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How to Manage iCloud on Sierra: Saving and Deleting Files


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Manage your files on iCloud Drive storage

iCloud is gives you instant access to files and apps you need across all your devices. It has 5GB of space that you can use for free and additional storage is relatively inexpensive, so if you have multiple Apple devices, it’s definitely the most convenient way of file management.

But the question that brought you here is how do you actually manage files in iCloud? Further in this article we’ll go over paramount points like how to store files in iCloud, or the basic ones like how to save or delete anything and how to add or remove the apps you choose to sync, and lots of other useful tips.

How to setup iCloud

How to store files on iCloud

Let’s start from the top. To open iCloud you need it to be turned on. We know it sounds obvious, but in case you haven’t done it yet, you can do in Settings > iCloud. Now, iCloud Drive should appear as other folders in Finder’s left menu.

In the new macOS Sierra, iCloud had a major makeover. Now it can sync your Documents and Desktop folders across all your devices. It also has Optimized Storage, it’s a new feature that takes your old files and moves them into the cloud, but only when you’re running low on disk space. Read more about why moving files like that into the cloud instead of deleting is not the best idea.

IMPORTANT: Keep in mind that when you turn on Optimized Storage, anything that gets moved to the cloud is deleted from your Mac. So if you delete those files from iCloud as well, they’re gone for good.

Before you choose to sync your folders or store files in iCloud, make sure you’re not cluttering it with files you could’ve deleted and with system junk. This you can do manually by checking your hard drive or use a Mac cleaner to scan and clean the drive for you. CleanMyMac 3 is the best fit for the task, it digs out and removes system trash, as well as find old files you might be well off without on your drive.

How to move something to iCloud Drive

How to save documents to iCloud storage

iCloud can and should be used as any other folder you’ve got on Mac. For instance, to upload files to iCloud Drive you simply take the files you need (be it images, documents, any other file) and drag them directly to the open iCloud folder. Now, give it a few moments to to upload. There’s a tiny progress bar right on the file’s icon where you can watch the uploading.

How to save photos to iCloud Drive

How to save photos to iCloud

Now, this is a separate point because you might want to sync the whole Photos library, not just move photos to the folder one by one. This requires a little different approach.

To sync Photos app with iCloud:

  1. Open iCloud in Settings, and find Photos.
  2. Click Options, it’s usually right next to the app icon.
  3. Check those libraries want to start syncing.
  4. Click Done and only then
  5. Check the app itself for the sync.

Delete somethings from iCloud Drive

How to delete stuff from iCloud

For the most part, the answer to questions like how to delete data from iCloud storage, any data, is more than simple: just open the iCloud folder and delete files from it. That’s it’ these files will no longer show on other devices. To delete files, simply move the icon to the Trash or choose the file and press command(⌘)+delete.

How to delete photos from iCloud

As you might have guessed, there are actually different scenarios for photos stored in your libraries and streams. Deleting specific photos from iCloud can be performed in two simple ways:

  1. Delete images directly from the Photos app itself. Simply open the app, choose the images to delete, press command(⌘)+delete, and with the next sync they will be gone from your iCloud.
  2. Delete them from the iCloud website. To do it, sign in to icloud.com, go to Photos, find the images you no longer need and delete them.Uncheck Photos in iCloud

If you don’t want any of your photos in iCloud anymore, unsync them completely. To do so, you’ll need open Settings > iCloud and unsync it by unchecking Photos app. This will untie all the pictures you had in Photos library from iCloud. You can tie them back by reversing what you’ve just done and checking the app back in.

How to delete movies from iCloud Drive

The process is pretty similar to deleting photos from cloud storage, only you’ll have to opt for iTunes in the iCloud folder instead. Same with removing all music files and movies together — just unsync iTunes.

You can also delete movies you’ve already watched and don’t feel like watching again directly in the iTunes app, from your Mac, they will also be kicked out of the cloud folder once it syncs again.

How to delete apps from iCloud

This part is a little tricky. It actually depends on what you mean by “deleting apps”. In case what you need is to simply get rid of apps that are syncing against your will, so to speak, you can just open Settings > iCloud and uncheck those apps.

In case you have an installer of the app (just the icon, not the contents of it) in the iCloud folder, you can remove it as any other file, by throwing it to the Trash or command (⌘)+delete-ing it.


As it’s plain to see now, using iCloud storage is simpler than it might appear in the beginning. Keep in mind to store only the files you need because accumulating space junk is a pretty bad habit (and the one you have to pay for, literally). That’s it for now, cheers.



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