I recently wrote about how iCloud is a black hole; how files you save on iCloud are inaccessible from apps others than those which saved them. But it’s good to know that you can, on iOS, delete any files stored on iCloud, even if you no longer have the apps. This is a good thing, because if you’ve tried out an app, and saved files on iCloud, and no longer use it, you may have forgotten to delete its files.
To this, go to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup > Manage Storage. You’ll see a display similar to that in the screenshot at the left. Tap on the name of an app and you’ll see all the files that app has stored on iCloud. As you can see in the screenshot, there’s an icon for TextEdit, which has no equivalent on iOS; all the other apps have iOS versions, but none are installed on the iPhone where I took that screenshot.
When looking at an app’s documents, tap Edit, then tap on the files you want to delete, and they’ll be removed from iCloud immediately. Of course, this deletion is permanent, and applies to all your devices. You’re not just removing a file from your iPhone or iPad, but from iCloud, so don’t delete anything you need.
Note that this only applies to actual documents; you can’t delete data that’s stored by apps in non-document format (using Apple’s Core Data). So, I have a couple dozen apps that use iCloud to store data, but only the handful where I have stored documents that I created show up here.
On the Mac, you can do this by accessing the iCloud pane of System Preferences. Click Manage at the bottom of the window, and you can perform the same operations.
I don’t know when Apple added this storage management section in the iCloud settings, but it suggests that they want to provide users with at least a bit more access to iCloud. Perhaps in the future iCloud won’t be such a black hole.
Update: Dave Mark on The Loop pointed out that this is available on OS X as well; I originally said it wasn’t. It’s interesting; I looked at the Documents & Data section of the iCloud preference pane, and clicked Options, and expected to find the feature there. I recall that the Manage button at the bottom of the window took you previously to a sheet that let you manage your account’s storage amount. So, thanks, Dave, for pointing this out.