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How Do I Remove Downloaded iCloud Drive Files (now Files App)?

How do I remove downloaded Files app files without deleting the file from iCloud? I can’t figure this out on iOS or MacOS. The only option deletes the file from everything including iCloud.

MacOS 10.13.2
iOS 11.2.1
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Todd Mavis

Comments: 13 Responses to “How Do I Remove Downloaded iCloud Drive Files (now Files App)?”

    2 years ago

    Think of iCloud as a single location. So what you are asking is: How do I delete files from iCloud without deleting them from iCloud. You can’t. It wouldn’t make sense.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “download Files.” When you view a file on your iOS device, you are viewing the file on iCloud Drive. You didn’t “download” it to another place. It was in iCloud Drive and still is in iCloud Drive. And that is a shared space between your iOS device and your Mac. So think of it as one file in one place. If you delete it, no matter which device you are holding, it deletes the one file from that one place.

    Todd Mavis
    2 years ago

    No, the file is in both locations, iCloud and local storage once downloaded (iCloud icon removed). There is no way to view an iCloud file without it being downloaded. The problem then is how to remove the local copy but leave the iCloud file intact.

    For instance, iTunes Match the files reside on apple servers. You can also have them reside locally and you are given the choice to delete the file or remove the download.

    Todd Mavis
    2 years ago

    Gary, lets say you upload a 500MB video file on your Mac to iCloud Files to share with people giving them permissions. Then you decide to take a look at that file on your iOS device. At first the file shows a cloud icon showing the file is not stored locally. Once you tap on the file to open it the file downloads to your local device and the iCloud icon goes away letting you know the file now also resides on your iOS device. Problem I’m finding is how to remove the download iOS file only.

    2 years ago

    If you want to get into the technical details of it, then yes, the cloud icon means it isn’t stored locally. If iCloud was an old-fashioned “file server,” then it would be more like what you are thinking.
    But a cloud service treats everything like one shared space. Your iCloud Drive is viewable on your Mac, your iOS device, and any other devices connected to it. It is the SAME space as far as the interface is concerned.
    All the cloud icon means is that there will be a small delay because this file is not currently cached locally.
    So it is important to THINK of iCloud Drive as a single space, because that is how it acts.
    Think of it as a single space that is magically shared by your devices.
    This file you are talking about is on your iCloud Drive. Deleting it deletes it from iCloud Drive. Any device using your iCloud Drive will see the files there, or not see the files that aren’t there.

    2 years ago

    As for your 500MB video file example, the only difference between before (cloud icon) and after (no cloud icon) is that your iOS device was trying to save local bits by not having the file available to you yet. In an ideal world you’d have tons of space on your iOS device and tons of fast bandwidth and you’d never see those cloud icons because it would just make everything available.
    Whether there is a cloud icon or not, the file is still part of your iCloud Drive space that is shared between all of your devices.

    Todd Mavis
    2 years ago

    So are you saying the file is just cached somehow temporarily and not using up space on your iOS device? If it is using up space once opened up on another device wether MacOS or iOS, how do you remove this space without deleting the file form iCloud (apple servers)?

    2 years ago

    Yes, now you are getting it. So everything you have in iCloud is in at least one place. That place is on Apple’s servers, even if you never look there to see them. If you have a MacBook and an iPad, then it seems like everything is in three places: MacBook, iPad, Apple’s servers. But your MacBook and iPad may decide they don’t have enough space, and may decide to show the icons for the files but not have the data inside the files. It will only grab the inside of the files if you need them for something. It does this by considering the amount of space you have, the size of the files, how likely it is you will need the file, and other factors. It does this automatically. There are no settings for the decision making process.
    So you don’t remove the file (or the inside of the file, if that helps you understand) manually. macOS/iOS will decide to do it. If you have plenty of space, it won’t do it. If you just used the file, so it is likely you need it again soon, it won’t do it. But if it is an older file, taking up a lot of space, and you need space on your device, then it will do it.
    So the answer is that you don’t remove the file, you just like the OS worry about it.

    Todd Mavis
    2 years ago

    Ok. Thanks Gary!

    Todd Mavis
    2 years ago

    Gary, just wondering where you are getting your information from that the local files will be deleted and space managed behind the scenes by iCloud and the Files app? I talked with Apple who escalated the issue to the engineers and was told currently the files will not be deleted and to submit feedback for Apple. So to me it looks like there is no way to recover the space after downloading the files other than deleting the file from iCloud.

    2 years ago

    Todd: See https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT206996 “When storage space is needed, files, photos, movies, email attachments, and other files that you seldom use are stored in the cloud automatically.”

    Todd Mavis
    2 years ago

    Ok. Thanks Gary. Yes it seems a little confusing. Looks like that is specifically talking about MacOS and the settings specifically for photos and desktop documents with iCloud turned on for those items. But I’m still confused if this is what happens for files from iCloud Files App downloaded to iOS files app.

    2 years ago

    As a follow up… On 1/19 I clicked the cloud button on a series of files in a folder on my iCloud Drive. They varied in size from 237KB to 72MB. I waited for them all to “download” to my iPad. I was running low on storage on the iPad. I set a reminder to check them today. In the meantime, I used my iPad normally, including downloading a movie. Today (1/22) I checked and all of those files are shown again with the cloud icon — they had all been automatically offloaded to make room for things I was actually using.

    Todd Mavis
    2 years ago

    Good to know Gary!

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