I have my Documents folder synced with iCloud drive, I want to exclude some sub folders from the iCloud drive is there a way to achieve this?


Adding one empty file named .nosync to a folder will prevent that folder from syncing.

You can also use this as a file extension to specific files, but the folder treatment is quite useful.

Once you've had a folder sync, you can now also prevent it from syncing on some (or all endpoints) with a utility named Bailiff, if for some reason you don't want just to delete the files from iCloud entirely and instead want to prevent the next "initial" sync.

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    what if you put a hidden .nosync file in the folder will that also stop the folder from syncing? – malhal Aug 19 '17 at 17:03
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    I want to avoid syncing a "build" folder too. In that case, I cannot change the name of that folder. – John Pang Jan 7 '18 at 9:31
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    This is not really accurate. The directory continues to sync up when a .nosync file is added; additionally, iCloud even seems to behave like the contents of the directory are uploading, and may even take up space, though I don't want to risk losing space that will never return, as I've seen many reports of space never de-allocating. The directory will show up in iCloud, though appears empty. In Finder, the .nosync file will be deemed "inelligible," but all the other files are considered "Downloaded." This is is disconcerting. Compare: i.imgur.com/uYybYAK.png – danemacmillan Jul 9 '18 at 17:12
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    This didn’t work for me. I created an empty file called .nosync in the folder but everything else in the folder still synced. I created some new files in the folder and they were uploaded to iCloud Drive. I’m using Mojave. – Nate Nov 8 '18 at 5:11
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    2019-07-12 - this no longer seems to work. I have tried it on High Sierra (10.13.6) and Mojave (10.14.5) and even with .nosync files on each Mac, new content continues to sync. A sub-folder named "test.nosync" does not sync, nor do files which end with .nosync. But that's obviously less than ideal. – TJ Luoma Jul 12 '19 at 19:38

Here are all the file/folder names excluded so maybe one of these could be used for a workaround:


  • is .DS_Store
  • begins with (A Document Being Saved
  • contains .nosync (in any case)
  • is .ubd
  • contains .weakpkg
  • is tmp (in any case)
  • is .tmp (in any case)
  • is desktop.ini (in any case)
  • begins with ~$
  • is Microsoft User Data (in any case)
  • is $RECYCLE.BIN (in any case)
  • is iPhoto Library (in any case)
  • is Dropbox (in any case)
  • is OneDrive (in any case)
  • is IDrive-Sync (in any case)
  • is .dropbox (in any case)
  • is .dropbox.attr (in any case)
  • is icon\r (in any case)

Extension is (in any case):

  • tmp
  • photoslibrary
  • photolibrary
  • aplibrary
  • migratedaplibrary
  • migratedphotolibrary
  • migratedaperturelibrary

Extension is more than 2 chars and filename is ~

Source: reversing iCloud daemon.

Hopefully in a future version of the OS they let us put .nosync inside the folder to exclude it, or have an .IgnoreList like Resilio has.

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    That's helpful, but can you please also add a source to your answer? – mklement0 Jan 9 '18 at 13:12
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    iCloud Drive also excludes symlinks ("aliases"). – twhb Jul 9 '18 at 20:09

Rename the folder or file:

mv fileorfolder fileorfolder.nosync

Create a symlink that get's synced:

ln -s fileorfolder.nosync fileorfolder

Repeat on every machine.

  • Nice one! Works with Magento 2.3.2, excluding paths 'var/cache', 'var/session', 'var/view_preprocessed/pub/static', 'pub/media/catalog/product/cache', 'pub/static' gonna save a lot of battery life! – Maciek Rek Dec 2 '19 at 19:02
  • this worked for me. Also mentioned here 😊 – Foad Mar 25 '20 at 10:44
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    Brilliant!!! And if you have node/npm you can add this as a single command with github.com/HaoChuan9421/nosync-icloud – Vino Jan 23 at 3:54

Node developers: To add an empty file named .nosync to every node_modules subfolder, run this shell script from a parent directory:

find . -name node_modules -exec touch {}/.nosync \;
  • Very useful, thank you! I did combine it with -prune though, so that only those node_modules folders that were not themselves a sub-folder of another node_modules were targeted, which I discovered here: unix.stackexchange.com/a/582634 – shuckster Apr 12 at 9:25

It looks like directories that are named "tmp" or end with ".tmp" are not synced. A cloud icon with a line through it appears next to the directory along with anything inside of it.


I created this Automator workflow to do it from the context menu in Finder https://github.com/tsdexter/iCloud-NoSync


Adding the .nosync file to the directory is not working anymore.

The directory has to be renamed to contain .nosync. Moreover, according to this thread on Reddit, it should be possible to chain the words like my_file.nosync.noindex to not only mark file as not-to-sync but also to hide it from Spotlight.


The answer that worked for me really well was added as a comment above (https://apple.stackexchange.com/a/335629/117233), but for the sake of being thorough, I thought to add the actual code.

The way it worked for me was the following:

  1. Delete the folder you don't want to sync (or rename it if the content isn't auto-generated, e.g. node_modules)
  2. run the following in the parent directory of the above:
mkdir NAME_OF_FOLDER.nosync && ln -s NAME_OF_FOLDER.nosync NAME_OF_FOLDER

Then copy your content to the NAME_OF_FOLDER.nosync folder.

Hope it helps.


I just create folders directly under my user home that I want to keep only locally (separate from my iCloud folders).

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