Mac dropped into the bath and it is destroyed. Only used the anki desktop app but never synced the decks to the website. Is there any way of accessing these files now, such as paying for the iPad app (would this automatically find the decks). They seem to be in iCloud, but it says they are empty when we tried to access them from another computer. It would be amazing if I could get an answer to this to help ease some major stress!
If I understand you correctly you have an iCloud backup of your broken Mac. You can use this backup to set up a new Mac. However, you can‘t use this backup to access individual files and folders from Anki on an iPad. To sync content from AnkiWeb to your iPad or some other device is not possible, as you have not synced your content to AnkiWeb before.
I have an iCloud backup that I can see the anki files on, but when I try to open them (using a borrowed Mac with my details) it says the folders are empty? This is a mother with no idea and stressed daughter not giving me much - she just said there’s nothing in the files. Could she be doing something incorrectly. She can open everything else stored in iCloud.
Screenshots of the folders/files in iCloud may help us answer more definitively, but I’m afraid if the data you’ve found there can’t be read and you were not syncing with AnkiWeb, there is no way for us to recover your data.
That message seems to imply it was a backup of the Anki application rather than the data it stores, which is not promising. If your daughter is desperate, a trip to the local Apple store and a talk with the people here may be worth considering in case there is anything they can do to help, but I’m afraid she may be out of luck.