How to take best advantage of iCloud Desktop and Documents across Macs

Gordon Potter has considered using iCloud Desktop and Documents, a macOS Sierra feature that both syncs and selectively archives less-used files to free up storage, retrieving them on demand as needed. But, he writes:

I am very cautious of trying this unless I am certain there is a way to backup out or leave. What I have read seems to say once I create/use this iCloud system, there is no obvious way out.

This is a reasonable degree of concern. Gordon wonders in particular:

  1. Does it sync across Macs registered to the same iCloud account and, if so, can he select what syncs?
  2. How to stop using it and revert to normal?
  3. He and his wife have separate Apple IDs and use Family Sharing: does this sync help with exchanging files between them?

And the answers:

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