How to Configure iCloud from Your iMac

By Mark L. Chambers

You control all the settings for iCloud from Mavericks’ iCloud pane in System Preferences (shown in the following figure). Click the System Preferences icon on the Dock and then click the iCloud icon. At the sign-in prompt, enter your Apple ID and your password. System Preferences will then guide you through basic iCloud configuration.

The iCloud pane appears within System Preferences.

The iCloud pane appears within System Preferences.

Most of the check boxes on the iCloud Preferences pane control whether a particular type of data — such as a Contacts entry, password, Mail account, Keychain password, or calendar in Calendar — is pushed among all your iOS devices. You can also disable the Documents & Data check box to return to the original File Open dialog, with no access to your iCloud Library. (Alternatively, you can specify which applications will have access to your iCloud Library by clicking the Options button.)

Note, however, that you can enable three other unique features from this pane as well:

  • Photos: Click the Options button here and enable the My Photo Stream check box to allow your Mac to automatically receive photos from your iOS devices. Take a photo with your iPhone, for example, and that image is immediately pushed to your Mac, iPad, and iPod touch. On the Mac, however, Photo Stream goes one step further: The photos appear automatically in iPhoto or Aperture in a special album titled Photo Stream.

    To turn on Photo Stream in iPhoto, choose iPhoto→Preferences, click the Photo Stream button, and then select all three check boxes. My Photo Stream must also be selected in the iCloud Preferences pane.

  • Back to My Mac: If you enable Back to My Mac, you can remotely control your iMac from another Mac computer (or vice versa) using Mavericks’ Screen Sharing feature. You can also transfer files between the two computers. Back to My Mac works over a broadband Internet connection or a local network (LAN). Available Mac computers show up in the Shared section of the Finder window sidebar. Note that you must manually turn on Screen Sharing in the System Preferences Sharing pane before you can remotely control another Mac.

  • Find My Mac: Talk about Buck Rogers! Imagine locating a lost or stolen iMac from your iPhone or iPad. Now think about this: With Find My Mac, you can even lock or completely wipe your iMac’s hard drive remotely, preventing unauthorized use or erasing your private data! After you access your iMac from another iOS device, you can play a sound, send a message to be displayed onscreen, remotely lock the machine, or remotely wipe the drive.

    If you ever opt to lock or wipe the drive, though, you can’t locate your iMac again. Use this protection maneuver as a last resort.