3 Tips to help you get the most out of OneDrive in Windows 10

There is no doubt that OneDrive is perhaps the best cloud storage service for a Windows 10 PC. Yes, there are many different cloud storage services out there, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Apple's iCloud, Box, and others. However, if we can move past the placeholder dilemma for some users, you'll see that OneDrive offers the best integration with Windows 10.

On a previous article, Richard gave us a number of very good reasons why you should OneDrive. Today, we're going to go through a few tips you can use to get the most out of the cloud storage service from Microsoft.

Tip #1 - Remote access to your files at home

Of course, the purpose of OneDrive is to offer online storage, a place where we can safely sync files between devices – computers, tablets, or smartphones. However, what happens when you forget to upload the presentation you have created at home and you need it for the next meeting at work? Or you happen to need an application on another computer and the only installation files are located on your computer at home?

If you don't like to upload every file to OneDrive, or you simply forgot to upload specific files to the service, Microsoft has your back with the Fetch feature in OneDrive. When you enable Fetch, you can have access to all your computer files on the OneDrive website. Even more interesting, you can also access network locations, such as those included in the libraries and mapped drives.

The Fetch feature is very impressive, as it allows you to download a copy of any files from anywhere, and you can also stream videos and view pictures remotely right from the web browser. But remember, it all works as long you have your computer turned on and connected to the internet.

If you like the idea of accessing your private files from the internet, you also need to make sure the feature is enabled:

  1. From the notification area right-click the OneDrive icon and click Settings.
  2. Then make sure to check Let me use OneDrive to fetch any of my files on this PC.
  3. Click OK to finish.

That all you have to do, you don't have to configure your router or firewall -- it just works.

Now, open your web browser sign-in to your Microsoft Account, and under PCs, click the name of your computer. Then, you should be able to see the location available to you, including Favorites, Libraries, and This PC. These allow you to have access to the **C:**, internal and external connected drives.

Quick Tip: Make sure you enable Fetch and test the feature by trying to access the files. If it doesn't work, right-click the OneDrive icon in the notification area, click Exit, and launch the app again from the Start menu.

It's a great feature that can save your day at any moment, but there are a few things to keep in mind. For example, Fetch is not supported on PCs running Windows 8.1, and you can use access files from Mac computer, but you can't access files on a Mac computer using OneDrive. Also, you may also be asked to enter a verification code. So, fetching works best on PCs running Windows 10.

Tip #2 - Accessing OneDrive files from a different account in Windows 10

If you don't have an Office 365 subscription, or you're not paying to get more storage in OneDrive, or you don't want to keep all your files in one account, you probably have multiple OneDrive accounts. However, because you're likely using your main Microsoft Account to sign-in to Windows 10, you only have access one OneDrive account at a time through File Explorer.

What you probably did not know is that the OneDrive app allows you to connect to a different account while staying logged in with your main Microsoft Account in the operating system.

Connecting a different OneDrive account to your computer without changing your current Microsoft Account in Windows 10 is very straight forward process:

1- From the notification area right-click the OneDrive icon and click Settings.

2- On the Unlink OneDrive section, click the Unlink OneDrive button.

3- Then you'll be presented with OneDrive setup wizard, click Get started.

4- Sign-in with new Microsoft Account you want to access to OneDrive. Keep in mind that this process won't change your current profile settings, you'll be able to sign-in with your old credentials.

5- Next, change the location to store the new OneDrive files or keep the same path, and click Next. Make also sure you understand that if you don't change the folder location, and the folder already exists, files will merge with OneDrive.

*6- Click Next, choose the folders you want to sync, and don't forget to enable the fetch feature if you want to access the files remotely.

7- Click Done to finish.

This useful OneDrive feature allows users to keep things separate. Or perhaps, you're main Microsoft Account doesn't have enough space, and then you can use that secondary account with more storage.

While this is a good feature, in my opinion, it would be nice if Microsoft had the option to access multiple OneDrive accounts without having to log out from your primary OneDrive account.

Tip #3 - Restoring files and emptying your Recycle Bin

If you're using OneDrive to sync files between computers, you typically create, access, and delete your files through File Explorer. But what happen when you accidentally delete a file and empty the Recycle Bin? If you didn't have a backup, you probably think that your files are gone forever.

Well, here is something that not too many people know. If you delete a file from your OneDrive folder, a copy of the file goes to the Recycle Bin in Windows, and another copy goes to the OneDrive's Recycle bin. Emptying your computer's bin, doesn't delete the bin on OneDrive. As such, you can always restore files you have deleted on OneDrive, and it's as easy as:

  1. Signing into your OneDrive account using your web browser.
  2. From the left OneDrive menu, click the Recycle bin link.
  3. Find and select the file you want, and click Restore from the menu on the top.

Now according to Microsoft the files in the Recycle bin do not count as part of your storage. However, if your Recycle bin hits the 10% of your allowed storage, then files will begin to get deleted from the oldest to the newest. The company also warns that files will get permanently deleted after a minimum of 3 days and max of 60 days.

If you want files to get permanently deleted right away, you will need to delete the file or files in questions. Next, head over the OneDrive Recycle bin on the web, and empty the trash can.

Wrapping thing up

OneDrive isn't just about storing your files in the cloud. The service also provides some features to have access to your files no matter where they are located, even when they're not stored online. And if you happen to delete a file accidentally, no worries, you can always get it back.

Do you have a favorite feature of OneDrive? Let us know in the comments below.

More Resources

Remember that we have many other articles on Windows 10, if you need help you always check these other resources:

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.

45 Comments
  • Thanks for ur tips
  • Tip 3.5: Petition Microsoft to restore SmartFiles and placeholders.
  • Should be #1.....
  • +1000
  • i REALLY need that! it was my favourite Win8.1 feature!
    they didn't need to remove it just because some dumdums could not read and distinguish between "available offline" and "online-only".
  • ^^^ this ^^^
  • Please vote for it on the official UserVoice for OneDrive site... http://onedrive.uservoice.com/forums/262982-onedrive/suggestions/8888062...
  • Just gave my votes for this.
  • If you check Windows Feedback almost every post considering OneDrive is about having placeholders back. That is also the right channel to let them know. To post your own comments and upvote those of others.
  • Count me in. Getting placeholders back should be their top priority.
  • This
  • Placeholders +1000 I am not really using OneDrive other than the photo backup on my phone because of this.
  • Tip 3.6, they are already working on this.  Supposedly the functionality will come to Windows Insiders soon, followed by the rest some time in October.
  • On tablets with limited storage, places holders took up significant space. Mine was nearly 2GB. For me the main problem is that you cannot browse files, there is no OneDrive app to open individual apps. Also, default was set on 8.1 to save documents to OneDrive, I don't think this is possible on Windows 10. Anyone know if it is,
  • Since Windows 10, I have found OneDrive to be rather useless. I constantly have to go on the OneDrive website to do anything because I refuse to use up all of my local storage in my Surface Pro 3. In Windows 8.1, it was freaking awesome. Full access to everything I have in OneDrive ready on demand and easily switched back to online only to save space on demand. This selective sync is nice if you have maybe 1GB of data total. But for those who are 100GB+, it's ridiculous.
  • Sorry all these things are just fannying around the edges.. the killer feature that made OneDrive great was smartfiles/placeholders. The thing that has made OneDrive next to useless on Windows 10 has been its removal. The more people can vote this topic up and feedback their own opinion, the sooner Microsoft will do something about it. Sometimes MS make me feel like hitting my head against the wall.
  • As an option. Placeholders use HD space, and on a tablet with 32 gig it can be limiting (from experience).
  • Nice, Thx!
  • Placeholders please
  • I'm glad to hear that the Fetch feature is back. I recently pondered why in the world they were still showing the list of synced PCs on the OneDrive website if the feature had been depreciated since Windows 7. Glad it made a return. Now if only Smart Files / Placeholders would make a return!
  • Well guess they willl move on developing the windows 8 app to be windows 10 ready and therefore the smart files will be back but the remote feature will be gone
  • I sync my desktop using OneDrive.
  • Thank u so much, some of these tips so helpful to me, I hope they will think about an idea to bring back placeholder from 8.1
  • Fetch is nice for people with tin foil hats. Sorry, but #2 is rather lame. I checked my mobile OD app and I can add several accounts there. Not that I tried, but the idea is there. OD on big Windows 10 is a crippled solution that is suboptimal for anybody with more than a few gigabytes of data in the cloud.
  • Yeah, and can see a lot of people accidently merging their OneDrive accounts with #2 :)
  • I still have an issue with moving the Location of OneDrive.  I would like OneDrive to be on my MicroSD (which is what I did on 8.1), but that feature is failing for me, even though the menu shows that functionality.  I keep getting an error message.  Anyone know a fix?
  • Mount the SD into C: in disk manager as a folder. Use this folder when configuring OneDrive.
  • Thanks for the tip, I'll try as soon as I can and let you know how it goes. Thanks!!
  • I feel like these OneDrive for W10 articles are made just so we can continue to rail on it. :P
  • "3 Tips to help you get the most out of OneDrive in Windows 10" #1 Roll back to Windows 8.1 for its superior OneDrive offering #2 Make a banana smoothie #3 Call your parents and tell them you love them
  • This and placeholders
  • OneDrive is totally useless for me since they removed placeholders / smart files My OneDrive has over 500GB on data on it, and my Surface Pro 3 has just 10GB of free space. Whoever decided to remove smart files should be sacked.
  • Great article
  • In B4 somebody complains about the lost placeholders.... oh wait. Crap. Never mind.
  • Where'd the Available-Online Only feature go? I dont quite use onedrive on my SP3 anymore. Because my laptop was highly dependant on that.
  • Regarding #2 accessing files of another account:
    Why not sharing the folders of the 2nd account with the primary account and then add them to the primary account's onedrive? Like tjis all files are accessible and can be synced while logged in to the primary account.
    With Dropbox this would require space on both accounts, not so with Onedrive, the space will only be used on the folder owners account.
    Check https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Add-and-sync-shared-folders-to-...
  • I wonder if Tip #2 also works for Onedrive for Business. I can no longer access my personal Onedrive at work since we migrated to Onedrive for Business and use O365  ):
  • What other solution supports placeholders?
  • If you want to access files from other account, it looks more elegant to simply share them...
  • I didn't know that it's possible to have access to the computer's files from OneDrive website. Thanks for this tip! I have a question: can I have access also from OneDrive app on my phone?    
  • I don't think so but you can access the files from the mobile onedrive website on your phone. I use this feature to access a network drive I have mapped on my Win 10 work computer. The drive is accessible from my phone using the ondrive website.
  • How I make file "offline available" or "online only" in Windows 10 just like in Windows 8.1 ?
  • It is not possible, that's what this placeholders discussion is about. Microsoft killed it off because it was confusing some, probably a lot, users who did not get that online only files must be downloaded first even if they can see them in explorer.
  • Ugly. It's a stupid mistake to have the same object in PC and OneDrive. I think Microsoft repairs this problem.
  • I wouldn't say OneDrive is the best cloud service. I have trouble using OneDrive because it does not sync all of the files I put in it. Plus some of my devices do not sync properly.