OneDrive's Offline mode now lets you work with your files even in the boonies

Rolling out to Microsoft 365 work and school accounts, the new feature will let you use your files in OneDrive for the web even if you're offline.
Written by Lance Whitney, Contributor
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Microsoft has added a new OneDrive feature to help you access and manage your folders and files without an internet connection. Described in a blog post on Monday by Andrey Esipov, a principal product manager for OneDrive, the new Offline mode supports OneDrive for the web, but so far only for Microsoft 365 work and school accounts.

If you have a personal OneDrive account, you'll have to keep waiting. A Microsoft spokesperson told ZDNET that "we do plan to bring offline mode to personal OneDrive accounts in the future but don't have an ETA to share at this time."

The offline capability lets you mark specific folders and files as available for offline access, and then open and edit any such files from the OneDrive website via their native applications. Any changes you make to those files while offline are synced once you're back online.

Also: How to take advantage of Microsoft OneDrive in Windows 11

Previously, you could tag OneDrive folders and files as available online or offline only through File Explorer in Windows or Finder on MacOS. With this new option though, you can tag the files you want to access offline directly on OneDrive's website.

In offline mode, you can view your folders and files with metadata such as the file owner, size, recent activity, and last accessed date. You can access key sections and views in OneDrive on the web, including Home, My Files, Shared, Favorites, People, and Meeting. In the My Files view, you can rename, sort, copy, and move your files. Again, any changes you make offline are synced when you're online again.

OneDrive's new offline mode

Although I work with all my OneDrive files directly on my PC, you may choose to work with them on the web. An offline mode for OneDrive for the web lets you access your folders and files if you're on the road, in the air, or in another place where the internet connection is spotty or nonexistent.

So, how does offline mode even work?

The OneDrive app uses your device's local storage to save a cache of certain file information, such as the name, size, and author. The cache not only lets you access your files offline, but speeds up performance compared with connecting to the website. The improvement is especially significant if you're working with hundreds of files, according to Esipov.

Even if you do have the right type of OneDrive account, you may have to wait a few days as offline mode has just started rolling out. 

Here's how to get started. Make sure you're running the latest version of OneDrive on your Windows PC or Mac. Sign into OneDrive via Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome, and the site will automatically set up offline mode. You can then tag the folders and files you want available offline. The next time you're offline, you should be able to access OneDrive through your browser and still work with your tagged files.

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