How to sync your iCloud data with a PC


iCloud Control Panel

Apple’s new iCloud service lets iOS users sync their data using Apple’s servers. This lets you access your email, contacts, calendars, browser bookmarks, and photos from any device with a supported web browser. It also lets you synchronize your data between devices so that photos you snap on your iPhone will automatically show up on your iPad, or web pages you bookmark on your Mac will show up on your iPod touch.

While iCloud is built into iOS 5 and OS X Lion, if you want to use the service to synchronize with a Windows PC you’ll need a little help.

Apple has released a free Windows app called iCloud Control Panel which supports Windows Vista SP2 and up. Once you download and install the app you can fire it up and login with your Apple ID. If you haven’t already setup an iCloud account on your mobile device you should do that first.

You also need to enable iCloud on your device, and select which items you want to keep synchronized.

Once you’re connected to your account, you can check the boxes next to the types of data you want to sync. Windows users will need to have Outlook installed in order to sync their email messages, contacts, calendars, and tasks.

Browser bookmark synchronization works with Internet Explorer or Safari — but not Chrome or Firefox.

The Photo Stream feature is probably the easiest to set up. Just check the box and Photo Stream will create a new folder in your My Documents\Pictures directory. Any photos you want to send to iCloud (and download on your mobile devices), just drop in the Upload folder. New pictures from your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad will automatically show up in the My Photo Stream directory.

In order to automatically download apps, music, or books to your PC, you’ll need to install iTunes 10.5 and enable automatic downloads.

Brad Linder

Brad Linder is editor of Liliputing and Mobiputing. He's been tinkering with mobile tech for decades and writing about it since 2006. Brad has also worked with NPR, WHYY, PRI, and AOL.

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  • Andrew

    Struggling to get PhotoStream pics to download onto PC. Hoped iOS7 would fix but unfortunately not.