If you have a new Mac, you may have noticed the words “Out of Space” under many of your Desktop icons and documents. Don’t worry, your computer’s hard drive isn’t actually out of space—your iCloud Drive is.
What is iCloud Drive?
iCloud is Apple’s cloud storage service, and it keeps your photos, contacts, and just about everything synced within Apple’s ecosystem. iCloud Drive and “Optimized Storage” are relatively new additions to the iCloud lineup, letting you store some of your files in iCloud and saving space on your Mac’s hard drive.
Here’s the problem: That storage space is shared with the rest of iCloud and your other Apple devices—like iPhones and iPads—and you get a measly 5 GB on the free plan. If you have a lot of photos, your iCloud drive might already be full. If you see the “Out of Space” message on icons, you’ve probably also noticed notifications like the one shown below, sent to you every few hours.
These are caused by the same issue and will go away once the problem is fixed.
You can upgrade to 50 GB of iCloud space for just a dollar per month, and you can boost that all the way to 2 TB for $9.99 per month. But if you don’t want to be nickeled and dimed, you can get rid of iCloud Drive altogether.
Getting Rid of iCloud Drive
You can disable iCloud Drive under iCloud settings in System Preferences. You’d think all you have to do is click the checkbox next to “iCloud Drive,” but there’s a pretty big catch. By default, Apple will remove a lot of files that are stored in iCloud from your Mac, and they only become available if you turn it back on again. You’re going to want to make sure to click “Keep a Copy” instead of just clicking the “Remove From Mac” button.
This next window tries to upload the rest of your files to iCloud, but since that can take ages, it’s best just to click “Stop Updating and Turn Off.”
This will finally turn off iCloud drive, but it will also move all your Desktop icons and Documents to a new folder in your home directory. So don’t worry if you see them go missing—you’ll just have to move them back manually.
What If I’m Still Out of Space?
Once iCloud Drive is disabled or upgraded to a more reasonable size, the “Out of Space” notifications should start going away. But, if your hard drive is filled up, you’ll get a different notification saying “Disk Space Full.” If your physical drive is out of space, you can’t do much except clean up some of the large files you don’t need or move them up to an external drive.