How to live without iCloud?

So I learned my work’s IT department doesn’t let me use iCloud on my iPhone, iPad, or Mac. I’m trying to come up with alternative solutions and it’s super hard. I’d love the help of all you smart people to help me figure out how to live (& sync) without iCloud (and not quit my job). Below are some ideas I have I’d love feedback on + areas I’m struggling.

  • Photos: auto-upload to Dropbox with a Hazel rule that downloads them & adds to my Mac’s “master” photo library
  • Mail: using web-based mail
  • Contacts: Unsure. Suggestions?
  • Calendars: Unsure. Can’t use gmail—suggestions?
  • Reminders: No idea. Suggestions?
  • Notes: Unsure. Can’t use gmail for IMAP-based notes. Suggestions? Really gonna missing sharing feature :confused:
  • Keychain: 1Password
  • Find my iPhone: Would love an alternative so long as it’s location-tracking had robust security so it wasn’t accessible to the company providing it
  • Backups: local in iTunes w/ Things repeating reminder so I don’t forget
  • iCloud Drive: Dropbox or OneDrive instead, but am having some issues with specific apps that don’t support anything but iCloud Drive. Probably need to go to an alternate app. Recommendations for:
  • Copied (would like to keep cross-device sync)
  • Drafts (this one kills me if I can’t sync it…)
  • PDF Expert (could live without sync on this, but would love an alternative)
  • Shortcuts (agh! Does this really only sync via iCloud?!?)
  • Soulver (can’t see anything but iCloud)
  • TextExpander has its own sync service, right?
  • Things also has its own sync, yes?

Thanks for the help y’all! This is crazy…

I’m curious…are you willing to not make your personal device the same as your work device? Seems this is so restrictive, I would never restrict my personal devices in this way.

Or am I misunderstanding?

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I might have some ideas but I could use a little more info. Your company doesn’t allow you to log into iCloud, or doesn’t allow you to store any company data on iCloud? Also, does your company use Gmail, O365, or ?

My thoughts too. OP might want to explain more what the restrictions specifically are, as the description is not particularly clear.

Easiest route is keeping your Apple stuff personal and separate from work, because finding non-iCloud sync alternatives for every single item listed (eg Things, Drafts, Soulver, etc) is simply impossible.

If you don’t need Microsoft apps for work, you can do a pretty much everything with a $400 Chromebook and Google Apps and the web browser. If the Chromebook has enabled support for the Google Play Store, you can even use 1Password for Android on it. You can share your Apple Calendar in Google Calendar via “Add a friend’s calendar” (and read/edit Google Calendar events on Apple Calendar), though the IT people might find that to be some sort of security breach…

I tend to agree. Part of it for me is keeping my personal information out of our IT group’s hands. I have a work iPhone that has it’s own iCloud account and only has work information on it. To be fair, my organization does not yet offer a BYOD program, so I am a bit biased, I suppose.

Sounds like your employer isn’t so much opposed to iCloud but any form of cloud service on devices they control. It’s not like iCloud is less secure than any other service, so by working around iCloud you’re probably going to breach the same or similar policy.

It is weird though for corporate IT to deploy iOS devices but not allow iCloud. It’s kinda critical to the whole iOS thing…

Hey all, thanks for the help and interest! I wanted to give some more information to you so you can maybe help me out a bit more.

  1. The IT department said something about encryption keys being held by Apple as the reason I can’t use it. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but they said sometimes Apple turns information over to governments? Re: @WayneG @Mpacker

  2. The easiest thing to do, I think you all are right, are to keep work & personal lives separate. Unfortunately, and this would be a long explanation (but I think unnecessary), that’s something I can’t do right now. So if you had to have the same device for both personal and work and couldn’t use iCloud on it…how would you do it? Re: @HobbyCollector @bowline

  3. Company doesn’t allow GoogleSuite stuff for the same security reason, but they let us use Office365 and Exchange. Re: @bowline

And I’m with you on this being restrictive! Not something I can fight, unfortunately, but either have to quit (really don’t want to quit over this, haha) or abide by.

Big thanks again if you can help a fellow out!

@MarkDMill, I don’t think I have a good answer for you, but I look forward to seeing what people say. To be honest, my personal solution would be to try to compromise. I’d figure out what device MUST be used for work (e.g., the Mac) and configure that one as a bare-bones device with no personal data on it. Then I’d use the remaining device(s) as my personal devices with no work information on them.

I, personally, would not be willing to compromise my iPhone and iPad use, for instance, as much as I think you will have to.

Good luck!

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If the company allows O365, you will have access to file sharing through OneDrive and Sharepoint. The O365 suite is pretty darn good on IOS, so at least there’s that. You can access OneDrive shares through an app like Files and Readdle Documents too.

I don’t know what your company does, but if Apple had a court order to hand over your encryption keys to the government, your employer would probably have issue with you working for them anyway…


I’ve dealt with IT departments with muttonheaded reasoning. Sounds familiar, given that your IT Dept (apparently a MSFT shop) allows for OneDrive Cloud use but Microsoft does the same thing as Apple.

Apple is up-front about what it stores, and when it releases keys to governments.

So, keep your iThings, but keep them separate from work.

I prefer Google Drive and ran into the same problems as you with apps that only share with iCloud or Dropbox. I use Hazel rules that redirects files to my preferred locations. Since some apps, like Shortcuts, only work with iCloud, I don’t have a workaround for you at this time.

As a former network director, I understand your I.T. department being wary of BYOD solutions. However, all U.S. companies routinely turn over data when required by the government. The only defense is to pre-encrypt data before upload - which, AFAIK, is impossible with standard IOS & Android devices. So this was not a factor, in our opinion, when we chose our email/cloud provider.

Hopefully, others here can be more helpful. Good luck.

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In Apple’s world, yes. But if you’re willing to think a bit out of the box an iOS life without iCloud is perfectly feasible.

Without cloud support or are you writing about icloud only being bypassed?

I’m grateful not to have company requirements to contend with. As not a tech wizard I’m happy with no fuss integration of apps such as Ulysses into iCloud. Syncing and backups and storage with many apps *just works * with no additional hardware and no or modest expense. Written from iPad prospective.

Feasible, I suppose, but it’s not desirable.

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Only without iCloud. I like to have everything under my own control, so I basically run my own cloud services for everything. No Dropbox or Google cloud, but ownCloud for example. And a caldav/carddav server for my calendar, tasks, and contacts. And IMAP for mail. Mostly open standards and open source.
I know this is not for everyone, but it definitely works without (too many) limitations.


There are many factors to consider, including what industry you’re in and any regulations that might apply based on the type of data you might have in emails, files, etc.

You used the word “my [iphone, Mac, iPad]” so I’m assuming these devices are not company owned.

Bottom line: if the Company requires you to have devices to do work benefiting the Company, I’d ask for a work device(s). If that is not an option, have them manage your device using Microsoft Intune such that Company data is in a secure container. This could allow you to have access to iCloud, Backups, photos, etc.

I’ve seen this setup work very well.



It’s amazing how much it compromises–this is pretty crazy. Thanks for the feedback on this though!

So you nailed this–IT department is not a fan of Macs. Noticed this kind of anti-Apple bias in some other things they’ve written. So ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Ok, so this is what I think I need to do. Can you point me to starter resources for caldav/carddav? And how does ownCloud work?

Excellent idea–I hadn’t heard of Intune before, but worth checking out. Thanks for the suggestion!

Like I said, it’s not for everyone. It involves (in my case) running your own (Linux) servers. However, good caldav/carddav functionality, together with IMAP mail can be gotten a Fastmail. So this should already give you Calendar, Reminders, and Contacts syncing and e-mail without using iCloud.