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Mojave: Docs & Desktop sync to iCloud  



I have just read about an app called iCloud Control (from github). Will this solve the problem that has prevented many Mac users from using the automatic facility to sync Documents and Desktop with (or rather to) iCloud, namely that the syncing operation removes Documents and Desktop from one's hard drive, so that one has transferred one's data to iCloud but is left without a backup?

8 Answers

Michael, did you make sure that you didn't check the option to "Optimize Mac Storage" on your mac in the iCloud Drive-> Desktop & Documents Folders? If the option is not check, you should not have the problem you mention and everything will be kept on your mac at all times. You can't have it both ways though, meaning, if you run out of place, without this option check, iCloud won't be making aliases only of your files on your mac and keep the original in iCloud Drive.


PS: I don't want to speak too soon, but I think I have found the answer: Sync Folders Pro. (It has to be the pro version; the free version does not provide the various modes of syncing from one location to another, but the pro version is quite inexpensive.)

It does exactly what is wanted: syncs between Mac and iCloud automatically (or manually) without deleting from one place or the other, depending on the syncing mode selected.

Thanks for this, @michael-graubart — We'll add it as Cool Stuff Found!


With any of the iCloud services that offer to “optimise storage” on the device you may indeed be left with just an alias/pointer/thumbnail on the device. So yes, any backup would not include the real file in that situation. (This is not particular to Mojave)

It does frustrate me that this setting doesn’t come with a big pop up warning about needing to review backup plans. 

I’ve not checked out iCloud Control, but there’s always a danger if you’re selectively allowing folders to be “optimised” in that you may lose track of which is doing which. 


Thank you very much for your reply. Having had a quick look, I have abandoned iCloud Control (it does not do what i am looking for) and am now thinking about SyncMate, but have not tried it yet. All I want (and, I suspect, many people want) is something that will keep my folders, located on my Mac, in sync with those in iCloud without deleting the ones on my Mac.

There is an excellent app called Insync that does this with Google Drive, but I have had trouble in the past with Google Drive. and would prefer to use iCloud.


Thanks, jefflambert670, but I definitely did not select 'optimize…'. I blush to disagree with an expert, but there has, in fact, been much correspondence in various places online about this unfortunate feature of Apple's automatic syncing of Documents and Desktop to iCloud. See for instance.

At one stage it was suggested to me in another forum that what is revealed in (my name)/Library/Mobile Documents is the retained contents of my local folders. But by manually putting a small file into iCloud (but not into any local folder) — a file that then duly appeared in Library'Mobile Documents but not in my local folders — I demonstrated to myself that this, too, is not true, and I then had to copy everything back from iCloud to my Mac and disable the automatic syncing.

Bearing the above in mind, and reading Apple's documentation closely, it is pretty clear that the automatic 'syncing' of Documents and. Desktop is not intended to be syncing at all, but just a way of moving those folders from computer to iCloud. I have now manually copied the two folders to iCloud and shall from time to time delete them from iCloud and copy the ones on my Mac to iCloud again in order to keep them more or less in sync; but I would prefer this to happen continuously, and I have not yet found a way to achieve this.



Michael, I was having a LOT of problem with iCloud "synching" since it's introduction. At some point this summer my mac had a really big problem which made me do a Clean install. After that, I decided to give the Desktop and Document  option an another go. Now they seem to work correctly and now will sync work if I put something in my iCloud drive, I will see it in my iOS devices, as before, it did not happen. Anyway, I've since upgraded to Mojave and it's still looks like it's working, although to be frank, I use Dropbox if I need something to sync without fail, it is in my experience the best of all the Cloud provider and uses block synching so it only copies the portion of the file that has changed, contrary to all the other Cloud providers. (Resilio Sync will also do this, but since it's not a "Cloud" provider I guess it doesn't count;-)).


Thanks again for your comments. I shall continue to experiment.


I haven't done any searching, but I wonder if Apple has produced any "white paper" on how they believe versioned backup can/should work with their iCloud storage optimisation?