iCloud and your de­vices

Find out how iCloud Drive works on your Mac, iPhone and iPad

Mac Format - - FEATURE -

One of the least ap­peal­ing as­pects of cloud-based stor­age and sync­ing ser­vices on the Mac has been their ten­dency to re­quire some kind of spe­cial folder. Whether you’re us­ing the likes of Drop­box or Google Drive, you have to al­ter where you save your files by de­fault, to make them ac­ces­si­ble on all your de­vices. Ap­ple’s think­ing with iCloud Drive is to have the process cause the least amount of im­pact on your ex­ist­ing habits.

Ap­ple’s at its most au­da­cious here with Sierra’s sin­gle-click mov­ing of the Desk­top and Doc­u­ments fold­ers, which we ex­plore over­leaf. Else­where, apps in­creas­ingly have the ca­pa­bil­ity to save doc­u­ments to their own ded­i­cated folder in iCloud Drive, which can be im­me­di­ately ac­cessed in the app’s iOS ver­sion, should it be fully com­pat­i­ble with the Mac ver­sion’s files. Pages, Key­note and Num­bers work like this, for ex­am­ple. GarageBand, how­ever, does not, be­cause the Mac ver­sion is more ad­vanced than the one you get on iPhone and iPad. These fold­ers are all read­ily ac­ces­si­ble in Finder, too – click the iCloud Drive icon in Finder side­bar; if it isn’t vis­i­ble, go to Finder > Pref­er­ences, click the Side­bar tab, and en­sure iCloud Drive is ticked in the iCloud group.

Note that should you later move a file from iCloud Drive to a folder on

your Mac’s lo­cal stor­age, an alert will in­ter­rupt the ac­tion. For ex­am­ple, drag some­thing from Tex­tEdit’s iCloud Drive folder to your Down­loads folder and you’ll be prompted to con­firm that you’re sure, and stat­ing the item will be “deleted from iCloud Drive and your other iCloud de­vices”. How­ever, should you delete a file that’s lo­cated in iCloud Drive by send­ing it to the Trash, you get no such warn­ing. Al­though there’s vari­a­tion in how Mac apps han­dle file man­age­ment, dif­fer­ences are much more overt on iOS, which can have a sub­stan­tial ef­fect on how you in­ter­act with iCloud Drive. In the early days of iOS, it was com­mon for apps to save doc­u­ments in their own ded­i­cated fold­ers. As far as you would see, your doc­u­ments were be­ing saved ‘in­side’ the apps. So, if you want to open a Pages doc­u­ment, you would open Pages first, then the doc­u­ment; con­trast this with the Mac, where you can use Finder to lo­cate a doc­u­ment and then dou­ble-click it to open an app, or use an Open di­a­log within an app to nav­i­gate the en­tire file sys­tem, rather than one app-spe­cific folder.

A more flex­i­ble fu­ture

In many cases, this is still how iOS works. Plenty of apps haven’t moved on at all – you still only get ac­cess to files housed in the app’s ded­i­cated folder. Others, such as Ap­ple’s iWork apps, give you ac­cess to such a folder, but add fur­ther op­tions. Us­ing the Share icon, you can move a file else­where in iCloud Drive, or tap Lo­ca­tions to gain ac­cess to al­ter­na­tive lo­ca­tions (which you can use to grab items from re­mote servers us­ing the likes of Panic’s Trans­mit) or iCloud Drive’s doc­u­ment picker.

The last of those things is also ac­ces­si­ble in the iCloud Drive app. If you don’t see its icon on the Home screen or in Spotlight, search for the app’s name on the App Store to get it. (In iOS 9, the app is in­stead added by go­ing to Set­tings > iCloud > iCloud Drive and turn­ing on ‘Show on Home Screen’.) If you re­move the app, it won’t af­fect your doc­u­ments in iCloud Drive.

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