The usual way to manage the file data in iCloud is through the app that is using iCloud to store its files. On a Mac however, you can gain access to the iCloud file system in Finder and manually edit, upload or delete files.
This method gives you access to the folder that is used by iCloud to sync all your data. Also from what I have noticed, sometimes apps don’t get fully deleted and part of it is left over in iCloud. I’m not sure why this happens, however with this method you can manually remove that left over app data.
~ How to view iCloud files in Finder ~
It’s actually really easy, all you need to do is get into the hidden library folder. This can be done by opening Finder -> holding down the “alt” key -> Selecting “Go” from the menu bar -> and finally clicking on the “Library” folder. You are now in the hidden library folder (if you aren’t in the hidden library folder, read my other article: How to Show Hidden Files & Folders on Your Mac).
Now we want to navigate to the folder where iCloud stores its files. From within the this Library folder open the “Mobile Documents” folder. You’ll now be presented with the iCloud files, they can be labeled oddly however as you can see in the screenshot above you can still make out the iCloud apps.
~ Reasons to edit iCloud files Manually ~
You may be wondering why anyone would want to manually edit iCloud files in Finder. First, it’s a great way of troubleshooting apps that don’t fully delete and waste backup space. Secondly, sometimes it’s simply more convenient to edit the iCloud app data and files manually.
I’ll give an example:
Say I was using Pixelmator, if I wanted to save an image to its iCloud file system I’d have to open Pixelmator, open the image, then click File -> Save -> Save to iCloud. Now that’s not really a big deal, but what if I wanted to sync 100 images to its iCloud filesystem so that I could edit the pictures on my other computer? That would take a long time.
With the ability to access Pixelmators iCloud storage, I can manually just drag and drop those 100 pictures in Pixelmators iCloud folder. And of course since it’s iCloud, it’s going to sync to my other computer.
~ Final Thoughts ~
After browsing my iCloud files on my computer I noticed that there were quite a few remaining bits and pieces of apps that I had deleted from my iOS devices. I had this one folder that was created when I downloaded a Sonic the Hedgehog game on my iPhone over a year ago. Even though I had deleted that app, some of it remained in my iCloud backup. I simply deleted that folder and saved myself a little backup space.
It’s a great way to sync files between your Macs. iCloud syncs files. Drop a file or folder into its folder and it’ll sync to all your other computers.
For quick access to the folder, just drag and drop it onto the sidebar.