Sending files using Skydrive / OneDrive

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A simple guide to sending files via Skydrive / OneDrive

There are many ways to send files that are too big for email (usually over 20MB). In this article we’ll look at how to do that with Skydrive.

Skydrive, soon to be called, OneDrive is Microsoft’s public cloud storage service. Microsoft Office 2013 and Windows 8.1 are tightly integrated with Skydrive.

We’re going to use the new name, OneDrive, in this article though the Skydrive name will be appearing for some time.

There are more options available for sharing with OneDrive, especially for Office documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote). Microsoft has ‘Office Web Apps’ which as web browser versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. OneDrive can open Office document directly in the browser to view, edit or download.

One-off send

To send a file as a ‘one-off’ to one person or more is quite simple.

  • Send files one at a time
  • To one person or many
  • Any person who gets the file link can download it
  • Only the sender can modify or delete the file saved on Dropbox

Upload the file to an OneDrive folder using the web interface or OneDrive program. You can ‘drag and drop’ a file from Explorer over the OneDrive web page to start an upload.

OneDrive image from Sending files using Skydrive / OneDrive at

When you drag over the OneDrive web page the cursor icon may show as ‘Move’ but it’s really copying the file.

When the file is uploaded, go to the OneDrive web site and locate the file.

Select the file then choose ‘Share’ from the top menu bar.

OneDrive will offer to email the link for you using the ‘Invite people’ option, but you can ignore that by choosing ‘Get a Link’.

OneDrive image from Sending files using Skydrive / OneDrive at

This is one place where OneDrive is better than Dropbox. You can choose to share a file in three different ways:

  • View only – really should be called ‘Read only’ because anyone with the link can download the file as well as view it online (depending on the file type).
  • Edit – anyone with this link can edit the file online (depending on file type). An Office document can be downloaded and edited in Office software after login with a Microsoft account. Other types of file can be downloaded without login.
  • Public – everyone can view / download the file.

You can have three different links for a file, one for each share type:

OneDrive image from Sending files using Skydrive / OneDrive at

Click on ‘Shorten Link’ to get a shorter version of the same link for use on social media. ‘Create another link’ is available to make the other type of link.

‘Get Link’ will copy a web link to your computer clipboard. Paste that link into your own email.

The link will look a bit like this when pasted:

OneDrive image from Sending files using Skydrive / OneDrive at

Note: Anyone who gets that link can download the file, there is no login or security required.

The sender (owner of the OneDrive account) has no direct way of knowing whether the file has been downloaded, or by whom. However direct edits to Office documents are tracked.

For Office documents, the receiver opens the document in a browser window like this:

OneDrive image from Sending files using Skydrive / OneDrive at

The File menu has options to Translate, Save As (i.e. Download), Print and Share.

‘Edit in Browser’ opens the Word Web App in the same browser window. From there you can open the same document in Word (assuming you have a compatible version of Word on that computer).

Exchanging files

Here’s one option for someone you regularly send or exchange files with.

  • Exchange many files
  • Between two people
  • A free Microsoft account login is needed for some features
  • Both people can modify or delete the files saved on the OneDrive folder

There is a section of this article that you can copy to another person – it will help them setup and get the files that you send.

In short, create an online folder and share it with another person. Add files to the folder. The receiver gets the file and saves it to their local computer then deletes the file from the shared folder.

At the end, the file is gone from online storage so the sender knows the receiver has it. The cloud storage space is free for other files.

The sender simply copies the file to the shared folder and, maybe, lets the receiver know that a file is coming.

The receiver moves the file to their computer, leaving the cloud storage free for more files.

The same shared folder can be used to send files in either direction between two people because both have write permissions for the shared folder.


Create a shared folder on OneDrive from your account on the web site. Choose the existing folder and click ‘Share’ :

OneDrive image from Sending files using Skydrive / OneDrive at

The sharing options for folders are the same as for single files, as described above. Choose from View, Edit or Public.

To send files one-way choose View. To exchange files both-ways choose Edit.

Sending a file

Simply copy a file to the shared folder. Once uploaded it will appear in the cloud storage and be available to the other person you have shared the folder with.

You upload a file using the web interface (the upload button or ‘drag and drop’).

If you have the OneDrive software installed (or Windows 8.1), simply copy the file to the matching shared folder on your computer. The software will upload the file to cloud storage automatically and in the background.

Unlike Dropbox, in OneDrive the receiver of a shared folder link does not have to ‘accept’ an invitation to join a shared folder.

Receiving the file/s

The person getting the web link opens up OneDrive in their web browser. Here’s an example of what they’ll see for a folder shared with Edit permissions

OneDrive image from Sending files using Skydrive / OneDrive at

Right-click on a file to see more options:

OneDrive image from Sending files using Skydrive / OneDrive at

When the file is saved in cloud storage, the receiver can get it in various ways.

They can use the link you send them, choose the file/s and download manually. Individual files can be downloaded or the entire folder (Folder Actions | Download folder)

After downloading, delete the copy of the file in the cloud.

Deleting / moving the file from the shared folder tells the sender you have it and makes the space available for other files in cloud storage.

The same folder can be used for sending files both ways if shared with ‘Edit’ permissions. Each person looks in the shared folder and moves any file they didn’t send themselves.

‘Add to my Shared list’ means the receiver can see that folder in their own OneDrive account under the Shared tab.

Sharing / Collaboration of documents With OneDrive

OneDrive/SkyDrive is far better for sharing and collaboration of documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint or OneNote) because you can edit documents directly in the browser or on your computer with Office 2013.

Microsoft’s own cloud storage allows simultaneous collaboration – in other words more than one person can open and edit a document at the same time.

Anyone with Edit access to a document or folder can edit a document online. Click on the document in the browser display to view it.

OneDrive image from Sending files using Skydrive / OneDrive at

Click on ‘Edit in Browser’ (assuming you have ‘Edit’ access to the document)

OneDrive image from Sending files using Skydrive / OneDrive at

If the computer has Office 2013 click on ‘Open in Word’ to open the document directly to open up the document in the full Word software. Changes you make in Word should be automatically synced to OneDrive. After opening in an Office 2013 program, the document should appear in the recently used file list and opened faster on later visits.

TIP: for an OneDrive novice, email them a link to this article. The sections “Receiving the file” and “Sharing / Collaboration of documents via OneDrive” will help them connect to the shared folder, download and then delete files.

More than two people

You can fully share a folder with more than two people but it can be difficult to know when to delete the online copy of a file (i.e. when everyone has downloaded the file). As one Office-Watch reader says “I’ve been a member of such a large group where members delete or move files from their folder, and others wonder why their files are being deleted, which can be quite annoying.”

But there is an alternative – you can share an entire folder with ‘View’ access. On the OneDrive web site, select a folder then choose ‘Share’ | Get a Link | select the View option.

Similar to getting a link for a single file, you can email the folder link from OneDrive or ‘Get a Link’ and paste it into your own email.

However there are downsides to this approach. The folder link can be used by anyone who gets it without login, which makes it hard to control access.

Notifying the receiver

If you put a file up on a OneDrive shared folder, how does anyone know it’s there?

Obviously you can tell them, by email, phone or even face-to-face! Or they can check the shared folder for anything new.

Sadly, OneDrive has none of the notification options that are so useful in Dropbox. There’s no equivalent of the Events list, let alone an RSS feed.

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