Ok, I am getting really annoyed with macOS now, so I asked this question

How can I clear pending iCloud Downloads?

and the answer worked! Great!

However after signing out of iCloud and signing back in this time with documents switched off and optimise switched off, my Mac is still insisting on downloading my documents folder!

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As you can see from the image both Desktop and documents is not selected, optimise is unchecked and yet you can see it is still downloading 44GB of data I don't want on my mac! Thats why I bought the external storage plan!

Why? This is driving me crazy!!

  • Forgive me if I missed the main point in my answer. You get partial contents and stub files as long as there is space. That's how it works. Just add files to your Mac and the 44 GB will free up and go away and live in the cloud. – bmike Dec 24 '18 at 15:28
  • @bmike, sure, but it's too slow to free up the space and I often have to copy a lot of large files like video for editing and MacOs just complains saying there is not enough space. It only frees up space gradually. – Lenny D Dec 24 '18 at 16:10

I think that dialog you have up is pretty clear but based on the last question I would encourage a couple changes in how you're using iCloud.

  1. Look for words like "if there is space" in the description. That means Apple downloads everything and then frees up space when it sees you have little space left. It doesn't do the calculation first - it actually downloads.
  2. Look for confusion around Documents and Desktop. If you opt in to syncing on one Mac - now you have 4 folders on any one Mac signed in to iCloud - the cloud version of desktop and documents and the local version.

To clean things up, you will want to sign in to https://www.icloud.com/#iclouddrive and delete anything you don't want syncing down in the short term.

Then you'll want to let the machine get in balance with iCloud (which can take hours if you are in the 200 GB storage size for iCloud - even if you have a local caching server on your network) and then revisit the settings and adjust your plans.

Just be sure to store files outside the buckets that sync locally and I think you'll be able to have iCloud storage for things you don't want on your Mac. I'm quite happy with 200 GB in the cloud for the past three years and three Mac with 256 SSD. My Photos library is now at 120 GB alone so my one device that downloads the full versions of everything so I can make a separate backup has that photo library on an external drive and not the 256 SSD. Everything else fits on the boot drive and the thinning process is quite solid.

I expect I'll add another 50 GB of photos and tip over to needing an even larger cloud subscription and I think I can keep all my iOS and macOS devices using 256 SSD or less even as my total storage grows.

  • Sorry I think there is a miss-understanding here, I am happy with how much space I have on iCloud. I just don't want the files on my mac "At all" I just want to be able to access the files remotely. Doesn't feel like a big ask to me. – Lenny D Dec 24 '18 at 15:41
  • @LennyD if I understand it correctly, iCloud is not a remote storage device like Google Drive, Dropbox ect. iCloud is to be the duplicate, the copy of your Device. It will always try to keep up to date exact copy of you device data. – Ruskes Dec 24 '18 at 15:57
  • @Buscar웃 , Sure I understand, iv'e been googling it most of today and so many people want this feature! Yet, there is this "optimise" setting that will only keep recently used files locally and delete local files that are not accessed (when disk space is under pressure) I have more usage on iCloud than I have free disk space, so it is already not a duplicate for me! It seems apple will always aim to let you keep 10% of your disk space free (it leaves me with 25Gb). As users we should be able to tell iCloud Drive to attempt to keep xGB or x% free locally. – Lenny D Dec 24 '18 at 16:06

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