Today, Microsoft is making an early version of OneDrive Files on Demand available to Windows Insiders who have installed Windows 10 build 16215. I’ve been testing this functionality for the past several days, and it appears to work exactly as expected.
“With Files On-Demand, you can access all your files in the cloud without having to download them and use storage space on your device,” Microsoft’s Dona Sarkar notes. “All your files—even online files—can be seen in File Explorer and work just like every other file on your device. You’ll be able to open online files from within desktop or Windows Store apps using the Windows file picker. And you’re covered in both your home and professional life since it works with your personal and work OneDrive, as well as your SharePoint Online team sites.”
OneDrive Files on Demand will begin rolling out to Insiders with build 16215 today, Microsoft says. But if you don’t want to wait—and you don’t—you can download and install this functionality now. (Yes, it still requires build 16215 or newer.)
I was given early access to OneDrive Files on Demand, and it appears to work well. You can enable it via a first-run window that appears after install. Or you can configure the functionality via the OneDrive Settings window at any time, of course. You’ll see a new Files On-Demand option in the Settings tab.
Once it’s enabled and has time to sync your OneDrive folder structure, you’ll see your entire OneDrive appear in File Explorer, which like it did in Windows 8.1 with OneDrive placeholders. Here, you can see my Work folder in OneDrive.
That Status column is new, and the icons there indicate the status of each item you can see. Available choices include:
Available on this device. The green checkmark icon next to the _Promo graphics to use folder indicates that that item (and its contents) are synced to the PC and are always available for use, even when offline.
Always available. This solid green checkmark icon, not shown in the shot above, indicates files or folders that you have manually marked as always being available offline. You do this via File Explorer (not OneDrive Settings) by right-clicking the item and choosing “Always keep on this device.”
Available when online. The empty cloud icon next to the 2012 folder indicates that that item (and in this case, its contents) are all in the cloud. So you will need to be online to see them from File Explorer.
Sync pending. The sync icon next to the 2017-06 folder indicates that that item is going to sync and will be made available while offline when it is done doing so.
If you double-click a file that is marked “Available when online,” it will automatically download so you can open it, and it will always be available offline after that. You can, of course, later right-click it and choose “Free up space” if you would prefer it to stay offline-only.
Also, the status icons will appear next to files and folders regardless of the view style.
And unlike with placeholders, all OneDrive files, even those that are not synced locally, should work with all apps, including legacy Win32 desktop applications. Yes, this is the placeholders replacement you’ve been waiting for.
OneDrive Files on Demand will debut publicly in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.