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How to use iCloud Drive’s new Desktop and Documents access in macOS Sierra

Roman Loyola | July 27, 2016
With this new feature, files saved to the Desktop and in Documents are automatically saved your iCloud Drive.

Desktop and Documents: Access from iOS

Your iOS device can access files in the Desktop and Documents folder if you have iCloud Drive turn on on your device. This can be done in Settings > iCloud > iCloud Drive, and then turn on the Show on Home Screen setting.

Tap on the iCloud Drive app on your Home screen. You’ll see the folders you can access, including Desktop and Documents. Tap on a folder, and you can get to the files.

icloud drive desktop documents ios

Access to the Desktop and Documents folders on iCloud Drive through iOS 9.

Desktop and Documents: Access from another Mac

To get to the iCloud Drive Desktop or Documents folders from a different Mac, iCloud Drive access first need to be turned on through the iCloud system preference (Apple Menu > System Preferences > iCloud).

iCloud Drive will appear under Favorites in any Finder window. If you’re in the Finder, you can also click on the Go menu and select iCloud Drive, or you can press Shift-Command-I.

When the other Mac is running Sierra

If you’re using another Sierra Mac, then the files will automatically appear in that Mac’s Desktop and Documents folder, provided that that Mac has internet access.

In Sierra, you may notice that in a Finder window, Desktop and Documents appear in the right column under iCloud, and not in Favorites as in previous versions of OS X.

sierra documents desktop icloud finder
In Sierra, the Desktop and Documents fodlers have moved to the iCloud section from the Favorites section.

When the other Mac is not running Sierra

If the other Mac you are using doesn’t have Sierra, you can still access the Desktop and Documents folders that were created by the Sierra Mac. You will need internet access.

In a Finder window, iCloud Drive appears under Favorites. Also, in the Finder, you can click on the Go menu and select iCloud Drive, or press Shift-Command-I. Go to the iCloud Drive, and you’ll see Desktop and Documents folders. You can access the files from the Sierra Mac this way.

However, there are a few things to note:

  • Your Desktop and Documents files on your non-Sierra Mac’s local storage device won’t be automatically saved to iCloud Drive. Files from your non-Sierra Mac need to be manually saved to the Desktop and Documents folders on iCloud Drive if you want your Sierra Mac to access those files.
  • As of the Sierra Public Beta 2, the default action when dragging and dropping from the iCloud Drive Desktop or Documents folders is to move the file, not copy it. Here’s the warning you’ll see:

 

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