macOS Sierra: iCloud Drive Syncs Desktop Files and Documents Across Devices

With macOS Sierra, Apple is aiming to make it easier to access all of your content across multiple devices, expanding iCloud Drive to encompass the desktop and documents folder of every Mac.

This feature puts all of the files stored either on the desktop or in the documents folder in iCloud, making them available on iOS devices, Macs, and iCloud.com for easy access to your most recent files wherever you are.

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Turning on the new iCloud feature is done when setting up macOS Sierra. When you install the new operating system, Apple will ask if you want to enable iCloud storage for the desktop and documents folder and will let you know how much iCloud storage space it will take up.

If you have a lot of files on your desktop or in the documents folder, it can take up a significant amount of space, so you might need to do some file cleanup before enabling it.

If you want to enable the feature later or turn it off at some point, you can do so by going to System Preferences --> iCloud --> iCloud Drive --> Options ---> and checking or unchecking "Desktop & Documents Folders" in the list of apps allowed to upload data to iCloud Drive.

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On Macs and iOS devices, the contents of the desktop and documents folder can be accessed through the iCloud Drive app. On iCloud.com, the files can be accessed through the iCloud Drive folder that's available once you're signed in. If you have a Windows machine, your Mac files will be able to be downloaded through the iCloud for Windows app.

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The new iCloud storage options in Sierra bring Macs more in line with iOS devices, which use iCloud Drive for all file storage purposes. macOS Sierra is available for free starting today.

Related Roundup: macOS Sierra


Top Rated Comments

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27 weeks ago
I strongly suggest NOT using the optimize storage feature! Not only will this remove the files from your Mac, but it'll keep the files from being backed up with Time Machine.

You will literally be trusting iCloud *completely* to store your important files. Definitely NOT a good idea!

Keep Optimize Storage off. Back up your data. It's only a matter of time before someone gets bitten by this.
Rating: 14 Votes
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27 weeks ago
How about an option to sync Desktop only, and not Documents, does that exist?
Rating: 4 Votes
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27 weeks ago
i find it incredibly pushy on apple's part to have Optimization turned on by default (see original post screen shot bottom).
installing macOS Sierra has this on by default.
Rating: 3 Votes
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27 weeks ago
Need more macOS articles
Rating: 3 Votes
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27 weeks ago

I strongly suggest NOT using the optimize storage feature! Not only will this remove the files from your Mac, but it'll keep the files from being backed up with Time Machine.

You will literally be trusting iCloud *completely* to store your important files. Definitely NOT a good idea!

Keep Optimize Storage off. Back up your data. It's only a matter of time before someone gets bitten by this.


I wouldn't even trust Dropbox with this kind of feature, let alone Apple with their less than stellar record. The idea behind this is great, but not realistic. The casual user with only 128GB of storage may benefit, but someone like me who likes to have at least 2 local copies and a cloud copy will not be satisfied with it.

I don't even like that it's baked into the OS. I just hope they never enable it by default without somehow informing the user. I like iCloud and Dropbox confined to syncing some app data and specific files that i manually place in their folder.
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Untrue. Files are downloaded, then backed up, then optimized.



After they're optimized, they're not affect by your local time machine backups because they're not on your computer, they're in iCloud. Your computer only has a few kb placeholder.
Rating: 2 Votes
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27 weeks ago
Sigh. I wish Apple would just create a way to copy files directly to my iPad. Say I have a directory of PDFs, txts, and epubs, and I want to read them on my iPad. I will be on my iPad away from wifi. So I want them ALL on my iPad. Not off on a server in a desert somewhere, but on my iPad, you know, that thing Apple sold me that is supposedly owned by me?

This is a trivial thing to do on my Nexus 7. Why must it require so much extra effort on my iPad? Just stop holding my hand and include a Finder in iOS already!
Rating: 2 Votes
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27 weeks ago

Need more macOS articles


Need more Macs.
Rating: 2 Votes
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27 weeks ago

The darn Developer Beta deleted my local files once they were uploaded though, and then it was a total pain to redownload them. literally took a couple days.. What a pain. hope they fixed that for the public version, but be careful all.


Haha, the release version still does that, so be careful. Thing is, I lost all my files because the iCloud upload wasn't finished when I turned the feature off again. Great.
Rating: 2 Votes
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27 weeks ago

I recently upgraded my iCloud storage to 1tb, just because my photo library was pushing up over 200gb. So with all that space to spare I thought hey let's give it a go!
I mean I still haven't found a use for it. I'm sure it'll happen sometime.
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Can't you just get an unlimited option? I mean, aren't all plans now unlimited? I've had BT Infinity for about 4 years now, and before that a regular BT broadband and I don't think I've had limits since 2004.


I increased as well my iCloud storage to 200 Gb, after Google Photo decided to burn all my data for a bug.
Photo Library is perfect, but I think that iCloud drive requires more tool to share or request files even from people that are not using iCloud, i.e. the vast majority.
Rating: 1 Votes
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27 weeks ago

How about an option to sync Desktop only, and not Documents, does that exist?


I'm annoyed to find out this feature is for Desktop AND Documents. Documents is where I put all the crap I don't want to see anywhere else!
Rating: 1 Votes
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