Move over, Dropbox: How to share iCloud folders in iOS 13.4

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colored notebooks
Some folders, which could totally be shared.
Photo: Laika Notebooks/Unsplash

In iOS 13.4, you can share iCloud folders with other people for the first time. You’ve long been able to share a single file via iCloud, but now you can share folders, so all the people sharing can drop files in there. Just like Dropbox has done since, like, forever.

This new capability, which arrived Tuesday in iOS 13.4 and macOS Catalina 10.15.4, will finally let people ditch Dropbox and go all-in on iCloud. Let’s see how it works.

iCloud shared folders

Sharing an iCloud folder is easy. On iOS, all you do is long-press the folder and tap the Share button, like you do whenever you share anything else. Then, you pick Add People from the list. That looks like this:

Share iCloud folders from the share sheet.
Share iCloud folders from the share sheet.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Tap that, and you see this:

Choose how to share the link to an iCloud shared folder.
Choose how to share the link.
Photo: Cult of Mac

This is where you share the link with people. You can do it any way you like — email, iMessage, etc. If you use iMessage, the recipient gets a nice icon of the folder in their message thread. To join the shared folder, they just have to tap or click it, depending on whether they’re on iOS or a Mac.

A shared iCloud folder gets a special icon.
A shared folder gets a special icon.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Share an iCloud Drive folder from Mac

The procedure for doing this on the Mac is the same, only you do it in the Finder. Click on any iCloud folder you want to share, then click the Share button. (Either use the button in the Finder window’s toolbar, or right-click the file and choose Share from the contextual menu.)

Share an iCloud Folder from the Mac Finder.
Share an iCloud Folder from the Finder.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Then, choose how to share the link, as with iOS.

Workaround for older Macs

One interesting tip is that you don’t have to be running macOS Catalina to access these shared folders. You only need it to set one up. So, say you have an old Mac that only runs macOS High Sierra, but you have a nice new iPhone 11 running iOS 13.4. If you create the shared folder on your iPhone, then it will just show up as a regular iCloud folder on your Mac. You can add items and remove them, as normal. And because you also can share a folder using the iCloud.com website, you may even be able to do this without an iPhone.

This is a pretty great workaround.

Dropbox still offers some advantages over iCloud sharing. It keeps a Time Machine-like history of the revisions you make to your files, for example. But for people with simpler needs, or folks who just don’t like the Dropbox app running on their Mac, iCloud Drive can finally take its place.