About a year and a half ago Apple revealed iCloud — its cross device syncing solution. With iCloud we were supposed to be able to easily sync and edit documents on all of our devices. While iCloud has lived up to this promise in many regards, iCloud document syncing is different from other syncing solutions in that it does away with the traditional file / folder paradigm and stores documents “in the app.” While this approach works well most of the time, other times, it is nice to manage documents and folders outside of iCloud’s in app interface.
That is where Cloud Mate comes in. It’s well known that you can manage iCloud documents from the Mobile Documents folder hidden away in the Library folder, and there are also free options like Plain Cloud that clean up the messy file names you find in the Mobile Documents folder. So what does Cloud Mate add that theses other solutions don’t have? Read on to find out and see if Cloud Mate can solve your iCloud document management needs.
Cloud Mate Does iCloud Document Management Cleaner and Better
I don’t know about you, but the Mobile Documents folder drives me crazy. Because iCloud stores documents by app, there are separate folders for each app that you have enabled iCloud on, but the app names are accompanied by a bunch of iCloud mumbo jumbo that makes the folder hard to navigate.
You can do a lot of document management using the Mobile Documents folder. For example, if you have a Keynote or Power Point file you want to move into iCloud, you can move or copy that file from its current place in your file system into the Keynote folder in Mobile Documents without having to open Keynote. Similarly, you can open text files in TextEdit you have stored in iCloud via iAWriter’s folders in the Mobile Documents folder.
Cloud Mate allows you to do all this and more in a much cleaner interface, where you won’t be pulling your hair out trying to figure out what everything is. Managing iCloud documents not only looks better in Cloud Mate, it is also much easier. Individual app folders are easier to find and performing basic functions are simply easier and faster due to the improved interface. Here’s a video to see how it works.
Remember that Cloud Mate is only helpful for iCloud documents, not databases. For example, the Notes app uses a database, so individual notes are not visible in Cloud Mate.
Okay, I’m Convinced It’s Prettier, but Does It Add Any Functionality?
Yes. Cloud Mate does add a couple of pretty cool features that go beyond making iCloud document management less cringe inducing. First, with Cloud Mate you can see into Photo Stream without opening iPhoto. So that photo you took on your iPad is a little easier to get to and share on your Mac—especially if you have a big iPhoto library that takes a while to load.
Another cool feature that Cloud Mate provides are the Move to iCloud and Copy to iCloud services. With these services, right clicking on any file, then going to the Services drop down menu and selecting Copy to iCloud or Move to iCloud will launch an interface in Cloud Mate to confirm which app you want to move the file to.
Remember to enable the Cloud Mate services in the Keyboard preferences pane in the Keyboard Shortcuts window. Enable the services by checking the appropriate boxes under Services.
What if you need advanced Finder features for an iCloud file? Say you need to open a file in another app, Cloud Mate can help out here too. Just go to File and then Add iCloud to Finder and Cloud Mate will “mount” iCloud into Finder and give you all of options for files that are found in Finder, while maintaining Cloud Mate’s clean interface.
Finally, Cloud Mate integrates with Mountain Lion’s Notification center to notify you of when changes are made to iCloud files or databases. In truth, I found this to be more of an annoyance than a feature because I regularly use apps that sync with iCloud and the constant updates were a little too much for me.
Cloud Mate’s price tag is justified if you often find yourself rummaging through the Mobile Documents folder and getting frustrated at the experience. For me, the best part of using Cloud Mate is the clean interface for managing files in iCloud. I also found the additional functionality useful. In my case, the Open in iCloud and Move to iCloud services came in handy as a quick way to get presentations into Keynote for presenting on the iPad.
What about you? How do you feel about how iCloud manages documents and sync? Could you find an app like Cloud Mate useful? Let us know in the comments.