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Get One Step Ahead with OneDrive

OneDrive for Desktop and Mobile App

OneDrive is Microsoft’s cloud service that lets you store and protect your files, share and simultaneously edit documents, get to your files from anywhere on all your devices, and even recover previous versions or deleted files. (If you’re not familiar with these features, check out this article.) But OneDrive pros utilize other exceptionally handy features that really take you to the next level.

1. Share Files Strategically

Share menu - link settings dropdown

The cloud makes it easy to collaborate and work together on the same document. To share a file or folder, right-click the name in the OneDrive website or Windows Explorer/Mac Finder and select Share (in the mobile app, touch the three dots beside the name and tap Share). Then add the people you want to share it with, select whether they have View or Edit access, and write a message for the notification email.

But if you click the drop-down arrow and select Link settings, you’ll find additional sharing options that you’ll love.

  • You can make the file accessible to “Anyone with the link” or “People in University of Pittsburgh” without impacting the settings for specific individuals. For example, can give specific people Edit privileges, and then give View access to “Anyone with the link”.
  • Block Download prevents people from saving/editing a file on their computer to ensure everyone has the same version and to prevent unauthorized use or editing.
  • Allowing Anyone with the link to edit a document can create a free-for-all. Set password and Set expiration date give you more control.
    • A password is useful if the link to the document is shared beyond your intended group. Only those with the password can open it.
    • An expiration date gives people a set amount of time to Edit; on the expiration date, their access will revert to View so you can finalize the document. That way, people can’t make new edits (intentionally or unintentionally) to the final version.

2. Back Up Your Photos from your Mobile Device

iPhones back up automatically to iCloud, while Androids automatically back up to Google Drive. But you may want to back up your camera to your OneDrive account instead, especially if you are taking pictures or video for academic or work purposes or if you’re using a Pitt-issued device for work, a class, or a student organization.

You can share a single image/video file from your camera directly to your OneDrive account. To automatically back up your whole camera roll to OneDrive using the OneDrive app, follow these steps:

  1. In the OneDrive app, tap the Me icon at the bottom.
  2. Tap Settings, then “Camera upload”. (If Camera upload is greyed out, that means you need to select an account to upload to first. Pick your Pitt account.)
  3. Set “Camera upload to On.
  4. To make sure videos automatically upload, toggle on Include videos.
  5. Your pics will be saved in the Pictures > Camera Roll folder, organized by year.

3. Scan a Document with Your Phone

Many people take a picture of a document and then email it to themselves or share it to their OneDrive account. This is clunky. It saves as an image file (instead of a PDF), the image is messy, every page is a separate file, and the filename is the meaningless one assigned by the camera.

OneDrive has a better way to “scan” a document using your mobile phone’s camera.

  1. In the OneDrive app, tap Scan (the camera icon).
  2. Select Document, tap the white circle to scan the page, and then tap “Confirm”.
  3. If you don't like the image, tap the left arrow in the upper left to delete the scan and try again.
  4. For multi-page scanning, which combines multiple pages into a single PDF, tap + Add.
  5. You can crop the image to include just the relevant content, rotate the image 90 degrees, apply filters for better clarity, add typed text, or use the Pen to sign or draw on the page.
  6. Once you're done editing, tap Done >, enter a file name, and select a save location.
  7. Tap Save (the checkmark on an Android device) and it will save as a PDF document in OneDrive.

4. Embed a File into a Website

If you have a document, image, or other file that you want to embed in a webpage, OneDrive makes it super easy.

  1. Right-click the file and click Embed.
  2. Click Generate to get the HTML code to embed the document into a webpage (using an iFrame).
  3. You don’t need to upload the file to the web site/server.

Note: this only works for files saved in the cloud with OneDrive (not files saved locally).  Also note that if you change the file name or location in any way, or lose access to your account (AKA – you graduate or leave the University), the link will break!

5. Mark Files for Offline Access

The cloud makes your files accessible from any device with internet access without taking up space on your hard drive. But if you’ll be disconnecting from Wi-Fi for a while (e.g., while driving or flying or when working in a remote location), cloud storage is inaccessible.

You could just download a file from OneDrive and save it to your device. But that has serious limitations:  you’ll have multiple versions of the same document on each device and will need to save the local file to overwrite the cloud file in order to keep them consistent. If you forget, you could have some edits in one copy and other edits in the other copy. Combining them is  a pain.

With OneDrive’s Files on Demand, you can mark select files for offline access, and it will save a copy onto your device. When you have Internet access, OneDrive will automatically sync the local and cloud versions. Any changes made to the local copy while you were off-line will be reflected in the cloud copy. Any changes you subsequently make to the cloud file will be updated in the local copy.

Pitt’s Microsoft 365 license automatically enables the Files on Demand option, but files default to saving in the cloud only. You can see where a file is saved based on icon beside the file name.

  • On a Windows PC (or Android), a white circle with a green checkmark indicates a file saved only in the cloud. A green circle with a while checkmark indicates that a file is also saved locally.
  • On a Mac PC (or iPhone), the cloud icon indicates a file saved only in the cloud. A grey circle with an underlined white checkmark indicates that a file is also saved locally.

To save a file locally on a PC, right-click a file or folder in File Explorer/Mac Finder and select Always keep on this device. On iOS and Android, press and hold the file or folder name (or tap the three dots next to it) and tap Make Available Offline. It’s that easy. You can follow the same steps to stop syncing the file to a local copy.

Get the Most Out of OneDrive

There are many resources to help you become a OneDrive pro. The Pitt IT OneDrive page includes basic information, along with links to download the OneDrive app. Check out the Getting the Most from OneDrive page for on-demand webinars and a host of help resources. You can also go straight to the source and visit Microsoft’s OneDrive Support site. Now get out there and master the cloud!

-- By Karen Beaudway, Pitt IT Blogger