iCloud for Mac is stuck on "waiting to upload"

This has been a bug for a while now on Mac OS. When you sync your desktop/documents folders with iCloud at random moments it gets stuck and never finish uploading. The folder says "waiting to upload" indefinitely. I notice it happens more often when you do a git commit on a folder that is synced with iCloud.

Are there any work around for that?
  • Having the same problem. Won't sync either way and only says 'waiting to upload'. Using macOS Catalina.

  • I have also noticed this behaviour since upgrading my 2015 MBP to Big Sur. Prior to Big Sur I did not notice this behaviour. That said, one thing different for me from others in this forum reporting this problem is that the only folder this is occurring on with me is not one synced to Git. Instead it is one linked to my Fujitsu scanner that is setup to automatically deposit pdf files into this folder once they are scanned. Prior to Big Sur these files would immediately begin synching to iCloud the second that they were created by the scanner software. the latest update before the problem started occurring was MacOS 11.4.

    To work around problem, I noticed that any edit (to the file that fails to upload) will solve the problem. (E.g. a CMD-C and CMD-P forces not only the copy but the original to upload; A name change will force the file to upload; adding a tag to the file will force it to upload, etc.) I also noticed that if I use a python script to place a file in the folder, or I use the command line MV command to place a file in this folder - the problem does not occur and the file uploads fine. Thus I am tempted to hypothesize that the cause of this issue is a change in 11.4 that perhaps deprecated or broke an indexing function of the file system who's job it is to mark files that have changed for upload. The Git repo process and the Fujitsu sync process may be using an API call that is now no longer triggering the file to be marked for synch. Whatever the case - it is clearly a bug and it is sad that FruitCo developers are not paying any attention to their own developer forum when a topic has 19K upvotes. Wake up Fruiters!

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I'm in the same situation. Right now my iMac is not syncing to other devices.
I have the exact same situation: iCloud with sync for my Desktop/Document folders and regular git usage. The upload is stuck. I called Apple Support. First stop was iCloud support, who said it seems to be a MacOS issue. I was forwarded to MacOS support, who said that it needs to be upgraded. I got Andrew, a senior support person in MacOS, who spent 3 hours with me, gathering various diagnostic information. He will be upgrading it to the engineering team. I will update what happens after talking to them.
  • Any updates to this?

  • Sorta makes the cloud claim fall apart, doesn't it? It doesn't feel like a cloud at all. It feels like a poorly implemented syncing system.

    I think iSporadicallySync might be a more descriptive name for the experience users have waiting for data to spastically heave itself around Apple's wobbly ecosystem.

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Any updates on this? I just got my new M1 Macbook Air with Big Sur and I am also experiencing this issue. Cannot get my iCloud Desktop and Documents to sync in any direction.
I'm in the same situation. Created some documents and saved to iCloud, but it still says waiting .... any clues?
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I'm having the same issue with my new M1 MacBook Air. Desktop and Documents doesn't sync, at all and most other documents in iCloud aren't available in finder. what gives?
Looks like this problem is widespread. And still hasn't been figured out by Apple going on months. Got my 13" M1 MBP Wednesday and no matter what I do, it just won't sync files to iCloud (I tried all the stuff they take you through). Friend of mine has the M1 Air...same exact issues, completely different ISP.

Over the last few years, I've trusted iCloud to store my production files. And even though I did plenty of backups before this test, it looks like the M1 is going to be a $2K test machine. Like many of you, I'm going to watch them work out the bugs and hopefully do so before they release their flame thrower 16" next year. I want to love this chip, but the last 2 days have been a bumpy ride or crashes (photos, Photoshop Beta, Creative Cloud--crash crash crash) here and there and some questionable performance/flickering connected to my BenQ monitor. A couple times Safari wouldn't come back after minimizing and I have to open a new window.

I'm keeping track of everything to report in. Hope you guys are having a better experience other than the iCloud sync.
My 15" MBP is standing by for the real work until all this smoothes out.

This just started happening to me (or maybe it was happening all along and I didn't notice), but I was trying to backup a Final Cut Pro library to my iCloud Drive, and waited days with no data actually being transmitted. Watched the activity monitor. Turned iCloud Drive, desktop/documents on and off. Tried to move a file from my other MacBook to the same iCloud Drive and now nothing will sync. The only thing I touched was the "optimize Mac storage" I turned it off, because I noticed it was downloading stuff to my local machine that I didn't want there, I wanted it kept up in the cloud storage, so I figured I would just manage it manage by using right-click "remove download". That is when I noticed this happened. So I put it back to default, turned iCloud off and on again, and still it's stuck. Paying for 2TB of data that I can't use!
I also experienced the problem with storing some git repositories on iCloud Drive. I call these files "ghost" files because the cloud icon is drawn with a dashed line. According to Apple these are files that are waiting to be uploaded to iCloud Drive.

Here's what solves it for me though I am still researching a way to resolve it programmatically - i.e. navigating through the file system to detect these ghost files and then perform my process to get them uploaded.

On the Mac I simply use Finder and navigate to the folder containing the ghost file that is waiting to upload. I right click and select the Compress command to create a .zip file of that ghost file. In only one case this was enough to trigger the uploading of the original since the ghost icon disappeared. In every other case it was not enough.

In these other cases I would wait until the cloud outline disappears from the zip version of the original file - indicating it's been synced to iCloud Drive on the server. Then I delete the ghost file. Finally I unzip the zip file and it recreates the ghost file and nearly every time it syncs to iCloud Drive. If the zip file doesn't sync after a few seconds you could delete it and try it again. I had to do this once.

If you want to be even more cautious you can unzip the compressed file and then check the contents against the ghost file. Once confirmed they match then just delete the original file as well as the .zip file and then rename the uncompressed one since it will have a " 2' added to the name.

I've now done this about 40 times over the past few days while doing a lot of git repository synchronizations. It's a pain but it's never not worked.

The real solution would be a utility script that could look for these ghost files in a hierarchy, like via the "find ." command, and then trigger this zip process. Unfortunately it would have to wait to conduct a second pass to make sure all the zip files have been uploaded before it would delete the problem files and then unzip the backups. Finally, it would have to do a third pass to confirm all the unzipped replacement files have been synced to iCloud Drive.

  • This worked for me. Thanks!

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ditto, many many files stuck on waiting to upload. But I don't have a new one, I have a 2014 MacBook Air. So I think it's to do with the OS rather than the machine.
Same problem here my 2020 Mac Mini M1. I've logged out of and logging back into my Apple ID account (multiple times). I've disabled and re-enabled my iCloud Drive (multiple times). I've even reinstalled macOS Big Sur. Two weeks ago I spent an hour + via Apple Care chat with no resolution. I'm convinced it's a software issue affecting certain Macs. I hope Apple finds a fix and soon. It's frustrating as hell that I can upload documents or see my iCloud Drive docs from my other devices.
I am also facing the same issue and can't believe that it's a bug and apple would have allowed to stay there for so long. I think there's a config issue or something common between us which we have not yet discovered. I use a 2012 iMac. Let's check other common things.
I finally figured out a solution to this! It's annoying to do, but if you compress (zip) the folders/files that are stuck, it seems to kick the icloud upload into activation. You have to start at the lowest level of the folder that's in limbo, so for example:

if Master Folder contains Subfolder, compress Subfolder and delete the expanded folder. iCloud should start to actively upload the compressed folder. Once completed, you can expand the zipped folder again, it will upload, and you can delete the compressed version. Then repeat the process for Master Folder. The deeper your folder structure goes for the files that are stuck, the longer this process takes, but at least it gets that "waiting to upload" notification to go away!
  • Fantastic, this actually works. Thanks so much bagelbite


  • solution works, thanks!

Thanks bagelbite!! That did the trick for me!!
I have the same problem: iCloud Drive for Mac is stuck on "waiting to upload", not only on Documents or Desktop folders. My Mac is an Intel MacbookPro (not M1!) from 2019 (16 inch). OS: Big Sur (11.2.3).

So I was facing the same issues. Make sure you update you OS. Restart. go to system preferences and toggle iCloud and resend all the file restart your computer this should do the trick.
  • This does work; i've completed the cycle one. BUT. This is a big step; essentially all files and folders in Documents and Desktop are deleted; then restored from iCloud; which takes many hours. Surely files in Documents that are 'waiting to upload' will be lost as they are not already backed up to iCloud

  • This would take days to execute, not a workable solution

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