Getting control over iCloud Drive with Cirrus 1.0b3

No matter how recently you have come to macOS, you quickly come to trust the Finder. When it shows you a file or folder, you expect it to be there. It’s part of the desktop metaphor – you reach out for a document which is in front of your eyes, and open it. Unless it’s in iCloud Drive, when you have enabled its Optimize Mac Storage feature.

I wrote yesterday of some of the oddities which can result, and how I was wrestling with them when developing the next version of Cirrus. I think that I have now got my mind around them, and produced a tool which is of value to every iCloud Drive user, as well as providing advanced features for diagnostics.

Cirrus 1.0b3 has been thoroughly re-written, and now offers four inter-related sets of features. Three of them should also work fully on El Capitan, with which this version should be compatible.

Controlling iCloud Drive

The first is the simplest, a couple of menu commands which force the download of items (files and folders) stored in iCloud Drive, and their eviction back into the cloud. You can already choose to download items which have been evicted, by clicking on the icon of a cloud with a down arrow. However the Finder doesn’t provide any means of forcing an item to be removed from local storage, or evicted in Apple’s terminology.

Eviction is a useful way to free disk space up, and normally performed automatically by macOS. However, that doesn’t always work. My iMac running Sierra 10.12.6 has Optimize Mac Storage enabled, but insists on storing all iCloud Drive items locally as well. My MacBook Pro and MacBook Air both run 10.13.4 with Optimize Mac Storage enabled, but keep much of their iCloud Drive folders evicted in spite of having ample free local storage space.

If the default eviction behaviour isn’t to your liking – you might want all documents evicted apart from the small number in active use, for example – Cirrus will happily fix this for you. Interestingly, you can still evict the entire contents of your iCloud Drive even if Optimize Mac Storage is disabled, and you can readily download all the contents if optimisation is enabled.

Monitoring individual files and folders

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Cirrus now opens any file or folder which has not been evicted from local storage. It then provides detailed information about that item’s iCloud status, covering both upload and download functions.

It is here that the Catch-22 comes into play, though. You can’t obtain information about an item which has been evicted, until it has been downloaded again. When a file is open in Cirrus, it can’t be evicted back into the cloud. However, this part of Cirrus is very useful for working with folders, which can be opened even when their contents have been evicted.

Test upload

As in the previous version, Cirrus can perform an automated upload of a 1 MB file to iCloud Drive. This can be used as a test, and can be an effective way of unsticking pending uploads to iCloud Drive.

Log access

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The advanced features which Cirrus 1.0b2 provides in obtaining custom digests of the Sierra and High Sierra unified log have now been moved into a separate window. Because these require the unified log, they are not available on El Capitan systems, and to use them on Sierra or High Sierra you must be logged in as an admin user.

I have expanded the documentation considerably to explain all these new features, and hope that this app proves useful. This new version is available from here: cirrus1.0b5 (new version)
and from Downloads above.