How to Check iCloud Drive File Upload Progress on a Mac

Jun 22, 2017 - 16 Comments

How to check iCloud Drive upload progress on Mac

Whether you’re moving a file over to iCloud Drive or copying a file to iCloud Drive from the Mac, you may want to know the upload progress as the file is transferred to iCloud.

Fortunately the Mac Finder makes this easy, and you’ll be able to see the status of uploads to iCloud Drive from several locations in the file system. We’ll show you four different ways to check iCloud Drive upload progress on the Mac so that you can watch file transfers as they go from the local file system to iCloud.

How to View iCloud Drive Upload Progress in Mac Finder Status Bar

The Finder Status bar can reveal the exact progress of a file being uploaded to iCloud Drive, this is the most thoroughly detailed option to watch iCloud file upload progress:

The status bar shows details of iCloud Drive uploads

You must enable the Finder Status Bar to have this feature. Go to the “View” menu and choose “Show Status Bar” to do so. The Status Bar is useful in general as it includes info about available disk space, folder item counts, and other helpful information, aside from revealing details about the iCloud Drive upload status.

Watching iCloud Drive Upload Progress in List View

The “Size” item in List View of Finder windows will show you the remaining size of a file that is being uploaded, offering a countdown of sorts.

List View Size sorting shows iCloud Drive upload status

If you’re uploading folders to iCloud Drive and want to watch their upload status, you’d likely want to turn on the Show Folder Sizes option in Finder for added convenience.

Monitoring iCloud Drive Upload Status in Icon View of the Mac Finder

Finally, the general icon view in the Mac Finder will also show the upload progress of an item uploading to iCloud Drive. This is found directly under an icon within iCloud Drive of any file being uploaded.

iCloud Drive file upload status shown under icons in the Finder

Checking iCloud Drive Upload Status in the Finder Sidebar

The Finder Sidebar will also show a little pie chart type of general indicator to demonstrate upload status, but it is not particularly specific and does not show any sizing information.

The sidebar shows a summary icon of iCloud Drive uploads

Obviously you must have the Finder sidebar enabled to see this iCloud Drive upload indicator as well.

Remember, any file or item dropped into iCloud Drive will move that file into iCloud Drive and away from the local Mac storage. If you simply want to upload the item into iCloud Drive and not remove it from local storage (closer to how an FTP upload or Dropbox works), you’d want to copy the file to iCloud Drive instead. That difference can be a little confusing at first until you learn how iCloud Drive works.

Once the file(s) are located in iCloud Drive, you can access them via iCloud Drive in iOS as well as from other iCloud Drive Finder windows on another Mac sharing the same Apple ID and iCloud account.

Do you have any other tips or tricks regarding watching the progress of uploads and file transfers to iCloud Drive? Let us know in the comments!


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks


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  1. LiamD says:

    can you do the same on windows?

    check the status of a file that is being downloaded from icloud drive?

    i can the blue refresh symbol next to the file and in icloud taskbar, its says downloading 1 file.

    no way to check the % or anything. very poor

  2. Marc says:


    do you know if there is a way to check the iCloud Drive Upload Status from the terminal (unix command line)?

    The idea is to wait in a shell-script until upload is finished…


  3. Ashwin Campbell says:

    I just want to know how I can see exactly which file is not uploading. I have so many files stored in iCloud, 48gb worth, yet my computer is always stuck on some mysterious 136kb file that won’t upload! so frustrating.

  4. Jeff says:

    I don’t know what all the angst is over iCloud Dive. I turned it on and all of my files are available to me on all my devices (the devices I chose to have this capability). You don’t have to “do” anything. Just use your computer and all your files will be available anywhere you choose. That’s the problem with Apple – it’s designed to just work and people aren’t used to just letting things work. They think they have to manage everything. You don’t. Your data is safe and accessible automatically. You don’t have to “do” anything more. Just USE your Apple devices and move on with life.

  5. Kevin says:

    The whole paragraph starting with “Remember, any file or item dropped into iCloud Drive will move that file into iCloud Drive and away from the local Mac storage.” is incorrect at least from OS X 10.11 and upwards–I don’t remember how 10.10 worked. The files are stored locally and uploaded. From a user perspective, I’d say exactly like Dropbox; however, I’m sure the mechanisms vary.

    • Omoni says:

      If you drop a file into iCloud Drive, it moves it from the Mac local storage into iCloud. That’s how it works in Sierra, High Sierra, etc. The description is correct.

      • Traditionally, dragging and dropping a file from one drive to another drive would do a copy. This does not hold true with iCloud. When a file is dragged from a local drive to an iCloud drive, it is moved and not copied. This change in behavior is dangerous, especially since many if not most MacOS users are not aware of this. Files moved to icloud will no longer be backed up. Files should always be in at least 2 places, preferably 3.

  6. Ed Gould says:

    I am new to MAC’s and have been totally upset by the whole ICLOUD “thingy”. I did *NOTHING* when I got my IMAC. no customizations to say I wanted to use ICLOUD. In fact, I have received several messages saying that the ICLOUD was either down or unavailable. So I steered away from even using it. Must to my surprise that I got a message saying that my ICLOUD wasn’t big enough. Since I wasn’t using it I was troubled as I thought the message was in error. To make a long story short I found some files in the ICLOUD that somehow mysteriously (I don’t know what it is so I can’t use it)gotten there.
    I deleted them and found a place where I could disable it (the cloud) and when I unchecked the ICAL, I found out that I could no longer make appointments in ICAL.
    Apple has made a big mistake in this. I will not be forced into buying additional “hardware” that I do not want or need by some hidden APPLE process that doesn’t let you know what is going on.

    • Ted says:


      You really are quite the crybaby!

      • david watts says:

        … and yet, even crybabies sometimes make good points, as in this case.

      • marlon says:

        Hey Ted—What is it with you (and some others out there) who feel the need to shame people for simply asking a question. That REALLY drives me insane. There are NO stupid questions… except the ones you don’t ask. “Ed” clarified right up front… he is a newbie to the platform. How about you get yourself a life, and live and let live… A-hole.

    • Birdy says:

      You probably had enabled iCloud Desktop & Documents Folders and/or ‘Optimize Mac Storage’, which Sierra defaults to want to use, and it starts uploading your desktop and documents into iCloud which is sometimes very confusing for many users and often quickly hits the iCloud storage limit and they have no idea the files are going up to iCloud servers. Then, to make matters even more bizarre, if they delete or disable iCloud, they might lose the files, or might not, depending on how they handle it.

      It is confusing, I know even advanced users that can’t explain it. I also know a former “Mac Genius” who relied on iCloud Photos and then lost an entire library of their photos…. if an ex-Apple “Genius” can’t figure it out who can?

      If you want cloud file management, I personally recommend Dropbox. It’s much easier to use and understand.

  7. david watts says:

    I’m wondering if there is a user anywhere who can tell me how using the iCloud can make my computer easier, more efficient, safer, or more valuable in any way? Thanx.

    • MR says:

      H, I have found icloud drive (2TB storage US$10 a month) and find very useful as all of my files and work from multiple macs (imac / macbook) / ipads / iphones is available across all devices (same for my photolibrary) – The files sync across all devices and are backed up in cloud (which was very useful when 2012 imac died)

  8. yyz says:

    Is icloud drive also used to sync between devices? If so, are the files automatically deleted from iCloud once the devices are synced?

    • Ian T says:

      iCloud Drive can sync between devices if those devices are set up to do so.

      Importantly, the iCloud Drive on your Mac stays there so, if you copy data from your Mac to iCloud Drive in order to store or sync data, you will end up with twice the storage space being used on your Mac – original on Mac and copy in iCloud Drive Folder.

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