How to Manage and Access iCloud Drive Files from Any Device

By | December 19, 2021

The iCloud storage experience is very different depending on your platform or device. Each method has its limitations, but the one that gives you the most control is your Mac.

If you see a scary notification that you are running out of iCloud storage.

Manage iCloud on Your iOS Device

When it comes to managing your iCloud storage on your iOS device, you can delete iCloud backups, including photos. You can also control which apps and file types are backed up to your iCloud account.

Files and Photos

The new iOS 11 Files app provides a great easy way to access your personal iCloud storage.

While you can choose whether to store photos, notes, contacts, and more in iCloud Drive from your iOS device, you can’t browse your iOS backups. The photos synced to your iCloud Drive should already be on your phone.

Manage and Increase Storage

To manage your iCloud storage, go to Settings on your iPhone or iPad. Tap your name at the top of the screen then tap iCloud.

You’ll see how much of your iCloud storage is being used for backups, photos, and documents.

You can also store app data in iCloud. You can turn on and off which apps use iCloud — including native Apple apps and third-party apps.

Tap Manage Storage > Backup and you can delete backups saved to iCloud – this includes backups from any iOS device or Mac that you use the same iCloud account with, as well as data backed up from individual apps. If you choose to delete backups for all your iOS devices, this will also turn off backups on those devices.

To increase the storage on your iOS device, return to the Manage Storage screen and tap Change Storage Plan. If you’re running out of space in iCloud, you might see an Upgrade info.

Manage iCloud in Your Browser

To manage iCloud in a browser, go to iCloud.com where you can sign in to your account.

File

When you’re signed in to your iCloud account, click the iCloud Drive button and you can view, download, and delete your backed up photos and view any files you manually saved to your iCloud Drive. Deleting files from your iCloud account will delete them from all your devices.

You can view and edit Pages documents, download text files, and more. Using the menu above, you can create new folders, upload, download and delete files, and share your files with others.

Photo

When you’re signed in to iCloud, click the Photos button to view your backed up photos. This will include all your saved iOS photos to your cloud storage, as long as you have the option enabled on your iOS device.

You can view your iOS albums, resize thumbnails in iCloud Photos, and upload photos directly from your computer.
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The main drawback of using iCloud in your browser is that there is no way to download or delete photos that you have backed up to iCloud. You can download individual photos or select multiple photos by pressing Control on Windows or Command on Mac.

Manage and Increase Storage

It is not possible to upgrade your iCloud storage from a browser.

Manage iCloud on your Mac

Managing your iCloud storage of files on your Mac is a much more disjointed experience, but it’s also what gives you the most control over your backups and storage. Your files, photos, and storage management are each in three different places on your computer.

File

If you want to see the files stored on your computer, you can do so in your Mac’s finder. Open Finder and you will see a folder in the navigation menu called iCloud Drive.

You can see all the same viewable files on your iOS Cloud Drive. You can interact with these files and folders in the same way as any other file or folder on your computer.

You can view all cloud files, but have to download them to your computer to open them.

Photo

To view the photos synced to your iCloud drive from all of your Apple devices, open the Photos app that comes pre-installed on your device.

When you first open the application, you will be asked to confirm that you want to use the application. Just like in your browser, you will be able to view and manage your photos and albums. You can add or drag photos to albums, drag photos from the desktop or finder into albums, and delete photos from albums and from apps.

The Mac Photos app also has basic photo editing features including enhancement, cropping, rotation, and filters. All edits will be synced across your devices.

Manage and Increase Storage

To manage iCloud storage on your Mac, go to System Preferences > iCloud. You can see which Mac apps are linked to your iCloud account as well as the same details on how your iCloud storage is being used. You can delete backups for each of your devices, as well as backups for individual apps.

To increase your storage, go to System Preferences > iCloud > Manage and click Change Storage Plan or Buy More Storage.

Manage iCloud on Your Windows Computer

To manage iCloud storage on a Windows machine, you will need to download iCloud for Windows. Like on a Mac, you can see how your storage is being used and can delete existing backups, and can access various iCloud features in various places.


File

You’ll need to make sure you checked iCloud Drive in the iCloud app on Windows when you installed it to access iCloud files in Windows Explorer. You may have to restart your computer for the files to appear.

After restarting, you can access the iCloud Drive folder in one of two ways. You can open it there in Windows Explorer – the folder will be available in the Quick Access navigation menu. Or or you can click the iCloud app icon in the System Tray and click Open iCloud Drive. You’ll see all the same files and folders as on your Mac or browser.

If you turn off iCloud Drive, you will be asked if you want to delete your files from your Windows machine.

Photo

You have a few options when it comes to how your Windows machine handles your iCloud photos. You can enable and disable several features including synchronizing photos with your computer and all devices, maintaining high-efficiency originals, and sharing photos.

When you enable the photos option in iCloud, a new folder will be created on your computer which you will also find in the Quick Access menu in Windows Explorer. In this folder, you will have two folders – one for download and upload. You can manually copy photos to the Uploads folder to copy photos from your Windows computer to your iCloud storage.

In the case of downloads, you will be given the option to download all photos or download selectively by year. These photos will also be organized in your iCloud folder on your Windows computer by year.

You can turn off iCloud Photos and the photos won’t sync anymore.

Manage and Increase Storage

You can manage and upgrade your storage just like any Mac user. This app shows you the annoyance of iCloud storage usage in the main window. Click the Storage button in the app and you can delete iOS and app backups, and can also increase your storage by clicking the Buy more storage button.

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