Home » Computer Guides » Windows Guides » How To Use OneDrive On Your Computer.

How To Use OneDrive On Your Computer.

How To Use OneDrive.

By default, OneDrive will automatically sync (backup) your Desktop, Documents and Pictures folders. You can also save files directly into your OneDrive folder.

The share option allows you to give access to your files and folders to others. Either for collaboration on work projects or simply as a way of showing off your pictures.

How To Use OneDrive In File Explorer.

Your OneDrive folder behaves just like any other folder on your computer. To access it, open File Explorer (Windows key and the letter E on your keyboard) and you’ll see OneDrive in the left hand navigation panel.

OneDrive folder marked in Windows 10 File Explorer navigation pane.
OneDrive folder in Windows 10 File Explorer.
OneDrive folder marked in Windows 11 File Explorer navigation pane.
OneDrive folder in Windows 11 File Explorer.

Just like any other folder, you can open your OneDrive folder by left clicking on it in the navigation panel.

The center panel will show you the contents of your folder.

To the right of each file and folder you’ll see a column of icons. These are the status icons.

OneDrive status icons column is indicated in File Explorer.
Note the status icons beside each file/folder.

The Status Icons.

The status icons beside each file or folder describe the sync state of that particular file/folder. In short, it tells you whether the file/folder is stored on your computer and in the cloud, or only in the cloud.

OneDrive blue cloud icon.The blue cloud icon indicates that the file/folder is only available when you’re online.

Green tick icon.A green tick icon indicates that the file is available on your computer, even without an Internet connection.

OneDrive solid green circle with check mark inside. Solid green circle with a tick are always stored both on your computer and in the cloud.

People icon.Any file or folder with a “people” icon beside it, is a shared file/folder.

OneDrive status icons highlighted.
The status icons tell you whether the file/folders are stored locally, online only or both.

Quick Note.

When you open a file that has got a blue cloud icon, it’ll be downloaded to your computer and the icon will change to a green tick. Which is why you need to be connected to the ‘net.

How To Change The Status Of A File Or Folder.

You can easily change the status of any file or folder by simply right clicking on it and then selecting either “Always keep on this device” or “Free up space”.

If you choose “Always keep on this device” then the file/folder will be downloaded to your computer and the icon will change to a solid green circle.

Choosing “Free up space” will move the file/folder from your computer to your OneDrive account. The icon will change to a blue cloud.

"Always keep on this device" and "Free up space" options highlighted on context menu.
Right click a file/folder and then left click either “Always keep on this device” or “Free up space”.

The Free Up Space Option.

Freeing up space on your computer sounds great, but you do have to keep in 2 things.
1. Files/folders are only available to you when you have an Internet connection.
2. These files/folders are using up the storage allowance that you’ve got with your account.

How To Save A File Into Your OneDrive Folder.

Any file or folder that you save or create on your Desktop or inside your Documents and Pictures folders will automatically be uploaded to your OneDrive account.

Apart from that you can save work (files) directly into OneDrive from with the program/app you’re using.

It works exactly the same as saving into any other folder on your PC.

OneDrive is indicated in File Explorer navigation pane and the Save button is marked.
Saving a file into your OneDrive folder.

How To Share A File/Folder In OneDrive.

Apart from storing your files/folders online, the second great thing about using OneDrive is the ease with which you can share them with others.

There are two ways to share a file. Firstly you can simply type in the recipients email address into the share box and have OneDrive send them an email containing that link automatically. And secondly, you can copy the link and send the email yourself.

To share a file, open your OneDrive folder, find the file you want to share and then right click on it.

On the options menu, hover your mouse pointer over OneDrive. A second menu will appear.

On the second menu, left click either Share or Copy Link.

OneDrive, Share and Copy Link are all highlighted on the right click options menu.
Sharing a file in OneDrive.

When you select the Copy Link option, a small window will open containing the web address for your file. Click on the Copy button. The link will be copied to your computers clipboard.

You can now simply paste the link into a standard email which you can send to whoever you want to give access to the file. Your recipient can then click on the link to open the file.

Copy button marked.
Click the Copy button.

Share Option.

Alternatively, if you clicked the Share option, you can fill in the recipients details, add a message and then click the Send button.

"Send Link" window in OneDrive. Email address and message entered. Send button indicated.
Type in an email address, add a quick message and click the Send button.

Important Update For Users Of Microsoft Email Accounts.

If you use an email account from Microsoft, such as those ending with @outlook, @live or @hotmail, then you need to be very careful about how you use OneDrive.
Previously your email storage was completely separate from your OneDrive storage. But now Microsoft have tied them together. The upshot is that if your OneDrive account becomes full, your emails will stop working Microsoft Email Accounts Not Sending Or Receiving Emails.


Since OneDrive is included with both Windows 10 and Windows 11, it just makes sense to use it. It has many useful features and, as with everything else in life, the more you use it, the better you’ll get with it.

You do need to keep an eye on your storage allowance, especially if you’re trying to stay with the free 5Gb plan. But apart from that, OneDrive works pretty well.

Scroll to Top