Image: Apple

It’s no secret cloud computing is responsible for one of the biggest shifts changing the way professionals operate within the modern workplace. But what’s that mean for everyday work habits? With the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating work-from-home trends and organizations increasingly adopting more liberal bring-your-own-device (BYOD) strategies, workers must more often manage multiple cloud storage services on the same device.

Apple’s iCloud and Microsoft’s OneDrive are two leading cloud services with which many users are familiar and frequently use. Both can be used on the same Mac, iPhone or iPad. The same general principles that apply to their operation, however, also apply for Box and Dropbox users, too.

SEE: How to migrate to a new iPad, iPhone or Mac (TechRepublic Premium)

Connecting multiple cloud file storage accounts to the same Apple device on a Mac — or an iPad or iPhone (Figure A)— can make the device exponentially more useful, add operational efficiencies to your workday and increase productivity. For example, if you’re switching between two devices, such as a Mac and an iPad, because one is a work device and the other personal, inefficiencies quickly arise. To use a personal device to access commonly used work files and include documents, spreadsheets, presentations and PDFs as attachments to email, associating the device with the missing cloud file storage account works wonders. Connecting multiple cloud services on the same device can also speed workflow.

Figure A

Multiple cloud file storage services can be loaded on the same device, thereby increasing the device’s utility.

For instance, if you conduct research and capture notes while working remotely, but then need to slide your notes and accompanying infographics, documents and spreadsheets over to your work account, emailing all those files via a personal address to your work account is a clunky process, at best, that also exposes the information to security vulnerabilities commonly associated with clear-text email messages. Having both cloud accounts — say, your personal iCloud account and your organization’s Microsoft OneDrive service — available on the iPad you use when working remotely can simplify file transfers while also enhancing security. Just be sure to abide by a few best practices.

Before connecting any device to a corporate network, first confirm the organization’s IT department permits such connectivity and that connecting to both iCloud and OneDrive services on the same device isn’t a violation of any security best practices, work-from-home standards or BYOD policies. You do not want to seek forgiveness later for having cross-pollinated networks; start such initiatives with explicit permission.

Always be on guard against accidentally introducing a file from one cloud platform to the other. Even when intentionally moving a document, spreadsheet or collection of files between cloud services, double-check to confirm you’ve chosen the correct target directory. Always pay close attention when saving files locally to an Apple device, whether the device is a Mac desktop, MacBook Pro, iPad or even iPhone. Don’t inadvertently save an email attachment to the wrong cloud location, lest you later discover you’ve saved your family’s beach vacation photos to your organization’s financial statements directory.

By the same token, when connecting two cloud file storage services on the same device, you also must protect against inadvertently storing your organization’s information within your family’s online grocery list or recipe collection or among vacation-related items. You don’t want sensitive company information — including HR files, financials and research and development-related data — leaking outside your organization’s network. IT departments have enough work battling continual unauthorized attempts to breach the organization’s systems and access such information.

Unintended if inadvertent leaks don’t help. But considering how often today’s professionals multitask — attending webinars while reading and returning email messages, entering data within online applications while also speaking with a colleague via Teams and talking on a cell phone while drafting an email message or posting an update via Slack — it’s easy to understand how a moment of distraction could lead to an important document or confidential spreadsheet being saved to the wrong cloud location. So, beware.

Think twice, too, before connecting a shared family computer, such as an iMac in the kitchen, to your workplace’s cloud platform. You may be left no choice if that’s the only computer from which you can work remotely. In such cases, consider banishing other users from accessing the computer, at least for the duration of time you must commandeer the device to fulfill your work responsibilities or while you’re accommodating a hybrid work schedule. You don’t want sensitive company information to become available to others, even if those others are your own partner, children or roommates.

With that said, there are a few steps to using iCloud and OneDrive on Macs, iPads and iPhones. In the case of OneDrive, you must download the app from Apple’s App Store. Next, you need to connect the cloud service account to the device. Then you can access and use the cloud services’ resources on that device.

On a Mac, or iPhone or iPad for that matter, iCloud connections are essentially automatic. There’s no separate application to download. Configuration occurs almost by default. When setting up a new Mac (or iPhone or iPad), the iCloud credentials are captured and the iCloud integration is implemented when setting up the device. iCloud, subsequently, appears automatically within the Finder sidebar.

Further iCloud customization is available on Macs by clicking System Preferences, selecting Apple ID and clicking the Options button that appears adjacent to the iCloud Drive entry. On iPhones and iPads, access the customization options by tapping Settings, selecting the user and tapping iCloud.

For Microsoft OneDrive you need to first download the application from the Apple App Store, then log in to your Microsoft account. Once logged in, you can drag the OneDrive folder from within Finder to the Finder sidebar. OneDrive will then appear within the sidebar (Figure B), making it and the resources saved there easier to access.

Figure B

Adding both iCloud and OneDrive shortcuts within the macOS Finder sidebar makes frequently accessing the cloud file storage locations easier.

Save email attachments to iCloud or OneDrive directly from within Mail or Outlook on a Mac by dragging the file or files to the corresponding cloud storage folder within Finder. Alternatively, if you opened the attachment directly from within Mail or Outlook, you can save the file directly to iCloud or OneDrive by clicking File from the menu bar, clicking Save and navigating to the corresponding directory (Figure C).

Figure C

Using an iPhone or iPad, you can save open attachments to a cloud file storage directory by navigating to the correct corresponding location.

Using an iPhone or iPad, the process is similar, albeit with a few adjustments. Rather than dragging a Mail or Outlook attachment to Finder (or the Files app using iOS and iPadOS), you can long press the attachment, which calls a pop-up menu (Figure D), from which you can choose Save To Files. Next, specify the cloud directory to which you wish to save the file (Figure E).

Figure D

Long pressing an email attachment using either Mail or Outlook on an iPhone or iPad calls a pop-up menu from which you can save the attachment to a cloud directory by selecting Save To Files.

Figure E

When saving email attachments to a cloud account, first ensure you’re navigating to the correct cloud service using iPhone/iPad files directory.

Using multiple cloud file storage accounts on the same Mac, iPad or iPhone often makes the corresponding device much more useful. While the process adds some risk that files and information could end up in the wrong location, as long as users are diligent, operate carefully and pay attention to where files are stored, copied, moved and saved, workflow efficiencies and productivity improvements typically result.

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This is your go-to resource for the latest news and tips on the following topics and more, XaaS, AWS, Microsoft Azure, DevOps, virtualization, the hybrid cloud, and cloud security. Delivered Mondays and Wednesdays