You can automatically save everything on your Mac's desktop to iCloud Drive and access it on your iPhone or iPad!

As part of an effort to help you save space on your computer while keeping you connected to everything important to you, macOS Sierra supports Desktop & Documents Folders syncing in iCloud Drive.

With Desktop & Documents Folders iCloud Drive syncing enabled, every photo, file, and folder you save to your desktop will automatically save in iCloud, where you can access it from your iPhone, iPad, another Mac, and even a Windows-based PC via iCloud Drive or iCloud.com.

It also means that every file, folder, or document that is normally stored in your Mac's Documents folder will also automatically save in iCloud.

No matter where you are or what you do, your most important files can be stored in the cloud, making it possible for you to access them from anywhere.

Should you use Desktop and Documents Folders syncing in macOS Sierra?

When you first download the update to macOS Sierra, you will be prompted to turn on Desktop & Documents Folders syncing. However, you can hold off on enabling the feature and manually turn it on at a later time if you choose. Why would you choose to wait? Mainly, iCloud storage space.

You can't choose Desktop OR Documents folders so consider how much space both will use in your iCloud storage.

If you are on Apple's free 5 GB iCloud Storage plan and have no intention of upgrading, you probably shouldn't turn on Desktop & Documents Folders syncing in iCloud. It does count against your storage and can potentially eat up a lot of it. Even if you don't have very many files or folders on your desktop, the Documents folder is usually where your Mac automatically stores files from third-party apps and programs and it might be very big.

If you are paying $0.99 per month for the 50 GB tier of iCloud storage (or any of the higher tiers), you are probably free and clear to start using Desktop & Documents Folders iCloud syncing. I use iCloud to store my entire photo library, all of my iBooks, and content from about a dozen third-party apps. With Desktop and Documents Folders stored in iCloud, I use up about half of my 50 GB of storage.

If you are nearing your iCloud storage limit, at any tier, and don't plan on upgrading, it might be better to hold off on using Desktop & Documents Folders in iCloud until you've freed up space in your storage. It can take up anywhere from just a few GBs of space to a few dozen GBs, depending on what you have in your Documents folder and what you keep on your desktop.

How to manually add Desktop and Documents Folders to iCloud in macOS Sierra

If you didn't enable Desktop & Documents Folders syncing in iCloud when you first updated to macOS Sierra, but later decided you wanted to use the feature, you can still add them to iCloud storage manually.

  1. Click on the Apple icon () in the upper left corner of your Mac's screen.
  2. Select System Preferences... from the dropdown menu.

    Opening System Preferences on Mac

  3. Click on iCloud in the Preferences window.
  4. Click on Options next to iCloud Drive.

    Opening iCloud on Mac

  5. Tick the box next to Desktop & Documents Folders.
  6. Click on Done in the bottom right corner of the window.

    Enabling Desktop iCloud syncing on Mac

Your files and folders will be added to iCloud where you can access them from your iPhone, iPad, another Mac, or even a PC via iCloud Drive or iCloud.com.

How to access your Desktop and Documents Folder on iPhone and iPad in macOS Sierra

Once your desktop and Documents folder are stored in iCloud, you can access, and even edit them on your iPhone or iPad. You don't even need to be on iOS 10 or macOS Sierra to see the files.

  1. Open iCloud Drive on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap the Desktop or Documents folder.
  3. Tap the file you want to open.

    Accessing Desktop files in iCloud Drive on iPhone

You can even edit some documents right inside iCloud Drive, without having to open another app.

How to remove desktop files from iCloud Drive

Whenever you move a file from your desktop to another place on your Mac, like a folder stored in your computer or Dropbox, it will be moved to the new location and deleted from iCloud Drive and will no longer be accessible from your other devices.

All you have to do is drag-and-drop it from your desktop into a new, non-iCloud location. You will see a pop-up asking you to confirm the changes. Click move to continue.

Removing desktop files from iCloud Drive

How to stop syncing Desktop and Documents Folder to iCloud Drive in macOS Sierra

If you decide that syncing your desktop and Documents folder is not for you, you can always revert back to the old way by disabling the syncing feature.

  1. Click on the Apple icon () in the upper left corner of your Mac's screen.
  2. Select System Preferences... from the dropdown menu.

    Opening System Preferences on Mac

  3. Click on iCloud in the Preferences window.
  4. Click on Options next to iCloud Drive.

    Opening iCloud on Mac

  5. Un-tick the box next to Desktop & Documents Folders.
  6. Click on Done in the bottom right corner of the window.

Disabling iCloud Drive Desktop & Documents syncing

Any Questions?

Do you have any questions about syncing your desktop and Documents folder in iCloud on macOS Sierra? Drop them in the comments and I'll help you out.