Learn about OneDrive Files On-Demand

Learn about OneDrive Files On-Demand

Files On-Demand helps you access all your files in OneDrive without having to download all of them and use storage space on your device.

Conceptual image of Files On Demand

When you turn on Files On-Demand, you’ll see all your files in File Explorer and get new information about each file. New files created online or on another device appear as online-only files, which don’t take up space on your device. When you’re connected to the Internet, you’ll be able to use the files like every other file on your device.

With OneDrive Files On-Demand, you can:

  • Set files and folders to be always available locally on your device

  • Save space on your device by making files only accessible online

  • See important information about files, such as whether they are shared or what they look like

Your files will have these statuses in File Explorer:

Conceptual image of an online only file
Online-only files

Online-only files don’t take up space on your computer. You see a cloud icon for each online-only file in File Explorer, but the file doesn’t download to your device until you open it. You can’t open online-only files when your device isn’t connected to the Internet.

Conceptual image of a locally available file
Locally available files

When you open an online-only file, it downloads to your device and becomes a locally available file. You can open a locally available file anytime, even without Internet access. If you need more space, you can change the file back to online. Just right-click the file and select “Free up space.”

Conceptual image of an always available file
Always available files

Only files that you mark as "Always keep on this device" have the green circle with the white check mark. These files download to your device and take up space, but they’re always there for you even when you’re offline.

Turn on Files On-Demand

Files On-Demand works with all the apps you use today, including Windows desktop apps and apps from the Windows Store. Furthermore, Files On-Demand works with all your personal and work files from OneDrive and SharePoint Online team sites.

When you’re signed into OneDrive on your device:

  1. Right-click the white or blue OneDrive cloud icon in the notification area, at the far right of the taskbar.

    A screenshot showing the cursor hovering over the white OneDrive icon, with the text OneDrive - Personal.

    (You might need to click the Show hidden icons arrow The Show hidden icons button. next to the notification area to see the OneDrive icon. If the icon doesn't appear in the notification area, OneDrive might not be running. Click Start, type OneDrive in the search box, and then click OneDrive in the search results.)

  2. Click the Settings gear.

  3. On the Settings tab, select the Save space and download files as you use them box.

Note: Files On-Demand settings are unique to each device.

Mark a file or folder for offline use or as online-only

  1. Right-click a file or folder.

  2. Select Always keep on this device or Free up space.

    Conceptual image of menu of options when you right-click a OneDrive file from File Explorer

Notes: 

  • New files or folders created online or on another device appear as online-only to save maximum space. However, if you mark a folder as "Always keep on this device," new files in that folder download to your device as always available files.

  • If a folder is online-only, you can still mark individual files within that folder as always available.

Choose a folder to hide on your device

Sometimes you might want to make sure a folder doesn't show up on a device for privacy reasons. For example, you might want to hide a personal folder on a work computer. Here's how you do that.

  1. Click the blue OneDrive cloud icon in the notification area, at the far right of the taskbar.

    A screenshot showing the cursor hovering over the blue OneDrive icon on the taskbar, with text that says OneDrive - Contoso.

    (You might need to click the Show hidden icons arrow The Show hidden icons button. next to the notification area to see the OneDrive icon. If the icon doesn't appear in the notification area, OneDrive might not be running. Click Start, type OneDrive in the search box, and then click OneDrive in the search results.)

  2. In the Activity Center, select the Settings gear.

  3. Next to the location where you want to choose folders, click select Choose folders.

  4. Clear the check box next to the folder you want to keep off this device.

Important: Files On-Demand settings are unique to each device, so you may need to do this on each device where you want to keep a folder off.

Frequently asked questions

What happens if I delete a file or move it to the trash?

When you delete an online-only file from your device, you delete it from your OneDrive on all devices and online. You can restore deleted files and folders from your OneDrive recycle bin on the web for up to 30 days. If you delete a locally available file, it also appears in your device recycle bin.

If you want to hide a folder on your device, see Choose a folder to hide on your device.

Does changing a file to online-only delete the file from my OneDrive?

No, changing a file to online-only doesn't delete it from your OneDrive. The file no longer takes up space on your device, and you will still be able to see the file from OneDrive mobile apps or on the website.

Can I move online-only files within my OneDrive folder?

Yes, you can move online-only files within your OneDrive folder for that OneDrive account. When you move files outside that OneDrive folder, the files download to the new folder and are removed from your OneDrive. If you accidentally delete something, you can restore files or folders by going to your OneDrive recycle bin.

Can I use desktop search to find online-only files?

Yes, desktop search can search for online-only files by name, but it cannot search the contents within online-only files because they aren't stored on the device.

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