Asya Karapetyan
Content marketer, who specializes in Mac how-to guides
August 29, 2023
7 minutes to read

If you want to back up your Mac without an external hard drive, using iCloud is a great solution. This article provides a step-by-step guide on how to correctly back up your Mac to iCloud.

backup mac icloud


  1. Why do I need to back up my Mac?
  2. How to back up my Mac to iCloud
  3. FAQs about backups to iCloud

Before you start

Before backing up your Mac to iCloud, we recommend clearing out duplicate files on your Mac so that they do not take up valuable space in iCloud unnecessarily. You can easily find and remove duplicate files on a Mac, including in the iCloud Photo library, with a free application from Nektony called Duplicate File Finder.

Duplicate File Finder is the most accurate utility for locating duplicate files on a Mac. It also allows you to organize your folders by finding similar folders and merging them.


Duplicate File Finder

Free Download

Why do I need to back up my Mac?

Even if Mac computers are the safest, you still don’t have a 100% guarantee of the security of the data on your Mac. Your Mac can be negatively affected by various factors, including malware, system crashes, update failure, accidental deletion, and more. To avoid losing your data, you should back up your Mac.

Making a backup of your Mac means creating a copy of all your data. You can use this backup to restore important files if something goes wrong on your Mac or if you lose your computer. Once you back up Mac to iCloud, you can restore your data onto any Apple computer using your iCloud account. In other words, a backup in iCloud is an online copy of your device’s information.

After you set up iCloud to back up files on your Mac, it can work automatically. Even though Apple provides only 5 GB of free storage space, you can upgrade your plan to increase the storage space available for Mac backups.

For a full Mac backup (for example, on an external hard drive), Apple recommends a storage space twice the size of what you use on your Mac. However, iCloud backups tend to include less data than external drive backups because iCloud only backs up certain files and data, not all the data, programs, and settings on your Mac. You won’t need as much iCloud space as you would on an external hard drive, but you’ll likely still need more than the free 5 GB of iCloud storage that every user can access by default.

How to back up Mac to iCloud

Before you start the process of backing up your Mac, we recommend that you update your macOS since the latest version of macOS is required to prevent any issues with iCloud.

Steps below to back up your data to iCloud:

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click the Apple ID icon.
  3. Click iCloud in the sidebar.
  4. Sign in to your iCloud account (if you haven’t already).
  5. Tick the checkboxes for all the items you need to back up, including photos, email, contacts, reminders, calendar, notes, Safari, etc. iCloud window in System Preferences
  6. Note, that on macOS Ventura, you will see toggle buttons instead of checkboxes. Just use them to switch on or switch off backing up the data to iCloud. system settings window showing iCloud option

  7. If you click Options in the iCloud Drive line, you can select which apps can store their data in iCloud. iCloud drive options
  8. You can access iCloud right in the Finder window, allowing you to drag and drop individual files right into the iCloud folder. Anything you drag into the iCloud folder will be automatically saved in iCloud storage. Drag and drop files to the iCloud folder


FAQs about backups to iCloud

Can I back up everything on my Mac to iCloud?

You can use iCloud to store your photos, videos, notes, reminders, calendars, Safari bookmarks, applications’ data, and more. To create a complete copy of your MacBook, however, you should use a Time Machine backup instead.

How do I back up my MacBook to iCloud?
How do I know if my Mac is backed up to iCloud?
Is it safe to back up my Mac to iCloud?
What are the pros and cons of Mac iCloud backup?
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