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Having full iCloud storage stinks. You’ve got photos to keep, data to backup, and lack of free space to store it all up — absolutely dreadful! Not to mention the notification that consistently reminds you of the issue. Luckily, you can do a thing or two about it. Sit down, strap in, and put your IT hat on.

How to Get More iCloud Storage from Apple

In case someone wanders here without knowing that there is an option of subscribing for additional storage from Apple, well, there is. It’s going to cost you, but it’s also going to spare you the headache of choosing which files are worth keeping. Besides getting the initial 5GB for free, you have an option of bumping it up to the total of 50GB, 200GB, and 2TB. The plans in US are currently priced at $0.99, $2.99, and $9.99 per month respectively.

storage plans price icloud

If you’ve got family members or close friends running into similar storage problems with their Apple devices, you can offer to split the bill and opt for Apple’s family sharing to shave a few bucks off the price tag.

How to Clean iCloud Storage

It’s not surprising that making a commitment to buy storage doesn’t sound appealing. More importantly, it might not be the necessity you expected it to be. Typically, Photos and Backups take up most space on iCloud. At first glance, iCloud Photo Library and iCloud Backup both sound like great feature concepts that save time and make safety simple. In all honesty — they do. However, when you consider the bizarre 5GB of iCloud storage and all iCloud features that share this storage — it’s a recipe for disaster. Your iCloud fills up in a matter of days, especially if you own a couple of Apple products. The only way you can make room on your iCloud for free is by managing that space wisely.

Disable iCloud Photo Library

First, switch off iCloud Photos Library on your Mac, which syncs your local photos to the cloud.

  • Open System Preferences and click iCloud
  • Choose Options next to Photos
  • Uncheck the boxes next to iCloud Photo Library and My Photo Stream

Next, manage the photos in your current iCloud storage and, if needed, disable iCloud Photo Library for your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch using your Mac.

  • Access System Preferences>iCloud again
  • Click the Manage button in the bottom right
  • Choose Photo Library and hit Disable and Delete
delete photo library

Don’t worry, your photos are not going to be removed from your Apple device, just from iCloud. You also do not risk losing your pictures in the future as they are automatically included in iCloud Backup when the Photo Library feature is turned off.

Opt Out of Automatic Backup

Those of you who own an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and have them set to automatically backup to iCloud, will run into this problem significantly faster. Backups are known to demand ridiculous chunks of space. The good news is that you can keep backups on your Mac instead of iCloud.

  • Connect your device to your Mac
  • Open iTunes and switch to your device syncing window
  • Choose Summary in the Settings tab and scroll down to Backups
  • Uncheck the box next to iCloud and check the one by This computer
  • You can also click on Back Up Now to manually back things up
itunes cancel automatic backup

With the automatic backup to iCloud disabled, you will still need to clear out the remaining backups that are currently stored in the cloud.

  • Get back to System Preferences>iCloud
  • Hit Manage button and select Backups from the list
  • Choose a backup from the list and click Delete
remove backups icloud

How to Free Space on iCloud Drive

The iCloud Drive is another part of Apple’s larger iCloud ecosystem. iCloud Drive is essentially the cloud storage everyone’s familiar with. It’s not the most efficient one out there, yet its native integration with Apple software seems sufficient to justify the price for some of its users.

Typically, iCloud Drive is not the main reason for the lack of space on iCloud, however, if you have been using it to store files, it doesn’t hurt to make sure they’re properly managed.

Access through iCloud.com

  • Open iCloud.com and sign in to your account
  • Choose iCloud Drive app
icloud app online
  • Pick the files to delete and click the garbage bin icon
  • Select the Recently Deleted in iCloud Drive folder
  • Pick the files you want to remove completely and hit Delete

Manage from iCloud Drive folder on Mac

With macOS High Sierra update installed, you can manage your iCloud files directly from Finder.

  • Open Finder and go to iCloud Drive folder
  • Select the items you want to delete and drag them to Trash
  • Right- or ctrl-click Trash in dock and choose Empty Trash

If you don’t have the iCloud Drive folder in your Finder sidebar, do the following:

  • Go to Apple menu>System Preferences and hit iCloud
  • Make sure you’re signed in with your Apple ID (sign in if not)
  • Open Finder and go to Preferences
  • Switch to Sidebar tab and check the box next to iCloud Drive

sidebar icloud folder

Update iCloud Drive Sync Options

After you’ve cleaned up the drive, take a few extra minutes to get your iCloud settings up-to-date.

  • Go to Apple menu>System Preferences
  • Click iCloud and choose Options next to iCloud Drive
  • Check the boxes for the apps that will store data on iCloud
preferences icloud drive

In conclusion, you’ll most likely find yourself being in a love-hate relationship with the free iCloud plan. It’s a fast, convenient way of seamlessly syncing your Apple devices and keeping your files secure, yet the lack of storage considering the range of features is bonkers. In the end, if you want to avoid the dreaded notification, you’ll be left with the ultimate choice of either keeping your coin or your files stored on iCloud.

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