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How to use iCloud like a pro on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or PC

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Deleting iCloud backups

If you haven’t figured it out already, iCloud is a terrific and autonomous way of syncing and storing data from all your connected iOS devices. Unfortunately, the provided 5GB of storage only goes so far when you’re constantly backing up an iPhone, iPad and iPod using the same iCloud account. Luckily, select backups can always be manually deleted directly on your iOS device to free up storage when they become extremely outdated or in the event you no longer posses the device to which the backup belongs.

Step 1: Navigate to backup —  Tap Settings > iCloud > Storage, then tap Manage Storage.

Step 2: Delete the backup — Select the backup you wish to delete and tap the red Delete Backup option at the bottom of the resulting menu. Each backup will show its relative size and the specific date when it was initially uploaded, so you shouldn’t have much trouble distinguishing between the various backups. However, you’ll typically want to keep the most recent backup.

Tips & tricks

The various ins and outs of iCloud are easy to master with a little time, but there are always tools and tricks available within the software if you read between the lines. Below are a few pointers and additional suggestions regarding how to make the most of Apple’s immense cloud storage utility.

Check your storage

Wondering how much of your free 5GB of storage is remaining? If using an iOS-compatible device, tap Settings > iCloud > Storage. Your total and available iCloud storage will be visible at the top of the Storage page. Mac users can view their available iCloud storage by selecting System Preferences, click iCloud, then click Manage, while PC users merely need view the main interface of the iCloud Control Panel.

Share your calendar

Sharing and syncing calendars with your iCloud-enabled devices is handy, but sharing your schedule privately or publicly with others is even handier. If using an iOS-compatible device, open the Calender app, followed by tapping the Calendars option located at the bottom to access your various iCloud calendars. Afterwards, tap the information icon located to the right of the calendar you wish to share and tap the blue Add Person option beneath the Shared With section to add individuals via their email. Alternatively, toggle on the Public Calendar option at the bottom of the page to allow anyone to subscribe to a read-only version of the calendar.

If using a Mac, open the Calendar app, click the share icon located to the right of the calendar you wish to share and check the box to the left of Public Calender or add individuals in the resulting text field above. The instructions for sharing via the iCloud Web interface are essentially the same as those for Mac, accessible through Calendar tool located on the iCloud homepage.

Share Cal Final iCloudSnag an Apple TV
Apple TV (2015)
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

The Apple TV isn’t just a fantastic way to mirror the screen on your iOS device. Since the Apple TV 6.0 update, the company’s sleek, black gizmo allows users to quickly and effortlessly stream content — whether it be shared photo streams, iTunes Match songs or purchases made through the iTunes store — by simply turning on the device and entering the Apple ID tied to the account. It offers a wealth other features, such as Netflix and Hulu Plus streaming. You can get a third-generation Apple TV for $69, or the fourth-generation model starting at $149.

Enable encryption

A little encryption can go a long way when it comes to securing your backups. Enabling backup encryption will require users to enter a specified password when restoring from backup, thus preventing others from accessing data without authorization. It’s incredibly easy to implement, but should you forget your designated password, it will also prevent you from recovering your data and require you to perform a full software restore in order to use your device.

To activate encryption, click the checkbox directly to the left of  Encrypt iPhone backup beneath the Backups section when viewing your connected device within iTunes. Afterwards, enter and verify a password and click the Set Password button in the bottom-right corner of the pop-up window. If desired, uncheck the box to disable the backup encryption.

Additional help

“How to use iCloud” is a big phrase. We obviously can’t cover every scenario and answer all questions relating to Apple’s flagship cloud service, but chances are the Apple Support site will shed more detailed light on any questions you may have. Additionally, free apps such as Guide for iCloud and others can offer you a plethora of tips and tricks on the go. Still, the best way to learn iCloud is with the tried-and-true method of trial and error.

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