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Synchronize your Downloads folder with iCloud Drive

iCloud Drive Desktop and Documents sync has been a game changer in terms of Mac users having the same stuff on all computers. Dropbox is probably more reliable and flexible, but it requires that you have a workflow of saving stuff into your Dropbox folder, and some Mac users just don’t want to do that; they want to put stuff in the Desktop and Documents folders that come on the computer, and call it a day.

iCloud Drive Desktop and Documents (which I’ll just call iCDD) takes care of that for them. And then, when they buy a new computer, rather than restore from a Time Machine backup (which is what I’d still recommend), they can just sign into their iCloud account and have access to all of their stuff, much like on their iPhone.

But what about the Downloads folder? Apple makes clear they expect what’s in your Downloads folder to be temporary, to be moved to elsewhere, or deleted. But that’s not how I roll, and many other people don’t either. Stuff accumulates there and I might want it regardless of what computer I actually downloaded it on.

If you want a synchronized Downloads folder, do this:

  • Open iCloud Drive
  • Make a Downloads folder in it
  • Put that Downloads folder in your sidebar (it will look like a regular folder, rather than a circle with a downward pointing arrow)
  • Move everything in your existing Downloads folder to the new Downloads folder
  • Remove the old (circular) Downloads folder from your sidebar by dragging it out, or by unchecking it under Finder -> Preferences -> Sidebar
  • Open Terminal, and type:
    sudo rm ~/Downloads; ln -s ~/Library/Mobile\ Documents/com~apple~CloudDocs/Downloads/ ~/Downloads
  • Enter your computer password (which you won’t see as you type)

If you’re not comfortable using Terminal, instead set each of your browsers, in their Preferences, to use your new Downloads folder instead of the one in your Home folder.

Repeat the above on each of your computers.

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