Turning off iCloud document storage

This is a quick tutorial to show you how to turn off iCloud drive storage if you’ve accidentally turned it on. Why would you do this? Perhaps you’ve decided that you’re not comfortable storing documents in Apple’s cloud, or perhaps you’ve hit your storage limit and you don’t want to pay to increase the storage available to you in iCloud. If you do want to purchase more iCloud storage, see the tutorial here. If you just want to learn more about iCloud, you can visit Apple’s home for iCloud support.

Access iCloud drive options

  1. Click on the Apple icon in the upper left-hand corner of your screen
  2. Click on System Preferences

Click on iCloud preference settings

In System Preferences, click on the iCloud icon.

Check status of iCloud Drive

When you click on iCloud, it will show you several bits of information. It shows what iCloud (Apple) account you are using to access iCloud and it shows how iCloud is being used. Looking at the image below, you can see the following:

  1. I’m using the iCloud account "ben@chapman-leff.net"
  2. iCloud Drive is turned on, because it has a check mark in the box.
  3. You can also see how much storage you have available. I have a free iCloud account and, as you can see below, I do not use it very much. As a result, I’ve used very little of the 5GB that I get with a free iCloud account.

Check what applications are using iCloud

Click on "Options" next to iCloud Drive to see what applications are using iCloud Drive for storage. Once you’re done looking around, click Done to leave this screen. You can also customize iCloud storage. For example, if I didn’t want "Script Editor.app" to store its documents in iCloud, I could uncheck the box next to it.

Turn off iCloud drive

Here’s how to completely turn off iCloud drive so that documents will only be stored locally. Uncheck the box next to "iCloud Drive" in the menu.

iCloud drive warning

When you do that, the following scary warning will pop up. All this means is that the local "cache" or copy of iCloud documents will be removed. You will still be able to see any iCloud documents from other devices, such as iPhones and iPads or even other Macs, that have access to iCloud. You will also be able to see the iCloud documents in a web browser. Go ahead and click on "Delete from Mac."

Last steps: copying files back down from iCloud to your local machine

To complete the process, you will probably want to copy all of your iCloud files back down to your local machine. To do that, visit https://www.icloud.com and log in with your Apple ID and password. Click on the icon for iCloud drive. You should see files that you can download to your local machine.