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How to Use OneDrive

Microsoft OneDrive is a cloud storage tool with over 250 million users. We consolidated our top six tips on the best features of Microsoft OneDrive and how to use them.

Small businesses that want to store and organize their documents online are rapidly adopting cloud storage software. Today, we’ll explain how to use one of the largest players in this space: Microsoft OneDrive.

OneDrive is a cloud storage service included in Microsoft’s document management software: Microsoft 365. OneDrive is best for businesses that prefer Microsoft over Google and are in need of a cloud storage solution.

OneDrive is similar to other cloud storage software such as Google Drive and Dropbox Business.

New and prospective customers often need introductory guidance about how to use OneDrive. Because of this, we’ve put together a one-stop guide to the best features in OneDrive and how to use them.

Table of Contents

How to Get Started with OneDrive

Customers typically get started with OneDrive in one of several ways:

  • Purchasing Microsoft 365
  • Purchasing a Windows computer, which typically includes a native installation of OneDrive
  • Downloading the standalone OneDrive application
  • Accessing the OneDrive web application

OneDrive works on iOS and Android operating systems. There is also a desktop application for Macs.

Although OneDrive comes with paid versions of Microsoft 365 or any Windows computer, you can sign up for OneDrive for free by creating a Microsoft account. To do this, go to OneDrive’s website and select “Sign up for free”.

Once you’ve created your OneDrive account either with an email or phone number, you can use OneDrive’s browser, desktop, or mobile version. We recommend downloading both the desktop version and mobile app version of OneDrive. This is because you can access offline files with either device and have access to the best user experience of OneDrive.

Six Tips for Using OneDrive

We’ve used Microsoft OneDrive ourselves and composed six tips for using the software below. Screenshots are included to provide context and show Microsoft OneDrive’s interface.

#1. Share Content With Collaborators

One of the primary use cases of OneDrive, other than storing your own files, is sharing and working on files with collaborators.


Sharing on OneDrive is as easy as right clicking on any file and typing the email addresses of the individuals you want to collaborate with. You can also edit permissions and link settings. Alternatively, you can click on copy link to send the link directly to your collaborators.

If you’re sharing Microsoft Word, Excel, or Powerpoint files, edits made by either you or your collaborators will sync instantly. This means that you’ll always have access to the most updated versions of your files in OneDrive.

#2. Organize Your Files With OneDrive’s Views

OneDrive comes with several views that allow you to customize how you would like to organize and search through your files. We recommend exploring the different views to determine which is most effective for your business. You can view files through the following ways:

  • My files: This will list all of the files that you've uploaded to OneDrive.
  • Recent: This shows you all of the Office documents that have recently been opened.
  • Photos: Shows all of the photos you've uploaded to OneDrive filtered by date.
  • Shared: Shows files you've shared or that other people have shared with you.
  • Recycle bin: Displays files that have been discarded.

Once you’ve selected your preferred view, you can choose to show additional info about selected files. For example, with images, you'll be able to see details like which camera was used. For photos that were captured on a smartphone, location data may also be available.

#3. Secure and Protect Your Files

OneDrive comes with several built-in ways to protect and secure your files.

One of the best tools for securing your files is the OneDrive Personal Vault. This is a protected folder that requires additional levels of account authentication; such as with a PIN number, a facial scan, or even your fingerprints.


Other than the personal vault, here are some tips to help you secure your files on OneDrive:

Use a secure password

One of the most basic ways you can ensure your files are secure is using a secure password. Secure password best practices include:

  • Longer password length
  • Mix of upper and lowercase letters
  • Inclusion of numbers
  • No ties to your personal information
  • No repeating numbers or letters
  • Avoid commonly used passwords

Add security information to your Microsoft account

We recommend adding security information to your Microsoft account. Common information includes your phone number, a backup email address, and security questions & answers. This will allow Microsoft to verify your identity in the event that you forget your password, or otherwise lose access to your OneDrive account.

Take advantage of two-factor verification

Using multiple layers of authentication adds additional protection to your OneDrive account. When you log in, you will need to authenticate your identity through a second device. Typically, this happens through a call, text, or even an app.

When two-factor verification is enabled, you will need a security code to sign in from an unknown device.

#4. Access Your Files Offline

OneDrive, like many other cloud storage systems, allows you to access your files offline. This allows you to access and update your files on the go.

You can access and sync files on the following devices:

DeviceOperating Systems
  • Windows
  • Mac
  • Windows
  • iOS
  • Android

Files will sync automatically once you do connect to the internet. This streamlines your workflow by automatically updating you or your teammates’ changes.

#5. Restore Previous Versions of Your Documents

The version history tab lets you view and restore older copies of the items that you've stored on OneDrive. The version history feature is compatible with most types of files, including PDFs, photos, and video files.

You have direct access to every file version that's been autosaved. You can see all changes that were made in each version.Furthermore, you can see the exact changes that were made by different team members.

#6. Scan and Store Your Documents

OneDrive allows you to scan your documents, whiteboards, and business cards using your phone's camera. These files are automatically stored in OneDrive. This is particularly helpful if you are on the go and need to scan any physical documents for later use.

Once you’ve scanned your documents, you can edit them in a number of ways.

  • Crop
  • Rotate
  • Add text
  • Sign

We recommend using OneDrive’s native electronic signature feature to sign documents as soon as you scan them. Combined with OneDrive’s sharing capabilities, scanning and signing documents is a powerful method to streamline operations.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, OneDrive is a versatile piece of software. It’s a world-class file storage system with a high level of security. It also has several tools for uploading and sharing your files.Its features can be leveraged to facilitate team collaboration and access files on the go. If you want to learn more about OneDrive, check out our Microsoft 365 review or our comparison with Google Drive.

Yousef Fatehpour

Yousef Fatehpour is a Junior Research Analyst at SoftwarePundit. He graduated from University of California, San Diego, where he studied Human Centered Design and Communications. His work at UCSD's Design Lab emphasized UX research and product management.

Yousef's primary areas of interest are software design, user journeys, and how user experience is handled across software markets. Yousef also has experience in product design and multimedia content production. You can connect with Yousef on LinkedIn.

Yousef is an expert in several software categories including:

  • SMS marketing software
  • Document management software
  • Human resource software
  • Applicant tracking software
  • Design software

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