OS X Mountain Lion: Using iCloud as smart, automated way to store documents

“In OS X Mountain Lion, iCloud begins to take shape as the smart, automated way to store documents on a per-app, device independent basis, incrementally displacing the local file system that non-technical users have long struggled to comprehend and replacing it with a cloud-based service that connects and synchronizes desktop and mobile devices via the Internet,” Daniel Eran Dilger reports for AppleInsider.

Dilger reports, “Seven years ago, speaking at the ‘All Things Digital’ conference in 2005, Stev Jobs noted that ‘in every user interface study we’ve ever done,” Apple found that ‘it’s pretty easy to learn how to use these things until you hit the file system and then the learning curve goes vertical. So you ask yourself, why is the file system the face of the OS? Wouldn’t it be better if there was a better way to find stuff?’ Jobs then contrasted the conventional OS-level file system for managing documents on a computer to an email application, explaining that ‘there’s always been a better way to find stuff. You don’t keep your e-mail on your file system, right? The app manages it. And that was the breakthrough, as an example, in iTunes,’ Jobs stated.”

Dilger reports, “With iCloud, end users don’t have to think about where those individual media or app files are stored or how, any more than they have to worry about the precise changes in voltage or magnetic fields that store the bits that represent the data in those files… The big new iCloud feature in Mountain Lion, however, is completed support for Documents in the Cloud, the foundational network architecture that erases users’ dependance upon manually managing documents in the file system.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. “You don’t keep your e-mail on your file system, right? The app manages it. And that was the breakthrough, as an example, in iTunes,’ Jobs stated.”
    He was wrong. Many of us keep e-mail correspondence locally stored. Furthermore, I do not wish or trust backup to ‘the cloud’ without local storage.

    We simultaneously see ISPs squeezing down data caps on users and Apple is marching the opposite direction- streaming movies on the Apple TV, pushing all to it’s iCloud servers, pushing huge software packages to download.

    There will be a tipping point where the capacity of the internet will be eaten up with all this unnecessary load.

    Next, I understand the file system and DO NOT want it hidden. I shouldn’t have to buy an app to make ‘invisible’ files visible. Maybe it was Steve Jobs wet dream to hide the file system and seal every HW case into a non-user upgradeable device destined for the landfill, but I DO NOT.

    1. You are confusing the local file system with local file storage. iCloud does not force your documents into the cloud instead of the local device, but in addition to it for the purpose of backup and syncing to other devices.

      1. 1st Paragraph:
        “In OS X Mountain Lion, iCloud begins to take shape as the smart, automated way to store documents on a per-app, device independent basis, incrementally DISPLACING THE LOCAL FILE SYSTEM that non-technical users have long struggled to comprehend and REPLACING IT with a cloud-based service that connects and synchronizes desktop and mobile devices via the Internet,” Daniel Eran Dilger reports for AppleInsider.”

        The direction Apple is moving is essentially a thin client model dependent upon iCloud or other service as a file host. More iOS-ification BS. Apple is taking the best desktop OS ever developed and turning it into a Fisher-Price version for the terminally stupid, clueless and lazy.

        Note the term ‘incrementally’.

        1. Oh shut up.

          Fisher-Price? Really?

          Your DOCUMENTS folder in the HOME folder may very well be synchronized with iCloud, but we are notorious for being contrary. We create folders everywhere, containing everything, and we don’t back up!

          Microsoft’s Office 365 will provide an alternative to iCloud. Go over there if you don’t like the direction Apple is going.

          I happen to like what they did for my music library. If that same process is the focal point of documents then I’m interested in a dialogue with Apple. The only thing standing between you and Apple is the developers and since you are neither, all you do is create a climate of fear. It’s in your goddamn name!

          Microsoft is getting ready to unleash subscription-based Office for a billion people and they already have 60-million default subscribers who will be the guinea pigs for what will prove to be the tech world’s biggest PR disaster.

          Windows 8 will coincide with the Office 365 release, causing major confusion in the market. Surface and ARM and Touch and Stylus and documents and markup and subscriptions is going to make for a extremely busy support system.

          Ambitious? You ain’t seen nothing yet. Microsoft is going to drag its consumers kicking and screaming into the world of Touch. In fact, I’ll wager that twenty-percent of its consumers who believe the big blue E is the internet will also think they’re going to be getting Touch capability when they buy Windows 8!

          I think most of us here are in the right camp. You, not so much. You denigrate Apple, but you offer no solutions of your own. In other words, your on your own and it sounds like your not having any fun.

          Go AAPL!

    2. Good job missing the whole point.
      Do you use an e-mail client to manage your offline stored messages?
      Or do you download messages individually from your POP or IMAP server, save them in text files and organize them in directories manually?

      1. You missed my point.
        I do not RELY on cloud servers for backup- nor do I wish to be dependent upon Apple or anyone else for this function. That is the direction Apple is moving toward as a money making feature.
        1- Move files to iCloud, free at first to get people adapted and used to the idea.
        2- Remove local storage so that low information users are herded toward iCloud.
        3- Start charging people for access to their own files via a service fee.

        Of course there are alternatives and ways around it, but Apple is setting up it’s base to be milked like a cow.

        Store on a HD- you own your data. Store on the cloud- someone else owns your data.

        1. Apple won’t start charging for iCloud. More storage capacity, perhaps, but they won’t eliminate local storage and then charge for iCloud storage.

          Apple wants you to not only be hooked on its devices, but hooked on iCloud (for which you need Apple devices). That way you become hooked/dependent upon the Apple system, unless your want to make a wholesale change in how you store/access information (we’re talking 10 years down the road here).

          iCloud isn’t a money-generating service. It’s the final connector to getting people to buy iPhones, iPods, iPads, AppleTVs and Macs so everything is integrated and your data is accessible from anywhere.

    3. Hmmm,,, well, I would say YES… and NO..

      While I like that Apple tries to make things simple, sometimes we want to keep things complex but straight forward.

      I like to keep things in file folders because I tend to use off the wall file names and do not list properties to help find stuff. I keep things where they belong. So I have tons of folders on the desk top…. cause that is where I work. So keeping the old format as an option makes sense.
      We do not complain about a Hard drive that is not openable to repair the drive head???? So I think there are things that need to be simplified. Like the battery not being user repairable in the new MPB retina . You swap out the cover and battery at the Apple store. Its quick and easy. Apple swaps out the battery at the factory with a cleaned cover and puts the whole assembly back in stock.

      Some things do not make sense….. But I will say that overall, Apple has been pretty good about doing it right.

    4. It’s a numbers game. How many iPhones, iPods and iPads have been sold, and are going to be sold? How many OSX machines in that same time? How many users are ‘power’ or ‘pro’ compared to the untutored masses of Joe and Jane Publics using iOS.

      I’m sure Apple would love to be all things to all people, but in this new world there is no doubt where the growth, and their future, lies.

      So, PAP, what you want, sadly, don’t amount to a hill o’ beans.

      1. I have no problem with Apple extending the OS to offer users the cloud as fully integrated as Apple can make it. What I object is Apple FORCING THIS DOWN PEOPLE’S THROATS.

        Of course Apple will tell you that with some arcane keystroke combination unlisted in any manual you can regain what was previously included in the OS through the GUI. Kind of like Apple’s BS Firewall- lamed up and dumbed down a couple of years ago.

        There is a happy medium between all CLI and a iOS prison for the terminally inept.

            1. Nobody is forcing anything down anybody’s throat; well, except for you and your opinion.
              You obviously work under the principle of; “when I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you”
              And stop shouting.

        1. Dude nobody’s forcing anything. If you don’t like the product, then don’t use it. Similarly, I wouldn’t say that Google is forcing conversation view in their email down our throats–rather, if I don’t like conversation view, then I turn it off or I SIMPLY SWITCH TO ANOTHER PRODUCT. Wow. Are you always this retarded?

    5. EXCELLENT comment and on-target observation revealing Apple’s motives. But… you are going to get flamed around here because MDN and its faithful contributors will insist that you take your place among the Apple/Jobs lemmings and just accept what they want to do with YOUR life. Otherwise, you will be, among other things, an idiot, a fool, a nut, and most of all, a dreadful troll. You are not allowed to have an opinion or point out any alternative to what Apple and the legacy of Steve Jobs wants.

    6. “There will be a tipping point where the capacity of the internet will be eaten up with all this unnecessary load.”

      I believe your analysis is based on a static view of the world. The capacity of the internet can grow very rapidly in a short period if there is a demand for it (and a profit to be earned by service providers). The very rapid buildout of web infrastructure 10-15 years ago proves that.

      The question is how USERS want to manage their data. Locally, or in the cloud?

      To date, those supporting the iCloud have not explained the advantages of their technology in a persuasive way or provided an operating system that integrates it. Let’s hope Mountain Lion accomplishes that.

    7. I don’t see how iCloud forces you to abandon the local file system. You’re free to opt out of iCloud if you don’t wish to use it. It augments online backup, if you wish to use it as such. It helps me to synchronize all of my contacts, email, calendar, reminders, iBooks bookmarks and whatever else you want it to. You can check or uncheck the options as you see fit. I use it and wouldn’t do without it. It helps to keep my life organized.

    8. The iCloud preferences panel gives you the freedom to choose what is backed up to the Cloud. You simply check the box and it’s backed up to the Cloud. Eazy Peezy.

      Calendars & Reminders
      Photo Stream
      Documents & Data
      Back to My Mac
      Find My Mac

      So why are you getting all worked up?

  2. icloud and dropbox are nice, but the file system is not going away. there are normal non-techie things i do that require a file system, like sending in my FSA claims to ADP

    1. The file system will never go away, Apple is just going to take away your GUI level access to it. Now see, you really didn’t want to see the man behind the curtain, did you?

      1. icloud is missing this cool feature that dropbox has of saving every copy of a document. say you delete the content and save something. you just lost your work. with dropbox you can go to the website, open up the gasp….. file system via a browser and restore your last save

      2. or another annoying feature of icloud is you can only open documents from a program that created that document. like i cant use pages on my iphone to open a basic text document from another app that also uses icloud

  3. The file system is mostly symbolic in a GUI anyway. But they can’t get rid of the finder until they have a better finder. What Steve was saying that the application should be optimized to handle files in a way the generalized finder just doesn’t know how to do.

    I would say thought that I would LOVE emails to be discoverable and searchable by more than the email application.

  4. Yes, fine. No file system. But what about apps that don’t play with iCloud? What am I to do with all those other, non-Apple files? PDFs, specialty software files. Do we just give up our need for them? Apple is forcing me to split myself between their apps and other apps. It just don’t work, not at the moment. If iCloud allows all files to be uploaded then maybe it would work. Not now.

    1. I agree. For my personal Mac/Mobile apps, iCloud keeps them safe and synced. For desktop sharing I have a local or cloud server with a file system.
      But what is Apple’s solution for ‘sharing’ documents with more than one person on desktop and mobile?

  5. There is nothing difficult about learning a file system. It is the method in which it is taught that is confusing. If you leave customization to the tinkerers, it is no more difficult to comprehend than all this talk about cloud storage. It would be very much a mistake to trust iCloud or any other cloud storage solution as the god system. Having apps default to their own local storage, and having a document centric approach to the default view would make it very easy to learn for newbies. Of course, being a default does no good if one can’t customizer a view.

    Apple should just buy Path Finder and clean it up as the Finder of the future. I like their approach a lot except for the fact that it is not a true Finder replacement. It certainly packs the tools that power users crave while allowing for much more flexibility than the current Apple offering.

    1. Thank you tbone.
      People get a computer and put absolutely no energy or effort into actually learning how to use the thing.
      Are we saying that people that navigate the US tax system every year cannot fathom files and folders??
      The Finder, tho’ flawed, provides a perfectly adequate way of saving files into folders and finding them later, with Spotlight if necessary.

  6. For a casual user of “computers” the iCloud or in-app storage of files is just fine.

    But; when you have large projects with dozens or hundreds of files in a dozen formats, you want a project centered system.

    Creating a file in one application may need data from 6 other applications & Windows apps in order to get the number data, images, research articles, US Gov data, etc.

    Then archiving &/or transporting all those files for the project means having them all in one spot.

    Different people, different strokes.

  7. didn’t we just hear how Apple’s in-app purchasing was hacked? If companies can’t even trust their revenue mechanisms, why on earth would a user entrust his data to a 3rd party? Why become a renter of someone else’s servers when you can set up your own secure server easier than ever today?

    comparing email service and iCloud is akin to comparing bananas and oranges. smart users choose to manage security-critical email by locally storing it and locally encrypting it BEFORE it gets sent onto the internets. data protection is serious business, especially when you’re handling client data.

    clouds just promise you that all will be well, your friendly overlord will encrypt things and securely store them for you, trust him. Just go ahead and hand it over, the magic of computing will do it all. I don’t buy it.

    1. At the end of the day, Mike, you’ll use the Cloud or not.

      Microsoft will offer the cloud service at the end of October that works exclusively with Office. Mac users won’t be getting Office because Microsoft doesn’t care anymore and Jobs is dead, so all bets are off.

      There will be two major camps for productivity, which side are you on?

      1. Microsoft has not developed the Mac suite in tandem with the PC version for a number of reasons including the fact that the Mac BU is a separate division, location, etc.

        I doubt seriously that Office:Mac is going anywhere.

        As the owner of both iWork and Office, I assure you that Apple has serious work to do and we all saw that train wreck that was iWork.com.

        1. “I doubt seriously that Office:Mac is going anywhere.”

          What does that mean, seriously? The Mac version is dead in the water, what?

          I say dead. I say Microsoft is tired of listening to how darling Apple is, and they want to turn the clock back to a time when Office was the third-leg of your day.

          Steve Ballmer is sick and tired of fielding questions about Apple products. He wants to stomp Apple so badly, but the EU is watching.

          Come October, it will be the Europeans (the Brits and the Aussie Mac users) to cry foul first and demand equity and the Union is listening.

          Mac users are going to do what they’ve always done. What ever.

          My ML control panel for iCloud hasn’t changed since Lion. So all your whining is a bit chicken little.

          1. Some of us work for reasons beyond money. I work in healthcare and serving the sick and injured is work that is necessary and vital. There are few jobs that give the satisfaction of helping and seeing people get well and resuming their lives.

  8. If “non-technical” Mac useres are still struggling to comprehend the Mac file system, this pretty much proves how retarded most people really are.

    1. File systems have been the bane of our existence since Day One.

      We create a lot of stuff but we can’t put it away until we give it a name. In thirty-years, I’ve seen all manner of filing systems but it would seem the most popular filing system is to just put it on the desktop.

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