iCloud is a cloud storage service and cloud computing, launched by Apple in 2011. iCloud not only stores your content securely, but also keeps your apps and data in sync across all your devices like Mac, iPad, and iPhone.

iCloud Drive is part of iCloud. Save photos, documents, app data, and more to your iCloud Drive storage, then access those files across all your devices, similar to services like dropbox .

With iCloud and iCloud Drive, it’s easy to save files from your Mac and then access them from your iPhone, iPad, or iCloud.com. Here’s a look at setting up iCloud Drive and saving files from your Mac desktop.

The information in this article applies to iCloud Drive on Mac computers (OS X 10.10 or later). Make sure you’re signed in to iCloud with your Apple ID on all your computers and devices.

Set up iCloud Drive

If you haven’t set up iCloud Drive yet, the process is quick and easy. You need to enable iCloud Drive on all your iOS devices like iPhone and iPad as well as your Mac.

Before you begin, update your devices to the latest version of iOS or iPadOS and update your Mac to the latest version of macOS it can support.

On your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch

  1. Open » Settings» on your device, and then tap your name.

  2. Click iCloud .

  3. Switch to iCloud Drive .

    enable iCloud Drive on iPhone

On your Mac

  1. From the Apple menu, select » System Settings» .

  2. If you’re using macOS Catalina, select Apple ID . If you are using macOS Mojave or earlier, you not you need to choose an Apple ID.

  3. Select iCloud .

  4. Sign in with your Apple ID when prompted.

  5. Turn on iCloud Drive by checking the box next to it.

    enable iCloud Drive on Mac

Using Files with iCloud Drive

Once you set up iCloud Drive and turn it on on all your devices, any documents you’ve already saved to iCloud are automatically moved to iCloud Drive. On your iOS devices like iPhone and iPad, you will see your files in the Files app as well as in the Files apps. Pages» Numbers, and Keynote.

By default, iCloud Drive has folders for each of your applications Apple iWork (Keynote, Pages and Numbers), as well as folders for Automator , preview QuickTime Player, Script Editor and TextEdit . Add also your own folders and store any documents you want. (More on this below.)

How you store documents and other files in iCloud Drive depends on which version of OS X or macOS you have. For macOS Sierra and the above is simple. Just enable the Desktop and Documents folders to automatically sync with iCloud Drive. In earlier versions of OS X or macOS, you need to manually move your desktop files and documents to iCloud Drive.

When you sign up for iCloud, you automatically get 5GB of free storage. If you need more iCloud space, you can upgrade to a larger storage plan.

Save files to iCloud Drive with Sierra and later

Starting with macOS Sierra, you have the ability to store your Desktop and Documents folder in iCloud Drive and access them across all your devices. For example, start a document on your Mac desktop, then work on it from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and iCloud.com. Everything is automatically updated everywhere.

To add your Desktop and Documents folder to iCloud Drive:

  1. From the Apple menu, select » System Settings» .

  2. Select Apple ID and then select iCloud . (On macOS Mojave, High Sierra, or Sierra, you don’t need to select an Apple ID.)

  3. Ensure that iCloud Drive is enabled by checking the box next to it.

  4. Next to iCloud Drive, select Options.

  5. Place a checkmark next to Desktop & Documents Folders.

  6. Select Done. In the Finder, you’ll now see your Desktop and Documents folders in the iCloud section of your sidebar. These files will automatically sync across all your devices.

Save Files to iCloud Drive With Earlier OS Versions

With earlier OS X and macOS versions, you don’t have the ability to enable your Desktop and Documents folders to save to iCloud Drive. You can, however, manually create folders on iCloud Drive and move or copy your files there so you can access them on your iOS devices or iCloud.com.

  1. To access iCloud Drive, select the Finder icon in your Mac Dock.

  2. Select iCloud Drive from the Favorites sidebar.

  3. Right-click in the window and choose New Folder. Name the folder whatever you like, for example, Work Documents.

  4. Right-click on iCloud Drive and select Open in Another Tab.

  5. Go to a folder with files you’d like to save to the new Work Documents folder in iCloud Drive.

  6. Select the files you want on iCloud Drive. To move the file or files, drag them to the iCloud Drive tab on the top of the Finder Window.

    To copy the file or files, hold down the Option key and drag the file or files to the iCloud Drive tab on the top of the Finder Window.

    The drag-and-drop method defaults to moving your files while holding down the Option key keeps a copy of the file in its original location.

  7. Hold until the iCloud Drive window opens, then drag to the Work Documents folder (or whatever you named it). If copying, release the Option key.

  8. Create as many folders as you like and move or copy whatever files you want, as long as a file isn’t bigger than 50GB and doesn’t exceed your iCloud storage allotment.

Save Files to iCloud Drive When Saving a Document

An easy way to save a copy of your file to iCloud Drive is when you save a new document.

  1. Open the file or document you want to save to iCloud Drive, for example, a Word document.

  2. Select Save or Save as.

  3. Select the dropdown menu next to Where and choose iCloud Drive.

  4. Select Save. This document has been saved to iCloud Drive, and you’ll be able to access it from your iOS devices and iCloud.com.

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