While iCloud is a handy cloud-based tool for backing up and syncing the various iOS and macOS devices you own, some would like the extra peace of mind by locally backing up all that data too. The question is, how do you get all your iCloud data from the cloud? While backing up your iPhone is a fairly simple process, backing up the data within the cloud backup is a little more long-winded – but not impossible. For those interested in iCloud data backup, follow our tutorial on how to back up iCloud data, including photos, videos, contacts, documents, calendars and notes.
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How to back up iCloud data: Photos and videos
It’s a fairly easy process to back up all photos and videos stored on iCloud from your iOS devices on a Mac, as macOS and newer versions of Mac OS X feature Photos, Apple’s desktop equivalent of the Photos app for iOS. Photos stores all iCloud-synced photos and videos, allowing access to your entire library without using your iPhone or iPad.
1) Open Photos and on the menu bar, select Photos > Preferences > iCloud and make sure you’re logged in to your Apple ID/iCloud account.
2) Wait for all new photos and videos to be synced with your Mac.
3a) You can set up the Photos app to automatically create local backups of your library by going to Photos > Preferences > iCloud and select “Download Originals to this Mac” instead of “Optimise Mac Storage”, the default option that’ll take up less space on your Mac. Depending on how many photos and videos you have, this could take some time.
3b) Alternatively, you can select the photos and videos you’d like to back up within the Photos app (select all by pressing CMD + A) and simply drag them into a new folder in the Finder window. If done correctly, Photos should export your entire library one-by-one, ready for secure storage.
If, for whatever reason the above tutorial doesn’t work, try downloading your library to your iPhone or iPad (if it has enough storage). Simply head to Settings > iCloud > Photos and select “download and keep originals”, then import the photos and videos to your Mac by opening the Image Capture app and clicking Import all.
How to transfer photos from iPhone to Mac
To export your iCloud Contacts via your Mac, you’ll need to be running OS X Mountain Lion or later, or have access to iCloud.com via an internet browser.
1) Open Contacts and in the menu bar, select View > Show Groups.
2) Select “All Contacts” in the Groups list, click a Contact and press CMD + A to select all stored contacts.
3) On the menu bar, select File > Export > Export vCard, select the location to store your backup and click Save.
Alternatively, you can head to
iCloud.com, log in with your Apple ID and open the Contacts app. Once accessed, select a Contact and press CMD + A to select all contacts. Once selected, click the Settings icon (gear) in the top-right hand corner and select “Export vCard”.
How to back up iCloud data: Calendars
To make a backup of your Calendar, you’ll only require access to iCloud.com. This means that the process can be done via Mac or PC, although not iOS devices.
1) Head to
iCloud.com and log in with your Apple ID.
2) Open the Calendars web app, click the Share button (waves) to the right of the calendar you’d like to back up.
3) Select “Public Calendar”, copy the URL generated below and paste that into a browser address field.
4) Replace “webcal” with “http” and press Enter. If done correctly, an ICS file with all your calendar events should be downloaded to your computer. From here, simply keep it as a backup file or open it in another Mac app, such as Calendar or Outlook.
5) Once the Calendar has been downloaded, go back to the Calendar web app and uncheck “Public Calendar” to make it private once again.
How to back up iCloud data: Notes
While there are official ways to back up almost all kinds of data stored in iCloud, Notes isn’t one of them. So, if you’d like to back up the Notes stored on your iOS devices and Mac, the only real way to do so is by manually copying and pasting the contents of each note into a document (Word, Google Docs, etc) and keeping that file safe.
How to back up iCloud data: Documents
As long as you’re running OS X Mountain Lion or later, it’s a fairly easy (but rather long-winded) way to back up the documents stored in iCloud. If possible, we’d recommend running OS X Yosemite or later as it includes the upgraded iCloud Drive within the Finder window – we’ll run through both options below.
1) For those using a slightly older version of OS X (Mountain Lion or newer is required), the first step is to open the app that you used to create the document. This can be anything, from Pages to Pixelmator.
2) Select File > Open, and click iCloud in the top-left hand corner of the dialog box. Browse for the document you’d like to back up, and select Open.
3) Hold down the Option key and click File > Save As. Select the destination for the backup, and click Save to save it.
For those running OS X Yosemite or later with access to iCloud Drive, the process is much simpler.
1) Open the Finder and select iCloud Drive on the left-hand side of the window.
2) Select the document(s) you’d like to back up, and simply click and drag them onto your desktop or a local folder of your choice. The files will then be downloaded and locally stored, nice and safe.