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How to Manage iCloud Storage on Mac

Since its 2011 launch, Apple iCloud has grown into a fantastic cloud storage solution. Integrating seamlessly with your macOS and iOS devices, it’s the perfect way to back up your data and keep files synced across different systems. In this guide, we’ll show you how to remove data from your iCloud, edit your backup settings, and add an extra level of security to your Mac.

Table of contents

Fast enough, you will find your iCloud storage is full, packed with your photos, documents, backups, and more. We will show you how to manage iCloud storage and delete files you no longer want.

How to see what's in your iCloud storage

If you’re looking to free up iCloud storage, your first step should be to see what stuff is already in there. There are a couple of ways to see this information on a Mac. Then you can think about how to clear up some of the files in your iCloud.

  1. Select iCloud Drive from the sidebar in a Finder window or, alternatively, see how much storage is left in the status bar at the bottom
iCloud Drive in a Finder window in macOS. From here, you can see what's in the drive and how much storage you have left.
Step 1. You can check your iCloud Drive in Finder

2. For a more detailed summary of what’s taking up your iCloud space, open System Settings, select Internet Accounts, and click iCloud

Step 2. Go to Internet Accounts > iCloud in your System Settings

3. In the iCloud section, you’ll see a summary of your iCloud storage. Hover over a section to see what it is

iCloud Drive in a Finder window in macOS. From here, you can see what's in the drive and how much storage you have left.
Step 3. Look at the multi-colored bar to see what's using your iCloud storage

4. Another way to check the items in your iCloud storage is to visit icloud.com in your web browser. Sign in, and you can manage your files.

The icloud.com website, where you can see what's in your iCloud account, including photos, notes, and other documents.
Step 4. You can also view your iCloud at icloud.com

Why is your iCloud storage full?

By default, Apple devices back up all kinds of data in iCloud. Whether you’re using a MacBook Pro, an iMac, an iPhone, or an iPad, you can soon find your online storage is full, and you may see a message on your Mac telling you so. This particularly likely to happen if you only have the free 5GB of storage you get as standard with your iCloud account. To add more storage to your account, you’ll need to sign up for an iCloud subscription.


File types that commonly take up your iCloud space include:

  • iPhone and iPad backups
  • Pictures and videos
  • Emails
  • Text messages
  • Documents
  • Voice recordings.

Your iCloud storage is shared across all your Apple devices, so the more you have, the quicker you’re likely to fill up your iCloud.

How to delete data from iCloud

Now that you know what to look for, what are your options when it comes to managing and removing some of this data from your iCloud? We’ve broken it down for you here, showing you how to manage some of the most common file types that take up iCloud space.

How to delete photos in iCloud

Keen photographers can easily fill up their iCloud accounts. Although each photo usually takes only a few megabytes of space, they can soon accumulate, to the point that you need to clear iCloud storage. And videos, of course, take up even more storage, particularly if you record them in high definition.


You can delete all photos in your iCloud and turn off photo backups in a couple of easy steps:

  1. Open System Settings > Internet Accounts and click Manage
A macOS System Settings window, showing settings for iCloud. The
Step 1. Head to your iCloud settings, and click Manage

2. Select Photos and click Turn Off and Delete

iCloud Storage settings in macOS. Select
Step 2. Select Photos and then click Turn Off and Delete

3. Click Delete again to confirm. Note, you can undo this action and get your files back, as long as you do it within 30 days.

A macOS system dialogue asking the user to confirm deletion of photos in iCloud and disabling of iCloud Photos. Click
Step 3. Confirm you want to delete iCloud photos

How to delete files from iCloud

You can log into the iCloud website for a more granular approach to managing your iCloud storage. From there, you select and delete individual files, giving your more control over how you reduce your backed-up files.


Another advantage of using the iCloud website is that you can do it from anywhere, on any device, including Windows and Linux computers. You just need a device with a web browser and a functioning internet connection. Check out our dedicated guide if you can’t sign into iCloud.


Here’s how to delete data from iCloud in your browser:

  1. Head to icloud.com, and click Sign In. Enter your login details to continue.
The icloud.com sign-in page. Log into your iCloud account, and you can start managing what's in there, including documents.
Step 1. Visit icloud.com and sign in

2. Click iCloud Drive

An iCloud account shown in a web browser. The
Step 2. Click on the Drive section to open the file manager

3. You’ll now be in the iCloud Drive file manager. Select a file and click the trash icon to delete it.

The iCloud Drive online file manager. From here, you can select files, then click the trash icon to send them to the
Step 3. Select a file and click the trash icon to delete it

4. If you want to restore a file you deleted, click Recently Deleted in the sidebar. Then select a file and click Restore.

How to free up backups on iCloud

For many users, the biggest files they’ll have in their iClouds are backup files. If you delete backups on iCloud, you can quickly save space in your account. As with photos, you can empty out backups from your iCloud on Mac.


Follow these steps to get backups out of your iCloud:

  1. Go to System Settings > Internet Accounts and click Manage
A close-up of the iCloud settings in macOS System Settings. The
Step 1. Head to your iCloud settings and click Manage

2. Click Backups, then select a backup from the list. Click the minus button.

iCloud Storage options in macOS System Settings. Select
Step 2. Select Backups, choose a backup, and click the minus button

3. Finally, click Delete to remove the file and turn off backups.

A macOS system dialog, asking the user to confirm disabling of backups and delete backups. Click the
Step 3. Confirm that you want to disable and delete backups

Taking your Mac storage to a new level

Deleting files from your iCloud is only one form of storage management you need to think about. You also need to think about the storage space you have on your Mac’s hard disk or solid-state drive.


Storage space is not the only issue you might want to consider when optimizing your Mac performance. Phishing, spyware, adware—it is by far not all people can use to break into your iCloud account. However, you could check if your data has already been exploited this instant with Clario AntiSpy online accounts checker. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Download Clario AntiSpy on your Mac and get a subscription to create an account
  2. On the left-side menu, click ID theft check
  3. Type your iCloud email address and click Start scan
Desctop Clario AntiSpy dashboard picturing the ID theft section.

4. Enter the verification code and click Verify

Enter the verifacation code and follow the on-screen steps to see the details if your email was compromized.

5. Now, follow the on-screen Clario prompt to protect your personal data from further leaks.


If you create a lot of content or store a lot of photos, videos, or music, then eventually, you may need to get more storage. But before you start shopping for external hard drives or extra iCloud space, you should learn how to optimize storage on your Mac, so you can keep your disk space safe. Use Clario AntiSpy at all times to keep your private information away from prying eyes.

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