macOS Sierra

I enabled Documents and Desktop iCloud sync and it looks fine to me at the moment (after moving one huge folder out of the Documents folder). But I tried to disable it and it told me that local files will be deleted but kept on iCloud. This makes sense as it is the same logic as with the Photos.app.

But is there a way of keeping the local content and deleting the iCloud content of the Documents and Desktop folder? Essentially, how can I revert my enabling and have everything local again?

5 Answers 5


You could hold down the option + click on the document folder and drag it to another directory (essentially copying it) and then disable sync, so it does not affect the files you just created. Do the same for the Desktop Folder.

Best if you can copy to an external drive, to avoid any chances of losing the local files, until you resolve the unsync and deletion of said files.

  • 1
    That was the last resort I was thinking about - but I still hope that there is a more elegant solution?
    – Rainer
    Sep 23, 2016 at 11:47
  • I look at it this way. To me there is no such thing as elegant when backing up important documents. It just needs to be done right. Sep 23, 2016 at 11:50
  • And I think, considering that you can't easily undo it, Apple did it this time not right.
    – Rainer
    Sep 23, 2016 at 11:52
  • Sadly, they are doing a lot of things I think most can agree is just silly. Sep 23, 2016 at 11:55

I had a bigger problem in that the documents in the iCloud folder were not current files but from 2 years previously. (In retrospect I realized this was because I updated Sierra on my laptop with older document files before updating the desktop with all my current files. I couldn't even locate my current documents. SOLUTION: I went in Time Machine back three (fortunately inactive) days before I installed Sierra, found my document files and "restored." Then, in finder, created a new folder Entitled "MYINITIALS-Docs". Then when the restored files had downloaded into the "Documents" folder in iCloud, copied them to my new folder. No, not elegant but it worked. All my documents are on my desktop. Now I want to cancel and delete the iCloud storage of all my documents.


If you turn off icloud upload on finder in settings; icloud; icloud drive; finder, it will keep all your stuff in the icloud section in finder even if it hasn't uploaded completely or at all. You can just drag it back where you want and it will ask if you're sure you want to delete it from icloud (just say yes/ok) and then its all good.


I have Time Machine backing up twice a day. Backed up files inside TM will not sync or be synced. These are my local copies i could rely on if something happens. Their life is short, the actual version will soon be backed up.


I've got the same situation. My solution: Close opened apps and open terminal (iTerm - I recommend) and there (first go to your home):

mkdir Desktop.mvd Documents.mvd
mv Documents/* Documents.mvd/ && mv Desktop/* Desktop.mvd/

Then turn back off Desktop & Documents Folder option from iCloud Preferences. If you will see empty Desktop and Documents folders on iCloud drive in Finder - you can simply remove them. Check that you have locally Desktop and Documents folders in Finder (not under iCloud)

Next you can go back to terminal and move your files back:

mv Documents.mvd/* Documents/ && mv Desktop.mvd/* Desktop/

That's all

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