The following information is based on OS X 10.10 Yosemite. If you are running an earlier version of OS the information might still useful but you may have to look in different system preferences.

I love iCloud. iCloud connects all my Apple devices in ways that make it easy for me to work from any device . I always have the latest versions of my most important things — like documents, apps, notes, and contacts — on whatever device I am using. It lets me easily share photos, calendars, locations, and more with my friends and family. It even helps me find my iPhone if I lose it.

But what about the Mac? How does iCloud improve and extend the capabilities of OS X?

iCloud Drive is very similar to Dropbox and Google Drive. If you click Options.. you can see the list your apps that use iCloud Drive to store information. You can disable any of these apps at any time by de-selecting from the list. With iCloud Drive all your presentations, spreadsheets, PDFs, images, and any other kind of document stored in iCloud is accessible from a special folder on your Mac. Open the Finder, click on the icon, work your way through the folders and open any document.

To upload your files to iCloud, simply drag them into the iCloud Drive on your Mac running OS X Yosemite. Or start a new document using an iCloud-enabled app on your iOS device. Then you’ll be able to use those documents appear on your Mac.

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Access iCloud Drive directly from the Finder.
Access iCloud Drive directly from the Finder.

With iCloud, you get an @icloud.com email account that’s ad-free, is up to date everywhere you check it, and includes e-mail at iCloud.com. Just select Mail in iCloud preferences and follow the onscreen instructions. Once iCloud is enabled on your Mac, you can use Mail, Calendar, and Contacts so send email, schedule your day and keep important information on your contacts.

iPhoto also has support for iCloud. You can sync photo to and from your Mac to your iPad or iPhone.

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iCloud can sync data from Apple and third-party apps.
iCloud can sync data from Apple and third-party apps.

Using iCloud Drive means you’ll always have access to the latest version of all your documents from any device. For example, you can start creating a presentation on your Mac at home, then make final edits and present it in class using your iPad. The changes you make along the way appear automatically on all your devices.

How do you enable it?

It's easy. Open System Preferences on your Mac. Click iCloud, enter your Apple ID, and select the services you’d like to enable. Boom! That's it. Feature enabled and ready to use.

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iCloud, OSX, Preferences
Select all the iCloud services you want to enable.
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The following information is based on OS X 10.10 Yosemite and iOS 8.1. If you are running an earlier version of either OS the information might still useful but you may have to look in different system preferences.

Using your iCloud account, Handoff lets you start something on one device -- e.g., writing and email or using a web site on your iPhone -- and instantly pick up where you left off another devices. The app you need appears in the lock screen, app switcher and Dock on your Mac. Handoff works with your favorite apps like Mail, Safari, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Maps, Messages, Reminders, Calendar, and Contacts. And clever developers are building Handoff into their apps.

One clever feature of Handoff is the ability to use the cellular features of your iPhone to make and receive phone calls and send and receive SMS messages. Apple calls this feature Continuity. I love this feature.

Quite often when I'm at home using my iMac or reading on my iPad, I'll get a call on my iPhone. Sometimes I may have my iPhone charging or I left it in another room. I don’t want to get up. I don’t want to leave what I’m doing and go get my phone. Voila, with Continuity I see the incoming call on my Mac or iPad. With a flick of the wrist and a click of the mouse I can answer that call. Right on my Mac.

When a call comes in I can see the caller’s name, number, and profile picture. I can even choose ringtones just like on my iPhone. Dude, this is so cool!

The Continuity feature also works for SMS messages via the Messages app. I send text messages to my friends and family, some of whom have BlackBerries and Android phones, right from my Mac’s keyboard.

Ok, this all sound great, but how do you set it up and use it?

Apple's support site has the official requirements but you'll need a free iCloud account, an iPhone 5 or 6 with an activated carrier plan and running iOS 8.1 and a 2012 (or later) Mac running OS X Yosemite.

For Handoff and Continuity to work your iPhone and your Mac must be connected to the same Wi-Fi network and you will need to enable Bluetooth on each device. On your iPhone and/or iPad, go to Settings-> General-> Handoff & Suggested Apps and make sure Handoff is On. If you’re out of Wi-Fi range, your Mac can connect to your iPhone’s personal hotspot.

On your Mac, open System Preferences and go to General. Select “Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices.” If you don't see this setting, your Mac may not support Handoff.

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system preferences, os x
Enable Handoff in the General section in System Preferences

On your Mac, open the FaceTime app. Go to FaceTime->Preferences and turn on “iPhone Cellular Calls.” You can exit FaceTime once this step is complete.

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facetime, preferences
In FaceTime Preferences make sure iPhone Cellular Calls is checked.

Next, go to System Preferences, and sign out and then sign in again to your iCloud account. I’m not sure why this step is required but things won’t work unless you do this.

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incoming call, notification, os x
Incoming call notification using Handoff
You are now all set to answer phone calls on your Mac. You might want to test this out by having a friend or family member call you. If everything is working, your iPhone will ring and then a second or two later, you’ll see a notification pop-up on your Mac.

Making calls requires a little more work. You can make calls by selecting a contact from the Contacts app and clicking the little blue telephone icon.

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contacts, os x
Click the little blue icon to make a call.

OS X will notify you of the outgoing call with a pop-up.

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outgoing call, notification, os x
Outgoing Call using Handoff
Once a call is connected OS X will use your Mac’s built in speaker and microphone. End the call when you like or hit mute for some privacy. Another cool feature is that if you are calling someone who has answered on another Apple device you can switch the call to a video call. Sweet!

Sending and receiving SMS messages on the Mac is easy. Open the Messages app, type in the recipient's phone number, and start type. It's no different from doing it on your iPhone. You can use emoticons and attach images and video.

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messages, os x, screenshot
From your Mac you can send SMS messages to anyone

My iPhone 6 and iCloud have become the hub of my digital communications. Being able to extend the capabilities of my iPhone to my Mac and make and receive phone calls and SMS messages has been a time saver.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]