OneDrive finally catches up to Google Drive and iCloud with an offline mode – here’s how to set it up

Microsoft OneDrive has finally introduced a feature long considered a staple of Google Drive and iCloud: an offline mode. The mode will be rolled out to students and professionals from today onwards, allowing users to save and edit work whether they have an internet connection or not. 

Offline mode for the web version of OneDrive will now let you open your files in the various sections of the program, like your shared folder and meeting views, as well as edit your documents, rename them, and sort them – all without needing an internet connection. 

All these changes will be ‘saved’ offline and implemented once you regain internet connectivity with your changes synced to the cloud. Files will be marked as ‘available offline’ as they are in Google Drive. 

How to set it up

If you want to use the new offline mode for OneDrive, you’ll need to install the OneDrive app on your Windows or Mac device. Once you’ve done that, you need to head over to OneDrive on your web browser of choice. 

You should be prompted to complete the one-time setup for offline mode, and voila! You’re all set! You should bear in mind that there are limitations on what you can and cannot do with offline mode at present. As MSPoweruser reports, offline mode only includes support if you have 250,000 files or fewer – hopefully, you do! – and the feature is currently only supported for OneDrive for work and school (although a wider rollout is presumably in the works). 

While long overdue, this is a great chance for Onedrive users who have to work on the go and make last-minute changes to work, and it helps take the stress off those unfortunate times when your Wi-Fi crashes and you worry about losing all your progress! Hopefully, this will tempt more people to try the file management program – now that it’s finally up to speed with basically every other alternative

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Fed up with OneDrive in Windows 11? Microsoft clarifies that you can easily remove the cloud storage app

Windows 11 users can uninstall OneDrive – in case you weren’t aware of that – and Microsoft has made this clearer with a change to a support document.

Neowin picked up on this alteration Microsoft made to its guide on how to ‘Turn off, disable, or uninstall OneDrive’ which is part of its library of troubleshooting support documentation.

Now, as Neowin informs us, previously this document did not mention Windows 11 – it only referred to Windows 10. And that might have given some users the impression that it was only possible to remove OneDrive on Windows 10, and not Windows 11.

This isn’t the case, of course, and you can unhook OneDrive from Windows 11, removing it completely, just as you can with Windows 10. By mentioning both operating systems, Microsoft is now making it clear that this is the case.

Microsoft has also fleshed out this support document with further instructions on how to stop syncing OneDrive and other details relating to its cloud storage service.

Oddly, though, another support document on how to ‘Turn off OneDrive in Windows’ still only mentions Windows 10, and not Windows 11. However, it might be the case that Microsoft is in the process of updating this sprawling library of content, and just hasn’t reached that page yet.

Analysis: Removing OneDrive is a cinch

This is useful confirmation to get from Microsoft, as it was easy enough to make negative assumptions about hidden agendas here – when in truth the likelihood is the software giant just hadn’t got round to updating the support info (and still hasn’t with some articles, as we just noted). Although Neowin also points out, it’s possible that this updating process has been prompted by Microsoft now having to comply with new European regulations (the Digital Markets Act).

If you haven’t popped over to view the links to the support info, you may be wondering what the process for uninstalling OneDrive from either Windows 10 or Windows 11 is. Fortunately, it’s simple: just go to ‘Add or remove programs’ (type that in the search box on the taskbar, then click on it), scroll down the list of apps to find Microsoft OneDrive (it’s under ‘M’ and not ‘O’ just to clarify), and then select Uninstall.

This doesn’t mean that you’re completely nuking your OneDrive account, in case there’s any doubt. All your files will still be in OneDrive when you visit the site on the web (or from another, say mobile, app), just as normal – all you are doing is removing the app from Windows 11, and this way of accessing your files on your Windows PC (and any syncing or related features therein).

Some of the confusion about not being able to uninstall OneDrive in Windows 11 at all may have sprung from the fact that it wasn’t possible to remove the cloud storage app from Windows 8.1.

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Your Microsoft OneDrive storage is about to get smarter thanks to this time-saving Copilot feature

Microsoft’s on fire recently with the addition of some super-useful features thanks to its artificial intelligence assistant Copilot, and it looks like OneDrive is finally getting a much-needed AI boost. Soon, you’ll be able to search through your files without having to open them to find the relevant info simply by asking Copilot the question you want answered. 

Say you’re looking for a specific figure or quote but you have too many files to start searching, or you’re like me and don’t organize anything into folders at all (oops). Instead of opening every document and scanning through to find the specific bit of info you’re looking for, you’ll be able to pull up Copilot and tell it what you want to find. You could ask it to find a specific bit of info from a lecture presentation, or group project, and Copilot will go through the files and provide the relevant answers. 

According to MSPoweruser, this feature will work across multiple file types including DOC, DOCX, PDF, TXT,  and more, so you won’t be restricted to just Word documents. 

The feature is included in Microsoft’s 365 roadmap, due to be released to users sometime in May 2024. Hopefully, we’ll see this trickle down to Microsoft’s free Office for Web suite (formerly known as Office Online) which includes an in-browser version of Microsoft Word and 5GB of OneDrive cloud storage. 

A win for the unorganized girlies

This feature alone is enough to entice me away from Google Drive just for the convenience alone. There’s nothing worse than having to crawl through your folders and files to find something you’re looking for. 

I would have appreciated this feature when I was at university, especially with how many notes and textbooks I had scattered around my school One Drive account. By bringing Copilot into the mix, I could have found whatever I was looking for so much faster and saved myself from a fair amount of panic. 

If you work in an industry where you’re constantly dealing with new documents with critical information every day, or a student consistently downloading research papers or textbooks, this new addition to Copilot's nifty AI-powered skill set is well worth keeping an eye out for. 

While I am disappointed this feature will be locked behind the Microsoft 365 subscription, it’s not surprising – Microsoft is investing a lot of time and money into Copilot, so it makes sense that it would use its more advanced features to encourage people to pay to subscribe to Microsoft 365. However, there’s a danger that if it paywalls all the most exciting features, Copilot could struggle to be as popular as it deserves to be. Microsoft won’t want another Clippy or Cortana on its hands.

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OneDrive is getting a glow-up, promising an optimized interface and power-packed features to help you navigate your files

Microsoft has given OneDrive a visual and functional makeover, rolling it out in an update for OneDrive personal users. 

The update was announced last month by Microsoft, promising a revamped OneDrive user experience with a revised sleek design and powerful new features. Now, the update is actually rolling out to OneDrive personal users.

The tech titan posted the announcement on its official blog and it’s begun the gradual rollout to users, stating that the changes will be available to all OneDrive personal users by the end of February. It elaborates that the changes are purposely designed to help users perform tasks more quickly in OneDrive, as well as find it easier to focus on their files.

One of the new features that users can look forward to is People View. This will show users their contacts with all of the files that they collaborate on together – so you don’t have to remember the names of files if they’re shared between you and a contact. Often, we can remember who we share files with or who shares files with us more easily than a specific file’s name. Additionally, users will be able to filter files by type, so if you want to see all the Word documents or Excel spreadsheets on your OneDrive, you can use specific Word or Excel filters while searching. 

 Additional OneDrive functionality 

Microsoft has also expanded the Add New button’s functionality to give users the options to both upload to OneDrive or to begin a new document. Being able to do either from a single button, Microsoft hopes this will make working on OneDrive more streamlined for users. 

It looks like these upgrades will apply to all users with a OneDrive account. You can access OneDrive on desktop with Microsoft 365 or online for free with a Microsoft account. In its announcement blog post, Microsoft also mentions that it’s open to feedback and you can provide your opinion in the OneDrive feedback portal. 

It’s a solid set of developments for OneDrive that Microsoft willlooks set to deliver for a better organized and faster serviceOneDrive, as long as these changes arrive on time. If Microsoft continues along this path for OneDrive, I could see OneDrive becoming more and more users’ choice of cloud storage. You may be able to see these changes already if you have OneDrive but everyone or should be able to access them before the end ofsome time in  February. 

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Microsoft finds a new way to annoy users by forcing survey on users who attempt to close OneDrive app

Oops… Looks like Microsoft’s done it again… and by ‘it’ I mean added another pushy survey on users who try to close OneDrive. You read that right – just trying to close OneDrive in Windows 11 will prompt a survey window to pop up and ask why you’d even think of doing such a thing. 

The pop-up window reads: 

“Quit OneDrive? 

If you close OneDrive, files in your OneDrive folder won’t sync or back up to the cloud so you won’t see your changes across devices. “

You then get a dropdown box titled Select a reason for quitting OneDrive.

There are also two options: Cancel (and to exit out of the termination process, hence continuing to run OneDrive), or to Quit OneDrive which is grayed out until you pick a reason. Microsoft insists on an explanation before letting you quit the app. 

Here are the possible reasons you can choose from:

  • I don’t want OneDrive running all the time
  • I don’t know what OneDrive is
  • I don’t use OneDrive
  • I’m trying to fix a problem with OneDrive
  • I’m trying to speed up my computer
  • I get too many notifications
  • Other

If you’re actually serious about wanting to quit OneDrive, you’ll have to choose one of these. Oddly enough “Because I want to. What kind of question is this?” isn’t an option. Or you might just consider looking for a different cloud storage service altogether.

Young woman with cat using laptop

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Trying to make sense of Microsoft's decisions

First spotted by Neowin, this dialog box appears every single time you try to quit OneDrive from your taskbar. 

While this development is baffling, it’s not a huge difference from how annoying it was to close OneDrive before this update. The action was hidden as the confusing option of Pause syncing in the menu that appears when you right-click OneDrive in the taskbar. 

Microsoft has been propping up OneDrive as the new default central location for file management, absorbing both the Documents and Pictures libraries and syncing them to Microsoft's cloud storage in Windows 11. If you haven’t set up OneDrive yet and this syncing hasn’t happened by default for some reason, Microsoft will continue to remind you to do so while you use Windows 11. For example, one such prompt appears when you try to change your desktop wallpaper. 

Tsk tsk, Microsoft. I don’t know why you would think this was a good idea. The amount of feedback Microsoft might gather about this just doesn’t seem worth the bad will of users that increases with each development like this. Just a little while back, we wrote about how Microsoft persistently polled users who used Edge to try and download Chrome, demanding to know why they were making the switch. A sidebar window would literally display a poll right on the download page of Chrome.

Now, you need to justify your decision to close out OneDrive or you won’t be allowed to pause it. 

Tom Warren of The Verge has a great tip if you want to circumvent this silliness altogether – you can open Task Manager, look for Microsoft OneDrive (or perform a search), and stop it running by ending the task. This is a little tedious, but it also allows you to bypass the Microsoft inquisition. Warren jests that we might see Microsoft put a poll ahead of us trying to shut down our Windows machines, asking why you’d even want to turn off your computer. With every story like this, a joke like that becomes all the easier to imagine. 


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Microsoft OneDrive will soon let you take out your frustrations on those hated files

There may soon be a way to cleanse your Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint accounts of pesky large folders, freeing up much-needed storage space and decluttering your mind for good.

The company is working on a new update for its cloud storage service that will allow users to delete large folders on Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint Document Libraries on web.

The move will cover folders holding up to 10,000 items, meaning it could be the solution your overcrowded account needs to make some room for new items.

Microsoft OneDrive purge

The official entry on the Microsoft 365 roadmap notes that the feature is still in development for now, but should have a general release in March 2022. It is listed as being available to all Web users of OneDrive and SharePoint around the world.

With hybrid working now a common experience for most businesses, cloud-based services such as OneDrive have become pivotal to making sure organizations stay connected, wherever they may be located.

Microsoft recently revealed an update for OneDrive that will embed the cloud storage service more deeply into its productivity ecosystem by working more closely with its online collaboration app Microsoft Teams.

The idea is to use this heightened level of interoperability to make it as inconvenient as possible to break away from the Microsoft ecosystem, even if a company or individual has adopted just a small selection of services.

The company also recently made it easier for remote workers to ensure that important tasks don’t slip through the cracks with another OneDrive update that provides a dedicated feed to highlight recent activity associated with their files.

However, concerns were raised in a separate area of Windows recently when Microsoft was forced to admit that its data wiping tool didn't always completely clean everything it needed to.

Although data collected by TechRadar Pro suggests Google Drive is currently the most popular cloud storage service by some margin, Microsoft will hope OneDrive improvements like these will help capture a larger portion of the business market.

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OneDrive update offers a peek into Microsoft’s master plan

Microsoft is preparing an update for OneDrive that will embed the cloud storage service more deeply into its ecosystem of productivity and collaboration apps.

According to a new entry in the company’s product roadmap, Microsoft 365 users will soon benefit from a new synergy between OneDrive and Teams.

“In OneDrive, we are adding a ‘Your Teams’ section to the ‘More Places’ page to allow you to easily find and work with your files in Teams,” Microsoft explained.

The new feature is still under development for now, but is scheduled to roll out to all relevant customers in April.

Microsoft Teams, meet OneDrive

Although Microsoft remains the dominant brand in the office software space, Google stole the march when it came to bringing productivity tools into the cloud. In addition to the flexibility this afforded customers, the move also gave Google more freedom to build interactions between its apps.

While Microsoft has long offered web-based versions of its famous software, the company is now focusing more closely on tightening up the relationship between each of its services, extending all the way out to the Windows OS on which most business computers run.

The idea is to use this heightened level of interoperability to make it as inconvenient as possible to break away from the Microsoft ecosystem, even if a company or individual has adopted just a small selection of services.

The upcoming Microsoft 365 update is a reflection of this strategy, improving the fluidity with which users can utilize the file-sharing and management functionalities available with both OneDrive and Teams.

Other recent examples include the integration of Microsoft Teams and LinkedIn, the professional social network owned by Microsoft, and trade-in initiative designed to increase the volume of Microsoft hardware in office meeting rooms.

In addition to improving the interoperability of its apps, Microsoft is also working to ensure it is able to reach as wide an audience as possible. For example, the company recently announced a host of features aimed at frontline workers, a previously underserved demographic, as well as new accessibility functionality.

Although the latest Microsoft 365 announcement will have a comparatively small effect on the overall user experience, it’s one piece of a much larger puzzle Microsoft is attempting to assemble.

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Microsoft accused of using Windows to push OneDrive and Teams over rivals

A coalition of software and cloud companies has filed a complaint with the European Commission (EC) against Microsoft's anti-competitive behavior of bundling its OneDrive cloud storage, Teams, and other services with Windows 10 and Windows 11.

The Coalition for a Level Playing Field includes several European Union (EU)-based companies led by open source hosted cloud storage vendor Nextcloud.

“This is quite similar to what Microsoft did when it killed competition in the [web] browser market, stopping nearly all browser innovation for over a decade. Copy an innovators' product, bundle it with your own dominant product and kill their business, then stop innovating,” says Frank Karlitschek, CEO and founder of Nextcloud.

Big Tech 

Arguing that Microsoft’s behavior is bad for the consumers, the coalition has asked the EC to enforce a level playing field for all the players, and ensure that Microsoft doesn’t leverage its dominant market position in the operating system sector to drive out competition in other segments.

Besides Nextcloud, the coalition includes several prominent open source, and non-profit organizations, such as European DIGITAL SME Alliance, the Document Foundation, and the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE).

On their homepage, the coalition suggests that the anti-competitive behaviour of Big Tech is not only killing competition, but in doing so is harming the consumers and business. 

“Microsoft is integrating [Microsoft] 365 deeper and deeper in their service and software portfolio, including Windows. OneDrive is pushed wherever users deal with file storage and Teams is a default part of Windows 11. This makes it nearly impossible to compete with their SaaS [Software-as-a-Service] services,” reasons the coalition.

To further drive home the point, it argues that while Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have grown their market share to 66% in the EU, the share of local providers has contracted from 26% to 16%. 

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