCloud services.

You need to download iCloud for Windows and install it. Open the program, and sign in with your Apple ID. As with iCloud on the Mac, you can then decide which iCloud services you want to use: iCloud Drive, photo sharing, Mail/Contacts/Calendars, and internet bookmarks. Put a tick next to the ones that appeal.

Read next: How to set up a new iPhone | How to set up a new iPad | How to set up a new Apple Watch

How to set up iCloud on Windows PC