Over at Build 2017, Microsoft has revealed that the next major update for Windows 10 will see the introduction of a new (and much-requested) capability: OneDrive Files On-Demand.
With the new system, files which are stored in OneDrive will appear seamlessly within the folders on your PC (i.e. in File Explorer), and you’ll be able to click and open them just as if they were files which are stored locally on the hard disk (or SSD).
But of course, they won’t take up any storage space on the drive, because they’ll be stored in the cloud on OneDrive – which will be a major boon for those with ultra-thin laptops that only have small SSDs.
Files will be given new status icons which show at a glance whether they are stored locally (green tick icon), or if they’re in OneDrive (cloud icon). If all this rings a bell, that’s because it’s essentially the same system of OneDrive placeholders seen in Windows 8, which many folks have been clamoring for the return of in Windows 10.
Obviously, when you’re offline with your device, you won’t be able to open files in OneDrive – but you can always select critical files which are online with a right click, and specify ‘Always keep on this device’ to download them to the local disk. That way, they’ll be present when you’re offline.
It’s also worth noting that Files On-Demand will let you open files in OneDrive from within desktop or universal apps. Furthermore, the system will work across personal and business OneDrive accounts, along with SharePoint Online team sites.
OneDrive Files On-Demand will come to preview versions of Windows 10 in the early summer for testing, and will become fully available with the release of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.
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Microsoft has a couple of extra OneDrive tricks up its sleeve, too, aimed at mobile users. OneDrive Offline Folders lets you save entire folders to your mobile device in order to open them when offline.
Any changes other users make to these files while you’re offline will be automatically synced when your device is back on the internet.
This feature is actually available now on Android smartphones for those who have an Office 365 Personal or Home subscription, and for OneDrive business accounts. It’ll arrive on iOS in the next few months, Microsoft promises.
The second extra is actually for iOS folks: OneDrive for iMessage allows users to easily share documents or images during an iMessage conversation. It’s possible to share single files or entire folders, and conversation participants will be able to instantly preview documents and photos which are shared with them. This feature is live right now.