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How to Store and Access Your Files in iCloud Drive

iCloud is a cloud storage and cloud computing service that Apple debuted on October 12, 2011. There are here a lot of components to it, including iCloud Drive, which allows you to securely access all of your documents from your Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and even a Windows PC.

There are various ways you can access the files:

  • Using any supported web browser, you can use iCloud Drive at iCloud.com.
  • On your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 9 or later (or iPadOS), you can access your files from the iCloud Drive app.
  • On your PC with Windows 7 or later and iCloud for Windows, you can go to iCloud Drive in File Explorer.

When you add your Desktop and Documents to iCloud Drive, all of your files move to iCloud. 

To turn on Desktop and Documents on every Mac that you want to use with iCloud Drive:

  • From your Mac, choose Apple menu  > System Preferences. Click Apple ID, then click iCloud.
  • On macOS Mojave or earlier, choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, then click iCloud.
  • Make sure that iCloud Drive is turned on.
  • Next to iCloud Drive, click Options.
  • Choose Desktop & Documents Folders.
  • Click Done.

On your Mac, you can find the files on your Desktop and in your Documents folder in Finder under iCloud. If you add a second Mac Desktop, you’ll find those files in the Desktop folder in iCloud Drive. A folder is created with the same name as your second Mac.

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Contributing Author
Dennis has over 40 years of journalism experience and has written hundreds of articles. For the past 20-plus years, he's been an online journalist, covering mainly Apple Inc. He's written for MacCentral, MacWorld, MacMinute, Macsimum News, Apple Daily Report, and is now contributing editor at Apple World Today.
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6 Comments

  • I tried and tried using iCloud but it is no where close to Dropbox or One Drive.

    My wife and I need to have access to our files from our two Macs all the time.

    That mean our Documents folders have to HAVE our files, period!

    We can’t afford to be in a building, (my Mom’s apartment) or traveling and not be able to access our files, etc.

    Why can’t apple get it?

    • This works now, what doesn’t work for you after the latest updates? I was able to stop using Dropbox and Google Drive after the updates. You can now share with others. And they’re all available offline.

  • I agree with those expressing security concerns. I also have access concerns. With all the storms we’ve been having, having access to the internet service is not guaranteed. If you’re in certain fields, you might still have to work and need to be able to access your files.

  • The problem with using the cloud is it is someone else’s rack server. As seen over time, they can be hacked.

    Why would I put any data on something that can be hacked. Would the server company accept any liability if my personal data was compromised?

    That is why I use an external hard drive that when we leave goes into a safe. If it is not connected to a computer harder to hack.

    Just my two cents on this topic.

    • Agreed. I have 2 external hard drives and use Time Machine to do backups. One hard drive is connected to my system, and the other is in a safe deposit box at my bank. Every few weeks I swap them around. I save off-site on the unlikely event of a fire or other disaster, which would wipe out my digital career. Call me paranoid, but with this strategy I might lose a few weeks of work, but better than the alternative.