Access files, upload and restore docs, version history

Image of OneDrive in list of M365 apps

OneDrive is your personal file storage area. OneDrive is the M365 equivalent of My Documents and anything you save here will be saved in the cloud (your online copy) as well as on your computer! If you have a Microsoft for Business plan (Basic, Standard or Premium) you will have 1Tb of storage available. For Enterprise plan users, you may have more.

In this article I will talk you through how to access, upload, download and edit your files in OneDrive.

How to Access Your Files in OneDrive 

You can access OneDrive for Business via web browser, Windows App, iOS & Android App, or Windows File Explorer​. You do not need to log into VPN or remote desktop to access your files held in OneDrive. 

To access via a web browser go to https://www.office.com. Log in and select OneDrive from the list of available apps from the left hand side menu. 

Uploading Documents to OneDrive 

Image of Mt Files - Upload menu

To upload files to OneDrive, navigate to OneDrive (as above) and browse to the folder location you want to add files to. 

Select Upload.

Note: if you are using Microsoft Edge you will be offered a choice of Files or Folders to upload, other browsers only support single file upload.  

Select the file or folder you want to upload and then select Open.  
You can also upload files by opening File Explorer, selecting the files you want to upload, and dragging them to the OneDrive window.

Further Information: Upload files and folders in OneDrive (work or school) – Office Support (microsoft.com) 
Upload and save files and folders to OneDrive – Office Support (microsoft.com) 

Using the OneDrive Desktop App 

Previously known as the OneDrive sync client, the OneDrive App for Windows allows you to view your files in OneDrive via windows File Explorer.  

If you have Windows 10 or higher, OneDrive is already on your computer. Search for OneDrive through Cortana (circle icon on the taskbar) or by clicking the Windows icon. If prompted, sign in with your Microsoft account.

If you don’t have Windows 10 and need to download the OneDrive application onto your computer, log in to Office 365 (www.office.com) and click on the OneDrive app. Select “Get the OneDrive apps” in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen. Follow the instructions to download OneDrive to your computer. It will prompt you to sign in with your Microsoft account.

Once you download OneDrive to your computer, the OneDrive application should show in your folder list when you click on Windows Explorer (i.e. the folders icon) on the taskbar.

Any time you create a file on your computer and click Save As, you have the option of saving it to your OneDrive. You can also copy and paste or drag and drop files to your OneDrive folder.

Image of OneDrive list of folders

Files stored in OneDrive will have a status column showing 3 types of status. The green tick indicates the document is stored locally (on your computer’s hard drive) as well as on the OneDrive cloud. The circular arrows indicate that the document or folder is in the process of syncing to the cloud. A network connection is required to make this happen). The little cloud icon indicates that the document is only stored on the cloud and will need to be downloaded before you can work on it. Provided you are connected to the internet, that download will happen automatically once you open the document. 

Further Information:  Sync files with OneDrive in Windows – Office Support (microsoft.com) 
Sync files with OneDrive on Mac OS X – Office Support (microsoft.com) 

Using OneDrive on a Mobile Device 

Install the OneDrive app on your mobile device by downloading from the App or Play Stores  and sign in with your Microsoft account. You can now view your files and upload new files. If you want to edit a file saved in OneDrive, you will also need to install the Microsoft app needed to edit it (e.g. Word, Excel, PowerPoint). You can install all the Office apps on up to 5 mobile devices if you have one of the Microsoft for Business plans. And up to 5 PCs or Macs if you have MS365 Apps for Business, Business Standard or Premium.

Further Information:  Set up your mobile apps – OneDrive (work or school) (microsoft.com) 

Sharing Documents from OneDrive 

Documents stored in OneDrive can be shared with internal OR external users. This eliminates the need to attach copies of files to emails. Instead it allows you to invite colleagues to view their document in its OneDrive location. 

To share a document, log in to Office 365 (www.office.com) and select the OneDrive app. Click the circle next to the file(s) or folder(s) you want to share and select the Share button at the top. If you want to share it with only certain individuals, click the dropdown next to Anyone with the link can view and edit and choose Specific People. Type in the first person’s name or email address and then select their name from the dropdown. Do this for each person.  

Uncheck the box that says Allow Editing if you only want them to view the file(s). Then click Apply. They will then receive an email with a link to the file(s). Alternatively, you can click the circle next to the file(s) or folder(s) you want to share and select Copy Link at the top. Follow the instructions above if you want to share it with only Specific People, then copy the link and email it to those

To view or change existing permissions, Check the Sharing column – this will tell you if a folder is shared. 

Image of OneDrive list of folders with Sharing column

The manage Access menu shows who had access to a document. You can change current permissions here.  

Image of OneDrive Manage Access screen
Manage access Menu
Assign permissions

Further Information: Collaborate in OneDrive – OneDrive (work or school) (microsoft.com) 

Editing Documents in OneDrive 

Shared documents that are stored in OneDrive can be edited by two people at the same time. If two people are editing the same document in OneDrive online, each of you will see the changes in real time. You can also leave a comment on the document. If one person is editing the document in their desktop application (e.g. Microsoft Word), that person needs to hit Save (or have autosave enabled) before the other individuals will see those changes. It is good practice to also enable ‘Track Changes’ in the application you are using to edit the document. This way your edits can easily be seen by your colleagues. 

Version History 

Documents stored in OneDrive, as with SharePoint, have version control applied automatically. This means that every time you make a change to a document, the change is captured as a new version.   

To view and restore a previous version of an Office document online, use these steps: 

  1. Open your OneDrive
  2. Browse to the location of the document that you want to see its version history. 
  3. Right-click the file (or click the 3 dots for the menu) and select the Version history option. 
  4. Hover over the date in the Modified column for the required version and select one the required option; 
    • Restore —restores the version of the document to its original OneDrive folder. 
    • Open File —launches the file with the desktop application on your computer. 
    • Delete version —removes the version from OneDrive (available only if permissions allow). 
Image of OneDrive - Restore file option

If you use the Restore option, you can start working with the previous version by opening the document again, using the online or desktop version of the app. However, if you select the Open File option, the older file will download and open the desktop app. Then you’ll need to click Restore if you want to start working with the previous version. 

Deleting Documents 

You can delete specific files held on Microsoft OneDrive, or you can delete entire folders and all the items within them.  

Image of OneDrive list of documents to delete
  1. Open OneDrive
  2. Select the files or folders you want to delete by hovering over each item and clicking the circle check box that appears. 
Image of OneDrive list of documents to delete

3. To select all files in a folder, click the circle to the left of the column headers, or press CTRL + A on your keyboard. (You can also select several files at once by selecting one file, scrolling down the list, then hold down the Shift key while left-clicking the last item you want to select.) 

4. On the bar at the top of the page, select Delete. (You can also right-click the selected file or folder and select Delete.) 

Note: If you do not see the Delete icon in the top navigation bar, or when you right-click a selected item, you may not have permission to delete that file or folder. 

Restoring Deleted Documents 

If you accidentally delete a file or folder in OneDrive, you may be able to recover it later from the OneDrive recycle bin.  

  1. Open OneDrive
  2. In the navigation pane, select Recycle bin. 
Image of OneDrive location of Recycle Bin

3. Select the files or folders that you want to restore by pointing to each item and clicking the circle check box that appears. Then click Restore. 
4. This will return the file or folder to its previous location in OneDrive / SharePoint. 

Note: items in the recycle bin are automatically deleted after 90 days 

Further Information: Restore deleted files or folders in OneDrive – Office Support (microsoft.com) 

Further OneDrive Support Resources