Microsoft announced today that OneDrive released Shared Folder sync for all OneDrive and OneDrive for Business users. This means that you can now sync folders that others have shared with you to your desktop PC or Mac.
UPDATE: Microsoft tells me its original messaging was incorrect: This feature is available on only OneDrive, not OneDrive for Business. –Paul
As long as you don’t use Windows 8.1. More on that in a bit.
OneDrive has supported shared folders for a long time, of course. But to access folders others have shared with you, you have needed to use OneDrive on the web or a OneDrive mobile app: this functionality was never available in the OneDrive desktop applications (Windows/Mac).
To get around this limitation, Microsoft has enhanced OneDrive on the web with a new “Add to my OneDrive” option. When you select a shared folder in OneDrive and then click this option, OneDrive will add that shared folder to your main OneDrive folder so you can then sync it to the PC and view and edit its contents using your desktop applications.
Why they couldn’t have just added a “Shared” folders to the list in the OneDrive client app is unclear. This is a bizarre workaround.
And here’s the final kick in the pants: while this works on the desktop version of OneDrive, that only includes Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 10 and the Mac. Windows 8.1 is not included. (Microsoft notes that Windows 8.1 users can just upgrade to Windows 10 for free. Seriously.)
You can learn more about this strange implementation on the Office support web site. Microsoft also notes that “the latest version of Office” (Office 2013? Office 2016?) lets multiple people on the documents at the same time, without forking the document (when multiple copies are created due to overlapping edits by different people). This feature can only be found with OneDrive and Office, the firm explains.
Related to this functionality, Microsoft has also added real-time notifications to the mobile app versions of OneDrive—including OneDrive for iOS, which works on Apple Watch too—so that you can be notified whenever a shared document or other file is being edited by someone else. You can also get a daily summary of edits to files you’ve shared via email and mobile notifications, though you may not see this feature appear for a few days or even weeks. Here’s an example email provided by Microsoft:
Finally, Microsoft has extended OneDrive search to include shared folders. This of course includes search for content inside of documents and other files. “We extended these features to shared items because while users often remember the file name and location of items they’ve created themselves, they frequently remember shared files by their contents,” the firm notes.