iCloud, Apple's solution to cloud-based storage and syncing, includes a free web-based email account that you can access from any Mac, Windows, or iOS device via the iCloud web site.
While it's nice to have web-based email access when out and about, to tell you the truth, I'd much rather access the iCloud mail system from a standard desktop application than the web. I already have a couple of email accounts set up in Apple Mail; why would I want to open a web browser and log in to iCloud just to check one more email account? The answer is, I wouldn't. I want Apple Mail to check iCloud when I check the rest of my email accounts.
Fortunately, Apple thought this was a good idea, too, so you don't have to jump through a bunch of hoops to get it working. You just have to do things in the correct order; otherwise, you'll probably be left scratching your head and directing under-your-breath oaths in the direction of Cupertino.
Start Up iCloud
- If you haven't already done so, you'll need to set up the iCloud services. You can find complete instructions for setting up iCloud at:
- iCloud Mail is part of the Mail & Notes service of iCloud. To enable iCloud Mail, place a check mark next to Mail & Notes.
- If this is your first time using iCloud Mail & Notes, you'll be asked to create an email account. You're allowed one email account per Apple ID. All iCloud email accounts end in @me. Follow the instructions to create your iCloud email account.
- Once you complete the email setup, you can exit the iCloud preferences pane. Don't use the Sign Out button to exit; just click the Show All button near the top left of the iCloud preferences pane to show all of the available system preferences.
- Quit Apple Mail, if it's currently open.
- In the System Preferences window, click the Mail, Contacts & Calendars icon, located under the Internet & Wireless section.
- The Mail, Contacts & Calendar preferences pane displays the current list of mail, chat, and other accounts in use on your Mac. Scroll to the bottom of the list and click on the Add Account button, or click the plus (+) sign in the bottom left corner.
- A list of account types will display. Click the iCloud item.
- Supply the Apple ID and password that you used to set up iCloud earlier.
- The iCloud account will be added to the left-hand pane of accounts currently active on your Mac.
- Click the iCloud account in the left-hand pane, and ensure that Mail & Notes has a check mark next to it.
- Quit System Preferences.
- Launch Apple Mail.
Enable iCloud Mail Service
Add Your iCloud Mail Account to the Apple Mail App
You should now have an iCloud account listed in Mail's Inbox. You may need to click the Inbox disclosure triangle to expand the Inbox account list.
Accessing iCloud Mail From the Web
You can test the iCloud Mail account, to ensure that everything is working correctly. An easy way to do this is to access the iCloud mail system by pointing your browser to:
Enter your Apple ID and password.
Click the Mail icon.
Send a test message to one of your other email accounts.
Wait a few minutes, and then check Apple Mail to see if the test message came through. If it did, dash off a reply, and then check the results in the iCloud mail system.
That's all there is to setting up the Apple Mail application to access your iCloud email account.