How to Use OneDrive

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

Illustration of the internet cloud being accessed by the Microsoft OneDrive smartphone app.

 akindo / DigitalVision Vector

OneDrive is Microsoft's cloud storage service that's used by consumers and businesses for backing up data and syncing files between devices. OneDrive is 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 to have a free Microsoft account. Microsoft accounts are referred to by many different names and are used for a variety of services. Odds are you already use one.

Any of the following Microsoft accounts 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 to use for free with a 5 GB storage limit. This storage limit includes all files shared across all of your connected devices and apps. Those who need more space can pay $1.99 per month for a 50 GB plan.

Microsoft also offers 1 TB and 5 TB OneDrive plans for $69.99 and $99.99 a year, respectively. Both of these also come with a complimentary Office 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 on 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 is a site that can be accessed via any web browser on any device. Here's what you can do on the OneDrive website:

  • 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 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 Upload on iOS

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

  2. Tap Settings.

  3. Tap Camera Upload.

  4. On the next screen, tap the switch next to Camera Upload. It will turn green when the option is enabled.

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 Upload on Android

  1. Open the OneDrive app on your Android device, then tap the user icon on the left-side menu.

  2. Tap Settings.

  3. You should see the option for Camera settings with the word On or Off underneath it. If you see On, Camera Upload is already enabled and there's nothing else you need to do. If you see Off, tap it to continue.

  4. Tap the switch next to Camera Upload. It will turn blue when turned on.

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

How to Transfer Files to Your Computer With OneDrive

Microsoft's OneDrive can be 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 into the OneDrive app on your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet.

  2. Download and install the OneDrive app onto 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.

  4. Tap the Plus (+) button in the top-right corner of the screen.

  5. Tap Upload.

  6. On Android, simply 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.
  7. The files should soon appear in your OneDrive folder on your computer. Transfer times will 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 a bit longer.

Once uploaded to your OneDrive account, your files will be accessible via the OneDrive app on all of 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. Tap 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. Tap 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'll be able to open, edit, and save it while offline. When your device next connects to the internet, the updated file will upload to your OneDrive account and overwrite the old version.