I have a Macbook Air with 121gb of storage on a SSD. I use iCloud and have approx 1.5TB of data in the cloud. I have clicked optimise storage and I now only have 8GB lefton my SSD, so not enough space to complete the latest iOS update.

I have read that optimise storage leaves a percentage of disk space free, however, it doesn't appear to have allowed enough!

If I un click optimise storage, it tries to download everything.

Is there anyway that I can keep all my files in the cloud and just use them there and not download any of them onto my HD?


1 Answer 1


Yes - when you untick the check mark for Photos or Documents (likely the two largest items of iCloud space) you are asked if you want to keep a local copy (which you _don’t want to do) or just let the items live in the cloud (which you want - at least temporarily).

Choose to delete the local copy and then you will have the files only in iCloud.

Keep in mind, that after you delete files, macOS will keep space allocated / file content around for a short time as local snapshots or local time machine backups, so you will want to either thin the local snapshots or wait a day for them to age out.

Worst case - you can get an application like Daisy Disk (paid on the App Store, but a free trial from their web site - which has the bonus feature of letting you run a scan as administrator) and it makes it very simple to purge these temporary files sooner if you need. The app also does an amazing job showing you other large uses of space if my guess is wrong about documents and photos being your major space allocations.

  • Thanks for this. I read a similar solution to yours using omniviewer, which worked a treat so I deleted the files and completed the upload. The only problem came when I when I turned syncing back on and and it began deleting all the files off iCloud that I had deleted of my HD! I have spoken to apple and they say that they are going to try and roll my iCloud data back and restore all my missing files. Watching files disappear in front of your eyes is frightening. Br very careful of what files you delete.
    – Andrew F
    Commented Nov 12, 2019 at 16:50

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