In this part of my OneDrive for Business series, I’ll cover how syncing works and how users can access their files from Windows, Mac, Office, and the Web client

Files stored in OneDrive for Business can be accessed in a number of different ways. Microsoft Office 2013 and Office mobile apps have built-in integration for online access. A sync tool is also available on Windows and iOS to access your files offline.

Syncing files and accessing files offline in Windows

The OneDrive for Business sync tool is included as part of Microsoft Office 2013 or is available as a standalone download. Depending on whether you’re using a brand new computer or one you’ve been using a while, you can have a varied experience using the sync tool. Running the sync tool on a new system or on one that hasn’t been signed on to an Office 365 organizational account may have you trying to figure out how to find your Library URL.

Which library do you want to sync

Which library do you want to sync

Fortunately, there are easier ways to set up sync. Typically, signing on to an organizational account will ensure the sync tool knows about your OneDrive for Business (but doesn’t set it up automatically). The easiest way to do this is to open an Office application—in my case, Microsoft Word. Click the “Switch account” link in the upper right corner, type the email address (or, in some cases, a separate sign-on address) associated with your Office 365 account, and click Next.

Sign in to OneDrive for Business

Sign in to OneDrive for Business

When prompted, you’ll need to select the Organization account and then sign on with your credentials.

Please select the type of accountSign in
Please select the type of account

If you go back and run the OneDrive for Business sync tool, it should now know the correct path and allow you to sync your files. Once the files finish syncing, they’re available in File Explorer by going to the OneDrive @ Your Org Name shortcut in Favorites or by going to C:\Users\username\OneDrive @ Your Org Name\. Like other file synchronization tools, OneDrive for Business will sync in the background.

Ready to sync OneDriveOneDrive for Business in File Explorer

Ready to sync OneDrive / OneDrive for Business in File Explorer

The nice part of syncing files locally is that you’re not limited to just Office documents. As of today, there’s a file size limit of 2 GB, but that shouldn’t be a problem for the average end user. Because OneDrive for Business is a SharePoint document library, certain file types are off limits. They are: .ashx, .asmx, .asp, .aspq, .axd, .cshtm, .chtml, .json, .rem, .shtm, .shtml, .soap, .stm, .svc, .vbhtm, .vbhtml, and .xamlx.

Accessing files online in Office 2013

If you don’t want your end users to sync files locally, they can still access their documents in Microsoft Office 2013 applications if their computers are connected to the Internet.

In any Office 2013 application, sign on to your Office 365 organizational account (like we showed earlier in the “Syncing files and accessing files offline in Windows” section). In the Office application, OneDrive @ Your Org Name will show as an available location. (You can also see more of the brand confusion that can happen here. If a user is connected to OneDrive, they’ll also see that link as an option.)

OneDrive for Business in Word

OneDrive for Business in Word

Clicking the Browse button opens your main SharePoint My Site, where you can double-click Documents to access your OneDrive for Business files.

Open your main SharePoint My Site

Open your main SharePoint My Site

Accessing files in the web client

Users can also access OneDrive for Business via the web inside of SharePoint Online by clicking the OneDrive link or by going to for web access to their documents. If you’re using OneDrive for Business as part of Office 365, the service is accessible from any Internet-connected device.

OneDrive for Business as part of Office 365 OneDrive for Business as part of Office 365 2
OneDrive for Business as part of Office 365

And, just in case you need one more way to sync your files locally with the sync tool, you can click the Sync link here to sync your files for offline availability.

Sync your files for offline availability

Sync your files for offline availability

Setting up sync is just a one-time deal. Either click via the web interface or do it in Windows one time on a computer and you’re done.

Accessing files on a Mac

Unfortunately, Microsoft has yet to release a sync app for Mac. Files can be accessed by Internet-connected Macs in the Document Connection in Office 2011 for Mac.

In the next part of this series, I will talk about the collaboration features of OneDrive for Business.

1 Comment
  1. Avatar
    Rick 8 years ago

    I hope you don’t mind a couple of questions! 🙂

    We are 4 people in my small company who use O365 Premium 2016. We tried to use a team site to host the documents we share and work on together, but it ran out of space. So I moved all the docs to my own OneDrive and shared it with everyone. No problems accessing files via the web interface. I also enabled everyone to access my OneDrive thru the File Explorer in Windows.

    Now I can access my OneDrive documents in the desktop app version of Word 2016 no problem.  When I go to File/Open I see my OneDrive listed as a source on the left side. However, when I go to my coworkers’ Word, they don’t see my OneDrive (and this is after I’ve logged into my OneDrive account thru the browser on their PC and chosen to link my documents folder to their Office). They only see their own OneDrive. They have to go to the other step of choosing Browse and then navigating thru the File Explorer to my shared documents.

    1. How do I make my OneDrive show up as a file source in the File/Open menu in their O365 desktop apps?

    2. Related – how do I remove a file source from the File/Open menu?

    Thanks so much!


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