iCloud Drive in macOS Hero

Using iCloud Drive, your Mac can sync the data in your Desktop and Documents folders between all your Apple devices. It’s handy, but it takes up iCloud storage space and might have privacy implications. If you’ve previously enabled this feature, here’s how to turn it off.

To disable this feature, you’ll need to visit System Preferences. On your Mac, click the Apple icon in the top-left corner of the screen and choose “System Preferences” from the menu that appears.

Open System Preferences from Apple Menu on Mac

In System Preferences, click “Apple ID.”

Open Apple ID from System Preferences

In the “Apps on this Mac using iCloud” list, locate “iCloud Drive” and click the “Options” button next to it.

In the “Documents” tab, uncheck “Desktop & Documents Folders” to disable synchronizing the contents of your Desktop and Documents folders over iCloud.

Uncheck Desktop and Documents Sync

In the small pop-up window that appears, click “Turn Off.”

Disable Desktop and Documents Sync

Click the “Done” button to save your settings. You can now close the System Preferences window.

Tap Done to Save Options

After that, you’ll see a new pop-up window reminding you that iCloud won’t delete or automatically move the contents of your Documents and Desktop folders in iCloud. You’ll need to either manually move the files back to your Mac or delete them yourself, depending on your preference.

Click “Show in Finder” to see the Documents and Desktop folders stored in iCloud Drive.

If you want to move the iCloud data back to your local Mac, you can do this easily by using a simple drag gesture. Open either one of the Desktop or Documents folders in iCloud and use the Command+A keyboard shortcut to select all data. Then drag the selected items to the “Desktop” or “Documents” folders in the sidebar.

(If you use the traditional copy-and-paste keyboard shortcuts, you’ll have to come back to the iCloud Drive folder to delete the files after you’ve copied them over.)

Drag iCloud Drive Data to Local Folders

iCloud Drive will ask you whether you’re sure that you want to remove the data from iCloud Drive (The data will no longer be available on other devices.). If that’s OK, click the “Move” button.

Move Data Out of iCloud Drive

Once all the data is moved back to your local Mac (and you’re sure that you have everything), you can delete the Desktop and Documents folders from the iCloud Drive. But be sure to double-check that you’ve copied everything that you need first.

RELATED: What Is Apple's iCloud and What Does It Back Up?

How to Reenable Desktop and Documents Sync Later

If you change your mind and want to reenable this feature at a later date, go to System Preferences > Apple ID and click the “Options” button beside “iCloud Drive” in the list. Place a check mark next to the “Desktop and Documents Folders” option.

macOS also reminds you about this feature during the setup process, so you can reenable this feature the next time you update your macOS software.

Desktop and Documents Sync Prompt During Set Up

When you enable this on a different computer, macOS will create a new sub-folder in your iCloud Drive with the name of your current computer, which will make things easier to track.

RELATED: How to Update Your Mac and Keep Apps Up to Date

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Khamosh Pathak is a freelance technology writer who specializes in tutorials. His work has also been published on Lifehacker, iPhoneHacks, Zapier's blog, MakeUseOf, and Guiding Tech. Khamosh has nearly a decade of experience writing how-tos, features and technology guides on the internet.
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