How to Manage Folder and Files Under iCloud Drive on Mac

iCloud allows to backup important data, like Photos, Documents etc., but due to limited storage (5GB) for free users, you can’t use iCloud to Store everything. If you don’t want to pay for additional storage capacity, it’s better to back up only those data that can’t be backed up on another Cloud Drive, e.g. Safari data, iMessage, Keychain, Script Editor, TextEdit, Settings etc.. You can also use it to backup those files short in size, e.g. Contacts, Calendars, Reminder etc.. To store Photos, Videos and other files, you should use some other Cloud Storage, e.g. Google Photos, Google Drive etc.. Please read the article about iCloud Storage Management to learn more.

What iCloud Backs Up by default on Mac OS X?

iCloud Backs Up These Folders and Data by default if you haven’t made any changes;

  • iWork Applications Data: Keynote, Pages, and Numbers.
  • Media Apps Data: Photos, Preview, iMovie, QuickTime Player etc.
  • Other Apps Data: iMessage, TextEdit, Automator, Script Editor, iBook, Mail, Reminders, Systems Preferences, Weather, Keychain etc..

What Changes Apple Brought to iCloud Backup with macOS Sierra 10.12?

Apple has added Documents and Desktop Folder to iCloud. It has been added automatically for some users. If you have updated to the latest version of Mac Operating system, you may have realized iCloud prompt while moving a folder or file from Documents or Desktop folder. When you try to move, it shows the warning that Folder/File will be deleted from iCloud as well.

If you keep backing up everything on Desktop and Documents, iCloud Drive may reach its maximum usage (5GB for free users) in a couple of days. So it’s better to use an external drive to back up Mac and remove those folders and files from iCloud Backup.

How to Locate iCloud in Finder?

  • Method 1 : Launch Finder on Mac, and click on iCloud Drive located on the left (under Favorite section).
  • Method 2 : Launch Finder, and press Shift+Command+I.
  • Method 3 : Launch Finder, click on Go option in the menu bar, and select iCloud Drive.


Why I don’t see Desktop and Document Folder Under Home Folder on Mac

If you have updated to macOS 10.12 Sierra, you may not see Desktop and Document folders under Home Folder. Those 2 folders are there, but not visible because iCloud is using them. They won’t appear there until you remove them from iCloud backup.

How to Add or Remove Desktop and Documents Folders from iCloud Drive on Mac (macOS 10.12 or newer version)

If Desktop and Documents folders are being backed up by iCloud Drive on macOS Sierra, you won’t be able to drag and move to any other location. You can’t even delete them. Follow these steps;

  • Go to System Preferences.
  • Click on iCloudicloud-on-system-preferences
  • Click on Options associated with iCloud (see the screenshot below).


  • Uncheck Desktop & Documents Folders to remove them (or you can check the option if you want to add them to iCloud Drive).


  • Click on Done and confirm. Now Desktop and Document folders will start appearing under Home folder. However, you may not find any files under those folders, and they will still be under iCloud Drive.
  • Now you need to copy and paste the folders and files and save under Documents and Desktop folders manually. Launch Finder –> Click on Go option in the menu bar–> Select Home. Now paste the file under Desktop/Documents folder after you copy them from iCloud Drive’s Documents and Desktop folders.
  • Once you are done with the copy & paste thing, delete them from iCloud Drive (visit, log in with your Apple ID and Password, click on iCloud Drive, and delete those folders).


How to Add or Remove Other Folder, Files or Backup items from iCloud Drive on Mac

  • Images, Docs, and other files : Copy and Paste or Move to iCloud Drive on Mac.
  • Photos, Calendars, Reminders, TextEdit, Mail and other app data backup : Follow the same steps we mentioned above to remove Desktop and Documents Folders and uncheck those files/folder/apps that you don’t want to back up to iCloud Drive.
  • How to Delete : Visit, log in, click on iCloud Drive, and delete files or folder. Please note that settings file will not appear there, unchecking them from System’s iCloud setting is enough for those files.

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