How to use iCloud and other Apple apps on Windows


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Using a Windows PC doesn’t mean you can’t make use of Apple’s various apps and services. In recent years, the parent companies of both operating systems have made efforts to get their respective software packages working together, making it easier than it’s ever been.

You won’t have the seamless experience you get with Apple apps and services on macOS, but you have a couple of options to get them working on Windows—and you can choose whichever suits you best.

Use iCloud on the web

Load up the web version of iCloud in your Windows web browser, sign in with your Apple ID, and you’ll have access to a plethora of Apple apps: Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Photos, Drive, Notes, Reminders, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, and Find My. For some people, this is all the integration they’re going to need, as everything will sync back to the respective apps on macOS, iOS, and iPadOS.

[Related: 5 ways to get started with Freeform, Apple’s app for creative thinkers]

Click Customize Home Page to change which widgets show up when you first open the site and click on any of the app links to jump to that app in your browser. For example, choose Photos to browse through everything stored in iCloud Photos. The navigation pane on the left lets you view individual albums, and the icons in the top right let you upload and download images.

There’s a lot of functionality in these web apps, and they’re almost as good as their desktop equivalents on macOS. Everything Apple will stay self-contained inside a browser tab, so it’s a good solution if you want to keep some distance between your Apple apps and everything else on your Windows PC.

Use iCloud for Windows

You can get a tighter integration between operating systems so that your Apple contacts show up in the native MS Outlook, and Windows automatically uploads photos to iCloud. For this, you need to download and install iCloud for Windows.

Sign up with your Apple ID credentials and choose whether you’d like to sync your files. You can pick and choose exactly what you want to integrate into the Windows system: iCloud Drive files, photos and videos, contacts, calendar information, web bookmarks, and…