What is an Apple iCloud drive and how does it work?

If you want to know exactly what Apple's iCloud Drive does, you've come to the right place.

Apple with hardware and software, but as you probably know, it has stumbled a bit back when it comes to cloud storage, photo management, and even social media music (although more recently with Apple Music, sort of everything would be all right in this department).

Anyway, iCloud Drive is the way to go, giving you a place to manage all your files. With iCloud Drive, you can store your files - whether it's an iWork office suite file or a photo from your iPhone in iCloud, expected in the service's cloud storage. It then allows you to access files from icloud.com or from app files on your iOS device, iPadOS devices, and Mac.

You can even access iCloud Drive on a Windows computer.

This may sound complicated, but luckily it's not too hard to understand. Apple, in our opinion, hit the home run with the iCloud ride. Our only complaint is that it still takes guides like this for people to figure out how to turn it on, choose a data plan, access their files, and so on.

What is iCloud Drive?

iCloud Drive is part of iCloud, Apple's cloud storage service, which was released in 2011. This will allow you to save your photos, videos, documents, music, apps and data to iCloud. Not only does it let you store all your stuff in one place, but it allows you to access all your files and data from your iOS device, Mac and Windows PC and then save those files and folders across all your devices.

It even lets you create new files and folders with iCloud enabled apps and work on the same file being used across multiple apps. iCloud Drive also works with iCloud.com. You can use Apple's iCloud website to create, save, and share documents in Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, for example. This Apple support page has more on how to get started with iCloud.com.

Keep in mind that Apple is constantly updating iCloud Drive with new features. For example, with the new iOS 13.4 update, it introduced iCloud drive folder sharing. It's a Dropbox-like feature that lets you immediately share a folder and everyone sees the content and changes in real time.

How much does iCloud storage cost?

You can store any type of file in iCloud Drive as long as it's less than 50GB in size.

When you sign up for iCloud, you get 5GB of free storage for mail, backup, and iCloud ride. The backup part includes iOS devices, and it's often something that sees you hit the limit - especially if you have a lot of photos, say an iPhone. But you can upgrade your iCloud storage plan from your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or PC at any time. Just choose from a total of 50GB, 200GB or 2TB.

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You can even share 200GB and 2TB plans with your family. After the update, Apple will bill you monthly. Pricing looks like this:

  • 50 GB: $0.99 US/£0.79 UK
  • 200GB: $2.99 US/£2.49 UK
  • 2TB: $9.99 US/£6.99 UK

You can learn more about Apple pricing here and how to update with your iOS devices, Mac or PC from here.

Note: If you purchased the 1TB monthly plan before June 5, 2017, your account has been automatically upgraded to the 2TB monthly plan.

How to Set Up iCloud Drive

System Requirements

Before setting up iCloud Drive, make sure your iOS device is running iOS 13 or later and that your Mac is running Catalina or later. The PC must also be running Windows 10 (May 2019 update or later) to use iCloud for Windows 10. Like iCloud.com, you need Safari 9.1 or later on Mac, but it will work in all modern browsers on Mac and PC. More about system requirements from Apple here.

Enable iCloud ride

Once you've set up iCloud Drive, any documents already stored in iCloud will be automatically moved to iCloud Drive. Your iOS and Mac devices will save your files in the Files app, in addition to the Pages, Numbers and Keynote apps. If you don't see your files for these apps, they might be on a device that doesn't have iCloud Drive enabled - so be sure to turn it on on all of your devices.

iPhone and iPad

  1. Go to Settings> [your name].
  2. Click the iCloud icon.
  3. Enable iCloud ride.
  4. You can find your iCloud drive files in the app files.


  1. Go to Apple menu > System Preferences, then select your Apple ID.
  2. Select iCloud.
  3. Sign in with your Apple ID if you need to.
  4. Select iCloud ride.

Windows PC

Once you've set up iCloud Drive on your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, or Mac, you can install it on your Windows PC.

  1. Download iCloud for Windows.
  2. Go to the start menu, open programs or programs, and open iCloud for Windows.
  3. Enter your Apple ID to sign in to iCloud.
  4. Select iCloud Drive, then click Apply.


  1. Log in iCloud.com.
  2. Choose Pages, Numbers, or Keynote.
  3. Click the Update button to iCloud Drive if you are asked to update.

How does iCloud drive work?


To access iCloud Drive from your Mac, click on the Finder icon in the Mac Dock, then click on iCloud Drive in the Favorites sidebar, and click on iCloud Drive. You can also find iCloud Drive from the menu of any Finder window.

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The default iCloud drive has folders for each of your Apple iWork apps (Basic, Pages, and Numbers), along with folders for apps like Preview, QuickTime Player, Script Editor, TextEdit, and Automators. But you can create any folder and save it to iCloud ride. You can also store whatever you want, as long as it's no more than 50GB and doesn't exceed your iCloud storage allotment.

Think iCloud drive is like any other remote volume, external hard drive, network drive or storage. You can create new folders, drag things to your iCloud drive from your Mac or elsewhere, and you have the option to save files and data from apps to your iCloud drive. This is not rocket science, folks. It's a hard drive in the sky that you can access from all your devices.

Learn more about iCloud Drive on Mac and how it works from Apple here.

iPhone or iPad

The Apple Files app for iOS stores all the files on the device you use, just like other cloud services and apps, including iCloud Ride. To access your files, simply open the Files app and select the location of the file you are looking for. It's easy to organize your application file, and when you make changes on one device, your changes will be automatically updated on all devices using iCloud Ride.

You can make your own folders. Or rename the folders you already have, and you can save and transfer files to iCloud Drive between folders. Want to share with a friend or colleague? You can share any folder or file stored in iCloud Drive directly from the Files app, too. For more information on how to use the app file, whether it's to find, organize and share files, check from Apple support hub here.

Windows PC

To access your iCloud drive from your Windows 10 PC or later, you need the iCloud for Windows app. It creates an iCloud Drive folder in File Explorer. All documents stored in iCloud will be automatically uploaded to the iCloud Drive folder in File Explorer.

Files that you create on your computer and save to this folder automatically appear on all your devices. All your photos and bookmarks stored on your computer will also be automatically updated on all your Apple devices. You can learn more about iCloud for Windows from Apple here.

How to Access iCloud Drive Online

To access iCloud Drive online, go to iCloud.com then sign in and select iCloud ride. Then you can see all your folders and you can create new folders, upload files, upload files, delete files, share files. It's just the web version of iCloud Ride.

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