Apple has advertised their new iCloud service as doing a number of things, such as syncing contacts, calendars, and even iWork documents. iCloud has one unique feature that Apple hasn’t spoken up about, however: a Dropbox-like way to keep files in sync across multiple Macs.
iCloud officially only supports the syncing of data through applications themselves, restricting users from syncing data of their own choosing. According to MacWorld, however, there’s a fairly simple way to take control of iCloud data on your Mac. Here’s how it’s done:
Apple stores iCloud documents for syncing in a special folder on your Mac, located in a folder called Mobile Documents within your user Library folder. To access this folder and use it for syncing your own files, simply follow the below steps:
- Open System Preferences and select the “iCloud pane, then make sure the “Documents & Data” preference pane is checked.
- Navigate to ~/Library/Mobile Documents and place any files you want to sync inside (if you can’t see your user library folder, here’s how to make it show up). If the “Mobile Documents” folder isn’t there, create a save a document using iWork for iOS.
- To view these files on any other Mac linked to your iCloud account, simply make sure the above settings are checked on the other Mac and enter the Mobile Documents folder – your files will all be there.
You can now create an alias of this folder, and place it in a more convenient location, such as the Documents folder. While this is an interesting solution for keeping files in sync, its not necessarily a great alternative to a service like Dropbox, as Dropbox was specifically designed for this purpose, and allows you to access your files through the web.