Storing Files Locally When Using iCloud Drive

Sometimes you may want to store files in iCloud Drive, and sometimes you may want to store files on your local drive. Depending on your settings, you can have both at all times. Or, you could use one of two methods to put some files either on iCloud Drive or only locally.

Comments: 21 Responses to “Storing Files Locally When Using iCloud Drive”

    Jasper
    4 months ago

    Dropbox’s cloud service has a feature called, I think, ‘selective sync’. This allows you to have cloud-based items syncing differently on different Macs. E.g., you might only want personal items on a personal Mac and work items on a work Mac. Am I right in thinking that there is no way to achieve this in iCloud?

    4 months ago

    Jasper: Well yo do have the Download Now / Remove Download option for files and folders. But nothing exactly like the Selective Sync feature.

    Jeff
    4 months ago

    HI Gary, Why have the documents/desktop folder checked for iCloud at all?
    Then you can individually choose where to keep a new file when going to save it.
    Just go to file with option key held down and save as. This gives you much better control
    of each and every file. Also, how does mac save a file by default? to iCloud or locally? (IF you just click save).
    Can you change the default setting?
    Thanks, Jeff

    4 months ago

    Jeff: The Desktop is different than all other locations, as items in it show on the Desktop. If you want that to be in iCloud too, then you need to use this option. There are also shortcuts that take you to Documents, so it is useful to have that folder in iCloud too. You have absolute control whether you use it or not. But most people (me) prefer to keep all of their files in Documents, and having that folder in iCloud then requires that setting. Default really depends. It should remember your last location.

    bruce louis
    4 months ago

    I would like to completely eliminate iCloud. I have a feeling that Apple has just cracked the door on spying on files. I have further heard that they are using china companies to store icloud data. Are there any tips for completely cleaning out all of my cloud data and completely detaching from iCloud

    4 months ago

    Bruce: Because of the CSMA controversy? Apple announced they are putting that on hold. Also, other cloud services like Google have been doing that for years with hardly a complaint from anyone. As for storing data in China, Apple and other companies do that — but for customers IN China. If you really want to move away from using cloud services and back to local files only, it is just a matter of moving your files and data to locations on your drive and then when iCloud is empty, turn it off. Just think about all of the iCloud services and go through each one: files, photos, Calendar, email, music, keychain, etc. It will be tough to go back to manually syncing this data across all of your devices, so take that into consideration.

    Mick
    4 months ago

    Hi Gary. Many thanks for making this tutorial. It has clarified this whole subject for me. I have loads of space on my devices and have needlessly been using the “Optimise Mac Storage” option. Thanks Mick

    Mick
    4 months ago

    Gary … a thought…Is the “Optimise Storage” only available as a feature on Macs? I can’t find any similar settings on my IOS devices? Cheers Mick

    4 months ago

    Mick: There is no Finder on iOS. You use the Files app to access files in iCloud. There is no way to have all of your documents downloaded and stored in iOS. It acts like “Optimize” is always on.

    bizstuff
    4 months ago

    I want some files to have both a local and cloud representation. Ex: I use Lightroom and need fast access to the Catalog (several gigs), but I would also like the security of knowing that I have a cloud backup. Is there a way of doing this somewhat automatically?

    4 months ago

    bizstuff: If you want them to be in iCloud, then they need to be in iCloud. No way around that, right? So there is only one solution. Turn off Optimize so all of your files are always cached locally too. You’ll need a drive large enough to handle it, but that would be true anyway if you want the files always available, right?

    Bernard
    3 months ago

    Hi Gary, hope you don’t mind to answer one more question. Is it necessary to have a backup of all the files stored in my iCloud (note: I am using Optimise Storage thus only a small portion of these files are in my local storage), in case iCloud crashes and I end up losing the only copy of most of the files stored there? If yes, how do I do that? I am using Time Machine but I think it can only backup iCloud files that are synced to my local drive and not those in the cloud, am I correct? Thanks.

    3 months ago

    Bernard: There’s really no way to do that. Since you don’t have the space on your local drive you can’t download all of your files. Since you can’t download all of your files they simply aren’t present locally so you can’t back them up. I don’t know of a solution for this situation other than getting a much larger drive next time, or storing less in iCloud, or manually downloading files in iCloud.com (the web site) and meticulously archiving them to an external drive. Maybe doing that only with critical files?

    Jackie Bruno
    2 months ago

    How do I find my home folder and how do I add add the new folder named “Local Documents” to my home folder? I understand your extremely helpful video but being somewhat new to Mac I sometimes lack the more basic skills to implement your great suggestions . Is there a link you can direct me to. I am using macOS Monterey. Thanks so much.

    2 months ago

    Jackie: In any Finder window, you can choose Go, Home as a way to get there fast. Then File, New Folder will create a new folder and you can name it. See https://macmost.com/understanding-the-file-and-folder-structure-of-your-mac.html for some info on how your Mac is organized.

    Razvan Mihai
    2 months ago

    Gary: If Desktop and Downloads are synced by iCloud, and you have two Macs, what would be your recommended way of keeping track between two different (?) Desktops and Downloads assuming there is enough hard hard drive space on both devices? Thanks!

    2 months ago

    Razvan: You mean Desktop & Documents (not Downloads). You don’t have to keep track of anything. Those two folders would look identical on both Macs. They would act as one location, showing you one set of files no matter which Mac you are looking at. That is how cloud storage works. See https://macmost.com/understanding-icloud-drive-and-the-optimize-mac-storage-option.html

    Razvan Mihai
    2 months ago

    Too many D’s! Thanks for clarifying this. I was under the impression that Downloads might sync the same way as Desktop or Documents folders do, as long as the iCloud settings are on.

    Razvan Mihai
    2 months ago

    Gary: While tidying up my files, I noticed under iCloud the Downloads folder accessible on Mac and iPhone. It seems that this is where files get downloaded on iOS. I am now wondering if it is a good idea to set the Mac to download to this folder so that files be accessible on all devices and get the same level of integration as with Desktops and Documents.

    2 months ago

    Razvan: I wouldn’t. When downloading things like apps it would be useless to have access to them on iOS. And when downloading content Downloads should be treated as a temporary place where you receive the file and then move it to where it should stay for the long term.

    Razvan Mihai
    2 months ago

    Gary: Thanks. I have renamed the Downloads folder under iCloud to “Downloads iOS” to clarify where the files downloaded on iPhone and iPad go and avoid confusion between the two different “Downloads” folders. It works flawlessly.

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