How to Use Microsoft's OneDrive on Every Device

OneDrive is a powerful cloud service with a variey of useful features

Microsoft's cloud storage service, OneDrive, is used by consumers and businesses for backing up data and syncing files between devices. It's completely device-agnostic, with official apps available to download on all major computer, tablet, and smartphone operating systems.

Understanding Microsoft Accounts and OneDrive

To use OneDrive, you need a free Microsoft account. Microsoft accounts have many different names and are used for a variety of services. Odds are you already use one. Any of the following can be used to access OneDrive:

The average user doesn't need more than one Microsoft account to use Microsoft's apps and services. The same login information for an Outlook email address can be used to sign in on an Xbox One console, Skype app, and OneDrive account.

How Much Does OneDrive Cost?

Microsoft's OneDrive cloud storage service is available for free with a 5 GB storage limit. This storage limit includes all files shared across all your connected devices and apps. Those who need more space can pay a monthly fee for more space.

You can get up to 6TB of storage with a OneDrive annual plan, which comes with a complimentary Microsoft 365 subscription and several advanced features, such as ransomware and malware detection.

Many stores often give away free OneDrive account upgrades with the purchase of a new smartphone, tablet, or computer. If you think you might need more cloud storage space, it may be worth asking a shop assistant if they have any OneDrive promotional campaigns running next time you purchase a new device.

What OneDrive Apps Are Available?

There are official Microsoft OneDrive apps available for Windows 10 devices, iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Android smartphones and tablets, Mac computers, Xbox One consoles, and Windows Phone.

OneDrive is integrated directly into the Windows 10 operating system, so you don't need to download an app for it to work when setting up your new Windows 10 device. While there is a free Windows 10 OneDrive app you can download from the Microsoft Store app store, it's not needed.

What Does the OneDrive Website Do?

The OneDrive website can be accessed via any web browser on any device. Here's what you can do with it:

  • Upload files to your OneDrive account.
  • Delete files from your OneDrive account.
  • Move files to different OneDrive folders.
  • Share files or folders with other people.
  • Restore deleted OneDrive files.
  • Undo changes made to OneDrive files.
  • Open and edit files in Word Online.

As functional as the OneDrive website is, you still need to download a OneDrive app on your device if you want to directly upload files from another app to your OneDrive account or enable automatic uploading of your photos.

How to Back up Your Smartphone Photos With OneDrive

One of the more useful features of the iOS and Android OneDrive apps is they can automatically upload your photos and screenshots to your Microsoft cloud storage as soon as they're created. This not only provides you with a backup of your images, but it also makes them immediately accessible on your other devices with a OneDrive app installed without the need for you to manually transfer them.

How to Enable OneDrive Camera Uploads on iOS

If you want to automatically upload your photos from an iOS device to OneDrive:

  1. Open the OneDrive app on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, then tap the user icon in the top-left corner.

    OneDrive iOS app with user icon highlighted
  2. Select Settings.

    Menu options in OneDrive with Settings highlighted
  3. Select Camera Upload.

    Settings in OneDrive for iOS with Camera Upload highlighted
  4. On the next screen, tap the switch next to Camera Upload. It will turn blue when the option is enabled.

    The app might ask for permission to access your photos before it turns this setting on. If it does, tap OK.

    OneDrive for iOS asking for permission to access photos with OK highlighted

Once images are uploaded to your OneDrive account from an iOS device, they will be available within OneDrive > Pictures > Camera Roll and sorted in folders named after the year they were created.

How to Enable OneDrive Camera Uploads on Android

The steps for enabling camera uploads in OneDrive for Android differ slightly from the iOS version.

  1. Open the OneDrive app on your Android device and tap Me in the lower-right corner of the screen.

  2. Select Settings.

  3. Select Camera Upload.

  4. Tap Camera Upload Account to choose which account you want to upload photos to, then tap the Camera upload switch to turn on the feature.

    Path for turning on camera uploads in OneDrive for Android

Once images are uploaded to your OneDrive account from an Android device, they are available in your main OneDrive file directory.

How to Transfer Files to Your Computer With OneDrive

Microsoft's OneDrive is an easy way to transfer files from your smartphone or tablet to your computer without using cables or a full device syncing process. Here's how to do it.

  1. Download and log in to the OneDrive app on your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet.

  2. Download and install the OneDrive app on to your Mac computer and sign in. If you're using a Windows 10 computer, OneDrive is already set up for you.

    Make sure you're using the same OneDrive account on all of your devices.

  3. Open the OneDrive app on your iOS or Android smart device and tap the Plus (+) button in the top-right corner of the screen.

  4. Select Upload.

    OneDrive for iOS with Upload highlighted
  5. On Android, browse your device and tap a file for it to upload to OneDrive.

    On iOS:

    1. Tap either Photos and Videos or Browse.
    2. Locate and tap your file.
    3. Tap Done in the top-right corner of the app to initiate the upload.
    OneDrive for iOS with upload options displayed
  6. The files should soon appear in your OneDrive folder on your computer. Transfer times vary depending on your internet speed and the size of the files you're uploading. Single images should transfer within a minute or so, while movie files can take longer.

After they are uploaded to your OneDrive account, your files are accessible via the OneDrive app on all your devices, not just your computer.

Using OneDrive to Share Files With Friends

All versions of OneDrive can share files with friends or colleagues by generating a unique web link that can be sent via email or a messaging app. OneDrive file links can even be posted on social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Here's how to create a share link in OneDrive:

  • Within the Android OneDrive app, open the file you wish to share, then tap the Share icon in the lower-left corner of the screen. Select Copy link to copy the file's unique link to your device's clipboard.
  • In the iOS OneDive app, open the file you want to share, then tap the Share icon, represented as a square icon with the arrow pointing out of it. Select Copy link to save the link.
  • To share a OneDrive file from a Windows 10 or Mac computer, locate the file within the OneDrive directory, right-click it with your mouse, then select Share a OneDrive link. The link is immediately copied to your clipboard.

After you have the link, you can paste it into any program or app the same way you would paste regular text.

Sharing a OneDrive link gives anyone who selects it access to the file. Be careful with who you share it with online.

Can I Save to OneDrive When Offline?

Yes, you can. If a file has been previously downloaded onto your device, you can open, edit, and save it while offline. When your device next connects to the internet, the updated file uploads to your OneDrive account and overwrites the old version.

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