Windows 8 comes with a SkyDrive app right out of the box. This new app provides a touch friendly interface and changes the way your computer handles syncing data. While it offers a few improvements, it lacks the usability of a traditional SkyDrive desktop application. If you are a traditional PC user or a Windows 7 user who would rather use a traditional applications, you can easily install the SkyDrive desktop application and enjoy the features you’ve come to expect. Here’s how it works!
NOTE: If the difference between desktop applications and Windows 8 apps isn’t clear to you, check out this article for more information on the subject: What is a Windows 8 App? How is it Different from a Desktop Application?.
How to Download and Install the SkyDrive Desktop Application
In order to get the SkyDrive desktop application you’ll have to download it from Microsoft’s web site. Visit SkyDrive apps to download the application.
Launch the downloaded executable to begin the installation.
Click or tap "Get Started" to begin the process of configuring and installing your desktop SkyDrive application.
Be default, the SkyDrive folder will be installed in your user directory in "C:\Users\Username". For most users this will be an acceptable arrangement. If you’ve got a better place in mind, click or tap "Change."
Browse through your file system to locate a good place for your SkyDrive folder and click or tap "OK." Once you’ve made your selection, or if you were happy with the default, click or tap "Next."
You now get the option to select which folders in your SkyDrive you want to sync to your computer automatically. If you want everything synced, select "All files and folders on my SkyDrive," otherwise select each folder you want to sync. Click or tap "Next" to move along.
Select whether or not you want to enable the fetch feature for this computer. This allows you to browse through your computer’s file system from other computers connected to your SkyDrive to fetch files you may have neglected to store on the SkyDrive. Click or tap "Done" when you’re ready.
Once the installation is complete, you’ll notice a cloud icon in your system tray.
How to Access the SkyDrive from File/Windows Explorer
Working with your SkyDrive on your desktop application requires that you open the folder you configured in the previous step. Like any folder on your computer, you can browse to it through Windows or File Explorer. However, there are faster ways to get there.
One of the fastest way to access your SkyDrive folder is to click or tap the cloud icon in the taskbar. Click or tap "Open your SkyDrive folder" to get the job done in two clicks or taps.
You can also double click or tap on it for the same effect.
Right-clicking the cloud icon gets you there just as quickly. Select "Open your SkyDrive folder" and you’re good to go.
From the Start Screen you can click or tap the SkyDrive desktop application’s tile. Like all desktop applications, the tile isn’t pretty, but it works just as well.
Make sure you aren’t clicking the Windows 8 app version tile though. You want the uglier one. :)
You can also open your SkyDrive via the "All Programs" section of your Start Screen or by searching. Regardless of the method you use, you’ll find yourself looking at your SkyDrive folder.
Last but not least, the SkyDrive folder is listed in the Favorites section of File Explorer (Windows Explorer in Windows 7). A click or tap on it and the SkyDrive folder is opened. You can work on it and do whatever you please. But, keep in mind that no synchronization will take place unless the SkyDrive is running in the background.
How to Add Files & Folders to the SkyDrive Desktop Application
The major function of the SkyDrive is to store your files in the cloud (read online) so you can access them from any Internet enabled device. In order to take advantage of this, you’ll need to load up the drive. Adding files is a simple process; in fact, it’s exactly the same as adding a file to any other folder on your hard drive.
You can add files by clicking or tapping and dragging them into the SkyDrive folder.
You can copy and paste files into the folder.
You can even save files directly to the SkyDrive by selecting it from the Save As dialog in any program.
Creating folders works the same as in Windows. Really there’s not special or new you need to learn about working with files and folders.
How to Configure the SkyDrive Desktop Application
Once you’ve get moving with SkyDrive, you may find that you want to change the way the application works on your computer. To change settings, right-click the SkyDrive tray icon on the taskbar and click or tap "Settings."
The Settings tab allows you to choose whether or not to run SkyDrive at log in. While disabling this feature may increase your start up speed, it will also prevent your computer from syncing new files in your drive until you launch the application. You can also toggle the Fetch feature and choose whether or not to send error logs to Microsoft. You can learn more about the Fetch feature here Fetch files on your PC.
Select the "Choose folders" tab if you want to select which folders you want to automatically sync to your computer.
How to Share Files with the SkyDrive Desktop Application
The SkyDrive desktop application also provides an easy way to share your files with others. This feature is useful for collaborating on documents or just giving family members access to photos or other media.
From the SkyDrive folder, right-click or long-press a file or folder you want to share, select "SkyDrive" and click or tap "Share." Your default web browser will launch and open the SkyDrive web app.
To send an email, enter the email address in your "To" field and click or tap "Share." You can also share your files using Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn or get a link to share via any other method you can think of. Just choose your method of choice from the left field of the window.
By default, you are giving edit permissions to the item you are sharing. If you do not want to give such permissions, uncheck the box which says "Recipients can edit".
If you want recipients to sign in with a Microsoft account before they can view the item(s) being shared, select "Require everyone who accesses this to sign in". This helps prevent other people who could be forwarded the email from being able to access your file or folder, without you giving them specific permissions.
That’s pretty much all there is to the SkyDrive desktop application. It isn’t fancy - not at all. In fact, many users watching you work probably would mistake it for a standard folder; that’s exactly why it works so well. There’s nothing to learn. If you can save a file you can use SkyDrive and experience the convenience of having your files available to you on any computer you use.
How do you like SkyDrive? How do you think it stands up against other cloud storage options like DropBox or Google Drive? Feel free to post questions or comments below.