I'm now using iCloud on macOS 10.12.

Many folders and files (for example on my Desktop, etc.) are no more physically present on my hard drive, they have been pushed to the cloud.

I have two questions.

  1. Disabling iCloud and getting back all the uploaded files

    How does it work if I disable iCloud on the Mac (if I "unsubscribe from iCloud" in a way)? Will all my files be downloaded back to my hard drive?

  2. Disable this feature: I want my file on iCloud to always be present on my computer

    Is it possible to still use iCloud on my Mac for instance but to ensure that all the files in my "iCloud folders" are always physically present on the hard drive?

3 Answers 3


If you sign out of iCloud, you will be given the option to keep a copy of your iCloud data on your Mac before signing out. Otherwise, the iCloud data will be removed from your Mac, but will still be available on other devices using iCloud.

The System Preferences has a iCloud pane. (On later macOS this shows when you click on the Apple ID button at the top right) Next to the iCloud drive check box on this pane is an Options.. button. Clicking on the button produces a popup pane with an Optimize Mac Storage check box. If you uncheck Optimize Mac Storage, then all iCloud documents will be downloaded to your Mac. (Provided enough space is available.)

Normally, Optimize Mac Storage is checked off. This means the full contents of the iCloud drive will be stored on your Mac if you have enough space. Older Documents will be stored in iCloud when space is needed.

  • 2
    Sadly, Apple seems to have removed that button... (or moved it somewhere else? I can't find it.)
    – pfincent
    Commented Dec 29, 2021 at 13:41
  • 7
    It's still around! Go to System Preferences -> Apple ID, just above the "iCloud Storage: x GB (x GB Available)" label there should be a checkbox. Uncheck that box to force all files to be downloaded!
    – Zen Q
    Commented Jan 5, 2022 at 10:27
  • 4
    In Ventura, it's now at System Preferences > Apple ID > iCloud. It's at the top just below the storage progress bar.
    – Gavin
    Commented Dec 28, 2022 at 12:07

Click Apple ID in Setting, then at the storage section there's the „Optimize Mac Storage“ option. To make sure that all your files are kept on your Mac, make sure the option is not ticked.

enter image description here


For the second question, in Mac OS Sonoma:

Go to System Settings > iCloud (search for it, it's not visible by default on the left hand side). Below the storage bar, the toggle named "Optimized Mac Storage" should be turned off:

enter image description here

P.S. I find it hard to believe what I'm going to write, but I swear I clicked on it to deactivate it, and it stood deactivated for one second and then it reactivated itself again. I had to click again, and now it seems that it is stable. If somebody observes the same phenomenon please confirm here!

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .