Top 11 Tips and Tricks for Using Microsoft OneDrive

OneDrive for Business Screenshot
OneDrive in the browser

What’s Microsoft OneDrive?

Although it wasn’t called ‘cloud storage’ the first concept of cloud storage was developed in 1983 by CompuServe. CompuServe offered a small amount of disk space to its customers so they could upload any files they chose. Since then big cloud services such as Microsoft’s OneDrive, Google Drive, and Dropbox have launched with more robust features.

For example, with OneDrive you can keep items on your local device and sync them to the cloud. That way your files are available while you don’t have an internet connection but are still backed up to the cloud as soon as you connect!

Microsoft has two separate but identical OneDrive systems that provide customers with cloud file storage. Everyone has a free edition of OneDrive, also called the “consumer” version that will provide you with 5GB of storage. The professional edition is “OneDrive for Business” which is included in a Microsoft 365 or Office 365 subscription which has a whopping 1 TB (1000 GB) of storage space. Both look almost the same but are handled somewhat differently. In this article, we’ll be discussing OneDrive for Business but the tips may still apply to the free version as well.

Why Microsoft OneDrive?

Today, it’s about stability, flexibility, and availability across platforms. Microsoft OneDrive is an outstanding online backup tool that tracks all the above specifications and is accessible on all major platforms.

Once the files are synced to the cloud you can access them on every device from anywhere. Not only are your files synced to the cloud but once they are you can share the files with friends, family, and colleagues to collaborate in real-time.

The service is full of secret tricks, which make it simple for you to use. Let’s dig in.

1. Sync your files from the cloud to your personal computer

OneDrive allows you to sync files from your personal computer to the cloud and vice versa. Syncing makes it easy to work offline when you don’t have an internet connection. Syncing also helps performance by keeping the file locally you don’t need to worry about internet speeds. You can work all night long on a local file and every time you save the file, they are automatically backed up to the Microsoft cloud!

1. Go to https://www.office.com/

2. Click the OneDrive icon in the left-hand pane.

OneDrive Icon
OneDrive icon

3. Click the Sync button in the toolbar.

OneDrive Sync button
sync button

4. When the OneDrive application opens click Sign In.

OneDrie Setup Window
OneDrive — Sign In Window

5. Finish signing into Office 365 and finish the setup. You’ll then have the OneDrive link in your File Explorer.

OneDrive in Windows Explorer
OneDrive Library in File Explorer

2. Backup your local computer files

So now you have the OneDrive app on your desktop. But how do you get your local documents to be backed up using OneDrive? It’s no problem, simply add the folders to your OneDrive.

1. Click the OneDrive icon in the bottom right corner of your desktop. Click Help & Settings then click Settings.

OneDrive Settings Button
OneDrive Settings menu

2. Go to the Backup tab. Click Manage backup > Start backup.

OneDrive Starting the Backup
OneDrive — Backup Computer

3. Once the Desktop, Documents, and Pictures are completely synced you’ll see green checkboxes next to the folders.

OneDrive syncing Documents, Pictures, and Desktop
OneDrive Folders syncing

3. Share your files and collaborate in real-time

OneDrive’s possibilities don’t end with backup and syncing. In today’s day in age, teams need to collaborate in real-time, from anywhere. OneDrive can be used to keep projects organized, share files about clients with your team, share the highlights, and provide file storage.

You can invite people to see your files with an email message generated by OneDrive. Only people who are invited will be able to open your files.

1. Right-click the file you want to share and click Share.

OneDrive Sharing a File button
OneDrive Share a document

2. Click the People in your organization with the link can edit button.

OneDrive File Sharing Window
OneDrive Sharing a document window

3. Click specific people then click Apply.

OneDrive File Sharing with Specific people
OneDrive Sharing document with specific people

4. In the Enter a name or email address textbox type the email address of those that you want to share the file with then click Send.

OneDrive sharing a file with people.
OneDrive sharing a document

The users you shared the file with will receive the following email. They can click the Open button to open the file you shared!

OneDrive email received when someone shares a file with you
OneDrive email received when someone shares a file with you

Once the other users have access you can both edit the file at the same time!

Excel showing multiple users accessing file
Multiple users editing Microsoft Excel using OneDrive storage

4. Anonymous Sharing with Expiration

It really is super handy. Maybe you want to share with one or more people but only grant access for a limited amount of time. You can share a file with anyone that has a link, assign a password, and set an expiration time. Once the time expires the link would become useless.

1. Right-click the file you want to share and click Share.

OneDrive Sharing a File button
Sharing a file using right click menu

2. Click the People in Your Organization with the link can edit button.

OneDrive File Sharing Window
Sharing a file Send link menu

3. Click Anyone with the link > Set your expiration time > Set a password for file access and click Apply.

OneDrive sharing a file with anyone with a link with expiration and password circled.
OneDrive sharing a field link settings menu

4. Click Copy Link.

OneDrive Copy Link
OneDrive sharing a file copy link button

5. Then you can send the link to anyone using email, Teams, or another method and send them the password using a phone call, text, or another method. Badda-bing Badda-boom.

5. Offline Access vs On-Demand Files

Files on Demand is an OneDrive signature feature. It gives you the ability to search through your entire set of OneDrive files using File Explorer even if the files are not synced to your PC. If you open a file, OneDrive can download it automatically (this is the “on-demand” part); You can see which files are synced to your computer by using the file icon.

OneDrive icons with explanations
Source Microsoft.com

While it is easy to connect to your products wirelessly, you are not always in an environment where you can do so. The OneDrive settings menu makes it easy to check which folders you want offline to use. This feature will save you when you need to work while on the train or at the coffee shop. How do you use this feature?

1. Right-click on the OneDrive icon in the system tray and pick settings.

OneDrive settings button
OneDrive taskbar notification area button

2. Press Choose Folders to pick the folders you want to synchronize.

OneDrive Choose Folders circled
OneDrive choose folders to sync

3. You can either keep all files and directories in the sync option in the next screen, or you can pick and choose the folders from the list. Click OK.

OneDrive Sync a folder to your computer
OneDrive selecting folders to sync

6. Restoring Older File Versions

Alright, now we’ve given people access to files. Uh-oh, Joe accidentally deleted a sheet from the spreadsheet he wasn’t supposed to. What do we do now?

As you download and save documents, the newest edition is the only one you have access to but OneDrive preserves each version of the file, allowing users to access and control each version of the file. This allows you to restore older versions of a file with ease.

1. Right-click your OneDrive in File Explorer and click View Online.

OneDrive View online circled
OneDrive View online button

2. Right-click on the file in question and pick Version History from the drop-down menu

OneDrive version history button
OneDrive field version history

3. Click the ellipsis (…) next to the version you want to restore and click Restore.

OneDrive Restore a file version
OneDrive restore button

7. Save Your Email Attachments to OneDrive

You’ve probably lost valuable attachments to the mess of emails. A great tip to prevent this is saving attachments from Outlook to OneDrive. With Microsoft 365 it’s easy to move your email attachments to OneDrive.

1. Click the dropdown arrow next to the attachment in Outlook.

2. Click Upload.

3. Click OneDrive.

Outlook Upload Attachement to OneDrive
Upload File Attachments to OneDrive from Outlook

8. Automatically save all attachments to OneDrive!

Now let’s say you love having your attachments in your OneDrive. But who wants to continue to click upload > OneDrive on every attachment? Thanks to Power Automate you can easily move every new email attachment to your OneDrive.

1. Go to https://flow.microsoft.com/en-us/galleries/public/templates/65ceb79430ef4956a0855fbe09249cdf/save-office-365-email-attachments-to-onedrive-for-business/

2. Click Try it Now then click Sign in. Sign in if you aren’t already.

Power Automate Sign in circled
OneDrive Flow setup

3. Click Create Flow.

Save Office 365 email attachments to OneDrive for Business Create Flow
Save Office 365 email attachments to OneDrive for Business

Try it now by sending yourself an email with an attachment! You’ll see the email attachments automatically land in a folder called Email attachments from Power Automate. There are about 100 more prewritten scripts you can use. Check them out at https://flow.microsoft.com/en-us/connectors/shared_onedrive/onedrive/

9. Create a Team OneDrive

Technically, it’s a SharePoint Team Site but it works the same as a team OneDrive. A team OneDrive is a great way to store, access, and share files that are accessed and owned by a complete team.

1. Open your OneDrive in the Browser by going to https://www.office.com/ and clicking the OneDrive icon in the left pane.

OneDrive button circled in Office 365 portal
OneDrive button in office.com

2. Click Create shared library in the left pane.

OneDrive create shared folder circled
Create shared library button

3. Enter the name of the shared OneDrive, the members you want to invite, and then click Create.

OneDrive Create a shared library and share with other members
OneDrive create a shared library menu

4. Then click Sync to sync your new shared library to OneDrive on your computer.

OneDrive syncing a shared library
OneDive sync button

You’ll see the new OneDrive folder in File Explorer on your computer!

Windows File Explorer showing the synced shared library
OneDrive shares synced to computer in Windows Explorer

10. Access your files on your Mobile Device

Of course, there is an app for your Android or Apple device! Accessing your files on the go has never been easier. For example, let’s say you’re working on a Word document but can’t quite get the opening right. You run to the coffee shop and then it hits you. The perfect opening. What do you do? Do you take a note and copy it to the document later? No way! Simply open the document and plug in your new opening.

1. Go to the App Store for Android or iPhone and download OneDrive.

2. Launch the app and click Sign In.

OneDrive Android App Sign in page
OneDrive mobile setup

3. Sign in to the app and you're in.

OneDrive Mobile App
OneDrive mobile menu

11. Scan documents to OneDrive

Whether you’re filing taxes, managing your small business’ finances, or putting in expenses, it’s necessary to know where your money is being spent. But receipts from your purchases are likely to get lost in a sea of documents on top or inside your desk.

If you struggle to track your receipts, a document scanner in your pocket can come in handy. And thanks to the Microsoft cloud, this scanner includes automatic syncing so you can access your receipts from anywhere.

1. Open your OneDrive app on your mobile device and click the camera button in the bottom right.

OneDrive Mobile App with Camera button circled
OneDrive scan button

2. Verify document is highlighted at the bottom. Then snap your picture

OneDrive scan a document with mobile device
OneDrive scanning a file

3. Perform any markup you want on your image then click Done.

OneDrive edit document before saving
OneDrive editing a scanned file

4. Select where you want to save the file and set the file name and click the checkmark.

OneDrive Mobile App Save Scan
OneDrive saving a scanned file

Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I hope you found it beneficial. If you have any questions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to reach out.