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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.

  • If you go to System Preferences -> Internet Accounts and click the Options button next to iCloud Drive, is "Desktop & Documents Folders" on the Documents tab checked? If so, that would be why it seems like your only option is to save to iCloud synced directories. – Lizzan Nov 14 '18 at 7:12
  • @Lizzan it is, and I completely understand why that gives me the option to save directly to the iCloud synced directory. But why does checking that option seem to make iCloud my only save location option? If that's the way it works then that's the way it, works, but that's counter-intuitive. – JosephRT Nov 14 '18 at 13:44
  • Well, that option means that all your files on your Desktop and in your Documents folders will be stored in iCloud, hence giving you nowhere else to save them. Unchecking the option means that your iCloud Drive will work more like Dropbox, as in being only one directory on your disk which will be backed up. If you decide to uncheck the box, read carefully what that will do to your files in the dialog box that comes up. – Lizzan Nov 14 '18 at 14:00
  • Ahh, I haven't been inclined to turn off the sync because it wasn't 100% apparent to me what would happen. So if disable syncing, I'll then have the option of saving locally or saving to a synced iCloud directory? Is there separate iCloud directories for docs, photos, etc? – JosephRT Nov 14 '18 at 20:51
  • Yes, if you disable syncing you'll have a root iCloud Drive directory with folders for Documents, Photos etc. You can also create your own folders there. – Lizzan Nov 15 '18 at 6:37

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