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iOS 11.4 tip: How to enable Messages in iCloud (and why you might want to keep this feature turned off)


iOS 11.4 is out, and it brings with it a feature that was first promised to us in iOS 11.3 designed to help streamline messaging between devices.

Called Messages in iCloud, it syncs messages you receive through the Messages app across your devices, whether that be your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or even a Mac (sorry Apple Watch owners, you don’t get this feature, and will most likely have to wait for watchOS 5).

See also: What would Steve Jobs think of today’s Apple?

First off, to make Messages in iCloud work you need to download and install iOS 11.4 onto your iOS devices, and macOS 10.13.5 onto your Macs (as of time of publication macOS 10.13.5 has not been released, but is expected shortly).

After that, you need to activate Messages in iCloud on your iOS devices. And this is where it gets problematic because if you’re not the sort of person who reads the release notes for updates, you won’t know where to look for it.

To turn on Messages in iCloud, you need to:

  • Click on Settings
  • At the top of the Settings app, click on the space showing your name
  • Next click on iCloud
  • Finally, flip the toggle switch next to Messages under the Apps Using iCloud section

Do this for all your iOS devices.

​How to enable Messages in iCloud

How to enable Messages in iCloud

You also need to activate this feature on your Macs (once macOS 10.13.5 is out and you have installed it):

  • Open Messages
  • In the menu bar, click Messages > Preferences
  • Click Accounts
  • Click the checkbox next to Enable Messages in iCloud

OK, so why might you not want to activate this feature? Well, remember that it’s called Messages in iCloud, which means that it makes use of, and uses up, your iCloud storage. And it might just mean that you have to start paying Apple for more iCloud storage space.

Everyone who sets up an iCloud account gets 5 gigabytes of free storage space, but once you hit that limit, you either have to pay for more storage or start to triage the apps that make use of your iCloud storage. Otherwise, if you hit your limit you’ll find that your devices will no longer back up to iCloud, you won’t be able to send or receive emails with your iCloud email account, new photos and videos won’t be uploaded to your iCloud Photo Library, and that features such as iCloud Drive, other iCloud apps, and your text messages won’t stay up to date across all your devices.

Extra iCloud storage space isn’t all that expensive — plans start at $0.99 for 50 gigabytes — but if you don’t want to have to start giving Apple more money on a regular basis, you should be mindful of the fact that Messages in iCloud could be what pushes your iCloud usage over the edge.

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I'm a 50 year old PLC programmer from Burnley, UK. I severed my time as an electrician in the baking industry and soon got involved with the up and coming technology of PLC's. Initially this was all based in the Uk but as the years went by I have gradually worked my way around the globe. At first it was mainly Mitsubishi with a bit of Modicon thrown in but these days the industry leaders seem to be the Allen Bradley range of PLC and HMI’s.

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