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Working with OneDrive in Windows 8.1

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Working in the cloud may sound strange at first, but you’ll quickly learn to love accessing your files from any device, anytime. This is an introduction to OneDrive and shows you how to start working with your files in the cloud.

Most of us today have some kind of technology always within reach. We may use our traditional desktop computers when we’re in the office, crunching numbers, creating presentations, and writing reports. But chances are good that we also check email, get directions to a restaurant, and connect with social media apps using our smartphones. Some of us even continue our work—reviewing documents and more—while we’re on the go, using whatever we have handy: laptop, tablet, or phone.

Although the technology supports us doing all kinds of work on all kinds of devices, getting to the files we need can be a bit of a problem. If you want to work on a file you’ve saved on your desktop, how do you get it to your phone? Most likely, you’ll email it to yourself. How do you move a file you worked on at home to your computer at the office? Yep, use email or a flash drive. The trouble with this approach is that if you’re not careful, you can easily start working on an older version of a file and lose important updates and improvements.

Here’s a better options: Store your files in one central location where you can easily open and work on the file using any device you own.

Welcome to OneDrive, Microsoft’s answer to cloud storage. Your OneDrive account is a free online storage space where you can save, organize, update, and share files using your desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone. Your OneDrive is part of your Microsoft account, and when you save files using any of the Office apps (or move files around using File Explorer), you can save your files to OneDrive easily, just as you would any folder on your computer or device.

How Do I Get OneDrive?

If you use Windows 8.1, you’ll discover that OneDrive is already available to you, both on the Start screen and as one of the Favorites you can choose in File Explorer. If you use Windows 7 or Windows 8, you can download the OneDrive app from Microsoft’s Download OneDrive page (https://onedrive.live.com/about/en-us/download/). If you want to download OneDrive for your Windows Phone, tap Store on your phone and search for OneDrive; then tap Install to add the app to your phone.

Figure 1 Find OneDrive in the Store on your Windows Phone and tap Install to add the app

Now OneDrive is also available for iOS and Android devices, as well as your Xbox. You can download the additional OneDrive apps by going to the Download OneDrive page and clicking Choose Your Device. Simply click or tap your device from the list and the site leads you through the process to download the app you need.

Figure 2 You can download versions of OneDrive for your different devices from the Download OneDrive page

Viewing Your Files in OneDrive

In addition to using OneDrive in File Explorer, where you can see your files and folders displayed in traditional File Explorer style, you can go to OneDrive on the web to view your files and folders there. The folders appear as rectangles, displaying any images you’ve stored inside. Along the top of the screen, you see tools for working with the files you stored in the cloud. Click Create to create a new folder for your files or to create documents, worksheets, and presentations using the Office Online apps.

Figure 3 Online you can easily view your files and folders, create new documents, share your files, and more

You can also click Share to share a file or folder with others in your contact list, Upload additional files, change your OneDrive settings, and more. You can control the way the files display by clicking Recent Docs, All Photos, or Shared in the upper-left corner of the OneDrive screen. Clicking each of these categories displays only the types of files you’ve selected. For example, if you click Shared, only the files you’ve shared with others display in the file display area.

Easy Access to Other Apps

One thing Microsoft can offer in terms of cloud storage that others cannot is easy access to other Microsoft apps. By clicking or tapping the down arrow to the right of OneDrive in the upper-left corner, you display the Office Hub, which gives you a set of tiles that take you to other Microsoft apps: Outlook, People, Calendar, Word Online, Excel Online, PowerPoint Online, and OneNote Online. This enables you to move between OneDrive and other apps seamlessly, with a simple click of the mouse or tap of the finger.

Figure 4 You can click the OneDrive arrow to display the Office Hub and move easily to other apps

If your PC is connected to a domain, Family Safety might not be available. Check with your system administrator.

Final Thoughts

If you use a number of different computers and devices throughout the day, storing your files in the cloud gives you an easy way to access your files without saving and emailing multiple versions all over the place. By storing your files in one place, you can open, edit, and share them easily from any device. When you use OneDrive, Microsoft’s answer to cloud storage, you get the added benefit of working seamlessly with your Office applications, Office Online apps, and other Microsoft apps you may have come to rely on, like People, Calendar, and more. Even if you’ve been trying to keep your head out of the clouds, OneDrive is worth a try. You may just find that it makes managing all those files a breeze.

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