I used iCloud Drive to store all my files.

Due to various issues with my laptop I had to wipe the hard drive and re-install macOS on it (Catalina 10.15.1). I started with that installation completely from scratch, not restoring anything. But did of course sign in with the same Apple ID as my iCloud Drive.

But now the iCloud Drive folder is not downloading any of my files. I can see them all on icloud.com though.

How do I force macOS to synchronise the iCloud Drive folder?

  • Did you try to sign out and signing back again with your same Apple ID?
    – Udhy
    Nov 14, 2019 at 15:22
  • You can't force a sync. If you wiped the laptop then all your iCloud data, including photos, needs to be resynced. Depending on your internet speed and what you're doing on your laptop, that could take several days to sync. How long have you been waiting and how often are you using the laptop during those times?
    – fsb
    Nov 14, 2019 at 15:25
  • @fsb It's been about 2-3 hours. With continuous usage during that time and a strong wifi connection. It's shown zero signs that any attempts to sync the data is being made.
    – Jon Cox
    Nov 14, 2019 at 15:31
  • @Udhy I have not yet, there always seem to be complications when that happens. I had hoped because I've only just signed in that it would work without the usual Apple hacks to fix their buggy software.
    – Jon Cox
    Nov 14, 2019 at 15:31
  • 1
    I'm glad it's working, I'll add that as an answer.
    – fsb
    Nov 15, 2019 at 13:16

1 Answer 1


After several comments and clarifications, the iCloud sync process did eventually start. It took about 12 hours of leaving the laptop plugged-in and awake for the syncing to start.

Because there's no UI (this is supposed to be a background process), you really have no good way to measure the progress. Unfortunately, this has been a knock against iCloud for many years and Apple doesn't appear to be making any changes to improve in that area.

  • 1
    It took about 2 hours for me to see some activity on my iCloud folders. This is extremely bad UX design.
    – ogirginc
    Jun 10, 2020 at 8:11
  • I have the same issue. For you did all the files appear at once, or progressively? I’m also curious if I restart my MacBook will the sync continue or start over. Thanks. Sep 22, 2020 at 17:43

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