I am trying out iCloud Drive as a potential replacement for Dropbox. One of the nice things about Dropbox is that it produces little green checkmarks on file and folder icons to let the user know that a file or folder has been synced with the Dropbox server:

enter image description here

When I copied several gigabytes of files to my new iCloud Drive folder, there was no indication that files were syncing nor was there any indication of what was and wasn't synced. I did manage to login to my account on iCloud.com where I saw files being added. This solution however is no where near as convenient as seeing the status in Finder. It also does not let me know if an updated existing file has been updated on the server.

My question therefore is, how can I tell if a file has been synced using Finder or any other tool on my computer?


3 Answers 3


OS X 10.10.2 now has graphical upload progress bars:

enter image description here

When things get stuck, or you have a slower upload, there is a brctl tool that ships with Yosemite to monitor changes in all iCloud backed documents. Open terminal and type the following command:

brctl log --wait --shorten

On macOS Catalina 10.15 use the following command:

brctl log -w --shorten

It will show you a brief summary of the sync changes both up and down. The wait causes it to run continuously until you close the window or issue Control+C to quit brctl process. If you are familiar with the grep command line tool, you could filter the results to just show upload progress, but most iCloud accounts are quite low volume in terms of changes, so your upload of many files will likely dominate the results.


Also, the empirical way to tell if a file is synced is to log in to iCloud drive on the web interface and verify a file and/or folder is up there in the clouds.

  • 4
    just wanted to say this is a great answer. Really, thank you. Oct 23, 2014 at 15:01
  • This is exactly what I've been looking for!! That said, it's annoying/worrying that I can't navigate to (~/)Library/Mobile\ Documents/com~apple~CloudDocs/ in terminal and see its contents.
    – Sneakyness
    Oct 26, 2014 at 14:19
  • 1
    brctl log --wait --shorten No longer works on Catalina Jan 27, 2020 at 15:15
  • 2
    Use brctl log -w --shorten on Catalina
    – intagli
    Feb 29, 2020 at 17:00
  • 1
    @intagli looks like that’s a bug introduced recently. The documentation still shows —wait as valid
    – bmike
    Feb 29, 2020 at 17:55

This was such a problem for me I actually made a utility called "iCloudStatus" which basically behaves the way Dropbox does by showing a status icon in the menu bar (see below).

The other alternative is looking at the Finder but if you're uploading large batches of documents nested deeply in folders like I am then it will be a time consuming experience knowing when your files are uploaded.

enter image description here

You can download it here and for full disclosure I am the developer.

  • Awesome sauce! Thanks for the courteous self-disclosure and making this tool.
    – bmike
    Jul 11, 2015 at 14:33
  • You're welcome! Shortly after I started using iCloud Drive I found this post then thought "huh, maybe I could fix that" and thus the app was born. Hope it's helpful to everyone.
    – GenericPtr
    Jul 11, 2015 at 17:37
  • Doesn't work. I can see nsurlseessiond is sending 1 MB/s, but the tool is not reporting any synchronization.
    – Vojtěch
    Sep 10, 2015 at 6:51
  • If anyone needs support please visit the website and contact me there since I really can't troubleshoot issues in this format. Thanks!
    – GenericPtr
    Sep 22, 2015 at 3:51
  • This should be the answer. Just bought it, thanks.
    – pistacchio
    Jan 14, 2016 at 8:35

I have noticed the same problem. The only way I have found is to look at the upload status bar in finder, way down at individual file list level. It shows how far the file has uploaded and then changes to file size when completed. Definitely not as helpful as Dropbox.

  • This is a nice graphical way to check as well. I've seen many cases where there are many folders that are in the cloud and haven't even gotten to the finder, but it does show things nicely once finder is aware of the specific files you care about. +1 and thanks
    – bmike
    Jan 19, 2015 at 13:38

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