How to enable Messages in iCloud on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac (and why you might want to keep this feature turned off)

A cool new feature rolled out in iOS 11.4 and macOS 10.13.5 is Messages in iCloud, but it's not turned on by default. Here's how to activate it, along with a reason why you might want to keep it disabled in order to save money.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

iOS 11.4 is out, along with macOS 10.13.5, and these updates bring with them 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).

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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.

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 (you will first need to download and install the macOS 10.13.5 update):

  • 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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