Mountain Lion: Getting Rid of the “Documents in the Cloud” Dialog

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If you’ve upgraded to Mountain Lion, you may be seeing one of these screens every time you open Apple’s document-creation programs (such as Pages or TextEdit):

The applications want you to confirm whether you’d like to store a new document in iCloud, keep the new file on your Mac, or open an existing file.

I know that’s a pretty cool new feature. Thing is, I find it quite annoying. After all, if I’m opening the TextEdit program itself instead of double-clicking on a document, I generally just want to create a blank file, not open an existing one. And doing it this way takes me an extra step. AN EXTRA STEP. Requiring me to use my trackpad, even—argh! 

Ahem. First of all, it’s good to know that you can quickly dismiss that dialog by hitting Command-N (File > New). This’ll bypass the choices and bring you straight to a new document. But how do you turn it off completely if you just HATE seeing that box? The setting’s in an odd place—go to System Preferences > iCloud and toggle the Documents & Data checkbox off.

Of course, if you’re actually using the Documents & Data choice to sync files between your devices, you won’t want to do this! If the option just happened to be toggled on, though, feel free to turn it off.

After you’ve changed that, the iWork apps and TextEdit will no longer ask you what to do when you open them. They’ll just open a new document (TextEdit) or follow the instructions you’ve given in their application preferences. For iWork stuff, this means that you’ll either see the Template Chooser or get a new document from your default template.

(As shown in my screenshot above, you can change this behavior for the iWork programs under the General tab of their preferences.)

I am so glad to be able to turn that off, honestly. If I hadn’t been able to do so, it might have been a defenestration moment for my Mac. No, I’m calm now, I’m calm. I’ll put off my mental breakdown until tomorrow.

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Paul Goodwin

thanks. The extra step stuff is very Microsoft Windows-like. I haven’t used Windows since XP, but it seemed like everything I wanted to do in Windows was twice as many steps as the Mac OS.

Question-(I haven’t spent much time in iCloud, and haven’t experimented with it at all). If you uncheck the Documents and Data button, when you’re finished with an iWork doc, can you just drag it to the iWork icon in iCloud and it will store it and thereafter sync? Or does the unchecked button globally stop document syncing?


Thanks, but what I want to know is if my textedit doc is in iCloud, how can I use it on my iPad????? Or How do i access my pages/keynote docs made on my imac usable on my iPad? seems like i have to go thru itunes still. Arrrg!

Paul Goodwin

Lizard. Hopefully the next iOS will have it. I can’t imagine them not doing it.

Melissa Holt

Hey Paul,

I agree that the extra steps are very Microsoft. That may be why I’m not a fan. :D

Question-(I haven?t spent much time in iCloud, and haven?t experimented with it at all). If you uncheck the Documents and Data button, when you?re finished with an iWork doc, can you just drag it to the iWork icon in iCloud and it will store it and thereafter sync? Or does the unchecked button globally stop document syncing?

As far as I can tell, that checkbox globally turns off document syncing. You can, however, still drag documents into the iWork area of The files will then sync to your iOS devices, but your Mac won’t “see” the iCloud copies unless you turn Documents & Data back on. Does that make sense?


Melissa Holt

Hello Lizard,

Like Paul, I’m thinking they’ll put that in the next version. After all, it’s incredibly weird that you can send TextEdit documents to iCloud but can’t do much with them, isn’t it?


Paul Goodwin

Yes. What you said makes sense about the syncing. I haven’t upgraded to Mountain Lion yet, so I’m not fully clouded over.

I like TextEdit. It’s handy, quick, and got just enough features. I miss it on my iPad….Notes is OK but not near as useful.

Thanks for the feedback.

Lee Dronick

Paul I have been using Pages on my iPad as well as on my Macs. It has some deficiencies and limitations, but it isn’t bad.

I use Notes a lot. I like how it synchs to my devices and Macs.

Paul Goodwin

Hi Lee. Yeah. I’ve started using Pages on the iPad and am starting to get used to it….not too proficient yet though. I don’t have it on my Mac yet, so I’m still using Office 2008.

I was impressed with the iPad Pages though. I took a four multiple width column Excel file filled with formatted text, copy/pasted it into Word, emailed it to myself, sucked it into Pages on the iPad and it came out perfect. I could edit cells, drag rows, format ...pretty good.

Paul Goodwin

I do like the syncing with Notes too. It’s probably a lot better in Mountain Lion on the Mac. I’ve only heard good stuff about Mountain Lion so I guess it’s about time to upgrade. I never like being an early adopter…usually wait for the first round of fixes. I didn’t move out of 10.6.8 until about 3 months ago…haha.

Speaking of syncing. I’ve just started using a cloud service called SugarSync. It’ll sync shared folders with other account holders-you assign sharing right via an email address. You can put virtually any kind of files in your storage space. You can set up the folder directories any way you want, some shared some not. When you share with someone, the shared folders don’t count against the storage limit of the one you’re sharing with-only the folder owner. It’s more of a collaboration environment and/or personal storage space system. You can sync folders on your computer to the mirrored folder on their system. There’s an iPad and iPhone app for it too so you can access it on any of your devices. It’s very intuitive. Their site is very good, with tutorial videos. They offer a free 5 GB plan, and I think it’s like $50 per year for 30 GB. It’s a great replacement for iDisk, and much more sophisticated. The person you share a folder with can modify files, and it saves the original. I just started using it tonight so I haven’t done anything but upload some files and share a folder, and invite a friend to join and access the shared folder.


Thanks for posting this - the new text edit feature was driving me up the wall. I’m new to Mountain Lion having gone direct from Snow Leopard. So far I think the OS sucks there are a number of great intuitive features that for some inexplicable reason have been abandoned such as the search toggles on the side bar. I’ve been a macfantic for more years than I care to rember but this latest incarnation is driving me to start looking at windows and chrome with a new respect. All in all a very poorly thought out OS that seems determined to drag us into icloud whether we want it or not. Besides that it killed a number of my very useful applications which will mean forking out another ?200 to replace so the ?14 upgrade turns out to cost me a whole lot more unless I just go back to what was and still is Macs best OS - Snow Leopard


I was very excited when Docs-to-iCloud came. I am a big fan of Apple’s iWork suite and I really like to use different devices – automatic syncing is the future, no doubt.

However, it’s sad to see that Apple isn’t quite there yet. I can’t use iCloud for my Pages-documents – the compatibility from Pages-Mac to Pages-iOS is just not good enough. You don’t have to make complex files to see the problems, even with fairly easy stuff you get a mess when working with a file from one version on the other. Even the password-protection of iWork completely fails if once saved on per iPad/iPhone over iCloud. The compatibility with .doc files is better than with .pages files, sigh…

Also, I find it difficult to adjust my habits to iCloud – I usually save all my to-do stuff on the desktop until it is finished. When I save it now in iCloud, it’s much more difficult to keep an eye on those documents. I wished one could just sync the whole desktop automatically with iCloud (like you could do with other apps like DocsToGo), or just check a box in a files “get info” dialog to make it available in iCloud.

So then, since I nearly never use the new Docs-to-iCloud feature, I’ll turn it off, because all the dialogs are getting on my nerves. Also that we can’t take the recently used apps out of the recent items list anymore is terrible. Don’t know what’s going on with Apple, but for two or three years, their solutions aren’t as polished as they were not long ago. Many parts of the design feel imperfect, clumsy, lazily executed.

I hope this is just because of the adventure to re-build the Mac OS into a more iOS-like experience (well… do I want that actually? Well, that’s another question), and I really hope once this is finished, the design of the system is getting better again.

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