While Microsoft SkyDrive as a cloud storage service isn’t getting the love that Box and Dropbox get, the free SkyDrive for iOS app shows that Microsoft isn’t missing a beat when it comes to mobile access to the service.

Mobile access isn’t usually the primary mode of access to a cloud storage service like SkyDrive, but it can sure come in handy if you find yourself away from your PC and need to access a file. It’s also easy to share information via an email link for those times when you need to send or resend a file.

Log into the SkyDrive app

After you download SkyDrive from the App Store, follow these steps to log into the app:

  1. When you tap the SkyDrive icon, the login screen will appear
  2. Enter the email address and password of your Windows Live ID
  3. Tap Sign In (Figure A), and SkyDrive will open to the top level view, where you can see your folders

Figure A

Login to SkyDrive using your Windows Live ID.

You also have the option to sign up for a Windows Live ID at the login screen and set up a new SkyDrive account from your iPhone.

Manage files on SkyDrive

The SkyDrive app includes some basic file management tools to help you access and share files from your iPhone.

Rename or open files

File management doesn’t have to stop just because you’re on the iPhone. Renaming and opening files in another iPhone app takes just a couple of taps.

Here’s how to rename or open files:

  1. Tap on a file you want to access
  2. Tap the Action button. You now have the option to either:
    • Tap Rename This File
    • Tap Open in Another App. When you select this, you then have the option to open the document with another app on your iPhone (see Figure B).

Figure B

Open the file for editing in another iPhone app.

Add Items

You have the option to add new folders and /or pictures/videos to your SkyDrive account:

Create a new folder:

  1. From the main SkyDrive menu, tap the Action button
  2. Select Add Items
  3. Tap Create a Folder
  4. Enter in a name for the new folder, and tap Create (Figure C)

A new, empty folder will now appear on your iPhone screen.

Figure C

You can create a new folder in SkyDrive from your iPhone.

Take a photo or video:

  1. From the main SkyDrive menu, tap the Action button
  2. Select Take a Photo or Video, which will launch your iPhone’s camera
  3. Take a photo or record a video, and then tap Use

SkyDrive will offer you faster upload speeds by prompting you to change a setting to automatically resize photographs before uploading them to SkyDrive. This option is especially useful if you’re uploading pictures over 3G like many of us do.

Edit Items

You have the option to delete and move files in your SkyDrive account from the iPhone app.

Here’s how to edit items:

  1. Tap the Action button
  2. When you tap Edit Items, a blank circle appears beside the files visible on your iPhone screen
  3. Select a file by tapping the blank circle beside it (see Figure D)
  4. Figure D

    Tap the blank circle beside a file to select it.
  5. Perform one of the following options:
    • Tap Delete to delete the selected file from your SkyDrive account
    • When you tap Move, a files screen appears that lists the folders in your SkyDrive account. Tap the folder where you want to send the selected file, and then tap Select This Location.

Share files

The capability to share files from a cloud service like SkyDrive from a mobile app has saved me a couple of times when I was able to dig up a file upon a client’s request and share it with them almost immediately, regardless of where I was, provided I had a 3G connection.

Tap Share and then perform one of the following options:

  • Send Link in Email: You can send an email with a link to the document in your SkyDrive account (Figure E). This option also lets you specify View Only or View and Edit, depending on whether or not you want to give the recipient the ability to modify the shared document.
  • Figure E

    Sharing files via the SkyDrive app
  • Copy Link to Clipboard: Again, you have the option to select View Only or View and Edit
  • Permissions: This opens the Permissions screen, where you can see if the document is being shared and with whom

Manage SkyDrive from an iPhone

The SkyDrive app for the iPhone is a solid performer, despite not granting edit privileges over files in your SkyDrive account. It definitely has some useful features that can come in handy if you’re on one of those jobs that requires you to send a lot of files to other team members and customers.

Have you used SkyDrive for file management and collaboration? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.