What to do when iCloud Drive is slow to update

One of the common problems with iCloud Drive is delay in updating. You’ve just waited for ages for files to be uploaded to it, but once they’re there, you can’t see those additions from your other Macs or iOS devices.

There is a clue suggested by Apple, one of the very few non-generic fixes available for such problems: “create a new document and save it [to iCloud] to see if it uploads to iCloud. If it does, see if other documents start uploading”.

Yesterday, in the midst of multiple updates and downloads, I tried uploading a 5 MB file from one Mac running 10.13.4 to my iCloud Drive. It took an inordinate length of time, as if it was swimming against the tide of incoming updates. After about fifteen minutes, it was finally complete, and shown as being in a folder on iCloud Drive on that Mac.

I looked for it with another Mac (on the same local network), but there was no sign. An hour later, that Mac still didn’t show it in its view of iCloud Drive.

I then tried running the small test included in Cirrus (free from Downloads above), to see what was happening in that Mac’s log. No sooner had that test completed than the contents of my iCloud Drive were fully updated, and showed the file which had been uploaded from the other Mac.

My suggestion therefore, when you are waiting for updates to be shown in your iCloud Drive, is to upload a small file (say 1 MB) from that same Mac to iCloud Drive. That is likely to trigger the update to the contents, and the missing items will appear very shortly. One simple way of doing this is in Cirrus, although there’s no reason that a file copy (Option-drag) in the Finder shouldn’t work just as well.