Microsoft’s take on the cloud, SkyDrive, has been around the market since 2007, but as time passed and competition increased, it was rarely considered amongst the top cloud storage services, or as the most viable. Nowadays, where the average user can choose between DropBox, Google Drive, iCloud and various others, Microsoft is struggling to keep afloat with their final push towards success: Windows 8 domination.
While developers expect Windows 8 to give users a boost, we’re here to show you that Microsoft SkyDrive can be more than plain useful, especially when you discover its true advantages and the hidden gems. In this regard, today we’re going to present eight of the most helpful SkyDrive tips and tricks, which can be used to boost performance and create a more pleasant storage experience.
8 Helpful SkyDrive Tips and Tricks
As we’ve previously hinted, Microsoft has high hopes with SkyDrive. Starting with Windows 8, the touch desktop experience and embedding helpful features in the latest Office suite, Microsoft really wants to outpace completion with the use of broad-integration. A service of such manners, which can be encountered at every step for a regular Windows owner might as well become the primary choice for those wanting cloud storage.
At this moment, Microsoft SkyDrive offers 7GB of free storage for new users, and from time to time, it may distribute special offers, which expand the limitation. Built using HTML5 technology, Skydrive is compatible with drag-and-drop shares of files below 300 MB of storage and requires a desktop application for bigger variants (up to 2GB), which can be installed on both Windows and Mac OS X platforms. Now that the basics are out of the way, here’s what you can really do with Skydrive:
How to set SkyDrive as the primary drive
SkyDrive can be set as the primary save option for personal files by altering the options of the Library. The change is easy to perform, and at the end of the day, files saved here will be automatically synchronized across all devices:
- Open a “My Computer” window and in the left panel, click on SkyDrive.
- Create the Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos folders within the cloud service.
- Now right-click on Libraries (usually situated under SkyDrive) and then go for Properties.
- In this menu, tap on “Include a folder” and then choose the main SkyDrive director.
- Under Library Locations, select the path which includes the SkyDrive folder and then click on “Set save location.” Also, make sure that the “Show in navigation pane” option is checked.
- Repeat the procedure for each of the four folders created above.
How to move the desktop on the cloud
For most of us, the desktop is the primary working location. It is easy to access, and it’s the only folder that constantly reminds users of their unfinished work. Having the desktop synchronized by SkyDrive directly is an advantage that cannot be replicated by other cloud solutions, such as Google Drive. So, if you want SkyDrive to move the desktop online, you will have to:
- Navigate to “C:\Users\YourUser,” where C: is the drive where Windows is currently installed.
- Now right-click on the Desktop folder and select properties.
- Click on the Location tab found in the upper section of the window and then click on the Move button.
- In the newly appeared Explorer panel, navigate to your user again and click on the SkyDrive extension.
- Within the SkyDrive folder, create a directory called Desktop and then select it as the desirable option.
- Click OK and then YES on the warning message, and that’s it. Every time you will add items to the main desktop, they will be backed up on the cloud.
Access Every File On Your PC Remotely
The little trick we did above with the desktop can also be performed for every folder whatsoever. This means that every directory in the computer can be backed up online without having to actually move it inside a cloud-specific folder. But, as you’ve seen above, a simple process of marking one folder as editable between devices can take a while.
Thanks to a little tweak made by Jan Hannemann, syncing folders to SkyDrive has never been easier. All you have to do is download a shell extension, and after the installation is complete, syncing files can be simply done with a right click and a quick selection. After taking a quick look through user reviews, we’ve found that this tiny application may act a bit funny with some accounts (new files not added in the synced folder, there is no option for stop sync, etc.). Use with caution.
Work with others on Office files
Those wishing to work with their colleagues on a Microsoft Office document, be it Word, Excel, or a PowerPoint presentation, can now do so in a live session. If a file that is part of the Office suite is opened directly from the SkyDrive website by multiple users, all of them will work directly with a live version of the document, seeing changes done without delay. This could be a great tool for those brainstorming over distance and a helping hand for editors and journalists.
Use Windows 8 applications with SkyDrive
Microsoft has integrated SkyDrive not only in the latest Office suite but in a wide range of independent applications and system features, such as the Windows lockscreen itself or the SketchBook. While in the first service, users are given the option of choosing a lockscreen background right from the cloud, in SketchBook, you can save images right on SkyDrive. All of this is done from the menu itself and without tweaking the application in any way.
At this moment, Microsoft vouches for over twelve of these applications, which come fully integrated with SkyDrive. Pairing the cloud service with software can be done using the SkyDrive API by any developer:
- Android Explorer
- Browser for Android
- PDF Expert for iPad
How to set Sharing Permissions for Files
SkyDrive allows owners to share files with other accounts using simple links, which can be accessed to view or change a certain location. As a basic security matter, Microsoft has embedded an option that controls permissions to files and folders, giving owners the option to control whether the file is meant for public access, view only, or with full editing permissions.
Moreover, this little setting can also be used when sharing via emails or social media websites. Those who wish to see who has been editing the shared files have an option for that, too, by requiring users to log in before making any changes. Unfortunately, all of these are available from the Windows 8 application:
- Open the SkyDrive app for Win 8.
- Select the desired file and then tap on “Get a link” from the left column.
- Choose what kind of permissions the file should have.
- After sharing this link, a list with all the users having access will appear in the right panel. By clicking on someone’s name, you can once more set permissions.
Integrate SkyDrive with Gmail
SkyDrive can also be set to upload and share files on Gmail directly from Google’s main website. All you have to do is install Attachments.me as a Chrome Extension or a Firefox Add-on, restart the browser and then warp to Google Mail. Once you click the compose button, you will notice that when attaching a file, you will have two new options:
- Share from SkyDrive: to upload a file directly from the cloud and attach it to the email
- Send a file to SkyDrive & share: to send a file to the cloud and then share it
The only catch is that files shared using this extension can only be viewed but not edited.
Recover files using the Online Recycle Bin
Those that delete files by accident would be happy to know that SkyDrive has an online Recycle Bin, which collects all the files removed from the cloud and the past 25 changes made to that document. Unlike a regular Recycle Bin, where only the final version of the document can be recovered, SkyDrive permits users to restore files to any of these previous versions when necessary.
To avoid storage congestion, items found in the online Recycle Bin will be automatically deleted after 30 days, but if their total size exceeds 10% of the storage limit, the oldest item will be removed after 3 days.
This little feature also works outside the Recycle Bin, SkyDrive preserving the last 25 versions of one file everywhere. To access one of these versions, all you have to do is navigate to the Info panel in the Windows 8 application and tap on the Previous Version menu.
These tips should greatly enhance your Skydrive experience. Let us know how you like them, or if you have any important tip in addition to those we have mentioned above.