Enable Desktop & Document Syncing on macOS

MacOS Sierra introduces a new feature in the iCloud Drive that allows users to sync the files saved on the Desktop and in Documents folder to the cloud. You can enable this feature to get the files in these places on all of your devices with iCloud Drive. Think of this scenario. You begin a document on your Mac, and then you can continue editing it from your iOS devices or on iCloud.com. So how can we make it happen?

When you upgrade your Mac to macOS Sierra, you will be prompted during the setup process that if you would like to sync some of your Mac’s folders to iCloud. If you dismiss the message at that time, you can still turn on the iCloud syncing later.

To add your Desktop and Documents files to iCloud Drive, you will first need to:

  1. Update your Mac to macOS Sierra and your iOS device to iOS 10.
  2. Sign in to iCloud with the same Apple ID on all your devices.
  3. Set up iCloud on all your devices and then turn on iCloud Drive.

After that, you can turn on Desktop and Documents on your Mac by these steps:

  1. Head to System Preferences from the Apple menu, Dock or Spotlight.
  2. Select the iCloud icon and make sure the iCloud Drive box is checked.
  3. Click on the Options next to iCloud Drive to open the new window.
  4. Check the box labeled Desktop & Documents Folders, and click Done.

Now you have added the Desktop and Documents to iCloud Drive, and all the files and folders stored there will be automatically upload to your iCloud account each time your device connects to the Internet. The syncing status will be displaced in the Finder status. You can access the data from any authorized devices when needed.

To disable iCloud Sync and restore files to the Desktop and Documents folders:

  1. Deselect the Desktop & Documents Folders in iCloud Drive and click Done.
  2. You’ll get a pop-up warning you that these files will only be stored in iCloud Drive if you disable desktop and Documents syncing. Go ahead and click Turn Off.
  3. Open the iCloud Drive folder in Finder, locate two folders named Desktop and Documents, then drag the contents in each folder and drop to your desired location.

MacOS will remove the files from your desktop and Documents folder and puts them only in the iCloud Drive folder when you disable the Desktop and Documents syncing in iCloud Drive. You have to manually transfer the data back.

Additionally, there are many third party apps that offer synchronization solutions on Mac, like Dropbox or OneDrive. Apple provides 5GB of free iCloud Drive storage per Apple ID, and it may not be enough. If your iCloud storage run out, or you don’t have enough iCloud space to store your Desktop and Documents file, you can either pay Apple for a more expensive storage tier, or just turn to other cloud solutions.

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