Paying $12 a year for 50GB of iCloud storage isn't much, but even that can fill up very quickly. The wake-up call is given by an “iCloud storage full” message, and unless you are willing to spend time cleaning out that iCloud storage of junk, then you'll probably just end up paying more. But why spend money on something when it's super-easy to stick to your budget; all you need is good storage management.
iCloud Storage Limits
When you first set up iCloud you are automatically give 5GB of cloud storage, which is available for iCloud backups, keeping photos and videos in the iCloud Photo Library, and ensuring documents are constantly up-to-date across multiple devices by using iCloud Drive.
Those five gigabytes are easy to fill up, however; just consider that one Live Photo taken with an iPhone 7 is 2.6MB. Take one lengthy 1080p video, place it in the iCloud Photo Library and you'll soon face the annoying prompt to either buy more storage or clean out your iCloud Drive to make room for other files. In the end it won’t be long until you'll end up paying at least for 50GB anyway.
How to Optimize iCloud Storage
Since the free tier and the cheapest paid option of iCloud storage both impose hard limits on your storage – and you might not want to pay for extra cloud space – the best thing to do is to develop a good cloud storage management plan. The key element here is to only use it to store essential data that you might need to access on any device or the web.
This requires you to pay some attention to where you save documents, because once iCloud Drive is enabled it will automatically sync your Desktop and the Documents folder. So if you want to optimize iCloud storage, then you might need to create additional folders in which you'll save files that aren’t necessary to be accessed from other devices.
This will leave plenty of space for photos and documents. But beware: duplicate photos, large email attachments, and files will quickly eat into the limited cloud storage space.
To take advantage of every single byte of iCloud, you'll need to optimize space on your Mac, which – believe us – will only be to your advantage. All you need to do is hunt down duplicate photos and files hogging up a lot of storage using either the built-in tools that macOS provides or a Mac optimization app. This will keep both the local and cloud storage in optimal shape.
To manually remove the documents and photos you no longer need anymore, simply visit the iCloud Drive folder and drag the item into the trash and choose “Delete Immediately”. If you may need it later but don’t want it on the cloud, simply move it into another folder that iCloud Drive doesn't synchronize rather than the trash.
Some of you may have a Mac optimization app such as CleanMyMac to hand. These apps help streamline the iCloud cleaning process by providing one-click tools to delete Mail attachments and find duplicate photos or big files. Although the same thing can be achieved by using the macOS built-in tools, the convenience of having everything just a click away is an undeniable advantage.
In the end, it's up to you: are you willing to spend time optimizing Mac and iCloud storage with the available utilities, or would rather pay more for a bigger storage tier?
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