Making space to upgrade for Mojave in the presence of iCloud

I am finally biting the bullet and upgrading to Mojave. I get the message “insufficient disk space”. I have most of my data (plenty of Gb for the 15+ the upgrade wants) on iCloud.

  1. I can find no way to say “please store this only on iCloud and do not attempt to store to local disk if there is space”. I’ve tried both sync and not-sync in the iCloud options, and it’s unclear to me which if either does this. There seems to be no difference in the local disk storage.

  2. If I delete other material, e.g., unused apps, it seems that iCloud fills up that space with iCloud files it can now sync to local disk, since there is more space. I am not sure that this is happening but again I think so because the free space seems not to change, it hovers around 8.5Gb.

  3. I can’t find anyway to force iCloud to leave me a defined free space, some command like “don’t sync if the free storage is <16GB”.

I’ve googled around and looked here, and looked at Apple’s explanation of iCloud, but have come up empty.

Thanks for your insights.

Could you offload data to small external drive, delete data on Mac, install Mojave, then reload your data?

Thanks, yes I could do that, but I am curious in any case how I can force iCloud to leave me a defined amount of space. Also, I think if I move material off the disk, iCloud will fill up that space with material it now thinks it can download, because there is more space for it on the disk.

How about this
Log out of your Apple ID – that should stop iCloud from doing anything.
Off load the 10GB of files
Install Mojave

I know you can upgrade macOS wo being signed in on an Apple ID. they will ask, but then let you go ahead

hope it helps

@ldw An easier and less-destructive approach for what @rda recommends is to just turn off iCloud Drive and then tell it to delete the local copy of files when prompted. System Preferences > Apple ID > iCloud Drive Options is what I have, but I’m not sure what version of macOS you’re running.

And you’re really upgrading to Mojave now, or did you mean Monterey? :wink:

Thanks @rda and @ace. I will try Adam’s method first, but in my System Preferences I do not have an Apple ID item. This is 10.14.6 Mojave. I do have an iCloud item. It allows me to turn on or off “optimize Mac-storage” but that is not the same (?) as turning iCloud “off”. Or is that what you mean? Stop the “optimize” and then delete the local copies and trust that iCloud keeps the files? Nowhere do I see where iCloud would ask me about this.

I see that I didn’t understand well how iCloud is handling sync. Both your answers make sense. Will report back.

Yes, I meant Monterey, sorry. I have a mid-2015 Macbook.

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On Mojave, check Sys Prefs > iCloud > Sign Out.

@Simon yes I see that, thanks, now I see what Adam meant by “turn iCloud drive off”, I unclick the iCloud and then am told the local copies will be deleted. OK, now all is clear, thanks. I’ll see how it goes.


So… turning off iCloud and “deleting local copies” did not free up much space, because although iCloud is no longer accessible (unless I turn it on) the “delete” made a new folder at my user root, named “iCloud Drive (archief)” (my system is in Dutch), that has all the folders I symlinked to iCloud, not including the Documenten (Documents). Now these are symlinked to the Archive. The only things actually deleted locally were the files in Documents, which I hardly use. So I suppose I can delete this “archive” or move it to an external drive, and actually clear up the space. But this make me nervous.

To be clear, I do not use Documents, I have my own way of organize files with folders like data, docs, priv etc. that make sense to me. I guess I could put them all under Documents, and symlink to there.

I ended up with an iCloud Drive (Archive) folder when I turned iCloud Drive off to get it unstuck. Since it couldn’t finish syncing, being stuck, it wouldn’t remove the iCloud Drive contents like it should have.

I believe you should be able to delete that folder with no problem, though I would put a little effort into making sure that nothing in it (particularly recent files) is missing from iCloud Drive as viewed on the iCloud site.

Thanks @ace , I do look at each TidBITS email but somehow that went over my head. I will read with care. My current proposed solution is to put everything under Documents and let iCloud deal with it. But I will not do this before I think it through.

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So now I am really frustrated with iCloud. I followed the instructions from @ace and everything seemed to go well. I asked to remove the local copies, iCloud informed me it had to upload everything, that took about 1.5 hours, the process seemed to work, but just at the end I get the message “some files could not be uploaded” and some folders/files show back up on my local disk in the “iCloud Drive (archive)” folder. Some of the files are gone from Documents but are there in the archive. I had and still have plenty of space on iCloud.

So after all that I had to turn iCloud back on to make sure my new work would be synced with iCloud. I have this albatross of an archive, I suppose I can delete it but I first need to make sure the documents were indeed stored in iCloud, even though I got the error message. I checked – no, many files were not uploaded. And there seems to be no pattern to this. So now I am stuck with multiple copies and have to figure out which are most recent. And now I see that the Archive is not complete, it has the files that could not be uploaded. But some are duplicated. It will take some time to sort through this and merge everything.

Update: I merged everything into one location (under Documents, which is where it all started), by drag-drop and select “merge” in Pathfinder. Now everthing is back to the starting point, and is supposedly being synced with iCloud.

My setup is bog-standard. If Apple with all its resources can’t get iCloud storage and sync right, what I am I doing using it?

Sorry to hear it! You should be able to compare the folders fairly easily using diff.

If I were in this situation, I’d copy the Archive folder off to another volume for peace of mind (and later comparison) and then delete it and move on. I don’t know if you have an external drive available for such things.

Hi: I know this may not be what you want to hear, but if you use Dropbox, you can store in their cloud and eliminate the space on your HD.

That’s what I have done. You can also store on an external drive.

tori hernandez

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