How to set up and use iCloud Drive on iPhone and iPad

iCloud Drive is Apple's new solution to document and file management across iOS and OS X. If you've upgraded to iOS 8 and you have an iCloud account, you can use iCloud Drive. Subscriptions range from free all the way to $19.99 a month, depending on your storage needs. If you aren't sure where to start, we can walk you through the set up process and how to start using iCloud Drive!

A word of caution

Before upgrading to iCloud Drive, bear in mind that it will migrate your file system to a new structure. Any devices running unsupported versions of iOS and OS X will not allow you to access anything stored in Drive. That means OS X Mavericks as well. So if you depend on cross-platform file sharing between iOS and your Mac and you haven't updated to Yosemite yet, iCloud Drive may not be for you.

Clearing up some confusion

By a quick look at the comments below, I quickly realized that there was some confusion going on in terms of what iCloud Drive is, and what it isn't. So before proceeding any further, I highly advise you read this article first:

How to enable iCloud Drive manually on iPhone and iPad

When you upgrade to iOS initially, you should be prompted on whether or not you'd like to upgrade to iCloud Drive. If you said yes, you don't need to do anything further and can continue to the next section. However, if you said no, you can enable iCloud Drive in just a few taps by following these steps:

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad running iOS 8 or higher.
  2. Tap on iCloud.
  3. Tap on iCloud Drive.
  4. Turn On the option for iCloud Drive.

You may receive a popup warning if you have other iOS and OS X devices that aren't currently using iCloud Drive. Remember that all of them must be updated for compatibility to work between all of them. So just repeat this process on all of them.

How to choose an iCloud Drive subscription plan

By default, iCloud Drive comes with 5GB of space for free. This is the same amount you previously received for iCloud backups. If you don't feel this is enough, you can subscribe to more storage. Or if you already are paying for an iCloud subscription, you can change it to best fit your current needs.

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad running iOS 8 or higher.
  2. Tap on iCloud.
  3. Tap on Storage.
  4. Tap on Change Storage Plan.
  5. Choose the storage plan that best suits your needs by tapping on it.
  6. Tap Buy in the upper right hand corner.
  7. Sign in with your iCloud account in order to finish the purchase.

That's it. Your storage space will immediately change to reflect the subscription you've selected. If you aren't exactly sure which storage plan is best for your needs, you can check out our guide on selecting the iCloud Drive plan that's right for you via the link below:

How to use iCloud Drive on your iPhone or iPad

The great thing about iCloud Drive for iOS is that it just works. There's nothing for you to do or configure. As long as you're signed into your iCloud Drive account, any apps that support iCloud Drive will give you options to open and save documents to it. In the example above, you can see that not only can you choose to save documents and files to iCloud Drive from Scanner Pro, you can also navigate through folders and choose where you'd like to save them.

One of the best features of iCloud Drive is how it works in conjunction with OS X and Windows. Dump any documents you want into iCloud Drive and they'll instantly be available to any app that supports them on iOS, and vice versa.

It may take some time for developers to hook iCloud Drive support into their apps, so watch for updates that offer it. And as always, if you find any that do support it already, be sure to let us know in the comments!