Add your Desktop and Documents files to iCloud Drive

Find out how to share your files from your Mac Desktop and your Documents folder to all of your devices with iCloud Drive.

Desktop of a MacBook Air running macOS Big Sur showing iCloud Drive. And an iPhone 12 Pro running iOS 14 showing the iCloud Drive Desktop.

Store your Desktop and Documents folder in iCloud Drive and access them on all of your devices. This means you can start a document on your Desktop, then work on it later from your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch and on iCloud.com. Everything automatically stays up to date everywhere.

Before you start, make sure you've set up iCloud on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch and that you've set up iCloud on your Mac


Turn on Desktop and Documents

Turn on Desktop and Documents on every Mac you want to use with iCloud Drive.

  1. From your Mac, choose Apple menu  > System Preferences. Click Apple ID, then click iCloud. In macOS Mojave or earlier, choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, then click iCloud.
  2. Make sure iCloud Drive is turned on.
  3. Next to iCloud Drive, click Options.
  4. Choose Desktop & Documents Folders.
    iCloud Drive Options screen on a Mac that shows the Desktop & Documents Folders option selected.
  5. Click Done.

If you want to store your files in iCloud Drive and another cloud storage service, you can keep copies of your files in both, but you can't keep folders from a third-party cloud service in iCloud Drive. You can keep your other cloud service folders in a different place on your Mac, such as the home folder.

If you're already using a feature from another cloud provider that syncs or manages your Desktop and Documents folders, you'll need to turn it off to use Desktop and Documents. 


Find your Desktop and Documents files on all of your devices

When you add your Desktop and Documents to iCloud Drive, all of your files will be moved to iCloud and any new files you create will be stored in iCloud automatically too. Then you can find your files on all of your devices.

Your files are uploaded to iCloud whenever your device is connected to the Internet. Depending on your Internet speed, the time it takes for you to see your files on your other devices may vary.

On your Mac

You can find your Desktop and Documents folders in the iCloud section of the Finder sidebar. If you add a second Mac Desktop, you'll be able to find those files in the Desktop folder in iCloud Drive. Look for a folder with the same name as your second Mac. You can also use Spotlight to search for specific file names. 

On your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch

You can find the files in the Files app on iOS 11 or later. You can use any compatible app to access and edit your files directly on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. 

If you're using iOS 0 or iOS 10, you can access your files in the iCloud Drive app.

On iCloud.com

  1. Sign in to iCloud.com using your Apple ID on your iPad, Mac or PC.
  2. Go to iCloud Drive.
  3. Double-click the Desktop or Documents folder.

If you want to use the file or make edits, just click  and download it to your iPad or computer. When you're done making edits, upload the file to iCloud Drive to see the latest version everywhere.


Store your files in iCloud and save space on your device

The files you keep in iCloud Drive use your iCloud storage. As long as you have enough space in iCloud, you can store as many files as you like.

You can delete files to free up space in iCloud if needed. When you're using iCloud Drive and delete a file on one device, it will be deleted on every device that you're signed in to with the same Apple ID. You can find deleted files in the Recently Deleted folder in the Files app or on iCloud.com for 30 days. After that, they're removed. 

Find out more about how to manage your iCloud storage


Turn off Desktop and Documents

  1. From your Mac, choose Apple menu  > System Preferences. Click Apple ID, then click iCloud. On macOS Mojave or earlier, choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, then click iCloud.
  2. Next to iCloud Drive, click Options.
  3. Deselect Desktop & Documents Folders.
  4. Click Done.

What happens when you turn off Desktop and Documents?

When you turn off Desktop & Documents Folders, your files stay in iCloud Drive and a new Desktop and Documents folder is created on your Mac in the home folder. You can move files from iCloud Drive to your Mac as you need them, or select all of your files and drag them to the place you want to keep them.

What happens when you turn off iCloud Drive or sign out of iCloud?

If you turn off iCloud Drive or sign out of iCloud, a new Desktop and Documents folder will be created in your home folder. You also have the option to keep a local copy of your files that are in iCloud Drive. If you keep a local copy of your files in iCloud Drive, they will be copied to a folder called iCloud Drive (Archive) in your home folder. You can move any files that were in your iCloud Desktop and Documents to your new local Desktop and Documents.


Learn more

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