User Case


Almost all documents on my MacBook are synchronized with iCloud, with only a small percentage exempt. Only two document folders display the small grey cloud symbol, indicating they are not yet synced. Clicking on the cloud icon next to "iCloud Drive" reveals a message stating, "iCloud is not syncing - There are pending items to sync." This issue has persisted for months. Identifying the specific documents causing the problem is challenging, and I lack knowledge of how to manually trigger a synchronization.

- Question from Apple Support Community

Is iCloud Sync on by Default?

How Do I Force iCloud Drive to Sync on Mac
How Do I Force iCloud Drive to Sync on Mac

Mostly, iCloud Sync is on by default when you have a new Apple device. That means some data including your photos or files are synced from your device to iCloud by default. If there is some data on your device that you don't want iCloud to sync with, you can turn it off in the phone's "Settings", like turning off iCloud Photos or iCloud Drive.

iCloud Sync allows you to sync various types of data, such as photos, contacts, calendars, and app data, across your Apple devices. While some data like photos and app-specific data may prompt you to enable iCloud sync during the setup process of your device or when you install certain apps, it's not enabled by default for everything.

iCloud Drive Not Syncing Syncing on Mac or Windows - Solutions

on Mac

  • Restart iCloud: Sometimes, a simple restart can resolve syncing problems. Sign out of iCloud on your Mac and then sign in.
  • Check iCloud Storage: If you find your iCloud storage full, it might prevent syncing. Delete some files or upgrade the plan.
  • Update macOS: Ensure your Mac is running the latest macOS as updates often include bug fixes and improvements.
  • Check File Types: Some files might not be supported for iCloud syncing. Check if the files are compatible.
  • Disable and Re-enable iCloud Drive: Temporarily turn off iCloud Drive in "System Preferences," then re-enable it.
  • Check Firewall Settings: Make sure your firewall isn't blocking iCloud services.

on Windows PC

  • Check iCloud Drive Settings: Ensure that your iCloud sync is turned on on your devices.
  • Restart iCloud for Windows: Sometimes, an easy restarting operation can solve troublesome issues.
  • Restart Your Computer: A simple restart of your computer can often help resolve syncing issues.
  • Check Network Connection: Ensure that your Windows PC has a stable internet connection which is required by iCloud Sync.
  • Check iCloud Drive Files: Make sure the files you want to sync are located within the folders for iCloud Drive syncing.
  • Update iCloud for Windows: Check if your iCloud for Windows is in the newest version in the Apple Software Update utility.

How Do I Force iCloud Drive to Sync on Mac

If the above solutions cannot address your iCloud Drive not syncing issue, you can force iCloud sync on your Mac to sync your files between your device and iCloud. Before the steps, you should check your network connection and make sure your Mac is connected to a stable one to facilitate syncing.

Step 1: Sign in to iCloud. Make sure you're signed in to iCloud with the same Apple ID on both your Mac and other devices.

Step 2: Enable iCloud Drive. On your Mac, go to "System Preferences," click on "Apple ID," and select "iCloud" on the left. Then, tick the box beside "iCloud Drive" to enable syncing on the Mac.

Enable iCloud Drive on Mac
Enable iCloud Drive on Mac

Note: It is similar to forcing photos to sync with iCloud on Mac, you can just tick the box beside "Photos" to realize it.

How Do I Force iCloud Drive to Sync on Windows PC

Except for Mac, iCloud can be also used on the Windows PC as long as you have the iCloud for Windows app. You may also want to know how to force iCloud sync on the Windows PC and this section will offer the answer. Also, before the steps, make sure your device is connected to a stable and active network.

Step 1: Ensure that you have iCloud for Windows installed on your computer. If not, download and install this app from the official website.

Step 2: Open the iCloud for Windows application and sign in with your Apple ID.

Step 3: Tick the box beside "iCloud Drive", check the options, and click "Apply" to finish this task.

Check iCloud Drive Settings on Windows PC
Check iCloud Drive Settings on Windows PC

Note: To force iCloud Photos to sync on a Windows PC, you can check the box beside "Photos" and click on "Apply".

Bonus Tip: How to Sync iCloud Drive with Another Cloud via MultCloud

Apart from forcing iCloud sync with your computer, if you also want to sync iCloud Drive to other cloud drives, you can try MultCloud Cloud Sync. MultCloud is a free cloud file transfer service. Its Cloud Sync function is specialized in automating the sync process between clouds.

Cloud Sync includes 10 sync modes that can meet your various demands, including 4 free modes (Two-way Sync, Real Time Sync, One-way Sync, and Normal Sync) and 6 paid modes (Incremental Sync, Mirror Sync, Full Backup Sync, Cumulative Sync, Move Sync, and Update Sync). For example, if you want the sync process to go both ways between iCloud Drive and another cloud, you can use the Two-way Sync mode.

Moreover, MultCloud is a web app and you do not need to download it but open it on any browser with a network connection. And since MultCloud supports offline sync, you don't have to keep your computer or task window open after creating a sync task. Here we will use the steps on how to incrementally sync iCloud Drive to Google Drive as an example to show you how to use Cloud Sync.

Step 1: Create a free account on MultCloud’s home page.

Step 2: Click “Add Drive” and the iCloud Drive icon. Then go through the two-factor authentication to log in to your iCloud Drive account and connect it with MultCloud. Also, do the same operations to connect Google Drive with MultCloud.

Add iCloud Drive and Google Drive to MultCloud
Add iCloud Drive and Google Drive to MultCloud

Step 3: Select “Cloud Sync” in the left sidebar and choose iCloud Drive and Google Drive in separate boxes.

Sync iCloud Drive to Google Drive
Sync iCloud Drive to Google Drive

Step 4: Click “Options”, extend the last box to choose “Incremental Sync”, and tap on “Save”. Finally, click “Sync Now” to start the process.

Choose Incremental Sync
Choose Incremental Sync


  • If you want to keep updating iCloud Drive files to Google Drive, you can set a sync frequency according to your needs in the Schedule or use the Real Time Sync mode.
  • Since there are various types of files on your iCloud Drive and if you only want to some of them to Google Drive, you can batch-select these files out with the Filter.
  • Every month, MultCloud will offer you 5 GB of data traffic for free to transfer files. If you think the 5 GB is not enough, you can become a premium user and also enjoy 8 more transfer threads than the free 2 threads.
Schedule the Sync Task
Schedule the Sync Task


Ensuring that your iCloud Drive syncs seamlessly on your Mac or Windows PC is essential for efficient file management and accessibility. By following the steps and tips outlined in this guide, you can troubleshoot the issue of “How do I force iCloud Drive to sync on Mac” and optimize your iCloud Drive experience.

What’s more, you can further integrate your iCloud Drive with other cloud drives by using MultCloud. Not only syncing iCloud Drive with Google Drive, but also making an integration between iCloud Drive with Dropbox, OneDrive, or SharePoint Online can be easily realized. Try it now and enter a cloud integration world.

How do I see sync status of iCloud Drive on Mac?
To check iCloud Drive sync status on Mac, click the Apple menu > "System Preferences" > "Apple ID" > "iCloud" > "Options" next to iCloud Drive. Here, you can see the sync status of your iCloud Drive files.
How long does it take for iCloud Drive to sync?
The time it takes for iCloud Drive to sync depends on factors like the file size, internet speed, and the number of files. Smaller files may sync quickly, while larger ones could take longer, ranging from seconds to minutes or more.
Why is syncing with iCloud paused?
iCloud syncing can be paused for various reasons, including poor internet connectivity, low storage space, or changes in settings. It can also be manually paused by the user in iCloud preferences.
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