I have a MacBook Air 8GB, 128GB and I just bought a MacBook Pro 16GB, 1TB which I have signed into with the same Apple ID.

I have Air dropped two files to the Pro but everything from the Air seems to have transferred to the Pro.

I set the Pro up as a clean start but didn't realise that they were linked until I sent things to the bin and found they disappeared from the Air too.

I wanted to keep the two desktops different. Is this possible? If so, can you please tell me what I missed when I set the Pro up as a new without backing up.

  • iCloud storage is really meant to be a multi-device sync rather than a backup solution, with a secondary purpose of being able to off-load from devices with tiny storage. If you don't want to use it as that, I'd switch it off.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Feb 21, 2020 at 8:58

2 Answers 2


The answer to your question is "no". It's not possible to have two computers, both using the same Apple ID, to save files or data to two independent instances of iCloud storage.

However, there may be more to your question. "iCloud" consists of several different features, including iCloud Drive, iCloud Photos, Contacts and Calendar sync, etc. You noted that "everything from the Air seems to have transferred to the Pro" and "I wanted to keep the two desktops different". It sounds like you are talking about the "Desktop and Documents" feature of iCloud. This syncs your Documents folder and your Desktop between devices, and it can be controlled independently of the other iCloud features. To turn it off:

  1. Go to System Preferences > iCloud
  2. Click the "Options" button next to "iCloud Drive"
  3. Uncheck the "Desktop & Documents Folders" box
  4. Optionally, uncheck any other app that you don't want to use or sync with iCloud

In this way, you can still have benefits of iCloud, such as Calendar and Contact sync, Mac App Store purchases, and a shared iCloud Drive space for files and selected apps, without having your Documents and Desktop folders synced. If you don't want any of those things, just sign out of iCloud on your new device, create a separate Apple ID, and sign in with that.

  • Would have been nice if the desktop and documents weren't counted as one. Would be even nicer if each document was separated too. Commented Feb 22, 2020 at 6:25
  • Thank you so much for your answer, I was having a lot of difficulty figuring out how to get my two desktops separate again.
    – levininja
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 16:12

I think you can only do that (keep separate copies of the files of different computers in the cloud using the same iCloud account) if you sign your computers in with different Apple IDs and use family sharing. In the description of family sharing Apple says

One adult in your household — the organizer — chooses the features your family will share and invites up to five family members to join. Your family can share Apple Books, and App Store purchases, an Apple Music family subscription, a single iCloud storage plan, and more. Once family members join, Family Sharing is set up on everyone’s devices automatically.

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