On my Macbook, I have a folder that is synced to iCloud. It looks like this:

Folder synced to iCloud

This is great, because in case something happens to my MacBook, I have a backup. However, my iCloud has more data than my MacBook's harddrive can hold, so iCloud routinely deletes the local copy of my files to free up space, while keeping them safe in the cloud. This is bad because files I need may not be available locally on my laptop, and when a Desktop application needs the file, it can't access the file, and it appears to the application as if the file is no longer there.

If I want to keep the file available locally, I have to manually find the missing file in Finder and click "Download Now" in the context menu:

Download Now in the context menu

This workaround does help, but only temporarily - after some hours, macOS decides to "optimize" my storage again and delete the local copy, reverting it back to the previous state, and breaking my desktop application. Super annoying.

Is it possible to mark a folder and/or files to permanently remain locally downloaded?

Some Googling reveals it is possible to do this on iCloud on Windows (huh?!) and iPad, but I can't find instructions on how to do it on a Mac (double huh?!)

  • 1
    Remember that syncing is not backup.
    – Gilby
    Commented Nov 23, 2022 at 6:42
  • 1
    What is the macOS version on your MacBook? Can you pls clarify if it is the file or the folder or both you want to have stored locally? How do you know if either is synched to iCloud? What makes you think either is not available when you are offline? Is there a cloud symbol next to either in Finder and if so, can you pls describe exactly how that cloud symbol looks like (simple cloud, cloud with a down arrow, etc.)?
    – Alper
    Commented Nov 23, 2022 at 10:38
  • Thanks @Alper, added screenshots to clarify.
    – Anson Kao
    Commented Nov 23, 2022 at 15:00
  • @Gilby what do you mean? When my files are synced to iCloud, I can see they are accessible from all my other devices.
    – Anson Kao
    Commented Nov 23, 2022 at 15:00
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    No, that post describes how to achieve the situation I already have, which is iCloud backs everything up to the cloud. I want to keep that, but have specific files continue to remain available offline. It sounds like the answer is macOS does not support what I want... which is sad, because the iCloud x Windows integration DOES support it (see: support.apple.com/guide/icloud-windows/…)
    – Anson Kao
    Commented Nov 24, 2022 at 12:22

1 Answer 1


Sadly, it seems that macOS simply does not have the feature that would solve this exact problem directly - only Windows has the feature.

Therefore, the best way to mitigate this problem is to simply switch from iCloud to something like DropBox or Google Drive, which as others have pointed out, is a better solution anyway since they have version history etc.

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