Sync files

OneDrive Files On-Demand is a feature available for Windows that allows you to save disk space by selectively downloading and accessing files stored in your OneDrive cloud storage. With Files On-Demand enabled, you can see all your files and folders in File Explorer, but they are not necessarily stored locally on your computer unless you choose to open or edit them.

Here's how you can use OneDrive Files On-Demand to save disk space:

  1. Enable Files On-Demand: Right-click on the OneDrive icon in the system tray (located in the bottom-right corner of the screen) and select "Settings."

  2. In the Microsoft OneDrive settings window, go to the "Files On-Demand" tab.

  3. Check the box that says "Save space and download files as you use them."

  4. Click "OK" to save the changes.

Once you've enabled Files On-Demand, you can start managing your files to save disk space:

  1. Access files without downloading: In File Explorer, you'll notice that your OneDrive files and folders have a cloud icon next to them. These files are not taking up space on your local drive. Double-clicking on a file will download and open it, allowing you to view and edit it. Once you're done, the file will be removed from your local drive but will still be available in the cloud.

  2. Free up space: If you want to reclaim disk space, you can right-click on any file or folder in File Explorer and select "Free up space." This action will remove the local copy of the file or folder, but it will still be visible and accessible through File Explorer. You can always download it again if needed.

  3. Always keep files offline: On the other hand, if there are specific files or folders that you want to keep available offline all the time, right-click on them and select "Always keep on this device." This option ensures that the selected files or folders are always downloaded and taking up space on your local drive.

With OneDrive Files On-Demand, you can:

  • Save space on your device by making files online only

  • Set files and folders to be always available locally on your device

  • See important information about files, such as whether they are shared

  • See thumbnails of over 300 different file types even if you don’t have the required application installed to open it

Your files will have these statuses in File Explorer:

A blue cloud icon next to a OneDrive file or folder indicates that the file is only available online. Online-only files don’t take up space on your computer. You see a cloud icon for each online-only file in File Explorer, but the file doesn’t download to your device until you open it. You can’t open online-only files when your device isn’t connected to the Internet.

When you open an online-only file, it downloads to your device and becomes a locally available file. You can open a locally available file anytime, even without Internet access. If you need more space, you can change the file back to online only. Just right-click the file and select “Free up space.”

With Storage Sense turned on, these files will become online-only files after the time period you've selected.

Only files that you mark as "Always keep on this device" have the green circle with the white check mark. These always available files download to your device and take up space, but they’re always there for you even when you’re offline.

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