How To Enable Automatic iCloud Document Syncing Between Macs [OS X Tips]


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A folder in OS X Lion has been discovered by Mac OS X Hints that uses iCloud to automatically sync stored documents between Macs. While iCloud stores your saved documents from Mac and iOS devices on, Apple has yet to implement a polished, Dropbox-like way to let users sync iCloud data between desktop machines.

Tucked in the “Library” directory in Lion, the “Mobile Documents” folder syncs iCloud documents and app data between your devices. A nifty workaround lets you use this folder as a wirelessly-updated document hub for your Macs.

If you navigate to the ~/Library folder on your Mac and enter the “Mobile Documents” folder, you’ll probably find a folder for Pages (com~apple~Pages). If you don’t see a folder, that means you haven’t used iCloud to sync iWork documents yet. You can enable the “Documents & Data” option in the System Preferences pane for iCloud and that feature will turn on.

If you drop a .pages document in the “Mobile Documents” folder, it will sync automatically to the exact same folder on another Mac logged into your iCloud account. The iCloud “Documents & Data” option must of course be enabled on all involved Macs for this trick to work.

The “Mobile Documents” folder essentially becomes a Dropbox for your Pages documents on your Macs, and it even keeps track of your revision conflicts and helps you resolve them when you open a document.

Make sure to not delete any other folders or files in the “Mobile Documents” folder, as you’ll probably lose some valuable data.

It makes sense this folder would also sync documents that are manually added on the Mac, but this method is obviously not the way Apple designed document syncing to work. You’ll have to create an alias folder or shortcut to the “Mobile Documents” folder for quick access on your Macs.

  • Dirk Kuepper

    Is it only working with Pages documents, or can i use any type of documents?

  • kootenayredneck

    I have Lion installed on a MBP 2007 but while looking for this folder in the Library, it was non-existent and I do have iCloud setup through Preferences. Can anyone tell me why my 2010 MBP has it and the other one does’nt?

  • Dirk Kuepper

    If you don’t see a folder, that means you haven’t used iCloud to sync
    iWork documents yet. You can enable the “Documents & Data” option in
    the System Preferences pane for iCloud and that feature will turn on.

  • kootenayredneck

    Yes it is enabled on both MBP’s, that is why I was asking the question. I can up load a document out of Pages on my 2010 and download the same document to my 2007 but the folder isn’t created on the 2007.

  • Fdwlaw

    Tied it with a PDF……..NO workie

  • Dirk Kuepper

    Okay works with any type of documents. On my 2 Macs is Mac OS 10.7.2 installed. Maybe Airdrop is needed too? It looks a little bit ugly to me, because Little Snitch asked me to connect to …

  • Dirk Kuepper

    Try to login via and choose iWork. The folders are created after that task.

  • vanmacguy

    I have the same problem as you. I’ve used Pages, Keynote *and* Numbers since upgrading to Lion and have iCloud enabled and Documents and Data enabled, but I have no Mobile Documents folder. I have a Mobile Device folder? The same on my brand new MacBook Air that came with Lion preinstalled with all the same features enabled.

  • vanmacguy

    An update to my earlier post. On my MacBook Air, I was still signed in to MobileMe, when I signed out and restarted the machine, the folder showed up.

    On my Mac Pro, I was also signed in to MobileMe but signing out didn’t fix that problem, but I might be on an under version of iWork on this machine so I deleted the apps and am re-downloading them from the App Store.

    I’ll post again when it’s done.

  • tommaso avati

    It kinda works but cannot be definitely a universal backup solution: it syncs only macs, mobile devices are not involved.

  • Mostly Bullshit

    I found the problem on why the folder was’nt showing up on my MBP 2007. After updating iPhoto and aperture a few weeks ago the setting that had been enabled in them were some how munched by the update. It did’nt happen on my MBP 2010.  Once I went into the Preferences of iPhoto and enabled Photostream the “Mobile Documents” folder was created.

    Just another one of my Twitter accounts. Forgot I was’nt on kootenayredneck.

  • Frank

    is it possible to give access to that folder to someone else? (like sharing folders works in dropbox?)

  • Sandman619

    Mac OS X Lion sets up the Mobile Documents folder when iCloud sync in enabled & you have any iWork app installed on your iOS device & you’re sharing docs between your Mac & your iOS device

    Since it is a folder, you can probably create one & Lion to sync between to Macs both running Lion ?

  • Paolo Ceroni

    Try this application (EasyCloud),

  • Paolo Ceroni

    EasyCloud for OS X, their Utility app that allows Mac users to simply drag and drop data files into the EasyCloud Drop Window to have those files immediately available on all their Macs and iDevices. The app’s two functions, Drop and Mac to Mac, support the following file types via iCloud: .pages (iWork), .numbers (iWork), .keynote (iWork), .doc (Microsoft Word), .excel (Microsoft Excel), .ppt (Microsoft Power Point), .txt (TextEdit Application), etc. The Drop function sends files directly to all the user’s iDevices containing the matching app and via a common iCloud account. The Mac to Mac function enables both syncing and file sharing between Macs sharing the same iCloud account. A browser window displays all files available for sharing between Macs, files can be opened or deleted, and the list refreshed.