How to take advantage of Microsoft OneDrive in Windows 11

Windows 11 seamlessly integrates OneDrive into File Explorer.

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As someone who uses Microsoft OneDrive, I like the way Windows 11 integrates the service in ways you won’t find in Windows 10.

The latest version of Windows helps you access and manage OneDrive more easily from File Explorer. You can set File Explorer to automatically open to your OneDrive folders, see how much space is used and available to OneDrive, manage your storage, and change key settings.

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You can also view and control the main OneDrive options from a new Settings screen in Windows 11.

How to take advantage of Microsoft OneDrive in Windows 11

Most of the benefits of OneDrive are available only in the Windows 11 22H2 update. So if you’re not already running the latest version of Windows 11, head over to Settings > Windows Update and allow the 22H2 update to install. To check your version, go to Settings > System > About. The entry for Version in the Windows specifications section will tell you which version is installed.

With the 22H2 update, you can change the default startup location in File Explorer so you can see your OneDrive folders right away. Open File Explorer, click the ellipsis icon on the toolbar, and select Options. Click on the drop down menu to Open File Explorer to and change it to your OneDrive folder. The next time you launch File Explorer, it will access your OneDrive local storage.

You can set OneDrive as the default startup location in File Explorer.

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You can then view and manage your OneDrive storage right from File Explorer. Click the parent folder for your OneDrive storage. On the far right of the toolbar, click the down arrow next to the cloud icon.

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The dropdown window reveals the status of your synced files and how much space your files are taking up on OneDrive.

File Explorer can show you how much space your OneDrive files are taking up.

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The icons accessible in this window will take you to your OneDrive storage and settings. Click on the entry for Your files are in sync at the top and you will see a list of recently synced files.

File Explorer’s OneDrive integration will show you the latest synced files.

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Then click the button manage storage. You’ll be taken to the OneDrive online storage screen, where you can review your current plan, empty the OneDrive recycle bin to free up space, and add more storage if needed.

From File Explorer, you can view and manage your OneDrive storage.

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Back in File Explorer, click the trash can icon in the OneDrive window. That takes you to OneDrive’s online recycle bin, where you can restore any deleted files you need, permanently delete any files you don’t need again, or empty the entire trash to reclaim space.

The OneDrive Recycle Bin shows files that you can recover or permanently delete.

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Go back to the OneDrive dropdown in File Explorer and click the Watch online icon (the one that looks like a globe).

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You’ll be taken to the OneDrive Files window, where you can see and access all your folders and files.

You can view, access, and manage all of your OneDrive files.

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And once again in File Explorer, click the Settings icon in the OneDrive window to view and modify certain options for OneDrive. Here, you can manage the backup of your Desktop, Documents, and Pictures folders, as well as save photos, videos, and screenshots to OneDrive.

The new OneDrive settings screen looks the same as the general settings app in Windows 11.

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Finally, you may notice that OneDrive settings have been refreshed with the latest update for Windows 11.

Also: How to switch from Windows 11 to Windows 10

Instead of the older, clunky Settings window with tabs at the top, the new OneDrive Settings looks the same as the general Windows Settings app. OneDrive settings are organized into four categories: Sync and backup, Account, Notifications, and About.

Synchronization and backup

Under Sync & Backup are options for backing up important folders and saving photos and screenshots. Here, you can also set certain preferences and access advanced settings for collaborating on Microsoft Office files and choose whether your OneDrive files are saved to your PC or stored only in the cloud and downloaded when you access them.

You can see the settings change to collaborate on Office files and keep your files in the cloud or download them to your PC.

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Under Account, you can choose the folders you want to back up and sync and set how long to wait until Personal Vault automatically locks after you stop using it.

In the Account section, choose the folders you want to sync with OneDrive and how long your Personal Vault should stay open.

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Under Notifications, enable or disable notifications for specific OneDrive actions, such as when sync is paused, when other people edit shared files, and when a large number of files are deleted in the cloud.

You can enable or disable notifications for specific OneDrive activities and actions.

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And under About there’s an option to get OneDrive Insider previews if you want to see the new features before they go mainstream.

Join the Insider Preview to see early builds of OneDrive.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET