I've got MacBook where I used to have iCloud turned on to sync all my files (desktop & documents) and have them accessible from other devices. When I go to "Files" app on iOS, I can easily see and access those files. The same from icloud.com website.

Now I've just got new MacBook. I've turned on iCloud Drive in Preferences (and checked Desktop & Documents Folders in Options panel) but it doesn't download anything from iCloud, i.e. it doesn't sync files from iCloud Drive. It has only created new folders locally (Desktop & Documents).

Also, those two folders created on new Mac are not visible anywhere on iCloud Drive (neither through icloud.com nor Files app).

Is this normal behavior? Or am I doing something wrong? How can I get those iCloud files on my Mac?

  • Assuming you've signed-in to the new Mac with the same Apple ID? How long have you waited for the files to sync to the new Mac?
    – fsb
    Commented Dec 18, 2018 at 19:45
  • @fsb yes, i've signed-in with the same Apple ID. So far I've been waiting ~2h (and counting :)). FWIW, Desktop & Documents icons in finer have dotted cloud icon on right.
    – Paweł
    Commented Dec 18, 2018 at 19:48
  • 1
    It usually depends on how much data it has to sync but I wouldn't start getting concerned until 24 hours have passed. It can take quite a long time for docs to sync to a new device.
    – fsb
    Commented Dec 18, 2018 at 20:17

2 Answers 2


Assuming you've logged into the same Apple ID in Apple > System Preferences > iCloud as you have on your other devices, you should be fine. Beyond this, you've already selected the correct options regarding iCloud Drive.

Considering this is a totally new MacBook, you will need to allow some time for everything to get synced, especially when there's multiple devices concerned and if there's larger amounts of data (not only in terms of file sizes, but also in terms of the actual number of files).

Another factor will be the speed of your internet connection. In the meantime, just make sure your MacBook is online and has a stable connection. I'd allow 24hrs in order to start seeing your files populate, keeping in mind that they may not all be there if you have a lot of data.

Finally, if you do have a lot to sync, you can opt to not let your MacBook go to sleep during the initial sync period (i.e. allow your screen to go to sleep, but not your MacBook itself). In other words, select the Prevent Computer from sleeping automatically when the display is off option in Energy Saver preferences.

  • 2
    You were right – it needed several hours until something started happening. Thanks! Btw. it seems like a very terrible User Experience to not have an indicator that something is happening :).
    – Paweł
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 7:10

I read on another board that Desktop and Documents are the only two folders that iCloud syncs, but that may only mean, "out of the box." There may be ways to tweak a more comprehensive sync.

As to applications that are specifically for this purpose, I only know of the venerable Chronosync, with which I'm about to sync my new Macbook Air with my older Macbook Pro. (Thank goodness I bought 500GB SSDs for each!)

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