Top tips for Mountain Lion: iCloud

Macworld Australia Staff
24 December, 2012
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Whenever a new operating system comes out, Mac users madly scramble around looking for tips and tricks that will make using that OS easier and more efficient. The tips on this post range from basic to advanced, so we hope there’s something here for everyone.


Find iCloud documents via Smart Search

Here’s one way to find your iCloud files: Go to yourusername/Library/Mobile Documentsand type something – anything – in the Finder window’s search field. Make sure Mobile Documents, not This Mac, is selected in the Search bar.

Next, click on the plus-sign button (+), and choose Kind Is Document. Now erase whatever you typed in the search field. All of your iCloud documents should display. Click on Save, and check Add To Sidebar to add this search to your Finder window sidebars.

Switch to iCloud via Open and Save dialogue boxes

For a long time, you’ve been able to access key system folders from an Open or Save dialogue box via shortcuts: c-D for the desktop, c-Shift-H for your home folder, and so on. (The Finder’s Go menu lists the shortcuts.)

Now, a new shortcut lets you jump directly to iCloud, at least in apps that support it: c-Shift-I.
So if you see the folders on your Mac in an Open or Save dialogue box, press this shortcut to go directly to iCloud.

Disable iCloud dialogue boxes

If you use iCloud for some of its features but not to store files, you might want to disable the new Open and Save dialogue boxes that display when you launch iCloud-compatible applications.

To do so, in the iCloud pane in System Preferences, deselect Documents & Data. This deletes all local copies of files you’ve stored on iCloud, but not files in the cloud; you can still access those from other Macs or iOS devices.

Note: Make sure you don’t have any apps that store data on iCloud before you deselect this setting.

Access older versions of iCloud documents

If you use iCloud to store documents, those files are also stored on your Mac and are therefore backed up by Time Machine (if you use that feature). To find an older or deleted version of a file stored in the cloud, display the iCloud pane in any app that supports it. Then click the Time Machine icon in the menu bar and choose Enter Time Machine. This gives you a Time Machine view of the iCloud pane for that app only, and you can find older versions or deleted files.

Send Terminal output to iCloud

Say you want to check the results of a script you run automatically on your Mac. You could remotely connect to the Mac or email yourself the results.

But if you use iCloud, you can also save the output file to iCloud and access it via an iCloud-compatible text editor from another Mac or an iOS device: Send the script output to a file using the path ~/Library/Mobile\ Documents/ com\~apple\~TextEdit/Documents/ filename.txt. So, for example, to save a list of a directory’s contents, you’d use this: ls -al > ~/Library/Mobile\ Documents/ com\~apple\~TextEdit/Documents/list. txt.

That saves a file called list.txt in Text Edit’s Documents folder. Look in yourusername/Library/ Mobile Documents for the paths to other apps that can use iCloud. Each app’s folder in the Mobile Documents folder has a Documents subfolder. Depending on the app, you may be able to access those files from another Mac or an iOS device.

Change default save location

iCloud is the default save location for TextEdit (and other apps that store files on iCloud). You
can’t change this default from within the app’s interface, but you can do it using this Terminal command: defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSDocumentSaveNewDocumentsToCloud -bool false.

This sets the default save location to On My Mac for all of your iCloud-compatible apps. To change it back to the default, run the command again, but this time change the false parameter to true.

Access iCloud files from the Finder

iCloud files are cached on your Mac so that you can open them even without internet access. You can access these files in the Finder, as well as from the application dialogue boxes in the folder yourusername/ Library/Mobile Documents. To access files from the Finder, press c-Shift-G and type that path.

BONUS TIP: Access file path pop-up

Apps that let you store files in iCloud have a nonstandard Open dialogue box: the usual pop- up menu at the top that lets you navigate from your current location is hidden.

In the Open dialogue box, choose On My Mac and you’ll see the name of the application, followed by a dash and the current folder’s name. Just c-click on the folder name to display a pop- up menu showing the current folder’s full path.

There’s no visual clue that this menu is present, but it works the same way as the pop-up menu in standard dialogue boxes.

Each app has a dedicated folder containing its documents. As you add or remove files from these folders, they are automatically added to or removed from iCloud.

When you go into that folder, it’s as if you’re accessing iCloud itself: The iCloud icon appears in the Finder title and path bars. If you move a file from one of these folders to the Trash, a dialogue box informs you that this also deletes the file from iCloud and prompts you for confirmation.

Add files to these folders and they’re added to iCloud. If you don’t have internet access, new documents will be sent to iCloud the next time you connect.

This can be handy if you’ve created a file in one app and you want to open it in another app that doesn’t support iCloud.

Say you created a file in TextEdit and want to open it in Microsoft Word. You could open the document from iCloud with TextEdit, and then save it to your Mac and open it again in Word. But if you want to keep the file on iCloud, it’s easier to open it directly from the Mobile Documents folder with Word.

Another way to find iCloud documents

Here’s another way to access iCloud documents: Click All My Files in the Finder sidebar. All your files will show up in the order you’ve specified in the Arrange By option, whether they’re on your Mac or on iCloud. If you select an iCloud document, the path bar will again tell you that its location is simply iCloud. (If All My Files isn’t in the Finder sidebar, add it in the Finder’s preferences.)

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