One Downloads Folder across iOS, iPadOS and macOS?

I’d like to make one downloads folder across all my devices. During review of emails or searching the web on macOS, I’ll put a PDF or something else in Downloads. Later I may want to access it (or clean out Downloads) while on the iPad.

I’d like to link the iCloud Downloads and the macOS default Downloads folder. Right now it seems I’d have to:

  1. Change the default downloads in Safari, Brave and any other browsers to iCloud’s Download’s folder
  2. Change Mail’s default download location to iCloud Download’s folder.
  3. Do the whole ⌘-I (get info), copy macOS’s .ico picture, and paste it on the iCloud folder’s .ico picture
  4. Remove the macOSs’ Macintosh HD’s Download folder from the sidebar and the dock and replace it with iCloud’s
  5. Found this on to link the folders. This might get rid of the need to individually redirect the browser and Mail download behaviors.
sudo rm ~/Downloads; ln -s ~/Library/Mobile\ Documents/com~apple~CloudDocs/Downloads/ ~/Downloads

Seems like this should be easier. Is there something I’m missing?


On my old Macbook Air I had a 128 GB SSD which was constantly running out of storage, so I decided to redirect downloads to a folder on a permanently-plugged-in SD card. Did this using Automator and a workflow that moved anything that entered the Downloads folder to another specified folder. Seems like the least destructive method to me.

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Yeah, I’m looking in my com~Apple~CloudDrive folder and there are much fewer things listed in Terminal than I can find when using Finder. I feel like I’m tinkering with something I don’t really understand.

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iCloud in Finder has always kind of confused me. Looking at it through the terminal always clears it up because I think Finder obscures the actual paths of where iCloud things are stored.

But yeah, if you use an Automator workflow or something to that effect you can automatically move anything that enters ~/Downloads to your iCloud Downloads folder. That should (hopefully) solve your problem.

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When it comes to the folders behind the scenes for iCloud, in my opinion, thar be dragons.
If it were me, I would just create a Downloads folder in Documents, which if I’m not mistaken syncs across devices.
You could also set up your own sync using ResilioSync which has worked well for me for a couple of years


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This would work on macOS and you could us Hazel for the same thing, but what about IOS or iPadOS?

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I just make it a point to save downloads into the appropriate folder on iOS and iPadOS. Not too inconvenient for me since I’m not downloading a ton of stuff. But I would be curious if there’s a better way, perhaps using Shortcuts?

As to the macOS solution I have used both Keyboard Maestro and Hazel to move files from my local downloads to my iCloud downloads folder. Saves me from having to set apps preferences individually.


If you wanted to use the iCloud Downloads folder, I believe things download there by default on i(Pad)OS. If you wanted to use a different folder, I think you could probably set up another Automator/Hazel automation on macOS to move things that enter the iCloud Downloads folder into your specified folder. There may be a cleaner way than that depending on where the specified folder is stored but that’s what I’ve got off the top of my head.

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