I'm attempting to clean up a iCloud account a little bit; it's on the free tier and it's full of photos. I assumed I could copy-paste the photos on the Macbook from the synced iCloud directory to a local one and delete the extra content off of the iCloud backup. Except when I start looking at the Finder browser it looks like my only option is to save to iCloud synced directories because I have everything (docs, pics, etc) synced.
I'll admit that I'm new to Mac, so I'm probably missing something. I expected it to work like Dropbox, One Drive, Spideroak, etc, where there are synced directories and anything you put into the directories is synced. But I don't even know how to save to a local directory; I've checked various prompts from Photos to MS Word and I can't seem to figure out how to save somewhere else; I figure I'm probably missing something obvious, but my searching is turning up ways to turn on iCloud and delete it's contents. Not the fine-tune management I'm looking for.
How can I have the option to save to an iCloud enabled directory and an arbitrary, not iCloud synced, directory? Ideally I'd like to get to where I can manually manage my files between backed up and non-backed up directories if I could; I'd like to be able to more carefully manage the files that are backed up versus the ones that I just want locally.