The Latest macOS Update Does This, and It’s Not a Good Idea

I just install the latest macOS update on my iMac. After it restarted, it showed me this:

Icloud files

While this is a useful feature for some people, it can be problematic, because it’s not clear which files are in the cloud and which are local. It’s very easy to accidentally delete files with this feature.

In addition, I only have 1 Mbps upload, so sending those 9 GB to iCloud would cripple my internet for a couple of days. And I recall when I accidentally turned this feature on when it was released, it was very difficult to turn it off without losing my files.

It’s a very bad idea to present this feature to users with the option checked by default. This should be an opt-in feature, not an opt-out feature. I predict that many users will run into problems with their files because they see this dialog, and click Continue without really thinking about it. They’ll see the bit about saving space, without understanding the consequences. If you haven’t updated, I recommend you don’t turn on this feature, at least not until you better understand how it works. Here’s an article I wrote when this feature was introduced.

If I were really cynical, I’d say that Apple is doing this to get people to spend more on iCloud storage…

Note: a commenter pointed out that he didn’t get this dialog when updating his Macs. I just updated my MacBook Pro and didn’t see the dialog. But it is a computer I don’t use much, and there’s not a lot of files on it. My guess is that the dialog appears if you have less than a certain amount of free space. On my iMac, with a 256 GB SSD, there’s 92 GB free (though, from day to day, for reasons I don’t understand, it oscillates from about 45 GB free to now over 90 GB). On the MacBook Pro, also with a 256 GB SSD, there’s 136 GB free.

40 thoughts on “The Latest macOS Update Does This, and It’s Not a Good Idea

  1. What is wrong with those people? Haven’t they learned from all the problems so many other computer/service providers have had with “opt-in as the default setting?”

    And that’s before considering how quickly iCloud would choke on the size of my Documents and Desktop folders. 😉

    • Right. In my case, it would push me up to the next tier (I have 50 GB on iCloud, and only about 5 GB free currently).

  2. What is wrong with those people? Haven’t they learned from all the problems so many other computer/service providers have had with “opt-in as the default setting?”

    And that’s before considering how quickly iCloud would choke on the size of my Documents and Desktop folders. 😉

    • Right. In my case, it would push me up to the next tier (I have 50 GB on iCloud, and only about 5 GB free currently).

  3. It’s sad especially for us long-time (1980s) Apple users, that Apple is doing this kind of stuff. It’s obviously to monetize their Services sector, so I ‘get it’ about the business choices they are making in the software updates in recent years. It used to be more about ‘great products for our users’. IMHO. Things like this are why I stopped at Sierra and iOS 10 and am actively moving offline and re-focusing on my Mac as the hub and iOS devices as satellites of the Mac. Paper calendar. Local storage and syncing.
    Removing iOS device app management in iTunes was another biggie, but there are so many unlikeable and unnecessary changes that actively kick out long-time, capable users. Sad but so it goes. Bon Voyage, Bandwagon!

    • Dave,

      Agree with your thoughts entirely, I’ve never jumped onto the cloud bandwagon completely. Part of the reason was due to connectivity – hey Apple., most places in the world aren’t even close to having gajillionbit internet speeds (I’m an airline pilot). Not to mention the security aspects. So for some years I’ve run the Server version in a manner similar to your description, with my Mac as the hub.

      But guess what – they’re planning to deprecate Server to the point where I really don’t know what the point of it actually will be.

      https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208312

      Reading the list of features that will be lost is almost like a joke.

      I have lived the entire Apple experience from the beginning in 1985-ish. I’m slightly excited to realize that this will actually be the catalyst to look at entirely new systems and hardware/software and leave Apple as an afterthought.

  4. It’s sad especially for us long-time (1980s) Apple users, that Apple is doing this kind of stuff. It’s obviously to monetize their Services sector, so I ‘get it’ about the business choices they are making in the software updates in recent years. It used to be more about ‘great products for our users’. IMHO. Things like this are why I stopped at Sierra and iOS 10 and am actively moving offline and re-focusing on my Mac as the hub and iOS devices as satellites of the Mac. Paper calendar. Local storage and syncing.
    Removing iOS device app management in iTunes was another biggie, but there are so many unlikeable and unnecessary changes that actively kick out long-time, capable users. Sad but so it goes. Bon Voyage, Bandwagon!

    • Dave,

      Agree with your thoughts entirely, I’ve never jumped onto the cloud bandwagon completely. Part of the reason was due to connectivity – hey Apple., most places in the world aren’t even close to having gajillionbit internet speeds (I’m an airline pilot). Not to mention the security aspects. So for some years I’ve run the Server version in a manner similar to your description, with my Mac as the hub.

      But guess what – they’re planning to deprecate Server to the point where I really don’t know what the point of it actually will be.

      https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208312

      Reading the list of features that will be lost is almost like a joke.

      I have lived the entire Apple experience from the beginning in 1985-ish. I’m slightly excited to realize that this will actually be the catalyst to look at entirely new systems and hardware/software and leave Apple as an afterthought.

  5. I just updated my iMac and MacBook Pro, but the screen you refer to did not appear. Maybe it’s targeted to certain types of users in certain countries.

    I do use iCloud Drive, but I keep my Desktop and Documents folders on my internal drive, not in iCloud.

    • I have iCloud Drive turned on, but do not automatically put any files there. Not sure why it would display for some users rather than others.

      • I just updated my MBP, and didn’t see the dialog. But I added a note to the article about the amount of free space. How much free space do you have on your Macs? My MBP has much more than my iMac.

        • When I updated I had about 140 GB free on my 256GB SSD / iMac (+ a big external HDD with ~500GB, half full). So I’m not sure the size really matters.

          What is worse: I have a second key chain and at the same time as that “thing” popped up, the OS asked for the password for that keychain. The dialogs input field was focussed, but did not accept any key stroke. All keystrokes where directed at that “thing”.

          • Yes, the same thing happened to me. I had to move he keychain dialog to take the screenshot.

            I don’t know if it’s size, or some other criteria. It’s obviously happening to some people – see the other comments here – but not others. In my case, on one computer, and not another. I don’t know what the variable is.

  6. I just updated my iMac and MacBook Pro, but the screen you refer to did not appear. Maybe it’s targeted to certain types of users in certain countries.

    I do use iCloud Drive, but I keep my Desktop and Documents folders on my internal drive, not in iCloud.

    • I have iCloud Drive turned on, but do not automatically put any files there. Not sure why it would display for some users rather than others.

      • I just updated my MBP, and didn’t see the dialog. But I added a note to the article about the amount of free space. How much free space do you have on your Macs? My MBP has much more than my iMac.

        • When I updated I had about 140 GB free on my 256GB SSD / iMac (+ a big external HDD with ~500GB, half full). So I’m not sure the size really matters.

          What is worse: I have a second key chain and at the same time as that “thing” popped up, the OS asked for the password for that keychain. The dialogs input field was focussed, but did not accept any key stroke. All keystrokes where directed at that “thing”.

          • Yes, the same thing happened to me. I had to move he keychain dialog to take the screenshot.

            I don’t know if it’s size, or some other criteria. It’s obviously happening to some people – see the other comments here – but not others. In my case, on one computer, and not another. I don’t know what the variable is.

  7. In this case and an increasing number of others, I think AAPL has forgotten that Macs birthed the age of the PERSONAL computer. I have really come to dislike the new mantra which seems to be something akin to, Now, now children let teacher show you the ONLY way to do it!

  8. In this case and an increasing number of others, I think AAPL has forgotten that Macs birthed the age of the PERSONAL computer. I have really come to dislike the new mantra which seems to be something akin to, Now, now children let teacher show you the ONLY way to do it!

  9. I help the elderly with their computers and recently one person with an iMac that I help was very distressed to find her documents had all disappeared.
    She had unintentionally accepted the option to store her documents in iCloud after an update. Lots of work on my part to restore and upset and stress for the lady involved. Not good.

    • Tim Cook and Phil Schiller should PERSONALLY have to answer the support calls from these kinds of folks. I see this kind of thing to often. Apple is being (and has been, for some time), AFAIC, aggravatingly unkind to older users.

      (Proof #2 is the exceeding use of thin and small typeface choices while not designing OSes to properly accommodate ailing eyesight. The older folks I have met, who tend to be GREAT Apple customers, tend to also be VERY PROUD… they don’t want to use their iPhone or Mac in “blind” Assistive mode. They just would like a bit bigger, thicker fonts and touch/click targets. You’d think Apple would be willing to accommodate some of the wealthiest consumers. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ )

    • Yep. This is the kind of thing that makes people like my wife hate computers. They click this having no idea what it actually does and pay the price later without even realizing what it was they did that made them pay this price. They figure it’s just the way it is. It used to be that Macs were the computers people didn’t hate.

  10. I help the elderly with their computers and recently one person with an iMac that I help was very distressed to find her documents had all disappeared.
    She had unintentionally accepted the option to store her documents in iCloud after an update. Lots of work on my part to restore and upset and stress for the lady involved. Not good.

    • Tim Cook and Phil Schiller should PERSONALLY have to answer the support calls from these kinds of folks. I see this kind of thing to often. Apple is being (and has been, for some time), AFAIC, aggravatingly unkind to older users.

      (Proof #2 is the exceeding use of thin and small typeface choices while not designing OSes to properly accommodate ailing eyesight. The older folks I have met, who tend to be GREAT Apple customers, tend to also be VERY PROUD… they don’t want to use their iPhone or Mac in “blind” Assistive mode. They just would like a bit bigger, thicker fonts and touch/click targets. You’d think Apple would be willing to accommodate some of the wealthiest consumers. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ )

    • Yep. This is the kind of thing that makes people like my wife hate computers. They click this having no idea what it actually does and pay the price later without even realizing what it was they did that made them pay this price. They figure it’s just the way it is. It used to be that Macs were the computers people didn’t hate.

  11. I clicked on it and now I want to opt out. Is that possible? In other words I have a documents folder that is now in the cloud that I dont want in the cloud.

  12. I clicked on it and now I want to opt out. Is that possible? In other words I have a documents folder that is now in the cloud that I dont want in the cloud.

  13. Kirk I too had the fluctuating storage space from day to day on my MacBook Pro. I traced the issue to time machine taking hidden space for incremental backups. I shut off time machine and a day later the space issues stopped. Horrible to have to manually remember to run time machine but that is what worked for me.

    • Apple says that that space – taken up by Time Machine snapshots – is not counted in the Finder’s free space. They say that those snapshots will be deleted if space is needed.

      This is a handy tool for controlling Time Machine.

      https://tclementdev.com/timemachineeditor/

      You can turn Time Machine off, and this app will launch it at the interval you want (I have it set to every two hours on my laptop, to save the battery).

  14. Kirk I too had the fluctuating storage space from day to day on my MacBook Pro. I traced the issue to time machine taking hidden space for incremental backups. I shut off time machine and a day later the space issues stopped. Horrible to have to manually remember to run time machine but that is what worked for me.

    • Apple says that that space – taken up by Time Machine snapshots – is not counted in the Finder’s free space. They say that those snapshots will be deleted if space is needed.

      This is a handy tool for controlling Time Machine.

      https://tclementdev.com/timemachineeditor/

      You can turn Time Machine off, and this app will launch it at the interval you want (I have it set to every two hours on my laptop, to save the battery).

  15. As someone that helps out his parents that have Macs, I can tell you that Apple is making a huge mistake showing these options and having them enabled by default.

    I live abroad, but my dad contacted me in a panic because everything disappeared from his desktop after an upgrade or iCloud upload went wonky.

  16. As someone that helps out his parents that have Macs, I can tell you that Apple is making a huge mistake showing these options and having them enabled by default.

    I live abroad, but my dad contacted me in a panic because everything disappeared from his desktop after an upgrade or iCloud upload went wonky.

  17. One more thought on this topic. I’m not a big fan of how Apple chose to architect iCloud, but I don’t see any evil in their attempts to push user content into the cloud. That’s the way the entire market is moving, and has been moving for a number of years now. If you are “of a certain age,” as I am, you probably grew up with a PC or Mac, and you always kept your data locally. But if you know teens, twenty-somethings and other millennials, they live in the cloud. They don’t want to “manage” a desktop or laptop the way many of us do. So IMHO, Apple is just reacting to, and sometimes driving, the market. It’s implementing a new content delivery model, one that now is becoming the norm. It’s just a pity that some of us probably will be asked to sacrifice features we’ve become accustomed to, and ones we still like.

  18. One more thought on this topic. I’m not a big fan of how Apple chose to architect iCloud, but I don’t see any evil in their attempts to push user content into the cloud. That’s the way the entire market is moving, and has been moving for a number of years now. If you are “of a certain age,” as I am, you probably grew up with a PC or Mac, and you always kept your data locally. But if you know teens, twenty-somethings and other millennials, they live in the cloud. They don’t want to “manage” a desktop or laptop the way many of us do. So IMHO, Apple is just reacting to, and sometimes driving, the market. It’s implementing a new content delivery model, one that now is becoming the norm. It’s just a pity that some of us probably will be asked to sacrifice features we’ve become accustomed to, and ones we still like.

  19. This (enabled) feature can bring legal issues to you, if the Mac in question is not exclusively used private. If the files transfereed to iCloud any (!) personal data you might get in conflict with EU-GDPR.
    To make data personal a name AND (a phone number OR e-mail address OR postal address OR brith date OR ….) is totally suffician.

    At least it gets an EU-GDPR issue as long as Apple does not guarantee, that all your data is stored in iCloud datacenters in the Eurepean Union (in the future without Britain).

  20. This (enabled) feature can bring legal issues to you, if the Mac in question is not exclusively used private. If the files transfereed to iCloud any (!) personal data you might get in conflict with EU-GDPR.
    To make data personal a name AND (a phone number OR e-mail address OR postal address OR brith date OR ….) is totally suffician.

    At least it gets an EU-GDPR issue as long as Apple does not guarantee, that all your data is stored in iCloud datacenters in the Eurepean Union (in the future without Britain).

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