Mac Can’t Connect to iCloud? Here Are 7 Ways to Fix It

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iCloud adds a lot of extra services and features to your Mac, but they only work if it connects without unexpected problems. Unfortunately, for lots of users that isn’t the case. Their Mac can’t connect to iCloud because of an Apple ID problem.

When that happens, you can’t use iMessage, FaceTime, or other iCloud services like Mail, Calendar, and iCloud Drive.

It’s difficult to fix this issue on your own since it can be the result of a lot of different problems. So, we put together this troubleshooting guide to help.


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What to Do If Your Mac Can’t Connect to iCloud

When you see a message that your Mac can’t connect to iCloud, go to Apple > System Preferences > Apple ID and re-enter your Apple ID password. If an unexpected problem occurs, you need to do some troubleshooting, which might include restarting your Mac and signing out of iCloud.

Related:

Why Can’t My Mac Connect to iCloud?

One of the reasons this issue is so difficult to solve is because lots of different problems cause the same symptoms. Whether Apple’s servers are down, your Internet connection is failing, or your operating system is corrupted, you still see the same error message.

Most of the time, your Mac says “An unexpected error occurred” when you try to re-enter your Apple ID password. This equally cryptic message gives no clue what went wrong or how to fix it.

An unknown error occurred with your Apple ID message

Re-entering your Apple ID password doesn’t always fix this issue.

Because there are lots of potential causes for this problem, there are also lots of potential solutions. The only way to find out which one works for you is to try each of them and sign in to iCloud again afterward.

We’ve listed the best troubleshooting suggestions below starting from the simplest option.

Be sure to test iCloud again after each potential fix. And let us know in the comments which solution worked for you.

Fix 1. Quit Every App and Shut Down Your Mac

Shut down window on a Mac.

Shutting down your Mac gives it a chance to fix frozen processes.

This simple solution can be a quick and easy way to fix lots of potential issues without risking any data loss. It worked for lots of other users already.

Quit every app on your Mac using the following two shortcuts:

  • Cmd + Q: To quit your active app.
  • Option + Tab: To cycle to the next open app.

If any apps are unresponsive and refuse to quit, press Option + Cmd + Escape and Force Quit them instead.

Force Quit window showing System Preferences

Quit all your apps to fix different issues.

After closing every app on your Mac, go to Apple > Shut Down and Shut Down your Mac. Wait at least 30 seconds after it finishes turning off before you press the power button to restart it.

Note: Repeat these steps after every other potential fix below to find out if your Mac still can’t connect to iCloud.

Fix 2. Change the Date and Time

Set date and time automatically opion from Mac System Preferences

Choose to set your date and time automatically.

Take a look at the date and time in the top-right corner of your Mac display: Is it correct? Even if it’s only a minute off, the wrong date or time can cause lots of problems when your Mac tries to connect to iCloud.

Go to Apple > System Preferences > Date & Time to fix it.

Click the padlock and enter your administrator’s password to unlock changes. Then select the Date & Time tab and choose to Set date and time automatically.

Quit every app and shut down your Mac again afterward to see if it worked.

Fix 3. Check Apple’s iCloud System Status

Apple System Status website

Find out if Apple’s services are up and running.

It’s possible your Mac can’t connect to iCloud because Apple’s systems are experiencing problems or undergoing maintenance. Find out if this is the case by visiting Apple’s System Status website.

Take a look at each of the iCloud-related services. They should have green circles next to them to say they’re up and running. If they don’t, you need to wait for Apple to fix them.

Even after Apple resolves problems with iCloud services, you may need to wait a little longer before your Mac can connect again. Sometimes errors linger in the system for a few hours after Apple fixes them.


Fix 4. Check Your Apple ID Details

Screenshot of the Apple ID sign in page

Sign in to the Apple ID website.

Make sure you’re using the correct Apple ID username and password by signing in to the Apple ID website. If you can’t sign in, you may need to change your Apple ID password.

After signing in, the website may alert you to security issues with your account. These could explain why your Mac can’t connect to iCloud using your Apple ID details.

Under the Account section, make sure all your contact details are accurate. Under Security, temporarily disable Two-Factor Authentication or generate an App-Specific Password to use.

You shouldn’t need to alter your security settings to connect your Mac to iCloud, but sometimes it helps. Remember to put your settings back to normal after fixing the issue.


Fix 5. Sign Out of iCloud on Your Mac

Apple ID Overview page in Mac System Preferences

Open the System Preferences to sign out of your Apple ID.

The next thing to do is temporarily sign out of iCloud on your Mac. When you do this, your Mac disconnects from every iCloud service, removing the related data from your Mac. This includes:

  • Calendar
  • Notes
  • Contacts
  • Reminders
  • Photos
  • iCloud Mail
  • iCloud Drive

Don’t worry, it’s still available on the iCloud website and will return to your Mac when you connect to iCloud again.

When signing out of iCloud, you can choose to copy some of the data to your Mac so you can still access it. Otherwise, everything comes back when you sign in to iCloud again.

Go to Apple > System Preferences > Apple ID and select Overview from the sidebar. At the bottom of the window, click Sign Out, then choose the data you want to keep on your Mac.

If prompted, enter your Apple ID password to disable Find My Mac. You may also need to create a new administrator’s password that isn’t linked to your Apple ID (you can still choose to use the same password for this).

After signing out of iCloud, restart your Mac and return to the Apple ID System Preferences to sign in again.

Fix 6. Sign In With a Different Apple ID Account

Mac System Preferences with option to Sign In to Apple ID

Sign in to a different Apple ID account on your Mac.

Some users managed to fix their Mac’s iCloud problems by signing in with a different Apple ID account. If you don’t have access to a second account, create a new email address and sign up for a new Apple ID account online.

Follow the above instructions to sign out of your current iCloud account by going to Apple > System Preferences > Apple ID.

Then sign in to a different Apple ID account from the same page. It doesn’t matter if you use someone else’s account or a brand new one.

Finally, sign out of the new account and sign in again using your original Apple ID. Remember to quit every app and shut down your Mac again to help it connect to iCloud.

Fix 7. Remove Various Library Files

macOS Catalina Library folder icon

The Library folder holds macOS system files.

Your Mac saves system settings and preferences in a hidden folder called the Library. It’s possible your Mac can’t connect to iCloud because some of the Library files are corrupt or missing.

The simplest solution is to recover a Time Machine backup of your Mac. Go back to the last time you connected to iCloud without any unexpected problems.

If that isn’t possible, manually remove files from the Library, forcing your Mac to recreate them. When you do this, it changes various System Preferences and settings on your Mac, including passwords you saved to the Keychain.

Make a backup of your Mac using Time Machine before you get started.

Follow the steps below to remove files from various related parts of the Library. Make sure to restart your Mac again after each one. If your Mac still can’t connect to iCloud, return those files to your Library to restore the settings.

Remove Your iCloud Accounts

  1. Open Finder and select Go > Go to Folder from the menu bar.
  2. Go to the following folder:
    ~/Library/Application Support/iCloud/Accounts/
  3. Move all the contents to a new folder on your Desktop, then restart your Mac and test iCloud again.

Go to iCloud Accounts Library Folder in Finder

Keep Library files safe by moving them to the Desktop.

Remove Your System Preferences

  1. Open Finder and select Go > Go to Folder from the menu bar.
  2. Go to the following folder: ~/Library/Preferences/
  3. Find the file com.apple.systempreferences.plist.
  4. Move it to a new folder on your Desktop, then restart your Mac and test iCloud again.

Go to Preferences Library folder in Finder

Keep Library files safe by moving them to the Desktop.

Remove Your Keychain

  1. This erases all your passwords, so write down any you can’t remember.
  2. Open Finder and select Go > Go to Folder from the menu bar.
  3. Go to the following folder: ~/Library/Keychain/
  4. Move all the contents to a new folder on your Desktop, then restart your Mac and test iCloud again.

Go to Keychain Library folder in Finder

Keep Library files safe by moving them to the Desktop.

If All Else Fails, Reinstall macOS

By now you should be able to connect your Mac to iCloud without any more unexpected Apple ID problems. If that still isn’t the case, it might be time for a more drastic course of action: reinstalling macOS.

This is the operating system running on your Mac, which you can reinstall without losing any data. Here are instructions on how to reinstall macOS on your Mac, let us know how you get on in the comments.

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