I have synced both my Desktop and Documents folders on my iCloud. iCloud is now full and I no longer would like to keep them in sync. According to this page (section called How to stop syncing Desktop and Documents Folder to iCloud Drive in macOS Sierra) you just have to uncheck the Desktop & Documents Folders in iCloud settings. When I do so, I get the following warning:

enter image description here

But what I aim to do is the opposite. I would like to keep the files on my current Macbook and unsync from my iCloud to free up space there.

When I manually navigate to my iCloud via Finder and remove the folders, the original files are removed with them. This is slightly confusing.

I just want to unsync the folders from the cloud. It's very straightforward in Dropbox.

1 Answer 1



iCloud is a syncing solution, unlike Dropbox which is more for backup/storage. This is why it's different than you'd expect to turn this off. Follow all the steps you've already taken until you get that warning message you indicated in your question.

On that message box, click Turn Off. All your documents will still be available in iCloud but they will be removed from your Mac.

Getting All Files from iCloud Desktop & Documents Back from iCloud to the Local Mac

  1. Open the Finder in MacOS and go to “iCloud Drive” (navigate via Finder or select “iCloud Drive” from the ‘Go’ menu)
  2. Locate the “Documents” folder in iCloud Drive
  3. Open another new Finder window and navigate to the local “Documents” folder
  4. Select every file from the iCloud Drive Documents folder and manually transfer it to your Mac local Documents folder with drag & drop
  5. Repeat the same process with “Desktop” on iCloud to get all contents from “Desktop” on iCloud to “Desktop” on the local Mac enter image description here

You can either copy or just move the files from iCloud Drive, that is up to you.

  • This is incorrect. If your iCloud Drive is full, the sync operation will never complete. If you cancel before it completes, it will delete all your unsynced files off your Mac with literally no way to get them back. (Tested as of Big Sur 11.2)
    – CommaToast
    Commented Mar 6, 2021 at 20:32
  • @CommaToast It's not incorrect if it helped the OP and they accepted the answer. Additionally, this answer is almost 3 years old so you attempted it with an OS that wasn't even out when this answer was added.
    – fsb
    Commented Mar 6, 2021 at 23:46

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