View & Delete iCloud Documents from the iPhone & iPad

Apr 12, 2013 - 22 Comments

iCloud Practically all apps that store documents in iCloud let you delete them from the app itself, which simultaneously removes them from iCloud and thus all other synced iOS & OS X devices. But if you’re looking to manage and remove specific iCloud documents and data, there is a better way to do it through a centralized control panel within iOS that will let you view all documents stored in iCloud, much like the same feature that is on the Mac which is accessible through OS X System Preferences. Let’s focus on the mobile side of things and learn how to do this in iOS.

View & Manage iCloud Documents from iOS

You can easily see what is stored within iCloud from any iPhone or iPad:

  • Open Settings and go to “iCloud”
  • Tap on “Storage & Backup” then tap “Manage Storage”
  • Look under “Documents & Data” to see which apps have iCloud documents available – note that both iOS and OS X apps storing documents in iCloud will be seen here
  • View which apps have documents stored in iCloud from iOS

  • Tap any app to see specific documents stored in iCloud

Here is what tapping on “TextEdit” would look like:

View iCloud documents in iOS

TextEdit is actually a Mac app, but it’s still visible in the iCloud document manager of iOS. We’ll get to more on the intricacies of that in a moment.

Note that Documents and “App Data” are different, with the former being the files you’re used to creating and using, and the latter being preferences, settings, and save-states for things like games. If you were to remove app data for Civilization for example, you would lose all of your saved games as well as the recall ability that keeps the game consistently where you left off, even after closing the app.

Delete Documents from iCloud via iOS

Removing documents or app data from iCloud is very simple:

  • Delete a document by tapping “Edit” and then tapping the red button alongside the document name
  • Alternatively, delete all documents pertaining to that specific app by tapping the big red “Delete All” button

The example is again showing TextEdit documents being modified through iOS:

Delete iCloud Documents from iOS

TextEdit is a good demonstration that apps and documents from the Mac are visible in addition to apps and documents on any iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, so long as they are using the same iCloud account configured on each device. Because of this, it is fairly likely you will see apps and documents that are not specifically for the device you’re using at the moment, and if you have ever used iCloud to sync documents between Macs, there will much more visible here than what is accessible through any iOS app. Nonetheless, if you delete documents from an app that isn’t on your device, it will also delete the documents from the device it was created on, meaning you can easily delete iCloud documents made on a Mac from the iPhone, and vice versa. Be aware of this when removing documents and iCloud data, since it’s possible to accidentally delete things you may not have intended to.

Overall, using the centralized iCloud Manager is significantly easier than removing iCloud data manually by launching each respective app and deleting from there, and repeating until you’re finished. Most documents are fairly small, typically in the kilobytes, and won’t be much of a burden on total iCloud storage capacity, thus if you’re just trying to free up space for a cloud backup there are better ways to do that that will have a much greater impact.


Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Justin says:

    It’s funny how every comment I see it’s a problem and I know exactly how everyone is feeling cause I’ve went through this so many time with these so called “technicians”

  2. Thomas Duyck says:

    Why does it take 30 days to clear my iCloud pics?
    I need it NOW!

  3. Linda says:

    I have the same problem. It’s getting too much, can’t get any help. I can’t cancel subscription. Very disappointing

  4. Kyla Atkins says:

    How do I access, edit, view ad play(voice notes) for my iPhone 6s – for every iCloud backup I’ve ever done – even if it doesn’t show up right now with me doing it manually? I started with ‘settings’, etc…

  5. Ezekiel says:

    I have been trying to view my iCloud photos for the past eight(8)months now and I still can’t do that

  6. Tracy says:

    I can’t access my iCloud, I want to delete from it. My ph says iv only used 1.3gb of 5gb. But my ph won’t back up when plugged in like it should as there’s plenty of space if I get 5gb?? Is this correct do u get 5gb free. Surely can’t be that hard to access my data . Any help appreciated ???

  7. Janice says:

    I didn’t know having an iPhone came with so much trouble.I mean how am I supposed to keep deleting my photos to create space while I have 200gbs on iCloud.why can’t there just be a solution for this full storage issue.

  8. Kevin Nurse says:

    It’s 4 years later and I’m still waiting for a response to Judi’s question. So frustrating.

  9. Douglas Amaraweera says:

    My iPhone 6 is locked for the passed several days, I tried to get it corrected with your help but the problem is still unsolved, when I typed my birthday you stated that is incorrect. Please look into this and try to sort it out

    • Lloyd says:

      Me too! Pretty fed up with this Apple stuff. Constantly getting “iCloud full” . and won’t let me into the full cloud storage to view or delete. Very difficult to find any help, etc. Recently had a good working old iMac quit. Lots of try this, try that from Apple, then take it to store where they deemed it ‘dead’. No Parts. Too old, etc. Bought new iMac. $$$ . Then later dumping old iMac thought I’d just try an old original HDD. Whaddya know! Worked perfectly. So much for Apple expertise! NO MORE FOR ME!

  10. Portly says:

    Just want to view a list of ALL files in my iCloud storage folder(s). Why is this so hard?? I’m at my limit, don’t WANT to buy more iCloud storage, would like to delete some of what is up there. Hello? Shouldn’t be this hard…

  11. Louise says:

    I don’t have acces to a laptop / desktop to view what is stored in my iCloud. How do I do it from an iPhone 6 ?????

  12. Lisa says:

    I want to delete an APP from Icloud, when I look at my documents it’s not there (facebook) I upgraded my IPhone 5 to a 6 and Icloud is remembering my password for Facebook, however on my PC I changed the password and the APP will only download from Icloud. Is there a way past this?

    • Jimmy says:

      I was locked out of the App Store for over two years. It can take hours to get through to Apple Tech. Finally got a girl techie who knew where to look for the problem: I had two Apple ID’s. One was attached to the iphone, and the other to the MacBook; two different passwords, two different email addresses, gmail for the macBook, icloud for the cellphone. No wonder I was always locked out. It was a mistake, in my opinion, to get “Two-Factor Authentication”. Too complicated.
      How is it that if I delete data out of icloud, it deletes data off my MacBook and cellphone? Isn’t that invasion of privacy?
      How is it that data gets put into icloud without me asking?
      Or without asking me?
      When I figure how to delete icloud without losing my photos, then I will do so and be done with botherance and the nagging monthly fee.
      I never wanted it anyway.

  13. Tb says:

    Path are you serious? Or just stupid?

  14. Alice says:

    Haha, wow.

    Judi, Constance. RIGHT THERE WITH YOU.

    It’s like every website I go to just goes

    “Well, your document’s right there.”

    “I see that. Now how do I access it?”

    “*vague gesturing at literally every other option besides that*”

    “A C C E S S”


    • paTh says:

      Open it from the Finder > iCloud Drive folder

      Or open the document from the application which stored it in iCloud to begin with

      Easy to access iCloud files that way!

  15. Constance says:

    Judi, EXCELLENT QUESTION! That is exactly what i have been looking for–for hours

  16. Guy Templeton says:

    My problem is I have 8g iPhone 4s I have run out of memory and storage but I have 200gb in iCloud and I’ve got 199gb left I went to my daughters wedding thinking it was sorted but wen I went to photograph my daughter it said not enough storage to take photo we’d????? Apple should have a big think about this Bcoz I thought getting unlimited everything would be great I down loaded an app after deleting 16 which I didn’t want to do ) but got a camera app called anoxic put them in there freed up my camera now it won’t let me take a photo coz I still got no storage inn seriously thinking of throwing it at a wall and starting again !!!!!!

  17. Judi says:

    I see my docs in the manage storage section, but how do I actually access them for viewing and editing from my iPad??? I can’t seem to figure this out.

  18. Vincent Armstead says:

    Thanks for the steps shown to manage the icloud documents. I am using iPad so was not aware of this step so it will really help me to delete the unnecessary.

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