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iCloud Drive – A User’s Guide

November 6, 2014

Before the introduction on OSX 10.10 Yosemite, you basically couldn’t access files in anything other than the application you created them in. But thankfully with the invention of iCloud Drive, you can access files from any app, revolutionising the way we use iCloud!

But having got to grips with the previous incarnations of iCloud, we thought we’d sort you out with a step by step guide on how to use iCloud Drive – a Users guide if you will.

iCloud Drive contains folders from associated apps, documents and folders you have created. It isn’t as flexible as other cloud based storage platforms, and is more expensive, but if you want to use it for accessing iWork across a range of apps and devices, then this guide will tell you everything you need to know.

Using iCloud Drive with OS X Yosemite

You can save your files locally on your Mac or to iCloud from any and all of your apps. You can find an iCloud Drive entry in any Finder window (or go to Finder>Preferences>Sidebar>iCloud Drive).

By clicking on the iCloud Drive icon you’ll see a group of folders showing all the apps with associated files within them.

icloud drive - iCloud Drive - A User's Guide

If you want to open a file to use on your Mac there are two options:

  1. Open the folder it’s in (i.e Numbers, Pages and TextEdit), and double click on it.
  2. Open the app using the Open command and use iCloud Drive to navigate to it.

Most apps should have been updated to iCloud Drive but if they haven’t, the files will be found at the top level of iCloud Drive.

Accessing Files from Different Apps

Bear with me because this sounds more complicated than it is…if you want to access a file you have created in one application from another application, it’s actually very easy. Say you’ve created a file in Text Edit or Microsoft Word, but you want to access it from Pages, just launch Pages, select iCloud Drive in the sidebar, select a compatible document in the Text Edit folder and open it from there.

Most apps should have been updated to iCloud Drive but if they haven’t, the files will be found at the top level of iCloud Drive.

Moving & Using Files

There are a range of options of how you can access and move files using iCloud Drive. You can access iCloud Drive via the Finder Sidebar on your Mac, and from there you can navigate to files saved specifically via iCloud from a range of apps.

  1. From the Finder, you can copy a file from iCloud Drive and paste it into a folder of your choice (but remember you may duplicate files this way)
  2. Move a file in the Finder

Be careful when moving documents from your iCloud Drive to your Mac in the finder, as it will be deleted from your iCloud Drive unless you move the file from within the app it was created in.

Opening a File from Within an App

  1. Open the file within the app
  2. Select File>Move To> choose location
  3. This will not delete the file from iCloud Drive

 Sending iCloud Drive Files

  1. From the Finder, open iCloud Drive
  2. Choose your file
  3. Select the Share Menu from the Toolbar

From here you can choose to share your files via Airdrop, Mail, Messages and More. Select More to access Extensions preferences which offers even more ways to share your files.

Accessing iCloud Drive via the Web

You can also access iCloud Drive from the web just like Dropbox.

  1. Go to www.icloud.com
  2. Select iCloud Drive
  3. Manage everything from there
  4. Any changes made will sync across all apps and devices

You can also utilise web versions of Pages, Numbers etc to access compatible files such as Microsoft Word and Excel from there.

iCloud Drive in iOS 8

To access a file you have previously saved on your Mac from say, your iPhone or iPad, you just need to launch a compatible programme (say Pages). See below:

  1. Launch Pages
  2. Select the + Button in the top left
  3. Select iCloud
  4. A folder will open showing the contents of iCloud Drive
  5. Choose a compatible doc that you wish to open
  6. It will open in Pages

Some apps are specifically designed to enable you to export files to your iCloud Drive folder.

Sharing iCloud Drive folders with Others

This is a major flaw in the design of iCloud Drive, but sadly you can not share iCloud Drive folders with others (like you can with Dropbox) other than the document sharing options, so it makes collaboration difficult. If you don’t want to share files compatible with iWork, then you’re screwed. And anything over 15GB is not possible.



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