Icloud Drive Mac

ICloud Drive is a syncing service and by default keeps a local copy on your Mac drive. To reduce the space needed on the drive, turn on the Optimize storage option. See the information below from Add your Desktop and Documents files to iCloud Drive - Apple Support. Here’s how to sign into iCloud Drive with your Mac web browser: 1. Open your web browser, and go to iCloud.com. Log in using your Apple ID. You can now select an app like Page, Numbers or Keynote to start producing documents. When saved, these will synchronize with the iCloud Drive folder on your Mac. On the iPhone and iPad, there’s a Files app that gives you one-tap access to iCloud Drive and any other local files or cloud services, but there’s no such app for Mac. In this short article, I’ll show you how easy it is to add an iCloud Drive Button to the macOS Dock for one-click access to your content in the cloud. ICloud Drive is Apple’s essential connection between all your devices, Mac, iPhone, iPad, even your Windows PC. While the cost of storage seems expensive in comparison to other online storage.

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/Mac Cleaner /iCloud Drive Taking Up Space on Mac: How to Clear?

Here’s a question for you. Is your iCloud Drive taking up space on Mac? Of course, it is and it’s probably taking up more space than it should. Why is that so?

It could get pretty frustrating. In the first place, iCloud Drive taking up space on Mac shouldn’t even happen at all. If you have been saving almost all of your files to the iCloud drive, you should still have a good amount of space on your Mac, right? After all, you have been using the Optimize button to keep everything stored in the cloud and removed those purgeable files already.

Article GuidePart 1. Does iCloud Drive Use Mac Storage?Part 2. Why is iCloud Drive Taking up So Much Space on My Mac?Part 3. How Do I Clear Space on My iCloud Drive?Part 4. Conclusion

Part 1. Does iCloud Drive Use Mac Storage?

To understand if iCloud Drive uses Mac storage, imagine you have a MacBook and an iMac, which you have set up to use iCloud Drive. So, when you create a file on your iMac, it goes straight to Apple’s iCloud server. With a speedy internet connection, it should upload quickly.

After a few seconds, the same file is going to appear on your MacBook. It’s as if a copy has been put from one place to the other. Nonetheless, it’s pretty much the same file. If you make changes on the file on your MacBook, the changes will automatically be updated on your iMac as well and vice versa. It’s safe to say that the files are automatically synced in the three locations which are your MacBook, iMac, and Apple’s iCloud server. You don’t have to do anything to sync the file. As long as you have iCloud Drive turned on and you saved the file in iCloud Drive, it syncs automatically.

Now, let’s say that you created more files, some of which were pretty large. The new files you created will all sync to Apple’s iCloud server. They end up there first. Then they appear on your MacBook. Again, it will depend on how fast your internet connection is. Nonetheless, all the files will sync across and will be treated on your MacBook and your iMac as the same files.

The changes you make on one file will show up on the same file that’s located on the other machine. It’s the same thing if you delete a file. That same file will be deleted on the other machine as well. The reason for that is all the files are linked. Since all files are linked, it can eventually eat up a lot of space on the MacBook that doesn’t have a big capacity. So, how to deal with iCloud Drive taking up space on Mac issue? Before leaning the ways to gain more space on Mac, let's know why it is taking up space on Mac first.

Part 2. Why is iCloud Drive Taking up So Much Space on My Mac?

It could get pretty frustrating to find out that your iCloud Drive is taking up a lot of space on your Mac. All along, you thought that all your files are saved to the cloud especially with the Optimize Mac Storage feature enabled. So, you ask the same question again. Why is iCloud Drive taking up space on Mac?

What the Optimize Mac Storage does is that it, sort of, blocks your Mac from having a copy of every single file. Picture this. You’re filling up your iMac fast because of its huge hard drive capacity. Unfortunately, it’s not the same as your MacBook. It just doesn’t have as much space as your iMac. So, it’s running out of space fast. That’s where the Optimize Mac Storage comes in.

If you turn on the Optimize Mac Storage, it chooses the files that are saved on to your MacBook. If there’s a huge file that’s saved to iCloud Drive, you will just see the file name on your MacBook but it’s going to be empty. if you want to open it, you click on it and the file will be downloaded from the iCloud Drive. Again, you would need an internet connection to be able to open it. Take note that once you access the file, it goes right into the hard drive of your MacBook. Hence, it’s going to occupy space.

If macOS notices that you don’t use the file anymore, it will send it back to Apple’s iCloud Server. That could free up space on your MacBook. Keep in mind that the macOS can decide to get rid of files in both locations (your iMac and MacBook) if you have your Optimize Mac Storage turned on in both places. So, it’s safe to say that the reason why your iCloud Drive is taking up space on your Mac is that you’re frequently accessing the huge files from Apple’s iCloud server.

Should I Turn off iCloud Drive on My Mac?

iCloud Drive is usually very useful. Its main function is to automatically synchronize and copy files between devices, allowing you to easily share files between your own devices, so if you no longer need to use this feature, you can disable iCloud Drive on Mac.

Part 3. How Do I Clear Space on My iCloud Drive?

There are two easy ways for you to fix iCloud Drive taking up space on Mac issue. Read on to learn more about these two easy ways.

Option #1. Enable the Optimize Mac Storage

As previously mentioned, the Optimize Mac Storage can help limit the files saved on the Mac. To enable this feature, follow the steps below.

Step 1. Click on the System Preferences

Select and click on System Preferences from the drop-down menu. You will be taken to the System Preferences window.

Step 2. Look for iCloud

Now that you’re inside the System Preferences window, scroll down and look for iCloud. Click on it once you have found it. You will be taken to the iCloud folder.

Step 3. Adjust iCloud Settings

Click on the Options button you see opposite iCloud Drive. Scroll down and look for Optimize Mac Storage. Make sure the box is checked. There is a Done button on the lower, right-hand of the screen. Click on it to enable the Optimize mac Storage feature.

Option #2. Fix iCloud Drive Taking Up Space on Mac with PowerMyMac

The iMyMac PowerMyMac is also worth looking into especially if you are always accessing all your files from Apple’s iCloud server. The good thing about the PowerMyMac is that it erases large and duplicate files saved on to your Mac. So, even if you regularly access these files from Apple’s iCloud server, you won’t run out of space on your Mac. The steps below will show you how to use it.

  1. Download, install and launch the PowerMyMac on your Mac
  2. Choose files to Scan. If you want to delete large files, you can just click on the Large & Old Files.
  3. Allow PowerMyMac to run a scan by clicking the Scan button.
  4. Once PowerMyMac is done scanning your Mac, large and old files will appear on your screen. Select the ones you want to delete and click on the Clean button.

Part 4. Conclusion

The answer to your question of why is iCloud Drive taking up space on Mac is staring right into your face now. Take a good look at your Mac and see how many files you usually access from Apple’s iCloud server. If you’re accessing a lot, then your iCloud Drive could end up taking up space on Mac.


You can always enable Optimize Mac Storage in iCloud or you could use the iMyMac PowerMyMac. Truth be told, you can use both if you want.

Is your iCloud Drive taking up space on Mac? If yes, what are you going to do about it? Our readers would love to hear from you.

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brian peters2021-08-27 23:37:37

Clear as mud!. I use icloud and find it is taking space on my mac. I want to have as much free space as possible on my mac and thought icloud would store the data and not on the mac. Still trying to find a simple explanation for a 'non-techie' person.

Paul Harding2021-08-10 13:39:36

Good article but the conclusion remains as we started, “iCloud Drive keeps my information in the cloud but takes as much space as the files I need to store.” Either way a new Mac with lots of storage still runs out of space way too quickly! A lose lose situation.

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Active9 months ago

iCloud Drive on my Mac (10.13.3) won't sync.

  • My other devices perform perfectly, as does icloud.com. Any changemade on one immediately propagates to the others.
  • Changes made to iCloud Drive on my Mac go nowhere. The cloud icondisplays indefinitely. Changes aren't propagated to my other devicesor iCloud.com, nor do changes made in other locations propagate to myMac, which is lost in some orphan universe of its own.
  • All other services (i.e., Contacts, Calendar, etc.) performperfectly.

So far I've tried…

  • Disabling/enabling iCloud Drive on all my devices.
  • Various combinations of disabling/enabling 'Desktop & DocumentsFolders'
  • Signing out/in of iCloud on all my devices.
  • Restarting the Mac until the startup chime had me reciting EdgarAllan Poe's 'The Bells.'
  • Removing all files and experimenting with one small file.
  • Waiting eight hours for a 25kb startled cat photo to sync.

…all to no avail.

I've attached log entries matching…

…below, but if there are obvious screaming errors in it, they're over my head.

I'm at wit's end. Suggestions would be most appreciated.

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I had the same problem. I tried restarting, new user profiles, signing in and out of iCloud, check and unchecking documents in the cloud etc.

Each time I waited several hours, but my iCloud documents did not appear.

What finally worked was Dwight McKay's suggestion:

In the Mac Terminal program (in the Utilities folder), type:

NOTE: the original instructions required deleting CloudDocs (rm -rf CloudDocs instead of mv). An edit was suggested to move rather than delete the folder, but this has not been tested. If you can confirm that this still works, please leave a comment and I'll remove this note.

If everything goes well, then you can delete the CloudDocsOld folder afterwards in Terminal:

If something goes wrong you can recover the CloudDocsOld folder:

cd = change directory to...
rm = remove
-rf = recursive & force deletion of read-only files
mv = move and rename A to B

I had to wait about an hour for file names to show up, and of course the actual files are still in the cloud.

It is too technical for me but you can paste the following line into the Terminal to follow sync progress

It took about 4 hours to go through 300 gb. brctl stopped output when it was done. If everything worked, you can then delete the CloudDocsOld folder from ~/Library/Application Support.

You can find more information at Dwight's page:

  • bird is the daemon that syncs iCloud documents

  • ~/Library/ApplicationSupport/CloudDocs contains the iCloud meta-data store

Andrew SwiftAndrew Swift

After months dealing with this issue I finally have a fix that makes sense. It's possible to create filenames with emojis on an iOS device that iCloud Drive on Mac doesn't know how to handle. If iCloud Drive is syncing across your iOS devices but not macs, try this:

On an iOS device, rename or delete suspicious filenames to remove emojis and weird unicode characters.

In my case I went nuclear and tried to delete them all from my iPad (after backing them up by copying them to On My iPad). Here's the problem with that, they're still in Recently Deleted and Macs still don't like it. You need to navigate to Locations -> Recently Deleted and tap Select and then Delete All at the bottom.

Afterwards do the sacred ritual we've all done tens of times:

  • Disable iCloud Drive in Preferences -> iCloud
  • In a terminal killall bird; rm -rf ~/Library/Application Support/CloudDocs; rm -rf ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.bird
  • Reboot the computer
  • Enable iCloud Drive in Preferences
  • Cry real tears of joy
Christopher CampsChristopher Camps

I wrote a script. Uses sudo... so use CAUTION!

Restarts automatically immediately after.


Thank you. My solution proved a bit different, and as I don't fully understand it, I didn't post it.

Icloud Drive Macbook

My problem related to the system in question's multiple network interfaces - specifically, two active ethernet connections. A combination of deleting/recreating the interfaces and the update to macOS 10.13.2 left iCloud functioning correctly, but as I said, I don't really know why. I'm only clear that some problem with multiple network connections was at the root of it.

BryanIcloud Drive MacBryan

Icloud Drive Macbook Pro

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I had a similar issue to Brian's below -- earlier in the day I had been using iPhone USB for my network, and when I switched to Wifi later on, iCloud would not sync. I turned on my VPN and it started syncing instantly. Switching network connections seems to create the problem but also resolve it.


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