Apple greatly enhanced consumer support when it introduced iCloud Drive as an extended way to back up files like photos, audio files, videos and documents, accompanied by a standalone app for greater accessibility and improved file management. In order to understand the magnitude of this added feature, it is important to understand how iCloud Drive functions in accordance with other files and services that are backed up using iCloud. iCloud Drive is like Dropbox for your Mac. You can store a diverse range of files, such as photos, documents, videos, and audio files and access them from your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or web browser. As you can see in the diagram above, iCloud Drive represents another second level access point for files created using iWork and iMovie, but distinct from iCloud support for Photos, Notes, and Mail.
How do you access iCloud Drive?
You can access iCloud Drive several ways. You can choose to allow access to iCloud Drive on your iOS devices by going to Settings, iCloud, iCloud Drive, and selecting "Show on Home Screen." You will then be able to use the iCloud Drive app to access all files and folders set up by default by Apple or by third party developers, as well as any folders you choose to set up on your own.
You can also access iCloud Drive on your Mac or by logging into iCloud using a browser. These two options will enable you to customize and manage files in a more proficient and accessible way. For example, let's suppose that I have run out of space on my iPhone for storing photos. I have already employed the option to optimize photos, but I'm still running out of space. I can choose to move a signficant number of my photos currently stored in my camera roll and backed up by iCloud, and transfer them to iCloud Drive. Basically, since iCloud Drive is distinct from iCloud for Photos, you can safely delete photos from your iPhone without running the risk of losing them. This is a fairly simple process. If you choose the option to log into iCloud using a browser, you can set up a new folder and begin importing photos directly from your computer (or if you have a Mac) directly from the Photos app as seen below.
With iCloud Drive file management is a breeze. Inside iCloud Drive, you can share individual files to third party apps or import files into native apps like iMovie. You can also import files from iCloud Drive directly from Apple's native apps like iMovie, Pages, Keynote, and Numbers, as well as third party apps like Pixelmator and Graphic. Each year, iCloud integration is further enhanced, providing better continuity and ease of use across all computers and devices. iCloud Drive has become the central locus for managing your storage needs.
Article by Timothy Paul Brown, Senior Editor for My Apple Podcast