April 29th, 2014 by Monika Jankowska-Pacyna

one_driveOriginally known as SkyDrive, and similar in functionality to Dropbox or Google Drive, OneDrive allows users to store content, such as files, pictures and documents, in the cloud.

But what makes it more interesting and worth exploring, especially for new technology users, is the free web version of OneDrive that allows you to view, edit, share and embed Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote documents directly within one account, without having to purchase the desktop software – a great feature for those who might not want to or might not be able to purchase the full version of the program.

OneDrive comes with 7GB of free space which can be increased through referrals by purchasing more space or by getting a special 3GB bonus when you activate your camera roll backup to save photos automatically. If you are a Windows 8 user, OneDrive is already built into your system.

1. To use the web version, visit and log in or set up a new account.

2. After logging in, you are automatically taken to OneDrive and can see all your content in one place. Some folders, such as Documents, Pictures and Public, are automatically set up for you when you start using OneDrive.

Please note that the screen capture above includes a few extra documents that were added after the account was set up.

3. In OneDrive, you can click “Create” to work on new content, such as documents or spreadsheets, or “Upload” content from your computer.

4. Creating a Word Online document is as simple as using the desktop version of Microsoft Word.

Similar to GoogleDrive, OneDrive doesn’t have a Save button. It automatically saves the content as you work on it – a great feature for those who forget to save or those who are just learning about computers!

5. It is also possible to share and collaborate on documents in real time like on Google Drive. You can see who is editing what, as you type.

6. When done, you can simply click on OneDrive and a list of your documents (including your latest one) is displayed. By clicking on a folder or a document name, or selecting a box next to it – for example “Using_Open_Badges_Long_2” – you can activate additional tools:

Among them is the ability to embed the document:

This feature is unique to OneDrive. Google Drive or Dropbox will allow you to link to the files or folders but will not allow you to embed and display them on a webpage! Here is how this document looks when embedded:

The same embedding can be done with PowerPoint presentations, surveys, etc.

7. Also, it’s good to know that photos and images added to the Pictures folder can be displayed via a special slideshow and include information on the location a picture was taken, can be tagged, can be shared and can even provide the information on the type of camera used to take the picture. It can be a great way to store and manage pictures, and to back up images from mobile devices (please keep in mind that with 7GB of free space your account can get filled up very quickly).

8. Overall, it is important to note that the web version of OneDrive gives you access to much more than just storing files in the cloud. With one account you get:

  • – for sending and receiving emails
  • People – to manage contacts
  • Calendar  – for scheduling and events
  • OneDrive –  for storing files and pictures
  • Word Online –  to create documents
  • Excel Online – to set up spreadsheets and surveys
  • PowerPoint – to develop presentations
  • OneNote – to take and manage notes.

9. OneDrive is available via web, desktop and mobile devices. Here is how the files are displayed on Android phone Nexus 4:

And here is how a document in editing mode via OneDrive looks on the phone:

10. Lastly, OneDrive can be a great tool to upload and share videos. It has a special engine that encodes video on the fly so that once it’s uploaded to[Ma1] OneDrive storage and shared with friends or family, the version streamed to their device will take into account the speed and bandwidth of their connection.

Here is an example of a video embedded using OneDrive tools:

It is definitely worthwhile to try out OneDrive and explore how it can be used in a program or by students who don’t have access to the desktop version of Word or Excel!

Here is how and why Ryan, an instructor at Centre for Community Learning & Development, is using OneDrive (earlier called SkyDrive) with his colleagues and students: