Observation: Machine A had HPFS+ with iCloud drive subscription. Machine B had APFS and joined the same iCloud drive. When the content was downloaded, all the directories had a fresh modification date on them.

Experiment / Observation 2: Machines A and B are using the same iCloud drive. Disconnect the network connection on B. Create and empty directory on A. After some time connect B back to the network. The empty directory gets downloaded on B but with a fresh modification time (time of download on B). This does not happen for files.

Setup: In the above "experiments / observations", machine A is running macOS 10.12.6 on an HPFS+ (case-sensitive and encrypted). Machine B is running macOS 10.13 beta on an APFS (case-sensitive and encrypted).

Question: I would like to know what metadata are saved and restored for files in iCloud drive. For example what kind of time stamps are kept (creation time, last read time, last modification time, ...)? Are file names case-sensitive? Are they normalised?

Has Apple published any reference on this?

  • developer.apple.com/library/content/documentation/… might give some clues (I didn't dig in very deep though)
    – nohillside
    Sep 9, 2017 at 13:37
  • Only Apple knows, and unless they publish it on the developer site, there is no official data on that. Sep 9, 2017 at 15:11
  • mdls <filename> on two Macs shows all metadata the same except for those related to file opening or using (e.g. kMDItemUsedCount)
    – Gilby
    Sep 12, 2017 at 23:43
  • Your observation doesn't actually relate directly to your question. I'm not saying it's not a good question. But, when your computer downloads content from iCloud, the creation date /is/ today, because the folder structure is created, on your computer, now. That's separate and different from file creation/modification metadata that gets downloaded.
    – Harv
    Sep 13, 2017 at 0:57
  • Harv, I don't believe that to be correct - see my comment to the answer below regarding folders. The iCloud sync propagates the same kMDItemContentCreationDate for folders and this is what is shown by get info.
    – Gilby
    Sep 13, 2017 at 1:31

1 Answer 1


iCloud Drive is not stored on a traditional file system per se on Apple's servers.

On your Mac, the files in iCloud Drive are stored simply on the existing file system on your hard drive - usually HFS+. You can find the files at the following path:

~/Library/Mobile\ Documents/com~apple~CloudDocs/

  • Thanks for your answer. I'm rather interested in what metadata is stored along with each file. For example, see the "observation" I added to the question. Maybe I should change the title of the question?
    – Loax
    Sep 9, 2017 at 10:49
  • If you look in the the path I referenced, you'll see that's there no extra metadata in the attributes or similar.
    – jksoegaard
    Sep 9, 2017 at 10:54
  • What information does it keep on the server-side though? For instance, from my experience (the observation mentioned in the question), it appears that the meta-data on "time created" is either not kept on the server side or is disregarded when recreating the directories in a new destination.
    – Loax
    Sep 9, 2017 at 11:00
  • mdls <folder> on 2 Macs shows kMDItemContentCreationDate is the same (even though it may predate the macOS install), though kMDItemContentModificationDate is local to the specific Mac.
    – Gilby
    Sep 12, 2017 at 23:49

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