Add your Desktop and Documents files to iCloud Drive

Learn 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 your devices. That 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 begin, just make sure that you set up iCloud on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and that you set up iCloud on your Mac


Turn on Desktop and Documents

Turn on Desktop and Documents on every Mac that 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 that 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, like the home folder.

If you already use a feature from another cloud provider that syncs or manages your Desktop and Documents folders, you 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 move to iCloud and any new files you create are automatically stored in iCloud too. Then you can find your files on all of your devices.

Your files upload to iCloud each time your device connects to the Internet. Depending on your Internet speed, the time it takes for you to see your files on your other devices might 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 can 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 in 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 with 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 that you keep in iCloud Drive use your iCloud storage. And as long as you have enough space in iCloud, you can store as many files as you like.

If you need more space, you can delete files to free up space in iCloud. When you use iCloud Drive and delete a file on one device, it deletes 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. 

Learn 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 is 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're 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

Published Date: