Archive for October 26, 2014

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Yosemite Uploads Unsaved Documents and Recent Addresses to iCloud

Jeffrey Paul (via Rui Carmo):

Presumably to support Continuity, current document state is no longer only saved locally - those in-progress (not yet explicitly “saved”) documents live in iCloud Drive, so that they can be opened on other devices without ever having to hit “save”. This is useful, however, all of my previous open files have now been synchronized to Apple servers.


Apple has taken local files on my computer not stored in iCloud and silently and without my permission uploaded them to their servers - across all applications, Apple and otherwise.

I don’t think it’s at all obvious that the system would copy the Saved Application State folder to iCloud. Many of the applications don’t even have iOS counterparts. I have not tested this, but I’m guessing you could prevent this by unchecking “Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices” in the General tab of System Preferences.


Check out ~/Library/Containers/ It would appear that iCloud is synchronizing all of the email addresses of people you correspond with, even for non-iCloud accounts, to their recent addresses service. This means that names and email addresses that are not in iCloud contacts, not synchronized to your device, and only available in an IMAP-accessed inbox are now being sent to Apple, silently.

I’m not sure how to turn that off.

Update (2014-10-26): Landon Fuller has a traffic log.

Thinking about this some more, I’m not sure that Paul is correct about the unsaved data being uploaded because of the new Continuity/Handoff feature in Yosemite. It think this is part of the older Documents in the Cloud feature, as mentioned by Dmitry in the comments. It looks like Handoff, as expected, uses a more direct method of transferring the files.

If that’s the case, the preference mentioned above is the wrong one. To turn off auto-uploading of unsaved data, you would need to uncheck the particular application in the iCloud Drive section of the iCloud tab of System Preferences. This would prevent you from using that application’s container (rather than the global iCloud Drive) with iCloud. In other words, I don’t think there’s a way to explicitly upload saved documents without having the system implicitly upload unsaved documents. Pre-Yosemite, there is no application-level control, so you would need to turn off Documents & Data entirely.

Regarding the e-mail address list, I found a disclosure on Mail’s help page:

If you use iCloud Contacts, your Previous Recipients list is available on your other Mac computers (with OS X v10.8 or later) and iOS devices (with iOS 6 or later) that have iCloud Contacts turned on.

So there does not seem to be a way to opt out of storing all your addresses unless you also opt out of syncing your address book with iCloud.

Update (2014-10-28): It looks like there is a way to save certain documents to iCloud without having new documents automatically auto-saved there. As Philippe notes in the comments, you can use the Lion-era NSDocumentSaveNewDocumentsToCloud hidden preference, which changes the default location for new documents:

defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSDocumentSaveNewDocumentsToCloud -bool false

In conclusion, I don’t think there’s anything new here with Yosemite. Apple seems to be providing the options that they should, although I would argue that the default behavior should be not to upload user data without asking. I think the main problem is that the OS doesn’t explain what it’s doing and, as a result, few people seem to understand how the iCloud features work and interact. The vast majority of users don’t know that when you click the box to enable iCloud—which you pretty much have to do these days—that this is one of the results.

Update (2014-11-06): Some readers coming from Macworld asked for a summary, i.e. which settings give which results. My advice:

  1. If you want every document to be saved (and auto-saved) to iCloud, use the default settings.
  2. If you never want any documents saved to iCloud, turn off iCloud Drive in System Preferences.
  3. If you want to use iCloud Drive, but only for those documents that you specifically choose to save there, to enter this command in Terminal:
    defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSDocumentSaveNewDocumentsToCloud -bool false