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iCloud, Apple's free online syncing and storage service, was introduced with Mac OS X Lion. It's seen some improvements with Mountain Lion. Let's take a look at them now. The first worth our attention is documents in the cloud. This is a feature built into Mountain Lion that allows supported applications such as TextEdit, Preview, and the iWork applications to store files on Apple's servers. Before we can use it, we have to configure iCloud correctly. In order to do that, we'll launch System Preferences, select iCloud, and enable the Documents & Data option within the iCloud System Preference.
This ensures that we can save our documents on iCloud. Now let's see how this works in TextEdit. Now when I launch TextEdit I see two tabs at the top of the window: one is iCloud and one is on my Mac. This determines where you're going to store your documents. In this case we'll leave iCloud enabled and we'll select New Document. Now I will enter some text. Command+S to save it. I'll leave iCloud enabled, although I can also save it on my Mac, and I'll click on Save.
Now I'll choose Open from the File menu. And here's my file, and it tells me that it was saved onto iCloud. Now I'm going to make one more document so I can show you another cool feature. More nonsense text. I'll save it. Put it around iCloud and Save. Now I'll select Open, Command+O, and there are my two files. I can now create a folder on iCloud, and the way to do that is similar to the way you do something like this on an iOS device.
So I click and I drag and I've just created a folder. I can click on the folder name and give it this very descriptive name. Press Return and there is my folder name. So this is how you organize your files stored in iCloud. This technique does not work for files stored on your Mac. Now you can view your files either as icons or you can choose the List view as well. Click the triangle down and then see the contents of a folder. When you move a file from iCloud it's deleted from Apple servers and moved to your Mac, and we can see this in action.
So I grab my Test File number 2 and I'll drag it to the Desktop. Yes, indeed, I want to move it. And here it is, on the Desktop, but it's gone from iCloud. And I can just as easily put it back. Drag from the Desktop, put it into iCloud, and now it's in iCloud. If I want to put it back in that folder, I just drag it onto the folder and now it's within that folder. And I'll cancel this to close it. And let's get out of TextEdit. Note that each application has its own documents library.
For example, if I open a window like that in Pages I won't see my TextEdit documents, only those documents saved iCloud from Pages. In addition to documents in the cloud another new iCloud feature is Safari Tab Syncing. It works like this. Let's launch Safari, and note up here this Cloud button at the top of the Safari window. Here are my iCloud tabs. Now I'll click on this, and it shows you that on another Macintosh that I own that's linked to the same iCloud account, I have three tabs open.
If I'd like to open one of those tabs on this Mac all I have to do is select it, and there it is. Now as I record this, this works only on other Macs running Mountain Lion, but iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches will also be supported when iOS 6 ships. The advantage of this feature is that you can browse the web on one computer or eventually an iOS device and easily pick up where you left off when you move to another compatible device. Finally, if you look through the iCloud preference, you'll see entries that you haven't seen before. So back to System Preferences > iCloud.
Thanks to there being a Reminders and Notes application in Mountain Lion, reminders and notes are now synced to their host applications rather than the Mail application. For those of you who are technically adept, you should know the reminders are synced through iCloud, but notes aren't. They're actually synced between IMAP and email accounts. You don't really need to understand that; you just need to know that they will be synced between compatible devices. And those are the important changes to iCloud. For more on iCloud please refer to my Mac OS X Lion Essential Training course.
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