Set up and use iCloud Drive on iPhone, iPad and Mac

As an Apple user, you can use iCloud Drive, this service ensures that you can store all your documents online and synchronize them with all your Apple devices. Loyal Apple fans probably still remember iDisk, this was an online hard drive where you could store various documents and can be compared to iCloud Drive.

The principle is very simple, it is an online hard drive that you can access from anywhere in the world via all your Apple devices. Directly from Finder on the Mac or via the Files application on your iPhone or iPad. We explain exactly what iCloud Drive is and how you can set it up and use it.


  • What is iCloud Drive?
  • iCloud Drive as storage for apps
  • Set up and activate iCloud Drive
  • Steps for Mac
  • Steps for iPhone or iPad
  • Using iCloud Drive on a Mac
  • Using iCloud Drive on an iPhone or iPad
  • Access iCloud Drive via iCloud website and Windows
  • Optimize iCloud Drive storage

What is iCloud Drive?

iCloud Drive is nothing more, but certainly nothing less than an online hard drive for all your documents, files and photos. Thanks to Apple’s online file service, it is possible to store everything in iCloud and immediately synchronize with all your devices. So you only have one ‘library’ that is stored online and every change is also adjusted on your linked devices.

Of course, all of these files can cause your iCloud storage to increase and you need to purchase additional storage.

iCloud Drive as storage for apps

Applications can also use iCloud Drive to store data. Think of your chat conversations from WhatsApp or your photo projects from Pixelmator. In addition, iCloud Drive now functions as a storage location that you can access separately.

Set up and activate iCloud Drive

Steps for Mac

  • Open System Preferences
  • Click on ‘Apple ID’
  • Select ‘iCloud’
  • Turn on the ‘iCloud Drive’ option
  • Follow the steps on the screen

icloud drive activate

Steps for iPhone or iPad

  • Open Settings
  • Tap your Name
  • Select ‘iCloud’
  • Turn on the ‘iCloud Drive’ option
  • Follow the steps on the screen

If you still have iOS 10.2 or earlier, go to Settings ▸ iCloud ▸ iCloud Drive, then also activate the iCloud Drive app according to these steps.

Using iCloud Drive on a Mac

You can access the iCloud Drive folder in Finder. In this environment, you can create files or folders that you would like to sync with iCloud and other Macs or devices.icloud drive in finder

iCloud Drive is responsive just like other folders in Finder, so that’s pretty easy to do. All folders and files that you place in this folder are immediately synchronized with iCloud and your linked devices.

Using iCloud Drive on an iPhone or iPad

Since iOS 11, you can access the entire contents of your iCloud Drive through the Files application. In a comprehensive guide to Files for iPhone and iPad, we explain exactly how the app works. iOS 10 and iOS 9 users can view the content through the iCloud Drive application.icloud drive iphone

Access iCloud Drive via iCloud website and Windows

Not only can you consult your online files via iOS and macOS, but you can also install this Drive under Windows. You can do this easily with the iCloud for Windows tool. It is also possible to view and edit the contents of your iCloud Drive via

iCloud Drive does not provide additional physical storage space

Note, many iCloud users think that you can save space on your Mac, iPhone or iPad by using iCloud Drive. This is not the case, iOS and macOS just download the files to Finder or applications that use iCloud Drive. Thanks to iCloud Drive, everything is synchronized and there is always a backup online. For example, when you buy a new Mac, you shouldn’t first store your files externally and then transfer them to your new Mac. On the new Mac, activate iCloud Drive and everything will be downloaded immediately.

Optimize iCloud Drive storage

If you are still short of space, you can optimize the Mac storage for the online Drive. Since macOS Sierra, this can be done via▸ System Preferences ▸ iCloud ▸ iCloud Drive ‘Options’ ▸ Enable the option ‘Optimize Mac Storage’. From this point on, if necessary, files will not be stored on your Mac, only iCloud Drive.

In addition, since macOS Catalina you can manually determine which folders and files are stored on your Mac, this allows you to optimally manage the storage space of your Mac. We will explain exactly how to set this up and apply it in this article.icloud drive files download delete

When you need them, they are downloaded from iCloud for you to use. No files are permanently deleted by this option. The option is similar to the iCloud Photo Library, if there is enough space, all photos from the iCloud Photo Library will be stored locally, otherwise, some lower resolution of a photo will be saved.

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