Is there a way to fix iCloud sync issue once and for all

I am really sick of iCloud sync issues. There is no shortage of mention in this forum of issues regarding iMessage, books, photos, not sync between devices

For me, I have all these issues but most annoying is that my M1 MBP is not seeing files on iCloud that my iPad and other Mac can see. Apart from throwing the MBP out of the window , or reinstalling the MBP from factory setting, what else can I do to make it work.

I have also reboot numerous times but still having the same issue. Appreciate any help to keep my sanity


A quick search of Howard Oakley’s site turned up this and this. There may be other relevant articles.

Also, I think* I’ve read that turning iCloud off and then back on may jolt it into working again. I suppose you’d have to try this on each device in turn.

*Can someone verify this please?

1 Like

very helpful indeed, will try that. Appreciate this very much

Try all the tricks, but know that sometimes nothing will work. I’m sure you’ve seen my post about the 842 days it took me to get my iCloud problem solved. I was told by Apple early in 2021 that it was “a known problem” and that a fix would be coming “in the future”. That future turned out to be macOS 12.3 a year later.


Is there a way for an individual to fix iCloud sync? No.

Apple pays Amazon and Google a lot of money to store iCloud data on their servers. And they are both extremely reliable platforms. Fixing iCloud sync is Apple’s problem to solve.

1 Like

All issues related to iCloud Drive have been solved for me by restarting the offending device (usually one of my Macs).

iCloudStatus is helpful to diagnose stuff, and Cirrus and Beiliff basically do the same but there is not that much that a user can do beyond restarting the device.

Beyond iCloud Drive, CloudKit syncing problems are impossibly frustrating with the stock Apple apps, but it does not seem to happen with other 3rd party apps that use CloudKit (say DEVONthink, Agenda, and all the usual suspects)

Edited to add that it is insulting that Apple services are this weak compared to Google/Microsoft/Dropbox…

1 Like

I’ve had better luck with turning off “optimize storage” on my Macs. I’d rather just leave it on and have all iCloud documents downloaded to my macs. And that’s why I try to go with larger SSD capacities for all my devices

You are correct that there are various tricks to coax iCloud into working when it fails. But the “fix . . . once and for all” is up to Apple. They have been in the cloud business for 22 years and I still can’t rely on iCloud. So I use it only as a last resort.


just to update, I received a tweet from iA Writer that Monterey 12.4 could resolve SOME of the iCloud sync issues that were introduced in 12.0

killall bird in Terminal sometimes helps instead of restarting the device.


In fact this solved a Photos sync I had yesterday!

That advice has been mentioned in several places. Apple Care support reps have suggested that to me more than once. Caution is advised, however, as there can be severe unintended consequences. One of these is with iCloud Photos under certain circumstances.

iCloud Photos can be splendid. Except when a problem occurs. When connection to iCloud is disturbed in any way (perhaps by turning off iCloud), things can go very wrong in specific situations (see below). A post in Allison Sheridan’s blog at explains this completely (link below). Here is an excerpt:

… Some problems require logging out of iCloud and back in again to solve, or at the very least turning it off and on again. Maybe Contacts got corrupted. Maybe iCloud Drive isn’t syncing properly. Maybe you just bump the checkbox for iCloud Photo Library in System Preferences. This is when things can go horribly wrong.

Here’s the problem. On the machine which has the full resolution photos, If that connection to iCloud gets disturbed in any way, the iCloud service will check every single image to see if it’s been synced to and from iCloud. With a normal library, this might cause a check of say 1000 photos or even 5000 photos. But when you’ve got 70,000 photos, this turns into a huge problem.

Photos started downloading originals not showing latest photos any moreWith a 70,000 photo library, and a 100Mbps symmetric FiOS Internet connection, this process of checking every single photo takes around 3 weeks. That means I have to leave my computer on and not asleep 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 3 weeks till it’s done verifying every file. It doesn’t actually take up a lot of bandwidth because it’s just saying, “Have you got this adorable picture of Allison’s grandson wearing rabbit ears and nothing else?” “Yup, got it.” “Ok, next one…”

That wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, except that during this 3 week period, no new photos come down to the Mac, because it’s busy with this tedious task …

The blog post describes a work-around. Turn off iCloud Photos at the top or system level, create a new empty system photo library, switch to that library as the system library, then allow all of your photos to download from iCloud to your Mac. It turns out that forcing a fresh download all of your Photos from iCloud is much faster than allowing iCloud to check photos one-by-one after iCloud Photos sync is disturbed - at least in the situation of a large Photos Library with full-resolution images on your Mac.

My advice: be very careful with disturbing iCloud (turning off iCloud) when you have a very large system Photos Library stored in full resolution (i.e., not “optimized storage”) on your Mac. You may experience a 3-week “dance of doom” with your Photos.

Link to post in podfeet podcasts blog:


killall bird? can you please elaborate?

Per the man page, “bird is one of the system daemons backing the Documents in the Cloud feature.” Killing it will cause it to restart and possibly break the log jam.

There is a related command brctl which understands verbs “diagnose”, “download”, “evict”, “log”, “dump”, “monitor”, and “versions”, which might be worth looking into.


not sure that it was Montery update to 12.4 that fixed iCloud or I now use “download now” on iCloud that I can manually fix the sync issue

I still have out of date sync issues for Obsidian vault on iCloud , the same with Logseq and other apps. At least with the manual download now action, I can force iCloud to be download to my laptop . I just to be patient to wait for the files to be sync.

It seems that some apps do not have this issue (such as Craft Doc), not sure why


killall bird restarts the iCloud syncing engine and often helps clear and restart the queue of the files waiting to be synced.

1 Like

I am absolutely amazed at how weird iCloud has been working for me lately. Every day it stops syncing across all my devices (Photos, Notes, iCloud Drive, Bear, everything) and when I try to login through the browser it gives a server error. Out of nowhere it starts to sync again, but the next day it stops again. It’s driving me crazy and means I can no longer rely on apps that use iCloud for syncing.

Sounds like something more than CloudKit or iCloud Drive problems on Apple’s side of things. Networks issues? Wonky hardware?

I have no clue. I have the issue on different networks and when it happens, it happens on all my devices (M1 MacBook Pro, iPad Pro M1, iPhone 13 Pro). There is no issue with signing into my iCloud account, that works, but syncing goes down almost every day and after a while it will work again :man_shrugging:t3:.

I’ve found that Photos, Notes, and iCloud Drive have always seemed to have a mind of their own. They sync “when they feel like it”. OTOH some apps like Drafts sync almost immediately.

Some people swear by iCloud, others swear at it. It has been, IMO, consistently inconsistent since it was introduced. I use the apps I can live with and non-Apple/iCloud solutions for everything else.

1 Like