iCloud Drive Take Up Space on Mac – How to Fix

iCloud is the cornerstone of Apple’s entire ecosystem. It allows devices to sync with each other and sync photos, videos, and other media files between devices using the same Apple ID. Furthermore, iCloud comes with five gigabytes of storage as default.

You can fix the issue if your iCloud Drive take up space on Mac. For this, you can open System Preferences on Mac and then click on the Apple ID at the top-right of the window. Here, choose the iCloud option below and then check the box beside Optimize Mac storage option. After this, no more copies of any file will be saved onto your Mac.

If you notice that iCloud is taking up space on your Mac, then there might be some issue with the iCloud preferences. It is not supposed to take up any more space on your Mac since all the media and files are saved off-device in the cloud. This article details various reasons why this might be happening and how to fix the issue. Keep reading to find out more. 

Does iCloud Take up Space on Mac?

Certain settings sometimes allow the iCloud drive to use Mac’s internal storage. For example, if you want to keep all the original photos and videos downloaded onto your Mac, you’ll notice that Mac’s storage will start filling up more quickly.

When you create a file on your Mac, iPhone, or iPad, it gets uploaded to the iCloud server and synced to other devices using the same Apple ID. 

The speed at which these files appear on other devices depends on your internet speed. If the iCloud sync is turned on, you do not need to make any changes to the file for it to sync on other devices. They will automatically be uploaded and synced.

The same goes for deleting files. If you delete it from one device, it will be removed from all the other ones, too, as all of them are linked. This is why sometimes your Mac’s storage might start to fill up due to iCloud. 

iCloud Drive Take Up Space on Mac- How to Fix

There is a single method that can help with this issue. However, you can also use third-party apps for the same and make your work a lot easier with other benefits.

1. Optimize Mac Storage

An option within iCloud preferences named Optimize Mac storage prevents a copy of every single file from being saved onto your Mac. Refer to the steps below to see how to enable this feature on your Mac.

  • Power on your Mac and sign in to it. 
  • Head over to the Menu bar and click on the Apple logo. 
  • Select System preferences from the list. 
  • Click on Apple ID. 
  • From the menu on the left-hand side, select iCloud. 
  • Check the box next to the Optimize Mac storage option, and you should be good.
iCloud Drive Take Up Space on Mac
iCloud Drive Take Up Space on Mac

Once you turn on the Optimize Mac storage option, it will target the files saved on your Mac. Suppose there is a large file that you’ve uploaded to iCloud.

It will simply appear as a blank folder with the file name on it, if you want to view its contents, you need to click on it, and it will be downloaded from iCloud once more. 

Suppose there is some file that hasn’t been accessed or used in a long while; Mac can detect that and transfer it back to the iCloud server, thus freeing up space on your Mac. Furthermore, whenever you need to access a particular file, simply click on it, and it will be downloaded once more.

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2. Use third-party Software

Apart from the method above, you can use a third-party software, such as imyphone, imymac, etc, for the same purpose and do much more. Here is what you can do with one of the software named imymac.

  • Download the software on your system
  • Now, allow the software to scan the files on the folder or any location you choose.
  • Then, the software will help you recognize large files or duplicate ones as well, and then you can clean them up.

The process will hardly take time since you can clear the files with a single click. Make sure you are not deleting the important folder or files before this.

Can iCloud Drive For Mac be Disabled?

iCloud Drive for Mac is a very useful feature as it allows files, media, photos, and other things to be synced on your Mac and other Apple devices. You should only disable it if you do not need the files on your Mac that you use on your other devices.

Refer to the instructions provided below to see how it is done.

  • Power on and sign in to your Mac. 
  • Head over to the Menu bar and click on the Apple logo. 
  • Select System preferences from the list. 
  • Click on Apple ID. 
  • From the menu on the left-hand side, select iCloud. 
  • Uncheck the box beside iCloud Drive.
why is icloud drive using space on my mac
why is icloud drive using space on my mac
  • A warning pop-up will show on the screen; click on Remove from Mac to complete the process.
why is icloud drive taking up space on my mac
why is icloud drive taking up space on my mac

Once you’ve turned this option off, the desktop and other iCloud synced folders will be empty and have no files. You can still access these files on the iCloud drive; they have just been removed from your Mac. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why do I need the iCloud drive?

iCloud Drive is a part of iCloud that can back up all of your files wirelessly, whereas iCloud Drive is a folder where you can put files. It also allows you to securely access all of your documents from other devices like iPhone, iPad, and Windows PC. Furthermore, iCloud allows for files to be stored that are 50GB or less in size. You also have the option to add more storage with iCloud+

2. Should I use iCloud Drive or Google Drive?

If you have a Mac, using iCloud Drive is the better option as it is more secure and has seamless integration across all other Apple devices. However, the limited storage of iCloud Drive is a letdown. Compared to iCloud Drive, Google Drive offers 15 GB of free storage space with every account.


That’s it for this article, folks; now you know why iCloud Drive might be taking up your Mac storage. We hope the solutions provided here help you resolve this issue.

If you are short on storage, turning on the optimized Mac storage feature should be a must, as it allows you to keep all the important files from your iCloud Drive on your Mac while offloading the unused files. Furthermore, if you do not need files from your other devices to sync on your Mac, you can disable the iCloud drive to save more space.

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