SkyDrive For Windows 8: The Cloud Storage And Modern File Explorer App

Skye Hudson 24-01-2014

With Windows 8, Microsoft included SkyDrive integration with every PC, and with Windows 8.1, they have pushed that integration even further. Now, the SkyDrive for Windows 8 app is a must-use for any Windows 8 user.


Every person with a Microsoft account is given 7GB of storage for free, which is notably better than many alternative cloud storage services like Dropbox. Filling up that space is whatever you choose to put in your SkyDrive folder, as well as your PC’s personalization settings, and the app even works as a modern file explorer.

Cloud Storage

There used to be a desktop application for SkyDrive, but no more in Windows 8.1. The desktop application has died and everything is now handled through the modern interface. This is, for the most part, a welcome change, since SkyDrive had a weird split personality when it launched on Windows 8 with both a Modern version and a desktop version.

Chris Hoffman previously laid out how SkyDrive is integrated into Windows 8 and provided step-by-step instructions on how to sync your files with SkyDrive How To Keep Your Files Synced With SkyDrive In Windows 8.1 Storing data remotely and syncing them across devices has never been so easy, especially if you're using Windows 8.1. SkyDrive received a significant update, improving its integration with Windows and adding interesting new features. Read More . Today, we’ll be looking mainly at the app itself, and it’s interface and settings.


The basic interface, as seen above, is a light grey background with blue tiles for your folders. The word SkyDrive with the down arrow beside it is clickable so that you can reach “This PC”, which is the modern file explorer we will discuss more later. As you dive down deeper into folders the interface remains as you would expect on a Windows 8 app, lots of side-scrolling square-images and blocks of text that you can tap and pull down on for more options.



Swiping in from the top or bottom of the screen will bring up the options Select all, New folder, and Add files.

Swiping in from the right, tapping Settings, and then tapping Options will bring up the menu above. If you flip the switch for “Access all files offline”, SkyDrive will download everything to your computer so that you can access it without Internet. I keep it turned off to save space on my computer, but if you know you’ll be without Internet for a while, this is a handy feature.

Clicking the only other option to “Open PC settings” will take you to the screen below.



Here you can see how much of your storage space you’re using, possibly buy more, and decide if you want to automatically save documents to SkyDrive.


The Camera roll tab refers to any photos taken on your Windows 8 device, as they can be automatically uploaded to SkyDrive, too. Back in October, Microsoft released an Optical Character Recognition feature SkyDrive Brings Smart Files With OCR Search In Windows 8.1 With Windows 8.1, SkyDrive will be rolling out “smart files”, previously called placeholder files, complete with Bing-powered OCR search. Read More for those who automatically upload photos to SkyDrive, which allows Bing to search through your photos for text, allowing you to find text within old photos.



Discussed in more detail in this article on how sync your Windows 8 settings via SkyDrive How To Sync Your Windows 8 Settings Via The Cloud Logging into your Windows 8 computers with a Microsoft account enables access to the Windows Store and other Modern apps, but it's also used to sync Windows 8 settings with the Cloud. Your settings will... Read More , the options shown above essentially allow you to have the same setup on any Windows 8 machine that you log into. And if your computer is ever lost or destroyed, your new computer will have the same settings as soon as you sign-in with your Microsoft account.

File Explorer

SkyDrive also doubles as a modern file explorer, meaning you no longer have to use any of the third-party modern file explorers Wondering Why Windows 8 Doesn't Have A Modern Explorer App? Try These Windows 8 doesn’t come with a Modern file explorer app, forcing tablet users to peck at the small targets in the File Explorer window on the desktop. But this is Windows 8, not Windows XP... Read More that have cropped up. It’s very minimalistic and clean, just as one would expect.



As seen above, you can click through any of the folders on your PC under the This PC tab. The upper right has options for search and to change the interface as well. It essentially acts and behaves like you’re looking through your SkyDrive files.


It’s nice to finally have a modern file explorer from Microsoft, but it is a bit hidden within SkyDrive. Will we ever see a native modern file explorer app Wondering Why Windows 8 Doesn't Have A Modern Explorer App? Try These Windows 8 doesn’t come with a Modern file explorer app, forcing tablet users to peck at the small targets in the File Explorer window on the desktop. But this is Windows 8, not Windows XP... Read More ? We can only hope.


For simple integration with Windows 8, SkyDrive really is a convenient option. But the debate rages on between which cloud storage product is the best OneDrive vs Google Drive - Which Is Best for Office Productivity? As the push towards web apps has evolved, we're now met with two powerful cloud solutions -- SkyDrive and Google Drive. These two options offer all the tools needed for file synchronization and office productivity.... Read More . Personally, I also like keeping the desktop app for Google Drive to sync some files as well, but of course there isn’t a modern app for Google Drive.

What is your favorite cloud storage service for Windows 8? Do you like that SkyDrive is entirely in the modern interface now? Let us know in the comments.

Related topics: Cloud Storage, File Explorer, Microsoft SkyDrive, Windows 8.

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  1. Don
    December 13, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    Why don't obsolete topic postings like this have update links to the present-day equivalent (in this case OneDrive) here in

  2. Slava
    January 26, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    SkyDrive integration forces users to use MS account for sign on. Who cares about privacy? Or at least common sense? Why can't the users with a local profile not linked to a Microsoft account keep using classic SkyDrive app?

  3. Rajdeepak S
    January 26, 2014 at 9:57 am

    I still find windows 8.1 very useless, and fails to impress me.And I disagree that file explorer of skydrive is any usefull as thirdparty apps. Start menu is as useless as shortcut with no target.Metro is the biggest useless feature of all,with usability of 0 and hampering factor of 100 for non touch device.You can't expect me to throw my 850$ device just for useless 8.

  4. Tikamaya
    January 26, 2014 at 8:19 am

    I use Windows 8 but i can't find above described features of skydrive . Does the above mentioned features of skydrive taken from Windows 8.1 ?

  5. Jorden
    January 24, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    I hate the fact you can"t use the Skydrive app without a Microsoft account. If you switch to an local account it wont work. I hope they fix this in the next 8.1 Update. For now I am using the Dropbox app and it works perfectly.

    • likefunbutnot
      January 25, 2014 at 12:35 am

      Try File Manager HD in its place. File Manager HD can act as a Dropbox, Skydrive, Box, SugarSync or FTP client. It supports direct SMB network connections and its settings appear to me to be portable across your Microsoft account if you have one.

      The biggest problem with all Modern-style Windows apps is that they're universally hampered by the EXTREMELY poor cross-application data sharing on Windows 8's Modern interface. There's no way to cut and paste or easily switch the context for dealing with data from, say, a photo-viewing application to a photo-editing app. App-to-app sharing seems to be managed by specific code within an application, which means if the app developer didn't build a hook that says "Share to Aviary", you're going to have to go through the hassle of navigating to the relevant file within the second app.