OneDrive on Windows 10

Here are a few odds and ends about Microsoft’s OneDrive that may not be immediately obvious that are derived from researching questions that I have. This is a lengthy post so I suggest browsing through the headings to determine what issues or questions you have about OneDrive that might be answered herein. A few are technologically mysterious.

How OneDrive Works on Windows 10 [mostly about how it syncs]

Briefly, if you log into Windows 10 using your Microsoft account, you will be automatically logged into your OneDrive account. If OneDrive launches per default, you’ll see a cloud icon in the notification area of your Taskbar. To change OneDrive options, right-click the cloud icon and select Settings.

OneDrive Settings

In the Settings tab you can choose whether OneDrive should start automatically, fetch files from another computer, or collaborate on Office documents. Here you can also Unlink OneDrive and re-associate it with another Microsoft account.Auto save gives you the option to automatically save photos and videos from connected devices. Go to Choose folders to select which files to sync to your local drive. To improve upload speed, head to Performance and allow Onedrive to upload files in batches. Under About, you’ll find useful links to Help pages and the usual official agreements.

In Windows 10, only folders selected to sync to your local drive will be shown in File Explorer’s OneDrive folder. By default, that’s all of them.

A new feature introduced with Windows 10 is the sharing of OneDrive files and folders from the desktop. Right-click the file or folder you would like to share and select Share a OneDrive link and the URL will be saved to your Windows clipboard. Obviously, this only works for items stored on OneDrive.

Share OneDrive Link

When using OneDrive on the web or through the mobile app, users can now add shared folders to their OneDrive and sync them to their devices. The Shared Folder sync feature is available for Windows Vista through 10, with the exception of Windows 8.1, and Mac OSX.

How to View Unsynced Files and Folders

If you store more data on OneDrive than you could ever host locally, you have several options.

View OneDrive Online

Opening a browser window isn’t that different from viewing folders in File Explorer. Head to to see everything you’ve got. You won’t be able to change how files and folders are synced — that can only be done from your device — but you can see everything and download what you need. Unfortunately, the web client doesn’t support drag and drop to your computer, but you can drag and drop files into OneDrive.

Choose Folders in OneDrive Settings

In the Choose folders tab in OneDrive Settings you can actually view all the folders stored on OneDrive and their sizes. While you cannot see individual files, if your folders are well organized you’ll know where to find what you need. This way, you could deselect one folder and create space to sync another.

OneDrive Sync Settings

Add OneDrive as a Network Drive

YouTube user Sean Ong demonstrates a more convenient solution, previouslydescribed by Paul Thurrott. Using the link to individual folders from the OneDrive web client, he mapped them as network drives to File Explorer, where they appear like external storage devices. Since you have to log in with your OneDrive credentials, you could add a different account from the one synced to your device.

Briefly, head to OneDrive, open any of your folders and copy the 16 or so characters between id= and %. Then head to This PC in your File Explorer. In theComputer tab, click Map network drive. Where it says Folder:, paste in the characters you just copied and preface them with this URL: The result should look like in the screenshot below. Make sure both Reconnect at sign in and Connect using different credentials are selected, then click Finish, and log in with your OneDrive username and password.

Map Network Drive

In case you set up two-factor authentication for your Microsoft account, remember that you need an app password for this to work.

Use a Third Party Application

Instead of using the default OneDrive desktop client, you could use a tool likeOdrive for accessing OneDrive on your device. When you unsync files or folders on Odrive, a cloudfx placeholder remains, so you’ll always know what you’ve got. Odrive has the added advantage of not only supporting OneDrive, but a number of other cloud storage services, including Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and others. Odrive is free and you can link an unlimited number of accounts.

One Drive to Rule Them All

Placeholders were an ingenious solution to a common problem: not enough space. Unfortunately, we can’t have nice things when they are too complex for the majority to understand. Certainly, Microsoft is to blame for not offering a more intuitive design.

Files could have been available offline per default, with the option to replace them with placeholders. That’s exactly how Odrive handles syncing, making it the most sensible alternative to a OneDrive desktop client that isn’t serving power users.

Sharing folders in OneDrive

You can use OneDrive share files or folders with others, providing a chance to collaborate. However, it’s currently impossible to do this straight from the OneDrive folder in Windows 10.


Digital Trends

To share a folder, you must [go] up [to] the web interface at Find what you want to share and right-click to, then hit Share in the context menu. You can provide view or edit privileges by typing in a recipients’ email address.

Once you share a folder or file, you can see it’s shared by the icon that appears in the lower right hand person, depicting two people just hanging out and enjoying some shared files. Cute, right? If things go south and you need to revoke the sharing privileges, just open the Share menu again.

Fetch files on your PC

If you have the OneDrive desktop app for Windows installed on a PC, you can use the Fetch files feature to access all your files on that PC from another computer by going to the OneDrive website. You can even access network locations if they’re included in the PC’s libraries or mapped as drives. When you browse a PC’s files remotely, you can download copies of them to work on. You can also stream video and view photos in a slide show. To access files on your PC remotely, make sure the PC you want to access is turned on and connected to the Internet. OneDrive also needs to be running on that PC, and the Fetch files setting must be selected.

NOTE   You can use a PC running Windows 8.1 to fetch files that are on another PC, but you can’t fetch files that are on a PC running Windows 8.1, even if you install the OneDrive desktop app on that PC.

Select the Fetch files setting

If you didn’t select the Fetch files setting when you set up the OneDrive app, you can select it in Settings.

  1. Go to the PC where OneDrive is installed.
  2. Right-click the OneDrive icon in the notification area, at the far right of the taskbar. (You might need to click the Show hidden icons arrow next to the notification area to see the icon.) Then click Settings.
  3. On the Settings tab, under General, select Let me use OneDrive to fetch any of my files on this PC, and then click OK.

Then, restart the OneDrive app to complete the process.

  1. Right-click the OneDrive icon in the notification area, at the far right of the taskbar. (You might need to click the Show hidden icons arrow next to the notification area to see the icon.) Then click Settings.
  2. Click Start, enter OneDrive in the search box, and then click MicrosoftOneDrive. This opens your OneDrive folder, and also starts the OneDrive service.

TIP   To make sure OneDrive always starts when you sign in to Windows, right-click the OneDrive icon in the notification area, and then click Settings. On the Settings tab, under General, select Start OneDrive automatically when I sign in to Windows, and then click OK.

How to Disable OneDrive and Remove It from File Explorer

Windows 10 includes OneDrive, and Microsoft’s official party line is that you can’t disable it. That’s not true — there are several ways to disable OneDrive and remove it from File Explorer on Windows 10.

Microsoft provides a group policy setting that can disable OneDrive on Professional editions of Windows 10. Windows 10 Home users can use the below registry hack to get rid of OneDrive instead.

For Windows 10 Home

This method is ideal for users of Windows 10 Home who want to get rid of OneDrive without stripping it completely out of the operating system. It’s completely reversible if you ever want to use OneDrive again.

To do this, first right-click the OneDrive icon in your notification area — it looks like a little white cloud — and select Settings. You might have to click the up arrow button to view all the system tray icons before you see the OneDrive icon.

Uncheck the “Start OneDrive automatically when I sign in to Windows” option and save your settings. OneDrive won’t load at startup anymore.

If you don’t plan on using OneDrive, you may also want to click or tap the “Unlink OneDrive” button here. This will stop OneDrive from syncing until you set it up again. It’ll be grayed out if you haven’t yet set up OneDrive.

You now just need to remove that “OneDrive” option located in the navigation pane of the FIle Explorer window. This requires a quick registry hack.

Download our Remove OneDrive From File Explorer registry hack. Open the .zip file and double-click the appropriate .reg file for for your version of Windows, depending on whether you have a 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows 10. We’ve also included a .reg file that will restore the OneDrive entry if you ever decide you want it back.

OneDrive should vanish from File Explorer immediately after you add the information in the .reg file to your registry. If it doesn’t, try rebooting your PC and re-opening FIle Explorer.

(To check whether you’re using a 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows 10, open the Start menu and launch the Settings app. Navigate to System > About. Look at “System type” and see whether it says you’re using a “64-bit operating system” or “32-bit operating system.”)

(You could also do this by hand, of course. The above .reg files modify the System.IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree DWORD value under HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{018D5C66-4533-4307-9B53-224DE2ED1FE6}\ to 0, from its default of 1. On 64-bit editions of Windows, it also changes the System.IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree DWORD value under HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Wow6432Node\CLSID\{018D5C66-4533-4307-9B53-224DE2ED1FE6\. To undo the change, set the same settings back to the original value of 1.)

If any local copies of your OneDrive files have synced to your PC, you may want to delete them to free up space. Navigate to the C:\Users\NAME\OneDrive folder, which contains your user’s downloaded OneDrive files. These won’t be automatically deleted when you unlink your account and stop syncing. Deleting them won’t delete them from OneDrive if your account is unlinked from OneDrive — they’ll just be deleted from your local device.

For Windows 10 Professional, Enterprise, and Education

Professional, Enterprise, and Education editions of Windows 10 get access to the Group Policy Editor. This utility provides an advanced option that allows you to disable OneDrive system-wide, but Windows 10 Home users can’t use this.

To do this, press the Windows key to open the Start menu’s search box, type gpedit.msc into it, and press Enter to open the Group Policy Editor. Navigate to the following folder:

Local Computer Policy\Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\OneDrive

Double-click the “Prevent the usage of OneDrive for file storage” policy setting in the right pane, set it to “Enabled,” and click “OK.”

This completely disables access to OneDrive. OneDrive will be hidden from File Explorer and users won’t be allowed to launch it. You won’t be able to access OneDrive at all, not even from within Windows Store apps or use the camera roll upload feature. To undo this change, just head back to here and change the policy to “Not Configured” instead of “Enabled.”

There doesn’t seem to be an associated registry setting you can modify to get the same effect as the group policy setting on Windows 10. The “DisableFileSync” and “DisableFileSyncNGSC” registry settings that worked on Windows 8.1 no longer works on Windows 10.

Not Recommended: What About Uninstalling OneDrive?

There’s another tip going around — a method that uses the OneDrive installer lying in the Windows system folder to uninstall OneDrive from your system. We don’t recommend this option for several reasons. We aren’t sure how to get OneDrive back if you uninstall it like this, short of resetting your Windows 10 PC to its default state. Windows 10 could potentially run the built-in installer again to reenable OneDrive after an update in the future, but the tweaks above will disable it more cleanly.

If you’re really convinced you want to strip OneDrive out of your system — rather than just disabling it cleanly with the above methods — you can open a Command Prompt window as administrator and run the following command to ensure OneDrive isn’t running:

taskkill /f /im OneDrive.exe

After you do, run the following command to uninstall OneDrive on a 64-bit edition of Windows 10:

%SystemRoot%\System32\OneDriveSetup.exe /uninstall

Or, run the following command to uninstall OneDrive on a 32-bit edition of Windows 10:

%SystemRoot%\SysWOW64\OneDriveSetup.exe /uninstall