iCloud Drive folder sharing and collaboration

It has been possible for some time to collaborate on iCloud Drive files, but since iOS 13.4 and macOS Catalina 10.15.4, you can also share iCloud Drive folders.

This means that you can share an entire folder and its contents in iCloud Drive with family, colleagues and friends. The invitees can then view the files and adjust them if necessary so that they are synchronized with all members. Please note, you can only share folders that you have created manually. Standard folders such as Desktop, Documents and folders of Apps can generally not be shared and then collaborated.

  • What is iCloud Drive sharing and collaboration?
  • iCloud Drive share folders via iOS and iPadOS
  • iCloud folder sharing via macOS
  • accept iCloud Drive invites
  • Collaborate on iCloud Drive files
  • Manage shared files and folders
  • Not just for Apple users

What is iCloud Drive sharing and collaboration?

Using the steps below, it is possible to share the entire iCloud Drive folders with family, colleagues and friends. This is not new, it has been possible to share a folder or file for some time. However, this was always a copy. Since iOS 13.4 and macOS Catalina 10.15.4, it is also possible to share an entire folder that is automatically updated. If you change something in the folder or edit a file, these changes will be immediately applied to the members you share the folder with.

Good to know, you don’t have to share an entire folder, you can also apply the steps below to only share a file/document. The latter has been possible since iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra.

iCloud Drive share folders via iOS and iPadOS

  1. Open the Files application
  2. Navigate to your iCloud Drive
  3. Place your finger on the folder you want to share
  4. Wait a few moments for the pop-up menu to appear
  5. Tap Share
  6. Then choose ‘Add people’
  7. Select the desired sharing option

Full iCloud Drive folder sharing

Optionally, under ‘Sharing options’ you can make sure that the folder is public or can only be viewed by people you invite. You also have the choice to give the invitees full access or read-only.

iCloud folder sharing via macOS

  1. Open Finder
  2. Navigate to iCloud Drive
  3. Click with a secondary click (right mouse button) on the folder you want to share
  4. Select the option ‘Share’
  5. Click on ‘Add people’
  6. Choose the desired sharing option

If you choose AirDrop or share the link directly, you can immediately add multiple people via the plus button. If you do this via Messages or Mail, you will have to invite additional people afterward. Optionally, under ‘Sharing options’ you can make sure that the folder is public or can only be viewed by people you invite. You also have the choice to give the invitees full access or read-only.

Note that you can only share iCloud Drive folders with other Apple and iCloud users. When they have iOS 13.4 and/or macOS Catalina 10.15.4 or later installed, they can edit the content and collaborate, otherwise they will get a copy.

accept iCloud Drive invites

As soon as you have invited people, they will receive an invitation and they can accept or reject it. Upon acceptance, the shared folder will be added to his or her iCloud Drive and you can collaborate.

Collaborate on iCloud Drive files

If you have given the invitees rights to make changes, you can collaborate. As soon as someone changes the file, it will be synchronized with iCloud and automatically adjusted with the other people.

Suppose you share a folder with several documents and a member edits a PDF file. This file is then automatically updated to the new version for all linked persons. If someone does not have these rights, the file remains unchanged, as he can only view (read) the content.

Manage shared files and folders

When you have shared a folder and/or file, it will be visible in the Files app, you will see ‘shared by me’ and the recipients will see the name under the file. As an administrator you can always adjust the sharing afterward, you can do this in the iOS Via Files app ▸ put your finger on the shared folder ▸ Select ‘Share’ ▸ Select ‘Show people’.Manage shared files and folders

On a Mac, you do this by right-clicking on the shared folder, choosing ‘Share’ and then ‘Show people’. Then you can adjust the sharing options for everyone via ‘Sharing options’ or you can adjust this per person.

Mini screencast: iCloud Drive folder sharing

Not just for Apple users

As an iCloud user, you can also easily share the folders with people who do not have an Apple ID. This way you can easily share the folders with, for example, Android and Windows users. They can then download the folder via the iCloud website and edit the content via the web version without having an Apple account. Perhaps Apple will update the iCloud for Windows application this fall so that Windows users can also share iCloud folders and collaborate easily.

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