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Microsoft’s OneDrive Sync client – a feature available for all licensed users which allows you to manage your OneDrive and SharePoint files from your native File Explorer. As it resides in File Explorer, it won’t have the full capabilities that SharePoint offers. Saying that, it’s still an effective and powerful tool used by many for accessing, editing and even sharing files externally or internally.

Before we get into the setup, let’s attempt to clear up something around the terminology. Despite the name “OneDrive sync client”, the function actually works for both OneDrive libraries and SharePoint libraries.

Yeah, I know.

Good thing is, it’s really easy to setup. And once it is, you’ll be able to access your online files as easily as clicking into File Explorer. One important thing to remember though, is that the Client will need to be running in order for any changes you make to files to be synced. More on this later.

The setup:

To sync your OneDrive/SharePoint libraries to File Explorer, do the following:
Navigate to the Document Library in question (note, SharePoint Lists cannot be synced.)

Then, click the Sync button. You may need to click the “get the latest version of OneDrive” button if the program isn’t already being downloaded.

Once the file has been downloaded, install it and run through the steps. You will need to sign in with your Office 365 email and password.

Then simply repeat these steps for any other libraries you want synced! File Explorer will neatly organize these so that they’re easily accessible.

How it works

The Sync Client will automatically sync all changes made to files you make, as long as the Client itself is running. You can make sure of this by clicking the little cloud icon in the bottom right of the screen.
Under the “Status” column in File Explorer, you’ll see icons associated with each of the files. Below is an explanation of the most common icons you’ll see, but if you want to see a full list, Microsoft have have kindly created one for reference.

Selective Syncing

If you don’t want to sync an entire library for whatever reason, you have the option to selectively sync specific folders/files. This can be done either when first syncing a library, or after. When first syncing, it should automatically give you the option, however, if you want to later change this, you can (un)select particular folders by clicking onto the Client (cloud icon) -> More -> Settings, then selecting “Choose folders” for the sync you want to alter.

Online vs. On-Demand

To tackle one of the biggest problems with the Sync Client, it taking up a considerable amount of memory on your computer, OneDrive Files On-Demand exists. The main difference being, it doesn’t download all files onto your computer and therefore take up memory. To enable this feature, click onto the Sync Client in the notification centre at the bottom right, then -> More -> Settings and tick the “Save space and download files as you use them” option under the Files-On Demand section. You can find more details on On-Demand here. (note: On-Demand may not be an option on anything earlier than Windows 10 OS.)
OneDrive Sync is a useful tool to interact with files stored in Office 365. While it is not a replacement for the much richer web experience, it is a useful additional option for certain situations and particularly to keep offline access to documents. Here’s a little summary of the good and the not so good:

Pros

  • Allows for easy, quick access to OneDrive and SharePoint files.
  • Compatible with Mac as well as Windows.
  • It forms part of your File Explorer or Finder experience, so it makes Office 365 storage easily available to non Microsoft applications, such as Adobe Acrobat.

Cons

  • Can take up a lot of memory on device.
  • Utilises File Explorer search functionality which isn’t great.
  • Limited features compared to what can be done in SharePoint or a third-party software such as Oxygen for Outlook.

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