How to Use iCloud Drive File Sharing in macOS

Aug 20, 2020 - 4 Comments

iCloud Drive Sharing

Mac users can use iCloud Drive file sharing to easily share files and folders from iCloud Drive with other people. This cloud sharing capability also exists on iPhone and iPad, and it works similar to how Dropbox and Google Drive function, allowing for easy collaboration and sharing of files and documents easily.


The ability to use iCloud Drive file sharing in macOS requires a modern version of system software, specifically anything beyond MacOS Catalina 10.15.4 or later including Big Sur, as earlier versions do not support the feature.

Using iCloud Drive to share files and folders does work pretty much as you might expect it to. And because it’s baked into macOS it’s pretty easy to use, too. But like everything in life, it’s only easy if you know how to do it. And as ever, that’s where we come in.

We’re going to show you exactly how to share a file or folder from iCloud Drive on the Mac, and as you’ll see it’s quite simple.

How to Share Files and Folders with iCloud Drive in MacOS

You can share any file or folder that is already located in iCloud Drive.

  1. Locate the item that you would like to share in iCloud Drive to get started.
  2. Right-click the file or folder that you want to share and select “Share” before clicking “Add People”.Click add people
  3. The next window provides a number of options for sharing the invitation. Select the one you would like to use.
  4. Click Share Options” to reveal settings for different permissions – select who you want to be able to access the file or folder as well as whether they can make changes or not. Click “Share” when you’re ready.Select your required sharing options
  5. Depending on the method you’re using to share the invitation the next screen will differ. If you’re using Messages – the most likely method – select the person you want to invite and then press “Send” like any other message.

Congratulations, you just shared access to one of your files or folders. Easy, right?

But what about editing permissions once an item has been shared? Good question.

How to Edit Permissions of Shared iCloud Drive Files & Folders in MacOS

  1. Right-click the file or folder that you already shared
  2. select “Share” before clicking “Show People”.
  3. Click the “Show Options” disclosure triangle. You can now make changes to access permissions, copy a link, or stop sharing completely. You can even send the link to someone if needed, too.

Depending on your use case iCloud Drive has the potential to replace paid-for services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and more.

The added benefit of iCloud Drive is that it’s built right into every Mac, iPad, and iPhone and you already have it installed. As we mentioned before, the ability to use iCloud file sharing on iPhone and iPad is also easy for the iOS and ipadOS users out there.

You can do some other neat things with iCloud Drive, too. Like browse it from your iPhone and iPad and even access it via a command line. The recovery of deleted items from iCloud Drive is also supported as well. Happy iCloud file sharing!

Let us know your thoughts and experiences with iCloud File sharing in MacOS in the comments below.

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Posted by: Oliver Haslam in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

4 Comments

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  1. funkright says:

    From my recollection doesn’t the data you want to share via iCloud have to be physically hosted in the cloud (and not just a replication of what you have locally stored)?

    Unlike google drive, where I can have it hosted on the cloud, but it’s a copy of what’s on my hard drive (on my MBP, as an example).

    I understand why Apple would want to do it this way, but find I like the local control (and 2 full copies) that this engenders.

    Maybe I am wrong though, but that (the iCloud experience noted above) was what occurred to me last time I tried it…

  2. Duncan from DownUnder says:

    Unfortunately you can only share to those with an AppleID.

    • Norno says:

      You can send the share / download URL to anyone, no Apple ID required for that

    • Morpork says:

      Incorrect. If you stipulate to share with anyone with a link in the Show people step as above (and wait for the Copy link stage and click that), everyone you send the link to, whether they have an Apple ID or not, can download the file when they click the grey “Download file” button in the window that opens when they click or tap that link (they should ignore the Blue button inviting them to sign up for iCloud). I’ve used iCloud file sharing for more than a year to send out a local magazine and the only problem I’ve encountered is Windows recipients not looking in their Downloads folder to see that it’s there.

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