I copied my files to the iCloud Drive directory:
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I want to save them in iCloud but I dont want to use my disk storage. How to delete files from my mac and keep it in iCloud Drive? Dont need to access them without downloading. I want to use iCloud as place for backup for my files.

3 Answers 3


This is now fully supported

Right click the folder you want to remove from local device. Then select "Remove Download"

  • This is the correct answer!
    – TD540
    Aug 11, 2020 at 11:51
  • Confirmed it works on Big Sur
    – Honghao Z
    Dec 27, 2020 at 20:54
  • Is this supported for 10.14? I don't think it is because when I hit right click I don't see that option.
    – bobsmith76
    Sep 22, 2021 at 7:27

How to delete files from my mac and keep it in iCloud Drive?

You cannot do this, because...

iCloud is a syncing platform and not primarily a backup platform.

iCloud connects you and your Apple devices in amazing ways. It makes sure you always have the latest versions of your important information—like documents, photos, notes, and contacts—on whatever device you’re using. It lets you easily share photos, calendars, locations, and more with friends and family. It even helps you find your device if you lose it.

It's designed to give you access to your files from all your devices. It's not designed to allow you to put a file there and then delete it from your device.

If you need an actual backup solution, you should look to Google, Dropbox, or OneDrive. They'll allow you to do the file backups you need.

  • 1
    And.. I cant delete files from mac and keep them in iCloud? May 12, 2017 at 20:28
  • No. When you delete them from your Mac it deletes it from the cloud and all other devices signed-in with the same Apple ID.
    – fsb
    May 12, 2017 at 20:33
  • Ok, thanks. Now, can I do that I want with Google Drive / Dropbox etc? I want to upload my files from mac by Finder and dont want to duplicate them on my disk. May 12, 2017 at 20:35
  • Yes, those services, and others like them, are true backup solutions. You can keep files there, delete them from your device, and access them again from any other device. Here's a tour of Dropbox to show you what it can do.
    – fsb
    May 12, 2017 at 20:41
  • Using iCloud on your Mac is like using MS Edge because you have windows -- there are better options! With other services, you can selectively synchronize some directories and not others. Or you can just use the web interface to upload and never "sync" anything. I use Dropbox and Drive, but I find Dropbox to be the more elegant of the two. May 12, 2017 at 21:41

Whoops, Nope

to remove files from your Mac and not from iCloud you need to disable iCloud Drive.

All files are removed from your Mac. Now I assume you like Some current files -you're currently working on. When you enable iCloud Drive and enable "Storage Optimisation" file are only synced to your Mac after you downloaded then. i.e. clicked the cloud icon behind the file or folder :-)

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