How to Set Up Microsoft OneDrive for Mac

Use OneDrive to Store Up to 5 GB in the Cloud for Free

OneDrive setup for Mac OS
OneDrive set up lets you pick where the OneDrive folder will be created. Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Microsoft OneDrive (formally SkyDrive) is a cloud-based storage and syncing solution that will work for just about anyone. All you need is a Mac, PC, or mobile device, plus access to the Internet.

Once you install OneDrive on your Mac, it appears to be just another folder. Drop a file or folder of any type into the OneDrive folder, and the data is immediately stored on the Windows Live cloud storage system.

You can also access your OneDrive content using a supported web browser, which includes just about all of them, from any Mac, PC, or mobile device. Browser based access allows you to make use of the cloud-based storage on just about any computing platform you may find yourself using without having to install the OneDrive app.

Using OneDrive for the Mac

OneDrive from Microsoft may seem like an odd choice for a Mac user to use to store data in the cloud, but there's no reason not to use it. OneDrive plans are reasonably priced, including a free 5 GB on the lowest tier plan.

OneDrive can be used along with other cloud-based storage services, including Apple’s own iCloud service, Dropbox, or Google Drive. Actually, there's nothing to stop you from using all four and taking advantage of the free storage tiers offered by each service.

OneDrive Plans

OneDrive currently offers several tiers of service, including plans that are paired with Office 365.

PlanStoragePrice/Month
OneDrive Free5 GB total storageFree
OneDrive Basic50 GB$1.99
OneDrive + Office 365 Personal1 TB$6.99
OneDrive + Office 365 Home1 TB each for 5 users$9.99

We're going to show you how to set up the free version of OneDrive on your Mac; this will provide you with 5 GB of free cloud storage.

Set Up OneDrive

For OneDrive to work, you need two basic items: a Microsoft Live ID (free) and the OneDrive for Mac application (also free). You may also wish to install OneDrive for Windows or OneDrive for iOS; both are available in the App Store.

  1. If you already have a Microsoft Live ID, you can skip this step; otherwise, launch your browser and head off to: https://signup.live.com/
  2. Fill in the requested information to create your Windows Live ID. Be sure to note the email address you use, since that will be your Microsoft Live ID; make a note of your password as well. I strongly recommend using a strong password, which is a password that contains at least eight characters (I recommend using 14 characters), including upper and lower case letters and at least one number and one special character. Once you have everything filled out, click the Create account button.
  3. Now that you have a Windows Live ID, head on over to: https://onedrive.live.com/
  4. Click the Sign In button then enter your Windows Live ID.
  5. Your browser will display the default OneDrive folder configuration. For now, don't worry about any folders displayed in the web browser. What we're interested in are the OneDrive Apps options. Go ahead and click the Get OneDrive Apps link, located near the bottom on the left-hand side. If you don’t see the link, click on the menu icon in the top left corner of the OneDrive page. The Get OneDrive Apps link will be near the bottom of the drop-down menu.
  1. A brief description of the OneDrive for Mac app will display. Click the Download OneDrive for Mac button.
  2. This will cause the Mac App Store to open, and display the OneDrive App.
  3. Click on the Get button in the Mac App Store window, and then click the Install App option that displays.
  4. If required, sign in to the Mac App Store.
  5. The OneDrive app will be downloaded and installed on your Mac in the /Applications folder.

Installing OneDrive

  1. Double-click the OneDrive app in your Applications folder.
  2. The OneDrive Setup screen will display. Enter your email address (the one you used to set up your Microsoft Live ID).
  1. Enter your Windows Live ID password, and then click the Sign In button.
  2. OneDrive allows you to create a OneDrive folder in the location of your choice. Click the Choose OneDrive Folder Location button.
  3. A Finder sheet will drop down, allowing you to navigate to the location where you want the OneDrive folder created. Pick your location and click the Choose this Location button.
  4. Click the Next button.
  5. You can choose which files that are stored in Microsoft’s cloud will also be downloaded and saved to your Mac. You can change this at any time, so I suggest you select the option All files and folders on my OneDrive.
  6. Make your selection and click the Next button.
  7. The OneDrive setup is complete.

Using OneDrive

OneDrive acts much like any other folder on your Mac; the only difference is that the data within it is also stored on remote Windows OneDrive servers. Within the OneDrive folder, you will find three default folders labeled Documents, Pictures, and Public. You can add as many folders as you wish, and create any system of organization that suits your fancy.

Adding files is as simple as copying or dragging them to the OneDrive folder or appropriate sub-folder. Once you put files in the OneDrive folder, you can access them from any Mac, PC, or mobile device that has OneDrive installed. You can also access the OneDrive folder from any computer or mobile device using the web interface.

The OneDrive app runs as a menubar item which includes sync status for files kept in the OneDrive folder. There is also a set of preferences you can adjust by selecting the OneDrive menubar item and clicking on the gear button. Go ahead and give it a try, after all, you have 5 GB of free space to use.