The time has finally come: you need to make the move from MobileMe to iCloud, as MobileMe officially goes dark on June 30.
If you have an older MobileMe account, you may have held off on the transition to iCloud until the very end. It can feel like a significant move, especially if you hold a .Mac or original iTools account, from when Apple first started offering web-based services in 2002 and 2000, respectively. Apple has offered various cloud-based services, like iDisk, Domain Hosting, Web Galleries and several other Sync Services, over the years, but none of these will work with iCloud moving forward.
Last year when Apple announced the end of MobileMe and the beginning of iCloud, I knew exactly when I would transition at least one of my accounts: the week prior to the June 30, 2012 cutoff date. And that final week officially begins on Saturday. For those that have justified putting this off until now, here are some tips tailored for you.
Email access from older devices
It is not easy to switch your primary email account. You have friends, family, co-workers, businesses and various online accounts that all need to be informed of the change. And when it comes to mail in iCloud, not every Apple device that you might own can run the software necessary to support iCloud. iCloud requires OS X 10.7 Lion on Mac and iOS 5 on iPhone and iPad. That means that there is quite a long list of older Apple hardware that will not be able to access the migrated mail accounts. That could have left many long time Apple users with a tough choice: Upgrade their hardware, or try and inform the world that they have a new email address.
Fortunately, as of May 1, Apple has added a new transition option for MobileMe users that will allow you to access your mail from older devices that cannot support the software necessary to run iCloud. By holding off on the full transition to iCloud a little while longer, you can keep your MobileMe or .Mac mail account up and running. But this is for mail only. This is not a complete continuation of all of the MobileMe services. It is only a means of preserving access to your mail account from older Apple devices beyond the June 30 deadline. All other MobileMe services will be shut down on June 30 as planned.
However, keeping your existing email setup will not happen automatically for you. You still need to go through Apple’s transition process. When you start the process, you will need to select “Not all my devices meet requirements.” As you then go through the process, you will be told that you will be able to keep access to your MobileMe and .Mac mail accounts. At any time, you can continue the transition and create a new iCloud account using your MobileMe mail ID.
Export Address Book, iCal and Safari bookmarks
During the MobileMe to iCloud migration, your Contacts and Bookmarks will not be migrated for you. Instead, the first device you connect to your newly created iCloud account following the migration will be used to upload an initial copy of this information.
So it is important that you have backup copies of your important information in addition to your regular Time Capsule and various online backup solutions. This will decrease your recovery time from hours to minutes.
Thankfully, Apple has made it very easy to archive your contacts, bookmarks and calendar data. In Address Book, Safari and iCal, from each app’s File menu, you can select the Export menu item to create an Address Book Archive, a Bookmarks HTML file and an iCal Archive. Each of these three files can very quickly be imported back into their respective apps if ever something goes wrong during the transition process.
Sync MobileMe iDisk locally
After June 30, the iDisk service will no longer be supported by Apple, and you will likely have no way to access any information you have stored in iDisk. The easiest way to preserve your MobileMe iDisk is to sync it locally. From within MobileMe System Preferences, click on the iDisk tab and start the iDisk Sync service.
What this does is create a mountable disk image or sparse bundle in your ~/Library/FileSync folder. It is a local copy of all of your iDisk files. Any changes you make to your iDisk will be reflected in this local copy. Syncing will prove to be much more successful than trying to manually copy your iDisk files by dragging and dropping folders everywhere. It may take a while to fully sync all of your files depending on how many files you have stored in iDisk. Once the sync process is complete, and you are ready to migrate to iCloud, you can stop the iDisk Sync service. This will create a copy of the disk image on your desktop in a folder beginning with the name “Previous local iDisks.” The file contained in this folder is something like a zipped up archive of all of your files. By double clicking on the file, you mount the image as a disk that you can access via the Finder. This disk image is something that you can continue to mount as a drive even after the MobileMe iDisk service is shut down.
Download archived MobileMe Galleries
With iCloud’s new Photo Stream replacing MobileMe Galleries, you will need to download all photos prior to June 30. Perhaps the easiest way to preserve your MobileMe galleries is by logging on to the MobileMe web site, go to your Gallery and click on the “Download Albums” link in the top left corner of the page.
This will create an archive backup or zip file of each Photo Album in your MobileMe gallery. The files will be saved to Safari’s Downloads location.
Migrate to a new domain hosting site
Perhaps one of the most difficult things to do will be to migrate your MobileMe hosted web site over to another hosting provider. The difficulty here lies in selecting a new hosting provider. Most of the heavy lifting will be done with whomever you use as your domain registrar. That is where you will change your CNAME entry from web.me.com to whatever your new hosting provider specifies. All of your web site’s content should be managed within your selected web authoring tool of choice. So hopefully you have another copy of your most recent upload stored locally.
Once you have transitioned over to your new hosting provider, log back into your MobileMe account and on the Account page, click Personal Domain on the left. From here, click the Remove Domain button on the right to remove your configured personal domain from MobileMe.
Overall, the process of transitioning is straightforward and quite simple. If you have a lot of mail, files and photos, the process could take a while to complete. I migrated most of my MobileMe family accounts last year when the transition was first announced. The only hold ups I had were that one of primary users of the account was still using older Apple hardware that doesn’t meet the minimum requirements to support iCloud, and I had an account that I was using to host a web site on MobileMe. Hopefully the transition will go as smoothly for you as it did for me.