Make OneDrive Folder Online Only (Or Offline)

Make OneDrive Folder Online Only (Or Offline)

If you use Windows 8.1 or later, OneDrive (Microsoft’s cloud storage solution) is integrated right into the operating system. If you look at File Explorer, you’ll see a OneDrive section right there in the sidebar.

OneDrive File Explorer Sidebar

If you use OneDrive, you might have two different scenarios:

  • You want your files available offline, so that if you don’t have an Internet connection you can still access them.
  • You want to save hard drive space and want some (or all) of your files available online only. To you they look like normal folders on your computer, but they’re not actually stored there – they are stored in the cloud.

Here’s how to control OneDrive’s storage on a folder by folder basis.

Control OneDrive Offline Storage In File Explorer

In File Explorer, right-click on a folder (or the OneDrive section itself) and choose Make available offline if you want everything in that folder to download to your computer, or Make available online-only if you want the folder to only take up space in the cloud.

OneDrive Make Available Offline

Control OneDrive Offline Storage In The OneDrive App

If you use Windows 8.1 or greater, you can fire up the OneDrive app and control things there. Right-click on a folder and click Make offline at the bottom.

OneDrive App Make Offline

How To Tell Where Your OneDrive Stuff Is Stored

Not sure whether your files are online or offline? In the OneDrive app you’ll see a little icon if a folder is stored offline. In File Explorer, take a look at the Availability column.

If your files in the cloud only (meaning they don’t take up space on your drive), it will say Online-only.

OneDrive Online Availability

If it is on your computer (and therefore taking up space), it will say Available offline.

OneDrive Online Availability

If you use OneDrive, give some thought to whether you want your files available offline or online. Which is more important to you – availability or space?

About the Author

Brooks Duncan helps individuals and small businesses go paperless. He's been an accountant, a software developer, a manager in a very large corporation, and has run DocumentSnap since 2008. You can find Brooks on Twitter at @documentsnap or @brooksduncan. Thanks for stopping by.

Leave a Reply 26 comments

Lisa - October 11, 2018 Reply

I have a Surface RT. All of my files in one drive have taken up all my hard drive space to the point I don’t have enough space to transfer files in onedrive to a usb or sdcard or update and recover. I’m not IT Savvy and this has stumped a local geek squad team. I can not right click on the onedrive folder/icon in explorer and switch it to ‘make available online only’. I had photos in the camera folder and now they aren’t there when I changed some sync settings with my home PC. I see most folders on the online onedrive but not any in the camera folder. So…I need to get these files off my surface to the cloud, switch to online access (says unspecified error in my skydrive?), and find my camera pics.

dj - February 19, 2018 Reply

i do not have a website. i have copied all my files and folders on one drive and they are all available only online. I want to get all these files and folders offline. how do i do it? I do not have the option of `make available offline’ in my windows 10 version. please help me out.

d j zalki - February 14, 2018 Reply

where is the `make available offline availability’ in File Explorer?. I have samsung windows 10 version. And there is no such option.

    seth - May 30, 2018 Reply

    It’s called “free up space” now.

Cris - May 19, 2017 Reply

I cannot access One Drive online. I did until Monday and now it just come up page unreachable. What has gone wrong?

Crysti Couture - February 9, 2017 Reply

As of now, I am able to successfully map my network drive using the method employed above. I followed this tutorial and it is working perfectly as far as I can tell: http://www.laptopmag.com/articles/map-onedrive-network-drive

Frank - November 9, 2016 Reply

Because of the two-step verification, everytime I restard my computer I need to re enter the credentials.
Is there a way to avoid that ?
Thanks

André Quinta - September 5, 2016 Reply

In windows 10, if you want your files to be online only and not take space in your hard drive you’ll have to do the following: (valid as of 05/09/2016)

> Start up your Onedrive
> A Onedrive icon should appear in your system tray on the bottom right (click the up arrow to expand)
> Right click and go to settings
> Under the Account tab click the choose folders button
> A new windows pops up. UNTICK the folders/files that you DO NOT want synchronized. All the unticked contents will be available online only and will be deleted from your machine. So be careful choosing what you want on both sides (online and local) and what you don’t.

I repeat, every file of folder (along with files inside said folders) that you untick will be automatically deleted from your machine by Onedrive and will be available online only (this delete process is instantaneous as soon as you apply those settings, without prompts or confirmation windows). You will have to update those files/folders by uploading directly through a browser.

    raging demon - October 3, 2016 Reply

    Thank you for this post. I searched high and low for this after starting to seriously use onedrive for archival purposes. Most laptops will not have enough local storage to accommodate the accumulated files on OneDrive. Sync online only or “offline” mode with one way sync to server, which was in Windows 8 should not have been removed in Windows 10. Really don’t understand why Microsoft decided to make such a drastic change in this design decision. (Well, I understand and probably can guess some reasons, but optional one way sync is an ABSOLUTELY needed feature.)

    For now, I have to do hacky annoy things like organizing files on OneDrive into separate folders and manually decide to sync or unsync certain folders. This is so tacky.

    https://onedrive.uservoice.com/forums/262982-onedrive/suggestions/8888062–sync-online-only-for-onedrive?page=1&per_page=20#{toggle_previous_statuses}

Cynthia Lusk - August 2, 2016 Reply

Hi Steven,

I am using a Sharepoint Onedrive for Business account, so I don’t have that 16- character ID. I already logged out of OneDrive but my files are still there (I want them to just be online.)

Is there any way I could just keep my Onedrive access to my browser? I want to delete everything off of my PC without my online Onedrive being affected.
It’s taking up way too much space.

Jono - July 18, 2016 Reply

Hi Steven,

Sorry I’m confused. When I map drive O: (for One Drive) to your docs.live account, how do you then remove the files from your C: drive?

Thanks,
Jono.

Howard Bragg - May 4, 2016 Reply

What I do not understand is why can’t I open a file in OneDrive that is available offline? Where is it? If on my computer, where is it? Why doesn’t OneDrive open it regardless of where the file is located, if it is in OneDrive? I’v been using OneDrive ever since it was first available and today is the first time I’ve not been able to open any file in OneDrive that was in the directory of OneDrive.

    Steven Buehler - May 4, 2016 Reply

    @Howard, it depends on what version of Windows you’re running:

    If you’re running Windows 7, 8, or 10, you have to sync OneDrive with your local computer in order to open files offline, or use an Office app to open an Office file directly from OneDrive. Or, use the drive letter mounting hack I posted in an earlier comment.

    If you’re running on Windows 8.1, the OS caches the file to the local machine and then opens it, then saves it back to OneDrive online when you save it locally. Unless you explicitly indicate the file should always be offline, it will stay online and download when needed.

Peter - April 20, 2016 Reply

I am running windows 10 and I wanted to make sure that the onedrive files are online only, the problem is there are no options to make them online or offline all the instruction i’ve looked up are basically obsolete there must be a new way to set the files to the way you want to can anyone tell me how?

    Steven Buehler - April 20, 2016 Reply

    Peter, in Windows 10, OneDrive reverted back to the way it functioned in Windows 7 (syncing your entire OneDrive or directories you select in the OneDrive app to your local computer). It’s a step backward but apparently there were enough users complaining about how it worked in Windows 8/8.1 to give Microsoft pause and roll it back to the old method.

    However, you *can* map a drive letter to your online OneDrive; the instructions posted as a comment below have changed since I posted.

    When you first log into OneDrive via web browser, the URL looks like “https://onedrive.live.com/?id=root&cid=XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX”, where “XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX” is a 16-character account identifier. You can take this value and map a drive letter by entering the following in a Command Prompt:

    net use X: https://d.docs.live.net/XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX /u:me@outlook.com mypassword

    Replace “X:” with the letter you want to use (or use “*” to assign any available letter), the “XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX” with your account identifier, then follow “/u:” with your account’s email address and your password (if you use two-form factor, use an app password).

    You could add “/persistent:yes” to the end of the command to make the letter assignment semi-permanent, but Windows by design will not automatically reopen connections to WebDAV endpoints (you’ll have to enter your user ID and password again when selecting the drive in Explorer).

    Steven Buehler - April 20, 2016 Reply

    Peter, I forgot to include a few caveats:

    * I believe you can only still pass files no more than 100 MB over OneDrive’s WebDAV connection. If you need to copy over larger files, use the web site instead.

    * This is not an officially-supported method on the part of Microsoft; it just happens to work most of the time. They prefer you use their applications (Office 365) to connect with OneDrive.

    Steven Buehler - April 20, 2016 Reply

    Sorry for flooding the comment feed, but I forgot something else: This doesn’t work on Mac. OneDrive’s WebDAV implementation is not standard and uses some extra security that the Mac doesn’t (yet) support. Same goes for connecting to Azure Files via SMB 3.0 (an issue Microsoft says they’re working with Apple on). Azure Files is like OneDrive but you can connect to it like a regular network endpoint using UNC paths.

kathleen - January 10, 2016 Reply

I can’t believe they got rid of this in Windows 10. I went for a small SSD rather than a heavy machine so online storage of files that are not on my local drive would be VERY useful. Why does MS always seem to take backwards steps along with any forward ones they might take.

Steven Buehler - August 19, 2015 Reply

Unfortunately, this no longer works in Windows 10. They reverted back to the Windows 7 paradigm for OneDrive in Windows 10 (sync to your own machine), much to the chagrin of users everywhere.

That said, you *can* try mounting your online OneDrive as a web folder or mapped drive in Windows. The URL is https://d.docs.live.net/.

To get your Live ID, go to onedrive.com in your browser, and click on any of the folders in your OneDrive. The next page’s URL will include your Live ID as either an ‘ID’ value or a ‘cid’ value:

https://onedrive.live.com/?id=%&cid=

You can use the Map Network Drive function in Windows Explorer or the NET USE command from the command line with the URL. Your login ID and password is the same as your Microsoft Account.

I have found that it doesn’t work well if you are using two-factor authentication on your Microsoft Account.

    Brooks Duncan
    Brooks Duncan - August 19, 2015 Reply

    Darnit. Thanks for the report Steven!

      Steven Buehler - August 19, 2015 Reply

      I see the URLs in my comment got mangled so I posted the process to my own blog. 🙂

      Steven Buehler - August 19, 2015 Reply

      …and I forgot you can do the same with box.com by using https://dav.box.com/dav. 🙂

      Mike - February 20, 2016 Reply

      Hi Brooks,
      Thanks for the attempt at making a useful page.

      IDEA: when you’ve found that your explanations /directions change, maybe update the info on your page? (and indicate the changes for those poor folks that may be somewhere along the trail of breadcrumbs MS calls an OS?)

      I chose your page from Google search because it had the newest date on it and had hopes it might still be current. Apparently MS is making so many changes so fast, their new OS is hardly recognizable from just a year ago. So, I understand that makes LOADS of work for people that try to keep up with hints and tips and it’s not entirely your fault. But, instead of simply saying “darnit”, maybe update your page, with edit marks?

      Anyway, thanks. It has provided me with one more breadcrumb along the path to what I hope will eventually be an answer.

    CJ - November 17, 2016 Reply

    Thanks Steven. Really helpful. I just upgraded my corporate device and was trying to do online only back to my personal OneDrive so I would have the pointers available on my device to those files. It has been frustrating on the Win 10 device trying to remember how I had this set up on the 8.1 devices but now after reading you’re post I realize I am not crazy. I don’t understand why they got rid of this functionality.

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