Technical notes index


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Apple's online service, iCloud, is intended primarily as a method for easily syncing data such as calendars, contacts, emails and pictures between your Macs and your iOS devices. Though it was touted as a partial replacement for the old MobileMe service, it is lacking a number of facilities which were available there.

This article offer some advice on replacing those facilities which iCloud doesn't provide.



Existing and addresses from MobileMe will continue to work and new addresses (not ones) can be created when you open an iCloud account. Lion or above will set mail up automatically: you will need to set Mail up manually on earlier systems - details here for Snow Leopard and Leopard, and here for Tiger.


iCloud provides contact syncing. MobileMe synced contacts from Address Book to Mobileme and then to other Macs or devices using Apple's proprietary Sync Services but a different method is used for iCloud, which is dependent on OSX Lion. If an iCloud account has been set up and syncing enabled, pre-Lion Macs can access the contacts on the iCloud web page.


CalDAV is used for iCloud Calendar syncing, but officially it can only be set up on Lion or above. Some people have been able to set up calendar syncing on Snow Leopard by using the method detailed here - this is an unsupported hack and may not be reliable, and may stop working at some future point. Leopard and Tiger cannot sync iCal by any method.


Safari Bookmarks are synced to iCloud and from there to other Macs and devices, using iCloud's own method: pre-Lion Macs can not sync their Bookmarks; and they do not appear on the iCloud website even for Lion users.

Find My iPhone & Back To My Mac

These ex-MobileMe facilities continue to be available in iCloud.

Photostream and PhotoJournal

PhotoStream - a new facility - syncs photos taken on any Mac or device to all the others signed into the same account. Photo Journal allow you to upload groups of photos from iPhoto to online web pages hosted on iCloud, but only from iOS devices.

There are a couple of third-party solutions which may be of interest to owners of pre-Lion Macs:

BusyCal is an iCal-like calendar application with extra facilities: it can sync with the iCloud Calendar while running on Leopard, Snow Leopard or Lion. A single user licence (two machines allowed) is $49.99.

Soho Organizer can sync Calendars and Contacts with iCloud on Leopard, Snow Leopard and Lion. A single user licence (multiple machines allowed) is $99.99.

The following facilities which were in MobileMe are not part of iCloud's facilities and cannot be replicated elsewhere: Syncing of Mail Accounts, Mail Rules, Signatures & Smart Mailboxes between Macs & iOS devices; Sharing your Address Book with other MobileMe users; and Secure iChat connection between MobileMe users; syncing of Dashboard Widgets, Dock Items and Keychains between Macs.

The next page will start examining the options for the facilities not covered by iCloud.

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Roger Wilmut. This site is not associated with Apple.