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Why Can't I Find My Files; How to access iCloud files from your Mac

Google search: how do i see files on icloud

Apple used to have a very user friendly way of copying files to their backup servers. The desktop shows files the same way -- whether the files were on your Mac or on Apple's server.

Things have changed with iCloud. Apple is very sneaky with the way it uses iCloud. The problem with using iCloud for document storage is that it acts like a black hole. You save a document, download a photo, etc -- and the default is always to save on iCloud. They change the settings so that the file gets saved to the last known folder that was used. It always goes back to the iCloud.

Of course that uses up storage space that you share with your iPhone or your iPad or any other Apple mobile device.  They only give you 5 GB of free storage. That's a couple of videos and a few hundred photos.

To make matters worse, the supposedly user friendly interfaces makes it almost impossible to find that saved file from the Finder. Did Apple deliberately make the Finder less user friendly in order to hasten filling up you limited, free iCloud storage?

Once you save a document to iCloud, it is only half-obvious that you can access it again with the same app with File open.

But there is an undocumented or at least unobvious way to find the file in the Finder.

Use Finder > Go > Go to Folder. In the field that shows up in the display, type or paste "~/Library/Mobile Documents" without the quotes. What happened user friendliness?

Once you hit enter, you will see folders for each app that has files stored in iCloud. You will see a folder for preview. That's where all you downloaded pictures from the web go if you don't deliberately change the folder location to a local folder. So that's how Apple fills up you iCloud -- almost without you knowing about it. Then one day you get a message that your iPhone can't backup because you need more storage space. You pictures by default go in the this folder -- com~apple~Preview.

Compare this to Google Drive, which gives you 15 GB free, and doesn't even require you to buy a ChromeBook or an Android device. Apple could at least increase storage by 5 GB for every device you purchase. For example, if you buy a MacBook, an iPhone, and an iPad, you should at least get 5 GB for each device on the same iCloud account or Apple ID.

See also ...

How to access iCloud files from your Mac

Warning: Apple wants to get you hooked on iCloud