How to overcome the placeholder limitation of OneDrive in Windows 10

Windows 10 has been out for over a month now, and thus far the operating system is hit with more than 75 million computers already upgraded. While the new operating system brings a lot of new features and changes, Microsoft is also removing what it feels isn't working or moving features in a different direction.

I've been following the Windows 10 changes since the first public preview, and among other things, one feature that has changed is OneDrive.

In the new operating system, Microsoft is removing the OneDrive modern app, and it's integrating the cloud storage service deep into Windows 10 with the desktop. But the problem is that everyone didn't exactly welcome all of the new changes.

When the company launched Windows 8.x, OneDrive included a feature known as "placeholder", which is a file that locally represents a file stored in the cloud. A placeholder is a very small file that only includes a thumbnail and metadata information that points to the original file and most of the time it uses a fraction of the local storage on your computer.

Thanks to placeholders users were able to access hundreds of gigabytes of data quickly and easily without using a lot of their local drive, which was also very beneficial for devices with limited storage.

However, the feature became a problem for Microsoft, as many users didn't realize placeholders weren't the actual files. To open the file, the end-user had to double-click a file to trigger the download, which consequently opened the file with its corresponding application. As a result, if the user didn't make the files available offline, without an internet connection they couldn't open any file.

To resolve the issue, Microsoft removed placeholders and introduced selective sync, which forces users to select what folders to sync locally. But, this means that if you have 100GB worth of data in OneDrive, those 100GB will download to your local machine as well.

While we can't technically bring the exact feature back to Windows 10, we can still mimic the same functionality by mapping OneDrive to your computer.

Mapping your OneDrive storage to your PC will allow you to browse all your files instantly. There is no syncing process, and you can create, rename, and delete files at any time.

However, keep in mind that none of the files will be available offline, and moving large files can result in a slow experience.

Here is the process:

  1. Open your web browser and sign-in to your OneDrive account, navigate to Files, and access any of the folders.
  2. Next, you'll need your unique CID ID from the address bar link, which looks something like this: "". The ID is what comes after ?cid=. From my example, the cid is: 777abc888dd9aaa89. (Ignore anything that separates the ID such as %, &, etc.)
  3. Go to This PC and from the menu, go to Computer, and click Map Network Drive.
  4. In Folder enter this URL: and append the CID ID. The URL should now look like this:
  5. Check the Reconnect at sign-in and Connect using different credentials, then click Finish and enter your OneDrive credentials and you're good to go.

You're now done. You should see the mapped drive on This PC, and you should now be able to access your files in a similar way, you used to do with placeholders.

It's worth pointing out that this solution may or may not work for everyone in the same way. Also, you can only mount one OneDrive account at a time -- you'll run into issues trying to mount a second account. I have tested the workaround, and it has worked for me.

More Resources

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

Mauro Huculak

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for 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.

  • I miss Windows 8.1...
  • If 8.1 merely included a visual indication that something was a placeholder rather than a downloaded file, there wouldn't have been a problem. Scraping this idea altogether and replacing it with something less is not the best solution. A shortcut has an indicator, why couldn't these?
  • There actually is a visual indication when you use the OneDrive app to view the files (which is just a touch version of the file explorer). It will show a little cloud & PC icon to show that is it available offline.
  • Perhaps, but there are many places and apps where there is no indication of local or cloud. Having a standard indicator for all files in all desktop and modern apps whether music, photo, and everything else would enable an instant recognition that something was local or in the cloud.
  • Agree, consistent method across all cloud storage/download apps is essential. Nadella said Cloud first....not Cloud this mess is!
  • Um, in win 8 on the desktop, it was really obvious. There were icons.
  • They should just have both options. I have a laptop with a large hard drive and the new OneDrive works great on that machine. I also have a 2-in-1 that only has 64 gigabytes of space, causing OneDrive to take up most of my storage. I think they should add both ways as options. It never hurts to have options. This is just my opinion though.
  • Using the details view in 8.1 automatically included the availability column. Easy to see if something was online only or available offline.
  • True, but trying telling that to someone who thinks the mouse cursor is called the "white hovering shape that points at things"...
  • Therein lies the rub. Most of MS's failures haven't been technical, but failures to properly communicate and educate it's user base when it has made changes.
  • Or they are too technical. Proper software would be more intuitive and would not require much training. You wonder why Apple sells so well! Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • LOL. Maybe Paul Kinslow is right - a variation on the icons... perhaps a semi-transparent cloud covering the thumbnail. And if people can't understand that concept, then cloud storage and syncing are too complicated. You'd think this was Briefcase all over again.
  • A little cloud icon overlaid on the thumbnail. The filename and details greyed out slightly where not available locally. A pop up tip when the mouse hovers.
    A brief dialog "retrieving from your cloud storage".
    The same wizard as Win 10 which prompts users for which folders to synch.
    Really, how long would it take for users to get it?
    Windows was virtually built around the concept of files and folders. All existing Windows users understand this anyway.
    For Microsoft, reinventing itself as a cloud services company, to have screwed up cloud file storage is inexcusable. Also, there is just not enough data centre processing resource allocated to the OneDrive services because it responds too slow compared to competing providers like Dropbox.
    The other reason I understand why placeholders were removed is that they took up too much local space due to including large preview images for photos etc. Fine, remove that from the metadata altogether (or make it dependent on the local device storage).
    Perhaps extend the wizard with more options and space implications. Have notifications when storage gets low and bring back the wizard for maintenance.
    The placeholder issues were far from insurmountable, and there is massive scope to extend and improve the cloud storage integration into sharing, permissions etc.
    Microsoft REALLY needs to focus far more on this if they want to own the next generation of productivity.
    Removing placeholders was a massive setback and a bone headed and plain wrong decision.
    Forward, not backward please guys.
  • Files that were not available offline are grayed out on Win 8.1. There is a subtle visual difference, but still confusing to those who ended up getting Microsoft to take OneDrive backwards instead of simply giving users the option to either use placeholders or the way it currently is. From a Nexus 6 via the Windows Central App for Android
  • But, again, that is not universal. In many locations that does not happen. Unless indicators are consistent, people will fail to recognize what exactly they represent. The multi faceted approach mentioned by mildmanneredjanitor is needed to teach users the new concept as they use the device for other purposes.
  • Well either way I hope they can allow people into OneDrive 101 and simply give us who knew what we were doing our OneDrive back. I know they are working on changes, just hope they come out no later than the Threshold 2 in November. Still feel the best option was to give users the option for standard Win 7 OneDrive or Win 8.1 OneDrive and let users decide. Though that would sadly elicit more calls from my less tech savvy friends and family. From a Nexus 6 via the Windows Central App for Android
  • In what locations? In Win 10 there is 1 location for onedrive.
  • Apps that would access OneDrive content, for example. I believe that's what he is talking about. I know groove accessed the music folder. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • MS thought they could code anti-idiotic, but one simply cannot do that. Once you've realized that a placeholder isn't a complete file, it's your own fault not to have them downloaded before going offline. How many people could really have this problem? Properly only the same people that thing they've uninstalled a program by deleting a shortcut...
    The keyword that MS is forgetting again and again is OPTIONS. The more options we users have, the more of us will be satisfied.
  • I had a customer think they were creating backups of our software by dragging the icon to a memorystick. Computers are complicated things - sometimes you have to dumb things down for an easy life.
  • Wow, that is one big misunderstanding. But you can always dumb things down and there will still be people who f-up. In the case of placeholders MS could simply have made it so that everyone had to enable it instead of it being the default setting. That's just the right amount of dumbing down.
  • Yep, and replacing apps, that are simple to use, with folders that need the convoluted process advised here is a fail!
  • All they had to do was change the color of the text used to display the file name, and make the icon translucent/slightly greyed out. Solutions to eliminate the confusion are trivial, adn the fact that they failed to properly integrate the system into File Explorer/File Pickers/etc. is their own damn fault. I went back to using an external hard drive.  It works, it's fast, it's predictable in how it works, and I won't have to worry about it ceasing to function after an OS update or some other B.S.
  • Yeah, seriously Microsoft loves all or nothing approach and that's absolutely annoying. Also if they feel people are that confused, why not just make it turned-off by default so at least for those of us who knows about it will still use it. Microsoft said they will bring it back, but unfortunately they themselves make me (and some people) distrust them based on their history. Many of their rebirth products/services/features are mostly half-baked or inferior solution from the former. Another hot example: Zune or WMP vs Groove. If they really want to rewrite something, can they at least leave the current solution until the new and truly better ones is ready, so users (not all though) won't be frustrated by their execution of things. Execution which is actually still consistent issue with Microsoft but at least they're improving though which is a good thing.
  • Windows did (and probably still has) a limit on the amount of overlays that can be used.  Came across this a couple of years back with Tortoise SVN and a few others installed, some worked whilst others didnt.  I think a lot of it comes down to the antiquated file system that Windows still uses.  It simply gets ignored version after version, I really wish they would spend some attention on one of the most important parts of the OS :(
  • If you think NTFS is antiquated, what do you think about ext and HFS+? By the way: The limit on overlays has squat to do with NTFS...
  • me too, w10 is the worst for tablets, onedrive is useless.
  • Can we upload files by copying them to this mapped drive ? Or should I use browser ?
  • Yeah you can, I've done it, I need to reconnect to the drive every time I reboot though
  • What? It's pretty much explained properly. People didn't realize that Online Only files are not available locally aka Offline so they reverted back to OneDrive circa Windows 7 and Mac style. Those of us who actually knew WTF was going on and how it worked are upset that they reverted it back. I'm not going to bother trying this out as I've just got a single folder on my SP 3 named "Surface Uploads" that I drag files going to my OneDrive to. Then I move them where they really need to go via the still horrible and inconsistent web interface and the files are then auto deleted from my computer. I do this on both my SP3 and Mac even though it's aggravating. From a Nexus 6 via the Windows Central App for Android
  • It's something people can at least try and see if it works for them in the meantime until MS releases whatever they are currently working on. I've yet to see this posted on WC before in the past and can understand why it was posted because it can be a Band-Aid for certain people, just not me. Same as opening an article posted here, we can choose to open, read and comment or just roll our eyes and move on. Some people just do not have enough opportunities in their daily lives to complain enough offline, so that is why online forms and comment sections are flooded with nonsense. Not sure which side you're on just yet. Are you complaining that WC is putting out info for people to try to help them during this OneDrive transition, or just think it's stupid unnecessary clickbait? From a Nexus 6 via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Well done. +1
  • Which is why the article itself says "it will not work for everyone" right at the end. Still, it's a workaround that is better than nothing. Or the BETTER solution is just to browse through the website or not sync files using select sync. N
  • it is slow and I have to log in (in to this folder) after every restart.... Far worse experience..
  • Just prevent OneDrive from loading when you start Windows in task manager.
    This way it only sync when you actually open OneDrive.
  • Eh. Not the best solution (just because it's a hack and has the same issue as before, though both issues aren't issues for the power user). If file explorer got an overhaul it would be easier to discern local vs online, and this will be more important as cheaper machines and more widespread internet proliferate the world.
    I dunno the answer but maybe tabs of the same folder. Different sections would get cluttered fast... Hmmmm
  • What "desktop app" are you referring to? There is NO app, exe, etc for OneDrive on Windows 10.
  • If it ever crashes, just opening the folder again, gets the process running again... So it's an app, sorta, just backgroundish.
  • You are describing the SERVICE it is NOT an app.
    There is a difference and they are not the same thing - not at all.
    Yes just like the SkyDrive.exe SERVICE operates on Windows 7/8.
  • Me?
    Services, processes, background agents, whatever.
  •'s an app and a service. Breathe will be ok. :)
  • Look in the notification tray in the taskbar. And there is an exe...OneDrive.exe. It doesn't work on magic.
  • OneDrive was more seamless on the Desktop under 8.1. Miss placeholders so much. Using OneDrive much less and considering alternatives so I hope they bring placeholders back.
  • Since OneDrive no longer allows for placeholders and requires that each device carries a copy of the file/folder I have switched my focus from OneDrive to BitTorrent Sync 2.x  -- It uses place holders -- JUST LIKE ONEDRIVE (or nearly the same) and now I can sync all of my files -- not just the ones which will fit on OneDrive to ALL my devices from my phone, tablet, pc etc -- just not directly to the Xbox, but that has network access to all the files anyway. In all, I have 9 folder branches totaling over 13 TB (terabytes) all syced from my home pc to my other devices and can share them across the country/world to my family and friends who I can give read-only, read-write or even ownship over any folder-branch. If BitTorrent can make a multiplatform sync tool just as good as Microsoft's, then how difficult can it be if you make the actual operating system! :)
  • BT Sync is a tool for power users. MS has to deal with everyone else too.
  • And sadly we have to suffer because of those who do not "get it". From a Nexus 6 via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Thankfully, Windows is an open platform with alternatives. Bit torrent sync, drop box, box, sugar sync, etc, etc. MS needs to focus on the common denominator, while other operators can tailor software aimed at power users. Options exist on Windows, and not every solution for a power user needs to be from MS. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • One word: Unbelievable
  • I have done this before during Windows 7 era. Indeed the big problem of this is its too slow to use. I don't remember why I had it, maybe for fun. This is just a workaround but hardly a solution to the missing feature. They really have to bring back this feature in TH2 up to Redstone. There is a reason indeed but the reasoning seems lame and cannot outweigh the benefits. No to mention, you can turn off placeholders. Now with huge OneDrive storage, its a bit useless.
  • Yes, Placeholders should have just gone to being turned OFF by default, so that it wouldn't confuse the masses. Then, allow power users that know what to do with them enable them. I think that would have been ideal, but according to some I have spoken with (nothing confirmed yet), Microsoft had done away with placeholders now due to future incompatibilities with the way they will be implementing OneDrive for Business. Can't say for sure, but supposedly the new way they plan on handling it would not allow placeholders. Can't say how reliable the info was.
  • The forums and Innerwebz in general have been explaining this procedure before Windows 10 was even released. It's been around since Moby Dick was a minnow. We, the members of this community would be better served if the Windows Central staff could look into Microsoft's plans to bring back placeholders. (Instead of regurgatating what has been shared ad naseum).
  • +1
  • revenue.
    Gotta think about the ads!
  • There are lots of ads!
  • I really hope you are being sarcastic (if you are, always add a "/s" at the end). You do realize when you are running a website, you have to pay for servers that allows millions of users (WindowsCentral is pretty popular, don't underestimate it). You also have to make sure that the writers are paid for their time - why would someone write articles for free, every day?
  • It has been looked into on numerous occasions. Microsoft has NO plans to bring back placeholders no matter how many complaints. No use in waiting for a brown horse to turn green. 
  • This drive mapping was actually the method for connecting SharePoint libraries back when it was the BPOS days prior to Groove being renamed to birth SkyDrive. And drive mappings over a wan connection have always been horrible because it's legacy OS functionality engineered before the internet even existed.
  • I never saw this and think it's helpful. I don't read other blogs regularly. Plus this site is for regular folks too.
  • Hasn't Microsoft made an official statement regarding brining the placeholder feature back this Fall?
    If that is still there case, then I can suffer through using the browser to access my files a little longer. I put a high value to my files and I'm not going to tempt fate and possibly lose my data, corrupt my data, or have synchronization issues down the line.
  • One of the best feature of Windows 8/8.1 is now mess up by people who don't read and think that all folders could be access off line. It directly said Available or make available off line. All they had to do was to right click and press make available off line Grrrrrrr :(. Microsoft is to be blamed too because all they had to do was to show users how to use OneDrive with more promotion videos.
  • Forget the promotion videos, they needed a auto pop up tutorial at first use and easily launchable from the start menu. Not burying it under some KB article or help page that 0.5% of the worlds population will ever venture into lol. When was the last time you read "I read the help page in the o/s" anywhere on the web? If anything, this shows that Microsoft is run engineers, talented but lacking in the marketing dept. Apple, run by Marketers, who happen to be talented engineers. Yes, I'm not going into the whole political thing of who copied who...
  • Wasn't entirely that simple. At the same time MS was moving to unlimited cloud storage, their OEM partners were churning out 8-16G tablets. Placeholders aren't the whole file, but they do take up space. Basic calculus ;) will tell you a whole lotta nothing adds up to something. I had a tablet or two that choked on just the placeholders, and few offline files, until I moved OneDrive to the SD. That doesn't seem to be an option in Win 10 anymore either. Seems to make sense though, promise unlimited cloud storage but make it a pain to take advantage off. Saves money. I'd have been fine keeping the Modern OneDrive app as that was way more convenient in accessing cloud storage than firing up a browser, now that there is no good way of accesssing your unlimited storage.. It doubled as a touch friendly 'File Manager' too. Made too much sense I guess.
  • This is hit and miss for me. Often difficult to get logged in. And twice my tablet has crashed badly while trying to get access to it. But, better this than nothing.
  • Once says they are listening. Everyone Js yelling they want this back, and after telling us they are listening Microsoft says, "no, no, we are telling you you dont want this". This is the Zune Conundrum. Even though everyone and their mother has yelled for Zune ro come back in whatever naming convention they want to call it, they keep saying, "no,no. Trust dont want Zune back"
  • Maybe somebody will write a good and fast application that will act as OD with placeholders even if it will be only inside this application and outside will one see only the downloaded files. What is worst with the new modern better improved deeply integrated OneDrive is that you cannot download files selectively or even find the file without syncing the whole folder or using web browser. Microsoft may call it integration, I call it BS.
  • You could be describing the BitTorrent Sync app (yes, it's an app, not a service) it works just like your description!
  • I'm using ODRIVE to get around Microsoft's Onedrive placeholder foolishness. It allows me to choose what is synced local or online. What's nice is that I can also do this this most other cloud storage providers such as DropBox. ...and it's free.
  • I've used ODrive as well for a while. I am still waiting for "placeholders" to come back in some form. I have also been talking to the Microsoft OneDrive development team as well about this issue. I like the way that Windows 10 OneDrive work with Office 2016 (Office 365) now as well.    
  • I don't want to mess around.... I will wait for  MS to bring back the placeholder on windows 10
  • Besides the idiotic choice to not include the placeholder approach to OneDrive in Windows 10, I also hate that they got rid of the Metro OneDrive app.  I hope they bring it back.  The only thing missing from the Win8.1 app is that it doesn't see shared folders like the phone version does. 
  • I used to use the placeholders to move videos into, wait for them to sync, then click "make online only" If I move a video into the mapped drive, will it make it only only, therbey keeping it in my or drive but removing it from my hardrive? Or will it keep the local copy?
  • Moving into the drive will put a copy online only. And then it will be slow to use. But it is equivalent of the end result of your two steps.
  • It will upload directly - and fail multiple times (in my case/s), without you even noticing. The larger the file and/or the larger the number of files you selected for upload, the higher the risk of it not being uploaded at all or correctly. No thanks, I went back to Windows 8.1
  • The only thing that makes me stay on 8.1... Oh and the lenovo drivers not available for u410 too Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I really hate this way to use OneDrive. I haven't used OneDrive since upgrading to windows 10 just because I don't want to define which folders I want to sync, I liked it the way it was in windows 8.1
  • I wish Microsoft would make placeholders optional. If it's unclear to some users, disable it by default and let the power users enable it themselves.
  • Yes, exactly!! If MS is so hell bent on having "selective sync for dumb people" (I coined that phrase... thank you), then they should at least have the option for "placeholders for smart people" (I coined that phrase too) :) Heck they can default it to selective sync too, and then all us smart people can just turn it off! Hehe.
  • They are very good at suggesting what they want users to select, express vs. custom settings or local vs. MS account come to mind, so why not hide placeholders like that too. I would not mind going to the 20th tab in OD settings to turn placeholders on and let those less fortunate have their 'cloud' storage with all their files synced locally.
  • Confused people causing a lot of trouble. First, they ruined WinRT, now they crippled OneDrive...
  • Yep. Nothing wrong with RT. The whinny bitches that wanted full blown Windows (to god damn stupid to just go buy a flown blown tablet), and the confused people (which aren't as stupid as the whinny group, because at least they were just confused....not dumb as hell), wrecked RT.
  • Lol
  • Thank you!
  • Armchair quarterbacks galore here as usual. MS have said the old placeholder scheme had performance and reliability issues and also confusing to non-techies. It's gone now. Get over it. They did say they will bring back some features. Not sure which. Just hang on or switch to Dropbox or Google Drive for placeholders...oh wait, they don't have placeholders either.
  • One can always downgrade to 8.1. And being mediocre like other similar programmes isn't exactly something to aspire to.
  • I could live with an online only limitation if I could see OneDrive in my folder options when I go to open or save a file. But noooooo. The only way to see OneDrive anywhere other than a browser window is to sync the whol freakin thing (selective sync is a joke). Oh wait. One of my computers has a meager 20 GB C: drive and syncing to the SD card IS NO LONGER AN OPTION (it worked with 8.1). GET OVER IT? Microsoft's solution has relegated my ultra portable to a browser box. It was wonderful being able to take it with me and get stuff done away from home. So much for making us more productive... Believe me, I'd roll back to 8.1 if I could, but that's not an option because I can't even buy a street copy of 8.1 anymore. BTW, not an armchair quarterback. I'm a user who makes a living working on the computer. Pretty sure I'm not the only one.
  • Just put your frequently accessed files into a folder(s) and sync that to your portable device. Problem solved. I do expect they will bring back the OneDrive app so you don't have to use the web browser every time you want to browse your OneDrive folders (that aren't sync'ed).
  • Your solution won't work for me, TK. I have several clients and keep their files separate. On any given project, I need to access templates and images, large spreadsheets, a couple of local databases and slide decks containing pro forma slides (especially since the deprecation of a true SharePoint slide library). I have about 8 GB of storage available on the C drive, and since that's the only drive available for syncing... Yeah, NO. I'm sure that's a viable solution for some, but workarounds are a poor alternative to the functionality we had with 8.1.
  • I understand that's a valid use case for the old placeholder to shine, but MS apparently had trouble making it work fast and reliable for *all* users including myself. For now, it looks like we have two choices: 1) upgrade your device to one with larger storage so you can sync those big files spread across multiple folders. 2) If possible, somehow restructure your client file management to work under the new scheme. I went with #2 myself. Fortunately it wasn't a big deal for me but your mileage may vary. In any case, the placeholders are gone and not coming back because I'm sure MS have their reasons. Better to spend time adjusting to the new scheme than keep complaining about it in online forums.
  • We all understand your point but according to what you're saying that this tradeoff is in favor of reliability and speed, well here's a fact for you, i use both dropbox and onedrive  on all my windows 10 devices, by the time onedrive finish processing changes to check if any modification is done to my files i would have uploaded 1GBs of content through dropbox. The worst piece of windows 10 is onedrive. Period.
  • @tk2011, enough people complained about the start button missing, guess what made a comeback in windows 8.1/10......
  • @Akira Some choose to feel entitled and angry. Unlike some here who seem to think MS engineers with advanced CS degrees from the best schools in the world are the stupidest people in the world, I choose to believe MS have their reasons for the change . So I adapt and move on. After all, Windows still works great for me.
  • Entitled? Because I want the functionality that Microsoft delivered with a previous version of Windows (which I PAID for)? Because they've promoted Windows 10 like it was the ultimate and universal OS, yet have failed badly by not considering devices with diverse storage capacities? What's happening with Win10 on WP? I'm not about to brick my 920 by testing it, but I'd be curious how OneDrive deals with WP... Are files stored online visible on the phone or do you have to sync this device like you do a PC? Glad to hear Winows works great for you, TK. Some of us actually need to get work done.
  • @Nerdy "I PAID for", "failed badly.." See what I mean by "entitled"? It's a free OS upgrade. You can choose to upgrade or not, nobody is forcing you. Things change with new OSes. You see one feature gone and it's all "failed badly". Maybe to you but not me. "not considering devices with diverse storage capcities": That's precisely why they said they are making the switch. The previous scheme was not fast and reliable for some people. Have you tried to sync 50000 files, yes placeholder files, on a slow eMMC tablet with no option to sync selectively? W10M is running pretty well on my 920 but I wouldn't recommend it to people who use it for work. Yes, it has the OneDrive app so you can browse for your files just as in WP8.1.
  • you forgot the third option , downgrade to Windows 8.1 If you for some reason cant reinstall it on your comput6er if it came with Windows 8.1 or 8  buy a license:    
  • LOL. Yeah, NO, JudaZuk. My little porta-PC only cost $150 (on sale at Microsoft Store - now I know why) + $25 for a 64 GB SD card. I'm not shelling out $100 for another license for Win 8.1. Not worth it. Maybe I'll replace it with a Mac (after all, what's one money pit compared to another?) Sadly, the SSD storage is soldered on the mobo, so I can't even upgrade C...
  • Nerdy Woman, it is possible to use a different drive to sync OneDrive to, not sure if this includes SD cards though. This is chosen when setting up OneDrive. To change go to OneDrive settings and select unlink OneDrive then set it back up using the new location.
  • Thanks for the thought, Boggy. Been there, done that. I've got a 500 GB Toshiba Satellite external HD. But it's roughly the size of a pack of index cards with a 15" tether that occupies the 2nd of 2 USB ports (the first used by a nano-connector for my mouse). Moreover it draws power from the PC. Result? It will sync with OneDrive but definitely not a portable solution. A flash drive works as well and I have a 16 GB. But it, too, sucks battery. The sync worked fine with the SD card in 8.1. But in their infinite wisdom, Microsoft probably spent at least a million trying to defend their cloud storage (remember SkyDrive), probably a few hundred thousand promoting it and encouraging people to sign up for Office 365 by offering a full TB of OneDrive storage, probably some extensive coding resources integrating it with Office apps, and now, they've relegated it to Windows 98 Briefcase status. I would soooo roll back to 8.1 if I could lay hands on a legit key. My factory reset got wiped out when I did the Insider thing...
  • Be careful when telling the very people who are responsible for the success of the windows platform to "get over it" because if enough people get over it they could just get over it and move on to another platform.
  • Yeah right Dropbox got the placeholders working great.
  • worthpointing out that if you've two step verification enabled, that you'll need to use your 'app' password (from in the security section) and not the password associated with your microsoft account, otherwise it wont log on
  • Not coming back- skip to 47:17 @  
  • TY for sharing this video, Apollo. Of course, that was back in May. With 7,000+ votes in, they might want to rethink that.... Meanwhile, uservoice indicates that they are working on bringing back sync to SD cards. That will help.
  • This is not an acceptable solution! OneDrive was awesome in Windows 8.1. Now it is useless. Microsoft has an awful habit of building amazing features that everyone loves, and then killing them shortly thereafter. Anyways, it's time to beg them to bring it back. It's already the top voted suggestion on OneDrive User Voice, but more votes are always good:
  • They need to make it optional... I personally found it extremely helpful!
  • Selective sync is useless.... which is why I stopped using Dropbox. Now onedrive is almost useless. Another dumb move by Microsoft.
  • it's far from useless. I sync individual folders I need offline. If I need something else, I use the web app. Or I selectively sync that folder if I need to access a lot at once. It's not ideal, but a far cry from useless.
  • It is useless for me (32GB Asus T100).
    I now have almost 600GB of cloud data that may as well be inaccessible.
    Microsoft sure do know how to burn loyal customers!
  • Those placeholders were a real problem and had to be is Groove Music!
  • I understand but with the placeholders there was always an issue with syncing.
  • Any official word whether that will be fixed?
  • I just want the modern onedrive app back. I dont want any files on my pc, thats why i use a cloud. I want to be able to stream my videos or photos from the onedrive app. I know there are separate apps for those things and they work great but i like a visual representation of what i have and on what. If this is supposed to be a tablet friendly OS, there shouldnt be explorer, simply a touch friendly file manager. Its the "idk what kind of OS i want to be" issue all over again. Admittedly, it is much more versatile and efficient. Just little things like this need to be stamped out.
  • Please tell me they're fixing this soon.
  • Same clickbait title as last time I read this article. A whole lot of setup for the same tired "mapped drive" hack. It's slow, barely usable to me. Idiot me came here thinking maybe another solution had been found.
  • Nice, but if people's ignorance was the real reason for the removal of the feature, we should be asking to bring it back. It could be a non default option, for "advanced users".
  • This solution is a non-starter for all the reasons others have mentioned above. I'm a bit disappointed that Windows Central would suggest such a kludged workaround rather than call on Microsoft to bring back the feature that they removed. And let's be clear. Microsoft's explanation for removing placeholders is pure PR BS. If indeed user confusion was the problem, then a combination of education and better visual aids would have sufficed as a solution. But they gutted the entire thing, leaving users with a compromised experience. Here's why I think they did it. They're giving away gobs and gobs of free space on OneDrive, but they really don't want the average user using up all that storage available to them. So they're now forcing you to limit the effective usefulness of OneDrive storage by cutting back on how accessible that storage actually is.
  • Ok I naively checked all the boxes to synch my folders to OneDrive. Now I want to delete the files from my laptop. If I delete the local files, will the files in the cloud in OneDrive also be deleted? I want to keep the files in the cloud, and delete them locally.
  • In the systray, right click on OneDrive icon, go to manage settings, and disconnect OneDrive. Delete files from your hard drive, then restart OneDrive syncing. This will allow you to choose which files to sync. Any files you don't sync will not be visible.
  • Thanks.
  • Actually, I was able to take care of this by right clicking the OneDrive icon, settings, folders, uncheck the box at top of the list.  This generated a window that said everything would be deleted locally but maintained in OneDrive.  
  • Sadly, the removal of the placeholders presents a challenge to the mobility of device such as the SP3. IMO, MSFT had it right with OneDrive in W8.1,where I had the ability to view a file without having it use up space on my hard drive. And now that I have gotten accustomed to using the placeholders, it seems odd going back to using a USB memory drive.
  • This is really great. I'm gonna try this as soon as I can. Placeholders were definitely an important feature for me.
  • This is a cumbersome solution. There could not have been that many people confused by this. I see more people complaining that it was removed. I think ots something they broke, either intentionally or not, that it just didn't work with win 10. I think they should bring it back. And just grey out or dim the cloud files. 95% of the time I have an internet connection and for the file I need, ill use this selective sync to ensure what I need is synced. Can it be that hard?
  • Issues like that actually make me glad that my Surface 2 won't get Windows 10. My favorite tablet won't have the newest apps and snap assist, but at least I still have modern Skype, a proper OneDrive experience, a web browser truly optimized for touch input, a full screen app list, etc.
    Windows 10 turned out to be so half-baked that I stopped caring really.
  • miss those features too
  • Cortana and Notifications are appreciated as is Task View but Windows 10 needs those essential 8.1 features.
  • How can people "miss" Windows 8/8.1 when Windows 10 gives a way better user experience!!! Just for one feature? Really? Windows 10 is just beautiful, it needs more polishing but still, they did a good job, I complain a lot about slowcrosoft but I just like Windows 10 so much :)
  • This feature was huge for me. I work with lots of files on my OneDrive that reside side by side with very large files. With my Surface Pro 3, drive space is limited and I won't set it to download all files.
  • Yes, Windows 10 is awesome, but read the comments here and you'll see placeholders is dearly missed.
  • They need to bring it back!!!!
  • Mapping...nice way to send the cryptowall virus right to your backup if infected...
  • Is there a way to do this with OneDrive for Business?  Or is there at least some way to use both normal OneDrive and OneDrive for Business at the same time on the same system?
  • I would rather not use it anymore, thanks Microsoft :)
  • I hardly use OneDrive from my desktops since placeholders disappeared. I sorely miss that feature.
    MS shouldn't have eliminated it. Make it an option that has to be enabled. Then only people who know what it is will use it.
    Such a shame.
  • Sad we have to do this
  • For those of you looking for a somewhat decent replacement I was introduced to an app via Twitter called ODrive.  You can login and it brings back NEARLY all of the functionality of Placeholders.  Takes a little bit of getting used to but for the general funciton of uploading and creating folders on your OneDrive, I have found it to be effective.  Take a look at it.
  • Thanks, will definitely try it out :-)
  • wow it works, thanks so much, i really missed this feature from 8.1
  • They can make backwards compatibility work on Xbox one but placeholders in windows 10 is difficult...gtfooh!
  • Placeholders also worked for 7 if i remember right. Will followup on that :)
  • I love the new one drive just like it is right now. I sync only what i need and if i want to see everything i open edge and i go to onedrive. It's so simple.
  • You can use this command to create the network drive, note I used "O:" (network/Active Directory admins might be familiar with this)
    net use o: YOUR_PASSWORD /user:YOUR_LIVE_ID
    and this to disconnect
    or use this to  force disconnection
    So, as you can imagine you can create a shortcut, a bat file or whatever you like to be executed at startup, this way it will just connect... Or course your password would be visible if somebody gets the file you used. Also, I have to note, this command worked on CMD but it did not worked for me in PowerShell (not sure why, my password has special characters) You can give just the username and a prompt for password will show. If you don't use username it will ask for both. If you have a tablet with Windows 10, this might be a nice trick. Anyway, if you use a bat or logon script, I recommend first disconnect and then connect, example:
    NET USE o: /DELETE /Y net use o: MyLivePa$$word / /Persistent:yes
  • For those, who want to sync Onedrive to their SD-Cards there is also a workaround: You can use "Disk Management" to map your SD-Card to an NTFS-Folder on Drive C. Then launch Onedrive-Setup to change the path to the new folder. BTW: Microsoft almost immediatly introduced the syncing of shared folders after the launch of Windows 10. For me this feature alone is worth the loss of the placeholders. They are also working on so called "NextGen" Sync-Clients and Mobile Apps. So lets see whats coming.
  • Good for you, glad it's worked for you but for me it's rubbish. Replacing an app for a folder that needs convoluted ways to "maybe work" is a total fail. I'm worried the next app on the agenda is Groove music!
  •   I tried this with my 128GB microSD card.  The problem is that even though the files are technically stored on the microSD, the OS thinks they are on the C: drive and will give you an erroneous space remaining reading.  This caused Windows to think my C: was full and wouldn't synch properly. Another problem that I ran into was that every so often my microSD card would dismount after my SP3 went into sleep mode.  With Windows 8.1, this wasn't much of a problem.  OneDrive would give me an error and wouldn't sycnh until I remounted the card.  With Windows 10, I would have to re-setup OneDrive everytime I remounted my microSD card. Btw, you should be careful with this work around.  It can cause synch problems if you are working with files and folders that are already synched via OneDrive.
  • Tried thus many times couldn't get it to work
  • Didn't work for me either. The only thing I could get to work was create a VHD on the SD card, get the resulting virtual drive to mount on system startup and then move the OneDrive folder into the new virtual drive.
  • Thays worse!!
    We want Available offline feature!
  • On my Toshiba 8" tablet the folder selection screen is almost unusable even with my relatively nimble fingers. I was perfectly happy with the placeholder system and would dearly love to have that back again.
  • nice workaround ... still i hope they re-implement the links. this is the one thing about the new onedrive i really do not like at all. they should have used different colors, mousover tooltips, icon markers or whatever for the links for people too dense to get that a non synced folder will not contain the actual data and is not available without a connection. removing it completely removes an important feature for me just to avoid the complaints of a few ... err ... not so smart ... people (who probably have lived under a rock for the past 30 years as i see no other explanation to not understand the way a cloud service or network share works).
  • To me this is a total mess. Placeholders was so easy, now look at what needs to be done, and as the article states, it still may not fully work. Like Groove music, there is an indication that the music file is downloaded or cloud only, that's as easy to understand as placeholders. There needs to be a simple and easy way across the different apps to have cloud storage only or cloud storage and download. Anything less than simple and consistent across all apps for cloud and or download is a mess and disaster. It's Microsoft we are talking about here and they have the knowledge and manpower to do this. Nadella said Cloud first.....not Cloud disaster!
  • It's shit any ways, use Google Drive.
  • I don't buy this "people went on a plane and didn't realize the files are offline". Who are they ? How many of then were there ? How many business wo/men used OneDrive on Windows 8.1 and couldn't finish that oh-so-important document when offline ? I think it's BS, no one ever complained, it's just the fact MS couldn't fix their broken placeholder engine that couldn't handle large OneDrives very well, and reverted to the old one.
  •   Lots of us have been on this and other forums for some time, we get lots of people asking questions, or moaning about things, in the last couple of years I cannot for the life of me remember anyone asking something like "Why aren't the One Drive files on my PC" or saying "I am confused by the concept of files I put in the cloud and then delete from my PC or phone are no longer on my PC or phone and now only placeholders". I think along with the Skype disaster of not having an app (As a choice) someone in MS decided to do this without thinking it through and now wont back down.  
  • Totally agree, and lets hope they have nothing to do with Groove music as that works in a similar way.
  • I think that this is a really good article. I have tried this solution but for me when I reconnect to the cloud it does take a while to bring all the file pointers back to my machine even over quite a high speed broadband/DSL link. I do have 400 Gb of data in the cloud with one folder having 240 Gb in it. I think that Microsoft must be working on some sort of solution for power users because they can't leave the situation as it is. I believe that a lot of users have moved back to Windows 8.1 because of the lack of the "placeholder" feature in Windows 10 OneDrive.
  • Source?
  • the workaround works perfectly for me I love Windows 10, I still remember the nightmare when we tried to link SkyDrive to Windows 7 "horrible memory"!! I agree it was unpleasant move to ditch this feature from Windows 10, but at least Windows 10 has the capability to overcome the issue in easy steps!!!
  • Haven't tested this yet, but an absolutely brilliant tip - thank you! Assuming this works this will be a brilliant option!!
  • This lame and incomplete workaround wouldn't be necessary, if there was a simple universal OneDrive app, or even simpler just the WP8.1 version, which has to be ported anyway. The fact, that there is no drag and drop (and, btw, consistent keyboard support) in universal apps is also disturbing. One could say, just use the website. Oh yes, but how can I log into three separate Live accounts, if there is no contextual separation and the pinned websites feature not available in Edge?
  • Sure, but it doesn't need a OneDrive app. They should implement the whole thing into the FileExplorer. This is the filemanagement-tool. This is what users want. One place all files. 
  • I personally want an app and do not want to be messing about with convoluted rubbish to try and make a folder look half decent or actually work at all. Haven't Microsoft picked up on the fact that mobile and apps is where they are loosing out. Continually missing this point means people will switch to an OS that grasps this.
  • The thing is, syncing IMO is an antipattern, a dumb alternative to direct action. The network-mapping workaround could indeed suffice, if credentials were sufficiently managed and there was a better copy feature that takes slower data connections into account (by suspend on shutdown and resume on start).
  • Good article for helping to giving water in the hell situation of what Microsoft have done. Still Microsoft doesn't have that much excuse of simply removing the feature altogether. They should at least make it optional and improve the experience a bit like putting cloud icon overlay to Online-Only files. If people still confused about that then just make the Placeholder feature optional, means not turned-on by default. I have a bad feeling about this when Microsoft 'returns' the placeholder, it will be inferior to the former in some cases and reason. This leave us with either having better Placeholder or having one but inferior ones. Maybe its better than non at all, until the competion implements the same thing (if not better) then Microsoft tries to catch up. Rinse and repeat.
  • I'm absolutely with you. People are more confused with the actual situation than with the previous one.   
  • I hope they will bring back all the placeholder stuff. Shared files could be also placeholders. In the explorer they could work with colors or special icons to mark the offline files. Then implement the whole stuff also in the API for developers. Sure it will take some time to adapt all the relevant applications but something must happen. The actual solution isn't even user friendly. And for all the people that call others dumb users: There are no dumb users but bad developers.
  • I like windows 10 but they royally messed up OneDrive.
  • Confused users were only part of the problem.  There were bugs with some applications and also issues when the cache exceeded local storage. But MS does have a history of stripping things out to help dumb it down.  But I think they undersetimate people.
  • And they told Windows 8.1 was dead.  Pffff ....   Hopefully didnt migrate yet for the 'best windows of all time'. (and im telling to all my friends to wait more few months too)   :/
  • It's as if for MS Windows 8 did not exist, they killed off what made it unique and that includes OneDrive with placeholders. Personally I think Sinofsky and his team did a good job, but they 'only' disregarded about a billion of non touch Windows installations :D As for placeholders, I think it's an excellent idea to manage one's remote files and I am sure other cloud storage providers will introduce them, too, now that MS got rid of them, catering to those less fortunate in a head department.
  • Can this drive be renamed?
  • Use Odrive instead, replacement for One Drive, has placeholders, can put all your cloud drives as folder, Drop box, Box, Google drive, etc.  Folders with pink stripe is not downlaoded yet. Article on it here
  • Odrive is crap. Too many file "conflicts" it still can't resovle. Totally gets out of sync with OneDrive. Can't trust it. Try streaming any movie file using Odrive. Unlike OneDrive built into the filemanager in Win8.1 it can't. Odrive needs to download the entire thing first. But Odrive is free. I guess we know why.    
  • Very cool, thanks a lot!
  • Best. Article. Ever.
  • I believe this also bypasses the 10GB per file upload limit.
  • Update:  No it doesn't bypass the 10GB per file upload limit.  I just tried it.  :/
  • When your cloud files are not available to you in an instant, then cloud storage loses most of its convenience. Having a 1TB OneDrive on a 64GB or 128GB Surface Pro is a bad joke. Staying with Windows 8.1 avoids the problem.
  • I use ODrive. It's worked for me as mapping it asks for passwords constantly.
  • I had to move back to 8.1 as a result of the large number of files I have on OneDrive. The computer would fail consistently when trying to download a list of files to allow selection of those I wanted to sync. Same thing with my wife. No problem with my kids so they are on 10.
  • As disappointed as I am in Microsoft for their decision regarding this, I'm going to wait for an official update. I'm afraid, though, that update won't come for a LONG time. Even more afraid that they won't bring it back until AFTER the one-year free upgrade period that way anybody who stayed on Windows 8 because of this issue WILL have to pay for the upgrade.
  • If you look at MS track record on sync solutions, the chance of a fix is about 10% in my estimation. Yes they said they would. They won't. They are lying. This is what we'll get. No more and probably less down the line. MS is notorious for cancelling sync apps. MS briefcase, synctoy, Mesh etc.
  • Couldn't find someone complaining about this but it failed first time I tried because the Two Factor Authentication. Looks like it needs an App password instead. And it didn't appear just after I finished the command. I realized that it work only in the next day when it appeared in Explorer.    
  • "Access is Denied"
  • This is stupid. They need to just put it back. The sync and not synced icons were fine. If you're too dumb to understand, there's no reason for Microsoft to hold your hand.
  • This works, banging my head for a month cause I can't change the OneDrive off of C:.  So this is good work around.
  • Hi All, I followed the instructions, and I think as a result all of my notes on OneNote have bee duplicated. I'd like to reverse this process. Is it as simple as going into File Explorer, and deleting the new drive? Any and all comments would be appreciated.  
  • Disconnect the mapped drive. No harm done. You have it twice because it syncs from the app and maps from the drive.
  • nice.. If you want to remove Onedrive, Or remove core apps from windows 10 or Re-install core apps from windows 10, or to turn off automatic updates i.e. add an option in Windwos update setting to " Never Check For Updates" and many more trick for winodws 10.. then check this link. Hope you like that tricks also.
  • Has anyone installed Windows 10 November update? Why it is only me who has found OneDrive replacing my Pictures & Documents under "This PC" with OneDrive location annoying? Are you all fine to keep your personal Documents in OneDrive Documents folder? Do you have ample of storage in OneDrive to keep your all photos? Infact I feel Microsoft has trapped us by replacing Documents & Photos by OneDrive locations and at the same time reducing the OneDrive free storage from 15GB to 5GB
  • thanks a lot fot this excellent workaround !!! I finally regained easy access to my OneDrive cloud on my Acer Switch with limited flashdrive. I even like the fact that not a single file will be stored offline in this setup one little question, and I quote : "Also, you can only mount one OneDrive account at a time -- you'll run into issues trying to mount a second account" that's a shame, could you tell me why ? I'm afraid I'm still going to try it :-) thanks again ! Pascal      
  • Thanks forthe Solution! One question: is transmission encrypted?
  • https.....
  • Nice work around. I may update my Tablet yet from 8.1. For me it wouldn't work checking the "Use different credentials" I had to leave it unchecked and make sure I was logged in with the same credentials as Live. So I could use selctive sync for those folders I absolutely need offline/fast and a mapped drive for less important things. I'll have to mess and see how well organizing files works over the LAN/WAN mapped drive link.
  • Thanks mate, hope this can go more offical and get supported in Microsoft as a real thing instead of a workaround.