OneDrive – the consumer-oriented file-sharing service, www.onedrive.com – has added a nice new feature which replicates functionality that used to be possible with other Microsoft file syncing technologies in days gone by, and is a key part of other services like DropBox.
It’s been possible to share folders with people for a long time on OneDrive, or even share individual documents (handy for when you want to make a presentation available to a customer or a conference organizer, for example, and don’t fancy emailing them a 30Mb file), but it’s just been stepped up a gear by allowing people with whom you share your stuff, to synchronise that content onto their own PC.
To get started, put your content into OneDrive either directly from the web UI, by using the OneDrive app or by using the built-in OneDrive client in Windows 10 (look for the white cloud in your system tray, if you’ve set up your Microsoft Account within Windows 10).
Windows 8 can have the OneDrive client installed, and there’s one built-in to Windows 8.1, but, as yet, it appears not to support this sharing functionality – the line is, “Windows 8.1 users, upgrade for free to Windows 10…”
You can also see what other people have shared with you by looking here, or by going to the OneDrive homepage and clicking on the Shared section on the left. You’ll see all the stuff that’s been shared with you previously, and can selectively decide not to show some folders in future – or in the case of content that you’ve been given the ability to add to or edit, you’ll be able to sync those folders to your local PC too.
If you view such a shared folder in OneDrive (via the link that’s emailed to you when your friend sends the sharing email, for example), it will take you straight into that list of shared content, and (again, if you have Edit rights), will give you the option of adding that folder to your own OneDrive. As well as appearing in your Shared list, the folder will now show up in the regular list of folders you see when you look in OneDrive, even though it doesn’t belong to you.
If you’d like to sync that content for offline consumption on your own machine, then users of Windows 10 can right-click on the OneDrive client icon in your taskbar and choose Settings, then Choose Folders, you’ll see the newly-shared folder appear in the list of folder available to sync, just as if it belongs to your own OneDrive storage. Check the box next to the new content to keep a synchronised copy along with your own OneDrive content. Looking at the shared, synced files in Windows Explorer, you won’t be able to see who originally posted the file into the folder, but if you view it in the browser, then it’s possible to see that info.
You might want to think about this when setting up shared folders with lots of contributors – collecting photos from a stag do or a company event, for example, it may be best to ask each contributor to create their own folder so it’s easier to see who’s responsible for the pictures, and to stop them inadvertently mucking around with each other’s