How to Disable iCloud Drive on Mac

May 13, 2020 - 4 Comments

How to Disable iCloud Drive on Mac

If you have no use for iCloud Drive on the Mac, you may wish to disable iCloud Drive in macOS. By turning off iCloud Drive, all documents that are stored in iCloud will be removed from the Mac, though you’ll have an option to keep a local copy when turning iCloud Drive off.

Note this is disabling iCloud Drive completely on the Mac, and not simply disabling iCloud Desktop & Documents which only stores those two directories in iCloud. By turning off iCloud Drive on the Mac, you will have no access to iCloud Drive or any files in iCloud Drive from that computer (unless you turn it on again, which we’ll also walk through below).

How to Disable iCloud Drive on Mac

Be sure the Mac has an active internet connection before attempting this procedure so that any decision on file downloading can be respected.

  1. Go to the  Apple menu and choose ‘System Preferences’
  2. Select iCloud settings
  3. Uncheck the box next to “iCloud Drive”
  4. How to turn off iCloud Drive on Mac

  5. Confirm that you want to turn off iCloud Drive and remove the iCloud files from the Mac, then select the option for what to do with your files:
    • “Keep a Copy” – this will keep a downloaded copy of the files from iCloud Drive on the Mac, this is the recommended choice for most users to preserve their files
    • “Remove from Mac” – this will delete any files from iCloud Drive from the Mac

    How to disable iCloud Drive on Mac

  6. Exit out of System Preferences when finished

By turning off iCloud Drive on the Mac, you’ll no longer have the “iCloud Drive” option visible in the Finder sidebar, or as an option in the Dock or elsewhere on the Mac, because the feature is disabled completely. Likewise, you won’t be able to save files to iCloud Drive from the Mac, nor will you be able to copy files to iCloud Drive or move files to iCloud Drive from the Mac.

iCloud Drive is a very helpful feature that allows you to easily share files and documents between your own devices (including other Macs, iPhones, iPads) by automatically syncing and copying files between devices, so disabling iCloud Drive should only be done if you do not actually use the feature at all on the Mac. There are some other scenarios where turning off iCloud Drive could be relevant too, for example if the Mac is never online, or doesn’t use iCloud whatsoever, or perhaps if the Mac uses another cloud storage service, amongst other various reasons.

How to Enable iCloud Drive on Mac

If you disabled iCloud Drive and now want to re-enable iCloud Drive on the Mac, here is how to do that:

  1. Go to the  Apple menu and select ‘System Preferences’
  2. Select iCloud
  3. Check the box next to “iCloud Drive”

This will re-enable iCloud Drive as a destination for saving files, data, and for copying items to and from the Mac and other Macs using the same Apple ID, or other Apple devices using the same Apple ID, including other iPhone and iPads. Re-enabling iCloud Drive also brings back the default option in newer macOS versions to have iCloud be the default save location for some files.

If you have any particular experiences, thoughts, tips, or suggestions about using or turning off iCloud Drive on Mac, share with us in the comments below!

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

4 Comments

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  1. Steve says:

    George – The reason for many people to use iCloud Drive is so that apps that have macOS/iOS equivalents, (and there are many of these – some of them are Apple apps like Preview, QuickTime GarageBand and iMovie, but there are others like Affinity Photo and Designer, Notion iOS, etc,..), these create files that need to be available for both the macOS app and the iOS app. My entire workflow depends on this functionality.

    And it doesn’t replace Time Machine or Dropbox. Dropbox does duplicate some of these features, but not all and not as well. Some apps don’t share well with Dropbox.

  2. Rick Holcomb says:

    I used the “keep a copy” option when I turned iCloud off on my second computer. BE WARNED: all the file membership in folders was lost so all I had was a very long list of individual files downloaded to my computer in a folder called “icloud archive”. To me, this was a total mess as all organization was lost! Perhaps I did it wrong or is there an option to keep the file structure? Couldn’t see one. Another time, I would set up another folder for documents and another for desktop that was not on iCloud, i.e. only on my Mac, and then MOVE ALL FILES MANUALLY from iCloud to these non-iCoud folders. THEN turn off iCloud. Please correct me if I have the wrong.

  3. expobill says:

    has anyone else have/had their photos automatically upload to iCloud? that is happening to my account since last week, so i deleted them all.
    any tips on really silencing alerts on iPads 13,4,4?
    all of the notifications are muted but still chimes.

  4. Uhh . . . I have my trusty Time Machine backup, and I use Dropbox to exchange files with other people, so why d I even have iCloud Drive? It’s costing me $2.99 a month, and that is $3 in real money, which adds up over a year. Please respond.

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