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There are times when you can't use any TCP ports other than 80 (HTTP) or 443 (HTTPS), so you can't use Mail accounts that communicate with iCloud via IMAP/POP3/SMTP. But when you go to iCloud.com, it redirects you to the iPhone applications. Is there some way to access iCloud mail via HTTP(S)?

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If there is a solution allowing to fetch and read iCloud mail without using the traditional mail ports in another way than through a browser, that will also be appreciated! –  Emil Feb 8 '13 at 8:26

5 Answers 5

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+50

You can use a 3rd party browser to access icloud.com without being redirected to https://www.icloud.com/iphone_welcome. But beware, as you will see, icloud.com is not designed for a small display size like the iPhone's.

The key to accessing icloud.com is that the web browser doesn't identify itself as Safari Mobile.

Many browsers I tried, including Opera, Mercury and vBrowse, didn't work. I could finally find one which offered exactly this functionality: the full version of Atomic Web (note: I'm not affiliated with Atomic Web in any way) lets you set the browser identity to Firefox, Internet Explorer or Safari Desktop.

I chose Firefox 15 and could successfully load icloud.com. However, I soon noticed how uncomfortable it is to browse icloud.com from an iPhone.

To begin with, I couldn't sign in. I pinched and swiped but the display's contents didn't zoom out nor scroll. This is what I saw:

enter image description here

I had to switch to full screen to be able to partially see the Apple ID field:

enter image description here

I tapped on the Apple ID field, the metallic iCloud sign-in window gained focus and could log in.

As I feared, only the left top area of icloud.com's main page was displayed. Luckily, Mail's icon was visible and I could start it:

enter image description here

It was a frustrating experience. I changed orientation several times because, as before, I couldn't reliably scroll. My happiness faded and eventually, tired of trying, I gave up.

I tried Safari Desktop, the WAP browser and IE, but same result (or worse).

So there is a good reason why icloud.com redirects you to use the iPhone apps: icloud.com is not designed to be used with such a small display.

If you really need to have access to iCloud's webmail do yourself a favor and consider getting a tablet. If it's an iPad, install something like Atomic Web. If it isn't, you will be able to access it using the device's default browser.

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Hm, at least we know it won't work in a browser. Still looking for a way to achieve it on the iPhone, maybe there's an app that routes the mail traffic through port 80? –  Emil Feb 10 '13 at 22:40
    
It may be possible to configure your Mac's firewall (see man pfctl) to redirect all traffic from port 80 to mail.me.com:993 and all traffic from port 443 to smtp.me.com:587. You could then set up your iPhone to use your Mac as imap/smtp server. Other options: 1) set up a webmail server yourself (see roundcube.net ) 2) set up a VPN infrastructure that binds to ports 80/443 (see openvpn.net, peervpn.net or freelan.org). Deep packet inspection will probably block non-HTML traffic, though, and it's unclear to me whether the iPhone could connect to any of them. –  jaume Feb 12 '13 at 14:58
    
Would it be possible to do it the other way around on a jailbroken iOS-device? That is, rout all traffic to mail.me.com:993 through port 80? –  Emil Feb 12 '13 at 15:47
    
You can't route traffic to mail.me.com:993 from your device since it can't access port 993, only ports 80 and 443. You need an external device to do that. Maybe it is clearer with an analogy: if your radio can only tune to a reduced set of frequencies (let's say "frequencies" 80 and 443) and you want to listen to a station elsewhere in the radio spectrum (for instance in "frequency" 993) you need an additional device that 1) can tune in to that station and 2) can broadcast the station to a frequency that your radio can tune. –  jaume Feb 12 '13 at 19:24
    
That makes sense (but still kinda sucks). Thanks though! –  Emil Feb 12 '13 at 20:47

Just install a browser that support changing the user agent. For the iPad I could recommend Terra. But there should be a lot of alternate browsers for iPhone as well (I think I remember Opera for iPhone).

Another way to use the native app would be to use any kind of VPN.

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On iPhone Mercury browser can be used. But I had a bad outcome as icloud.com is not serving a standard html pages but a js magic which is not scalable in the mobile browser –  Uko Feb 7 '13 at 21:03
    
Oh, I see. Terra on iPad works, but I see how the interface has a fixed size. So, VPN is probably the only solution. However, then it's probably easier to switch to the 3g connection which should not have any restrictions. –  tlo Feb 7 '13 at 21:15
    
in my particular situation access to mail via 3g is as expensive as the whole other internet. So I was looking for some http solution :). I have to check the VPN option –  Uko Feb 7 '13 at 21:44

As a web developer I understand that there are simply some limitations to websites. It is indeed possible to make, as Apple with iCloud has done, it impossible for users operating certain browsers (user agents, or other means of user-sniffing) to access the site, or a particular page of the site.

As you have seen when you go to www.icloud.com on your "iPhone", it will redirect you to www.icloud.com/iphone-welcome/. They have some pretty specific, and intense (in a way) server redirects that are happening at the server level to send you to a different page, and you will find it impossible (unless they change configuration) to get to the desired, and normal operation of www.iCloud.com. If you open iCloud.com -> Mail you will notice, if you resize your browser horizontally that at a certain point horizontal scroll bars appear. This is obviously undesirable on any device, and they have apparently opted to get around that by simply routing users to the iPhone welcome.

Again, you can use a different browser that allows you to change the user agent, but because www.iCloud.com is so Javascript heavy, it makes it almost impossible to navigate, as noted by @jaume. If Apple developers would have given us not-so-fancy a site, with less javascript, changing the user agent, likely would have worked very well. Javascript enables all the nice UI animations, and such beautifications - as long as you are using a desktop browser.

Interesting side note: you can't access www.iCloud.com at all on an Android browser. You get an "Unsupported" error message.

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Yeah, I just purchased the full version of Atomic Web, and it bars your from going to the "non-Sign-Up-to-iCloud" page like every other browser. Just wasted my money. You should update your page to reflect this.

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Welcome to Ask Different! Instead of posting an answer to clarify another post, simply click the edit button below the post that you wish to add clarification to. –  George Garside Nov 26 '13 at 20:56

I had this issue as well, trying to bring up iCloud notes for a second account on an iPhone.

  1. You can use mobile Chrome. The trick here is Request Desktop Site.

  2. Good luck with browsing. As others have said, since Apple expects you to use Apps on iOS to use iCloud services, they pay close to zero effort to make this work on an iPhone screen

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