Windows 8

How to use the OneDrive app as a Modern UI File Explorer in Windows 8.1

Greg Shultz explains how you can use the OneDrive app to perform basic file management operations while you're working in the Modern UI in Windows 8.1.

 

OneDrive in Windows 81
 

Over the last few weeks, I've been taking a look at various file management techniques in Windows 8.1. Here are some of my recent articles:

As you know, Sky/OneDrive is fully integrated into Windows 8.1, such that Sky/OneDrive folders appear in File Explorer and as locations in the Save As dialog boxes in your applications. There's also a Sky/OneDrive tile on the Start Screen (Figure A) that provides a file management tool to access the files that you store in your Sky/OneDrive account. You can use this same file management tool to access any of the files on your computer.

Figure A

 

Figure A
 

The Sky/OneDrive app can be used as a rudimentary file management tool.

This means that if you're already working in the Modern UI and need to perform some file management tasks, you don't have to switch to the Desktop to use File Explorer. Let's take a closer look.

The Sky/OneDrive reference

Before I get started, I want to explain the Sky/OneDrive reference that I'm using in this article. On February 19, 2014, Microsoft officially announced that they were renaming SkyDrive to OneDrive. While making the announcement, Microsoft didn't get into any of the details that went on behind the name change; however, you can get the dirt in the TechRepublic article, "Microsoft renames SkyDrive to more confusing OneDrive amid legal complaint." Now, on another Microsoft page, From SkyDrive to OneDrive, you'll find a small FAQ that contains the following:

How come I still see "SkyDrive" in apps and online? Over the next few months you may continue to see SkyDrive in some places and OneDrive in others.

I guess this explains why the name SkyDrive still shows up in Windows 8.1 at this time. However, I must admit that I'm a bit shocked that the name change didn't occur in the flagship product first, especially when my Windows 7 system already shows the name change (Figure B).

Figure B

 

Figure B
 

Oddly enough, the Windows 7 tool is already renamed to OneDrive.

In any case, I'll use the name Sky/OneDrive in this article, since the screenshots will show SkyDrive as the name of a product that we now know is OneDrive.

Getting started

When you launch the Sky/OneDrive app, you can select the arrow and choose This PC from the menu (Figure C).

Figure C

 

Figure C
 

You'll choose This PC from the menu.

When you get to the This PC view, you'll see that the folders, drives, and network locations contained in this view are displayed as tiles that are arranged alphabetically (Figure D). While they appear to be tiles, they're actually referred to in the interface as Thumbnails.

Figure D

 

Figure D
 

This default view is called Thumbnails, but it initially looks more like the tile interface of the Start Screen.

This arrangement corresponds to the This PC view in File Explorer when it's using the Large icons view (Figure E).

Figure E

 

Figure E
 

The view corresponds to the This PC view in File Explorer.

Now, if you don't want to use the Thumbnails view, you can click the Details view icon in the upper right corner. When you do, the view changes from a tile look to a tab look (Figure F).

Figure F

 

Figure F
 

Switching to Details view provides a more concise view.

Working with files

Once you drill down into a folder containing files, you can hover your mouse pointer over any file to see more details (Figure G).

Figure G

 

Figure G
 

You can hover over a file to get more information.

If you right-click a file, it's selected, and a command bar appears at the bottom of the screen that allows you to perform many common file management operations (Figure H). You can select more than one file using the right-click method. You can then deselect any selected item by using the Clear section button.

Figure H

 

Figure H
 

When you select a file, a command bar appears, and you can use the buttons to perform basic file management operations.

Using the Copy, Cut, Paste, Rename, and New folder operations are all pretty straightforward; however, using the Delete button can be a bit tricky. The app attempts to recycle the file and fails, which means that you must manually intervene to continue the recycle operation. You'll see a red Recycling message at the top right, and you'll have to click through several levels to delete the file. As such, you'll be better off going to File Explorer if you need to delete a file.

Navigating between folders is rather easy. You can drill down simply by clicking on folder tiles. You can drill back up by using the back arrow or by clicking a folder name in the breadcrumb list.

What's your take?

You can use the Sky/OneDrive app to perform basic file management operations while you're working in the Modern UI in Windows 8.1. Do you think that you'll use this technique in the future? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.

 

 

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

5 comments
roostud
roostud

How can I view share folders with the one drive app?   

FXEF
FXEF

I find OneDrive App for the most part useless in the computer mode. A .docx file that is stored in the cloud OneDrive opens in Word that is installed on my computer instead of Online Word. Oh well, I'll just continue using Google Docs, never had any problems with Google cloud apps.

Rodo1
Rodo1

I've been trying to avoid using the ModernUI like the plague, but it's nice to know how this works. Thanks.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

@roostud In order to be able to access network shares from the This PC view in Sky/OneDrive you have to first create a Mapped Drive in This PC in File Explorer:


* Open This PC in File Explorer

* Click the Map network drive icon on the Computer tab

 * Follow the Map Network Drive Wizard


When the mapped network drive letter shows up in This PC, it will also show up in the This PC view in Sky/OneDrive.


Note: Unfortunately, when you create a network shortcut via Add Network Location button, the shortcut does NOT appear in the This PC view in Sky/OneDrive.



Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

@FXEF That's an interesting assessment... But I wonder, what is your reason for wanting the document to open in an online version rather than your computer's version?