How to set up, back up, restore, and update your iPhone or iPad using iCloud

How to set up your new iPhone or iPad using iCloud

With iCloud, you no longer need to plug your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad into iTunes on your Mac or Windows PC to set it up for the first time. Now you can do it faster and more easily than ever before over-the-air and right on your device!

How to set up a new iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad with iCloud (clean install)

When you turn on your new iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, you'll be greeted with a Lock screen that simply says "Hello" in many different languages. This is where we start the setup process.

  1. After your iPhone or iPad powers on, you'll see a welcome screen, Slide your finger across the bottom where it says slide to set up.
  2. Now choose your language from the choices presented to you.
  3. Select the country or region you are in.
  4. Now choose your wifi network and enter the password for it if there is one. If you don't have access to WiFi or no networks are found, you can choose Use Cellular instead or wait until you're within range of an accessible wifi network.
  5. Now on the Location Services screen, choose whether you'd like to have location services on by default. Make sure you read the description of what location services are before deciding whether or not you'd like to enable or disable them. Keep in mind that certain apps like Maps need location services to operate properly.
  6. On the next screen, tap on Set up as New iPhone.
  7. Now choose to either sign in with an existing Apple ID or create a new, free one. If you don't want to do either right now or you don't have an Apple ID yet — we'll cover how to get one in a minute, you can tap on Skip This Step.
  8. If you didn't choose to skip signing into an Apple ID, do so on the next screen. If you use two separate IDs for iCloud and iTunes, you can choose that option as well under the login by tapping on Use different Apple IDs for iCloud and iTunes.
  9. Agree to Apple's Terms and Conditions on the next screen. The following screen will ask you to confirm that you agree one more time.
  10. On the next screen, choose whether or not you want to use iCloud to access data on other iOS devices and to store your photos, contacts, and calendars.
  11. Now choose whether or not you'd like to enable Find My iPhone. We highly suggest that you do.
  12. The next screen lets you choose what phone numbers and emails associated with your Apple ID that you'd like to use on your new iPhone on conjunction with iMessage. Simply tap on them to enable or disable them. You can always change these choices later in Settings.
  13. Next you can Create a Passcode for your iPhone if you'd like. If not, just tap on Don't Add Passcode above the keypad.
  14. Now choose whether or not you'd like to activate Siri. We recommend enabling Siri unless you really have a reason not to.
  15. Lastly, choose whether or not you'd like your iPhone to send diagnostic information to Apple. Read the description before making your choice.
  16. On the Welcome to iPhone screen, just tap on Get Started and your iPhone Home screen will be displayed for the first time.

How to restore your iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad from an iCloud backup

  1. After your iPhone or iPad powers on, you'll see a welcome screen, Slide your finger across the bottom where it says slide to set up.
  2. Now choose your language from the choices presented to you.
  3. Select the country or region you are in.
  4. Now choose your WiFi network and enter the password for it if there is one. If you don't have access to WiFi, you can choose Use Cellular but keep in mind, only some things in your iCloud backup will be restored without WiFi. Others won't be triggered until you're on WiFi. Or you can choose to restore from an iTunes backup if you have access to one.
  5. Now on the Location Services screen, choose whether you'd like to have location services on by default. Make sure you read the description of what location services are before deciding whether or not you'd like to enable or disable them. Keep in mind that certain apps like Maps need location services to operate properly.
  6. On the next screen, tap on Restore from iCloud backup and enter your credentials when asked.
  7. Now agree to the Terms and Conditions. You will be asked to verify that you agree to them a second time.
  8. If you have iCloud backups, your iPhone will now show them. Tap on the backup name that you'd like to restore from.

That's all there is to it. Your iPhone will begin restoring from your iCloud backup. Keep in mind that the more data you have, the longer it will take. iCloud will start by just restoring your system settings so you can start using your iPhone as soon as possible but apps, photos, videos, and other types of media may take a while to finish coming down from iCloud. Just be patient and if you have to jump off of wifi, no worries, iCloud will pick up right where it left off next time you are connected to WiFi.

Note: Originally published September 2012. Updated June 2014.

Allyson Kazmucha

Help and how to editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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There are 11 comments. Add yours.

Jane says:

I have set up iCloud on my iPhone but the app icon does not appear on my screen. How can I download the icon shortcut? Please help.

Jimmiemon says:

Unfortunately, you are very limited in what you can do with that backup. In fact, there is literally nothing you can do with an iCloud backup unless you restore the backup. This can be done, however, on any iOS device (as in iPhone, iPod, or iPad), that is at least the iOS version that the stolen device was on. For example, if the iPhone 4 was running iOS 6, you will only be able to restore to a iOS 6, or 6.1 device.

If you are on a Mac, you should have easy access to Calendars, Contacts, Notes, Reminders, and such data. If you are on a PC, you can access most of that by going to iCloud.com. This isn't really the data that you've backed up, though, and it's really data that is just "synced" through iCloud. Either way, Contacts, are typically pretty important.

If you own a Mac, you should be able to get your Photostream pictures by installing and opening Photostream. This doesn't capture videos, though.

If you do have an eligible iOS device that you can do a restore on, be sure to back up that device locally before wiping. It might also be advisable to make sure that device doesn't do a backup of the newly erased setup to iCloud. If you keep that iCloud account disabled on that device, you should have an easy restore from iCloud, and a backup in iTunes should something go wrong.
http://to.ly/BcLU

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Bravespirit says:

The How to restore your iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad from an iCloud backup shows how to restore for new iPhone but not after activated one.
I restored first from my computer which did not restore my apps and their folder properly. How can I use restore from iCloud after activating?

conblue says:

hi
I want to delete all the apps purchased .is it possible ?
Thanks

snoopchic says:

I need to know if you restore from back up with a new iCloud back up (july 12) but you want to restore from an older one that is still on there (July 3) because when I restored on July 3rd nothing restored, but when I did today with the newer version I didn't loose anything. So, if I re restore from the July 3rd one will I loose my July 12th one? My concern is if the July 3rd doesn't load everything again then can I go back to the newest one...or will it be gone? I lost all my game data and would love to have the years worth back, but I'd hate to loose the weeks worth that I have now by trying! Thank you!

PubRickRan says:

I've tried managing my apps that get backed up to icloud to try to sync certain ones between my iphone and ipod, but the app settings don't seem to be syncing at all.

mughal ali says:

I've tried managing my apps that get backed up to icloud to try to sync certain ones between my iphone and iphone5
, but the app settings don't seem to be syncing at all.

givemeaclue says:

I have not backed up for months due to lack of space and am now in the process of trying to delete my previous back up to create space for new back up as about to upgrade my phone and would like to restore with iCloud. I have tried deleting the back up and I get a message saying 'unable to delete as iCloud is in use'. Please help

SockRolid says:

I'd suggest getting a new iCloud account every time you upgrade your device. Not that you'd really need more than one, but just in case. (Or for testing apps etc. if you're a developer.) Then just reset the device and set it up with your "main" iCloud account if you already have one.

Gainey Clement says:

I'm on an iPhone 5c, do you know how I can restore my iPhone 5c without iTunes?
http://www.leawo.org/tutorial/how-to-restore-iphone-5c-without-itunes.html