I use OneDrive all the time, especially to save all the articles I write for PCMag so that they can be accessed from anywhere. I also sync all of the photos I took on my iPhone so I can easily access them through a web browser.
Before the Windows 10 Fall Creators update, OneDrive, like most sync services, could take up a lot of local storage space if you sync everything. Of course, with OneDrive you can always decide which folders should be synchronized locally. In the cases where you want a file from an unsynchronized folder, not only did it not exist, but you also couldn’t tell it was there.
Enter OneDrive Files On-Demand. This restores features called wildcards that were part of Windows 8.1. This older feature confused some users who could not access the files offline, so Microsoft removed them. On-demand brings the ability back and hopefully makes it clearer to everyone. As? It shows all files stored in OneDrive ($ 5.00 per user per month for Microsoft365 for Business), but marks those that are not stored locally with a cloud icon. It’s very similar to what iTunes has been doing for a few years now to show you which songs needed to be downloaded.
Of course, even before Files On-Demand, you can always access all of your files by downloading them from the OneDrive website. However, it’s much more convenient to make them all visible in File Explorer. Follow the quick slideshow below to see how to set it up and use it.
1. Sign in to OneDrive
Click the cloud icon in the notification area of the system tray to get started. Sign in to your Microsoft account. If you have a Hotmail, Outlook.com, or Office 365 account, you already have a Microsoft account. Otherwise, you can sign up for one with any email address or phone number.
2. Activate files if necessary
The first time you click the OneDrive icon in the notification area after upgrading to Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, you will see this invitation to use Files On-Demand. It’s easy to tap the big power button.
3. OneDrive is up to date
The next time you open the OneDrive notification icon, you’ll see a window like this that tells you which files need to be uploaded.
4. Files in File Explorer
Note that files stored locally have a green check mark, while files that are only in the cloud logically indicate a cloud. It is important, however, that these symbols do not represent small overlays of attachments with the file symbol itself: instead, they are in a separate column.
5. Download on demand
If you double-click on one of these file entries in the file explorer that shows a cloud in the Status column, this download dialog is displayed. Then the file is simply opened in the associated app.
6. If you don’t see On-Demand
If you don’t see the new on-demand feature, you can install it manually by running this OneDrive installer. You will then need to restart your PC and sign in to your Microsoft account.