I remember in older versions of MacOS there was a setting in:

System Preferences -> iCloud -> Options @ iCloud Drive -> Optimize Mac Storage

It's been known to cause all sorts of problems, so I want to make sure I disable it, but it is not there any more!

How can I make sure I disable this setting and NOT have Catalina manage free space on my drive for me?

  • If you want to link to a specific problem you wish you mitigate, please add that as an edit. I’ve tested optimize space extensively and have several accounts with different settings on the same AppleID and I have zero known issues at present. The issue typically is just not understanding how it works. I’ll get an answer up where to elect the full - no optimize pass, for certain - you can and should do that if you can while you research and confirm no issues affect you.
    – bmike
    Jul 3, 2020 at 15:48
  • great question, BTW - the control isn't searchable anymore in spotlight, system pref search and the cheese has indeed been moved on you. Two places to optimize now.
    – bmike
    Jul 3, 2020 at 16:06
  • @bmike I was just reading a few posts in the Scrivener forum and they were saying that iCloud would offload Scrivener docs leaving only symlinks (???) or aliases in place and then when you try and open a doc, the app would tell you that the file was invalid.
    – ruslaniv
    Jul 3, 2020 at 16:15
  • Perfect test case - you won’t lose any data testing this out. @ me if you ask a follow on question on that or have any questions in practice.
    – bmike
    Jul 3, 2020 at 17:45

1 Answer 1


Here is how you can ensure iCloud does not take an optimize pass after it downloads the full version of cloud synced app data and finished processing and uploading any selected folders or selected Application data that only exists on your local Mac.

In system preferences, at the very top, select AppleID and in the main pane, you can choose to opt in or opt out of syncing specific buckets of files. The equivalent check box is located at the bottom of that list - Optimize Mac Storage.

AppleID settings detail in macOS Catalina - toggle for Optimize Mac storage

  • Now I found it! So from what I can see "Optimize Storage" is only related to iCloud and how it keeps its files either both in the cloud and on Mac or only in the cloud? So it has nothing to do with any other files outside of iCloud folder? Because after reading a couple of articles it was my understanding that enabling "Optimize Storage" would start uploading and then deleting other files outside of iCloud folder on your Mac (and knowing how Apple likes to guide us, I would not be surprised).
    – ruslaniv
    Jul 3, 2020 at 16:12
  • Correct. @RusI this feature is often presumed to be something it’s not. You always always see dehydrated versions of files that rehydrate based on internet speeds and if you cache that file locally. This feature can free up space on old files you haven’t opened on a long time.
    – bmike
    Jul 3, 2020 at 17:46

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .