Windows 8: Built-in Apps & the Power of the Cloud

SkyDrive App

SkyDrive App

Another major component for getting you connected to your files is SkyDrive. It's a service that allows you to access documents, photos, and even music and videos as and when you need them, on any of your PCs or on the SkyDrive website. For road warriors, a SkyDrive app is also available for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone devices. Better yet, SkyDrive works with Office Web Apps, so that you can easily access, author, and share Office documents on any device that has a web browser.

Windows 8 comes pre-installed with a Modern-style SkyDrive app, and you'll see the tile on your Start screen. Run it, and you'll notice that it's already signed using your Microsoft account. As mentioned earlier, you're given 7GB of SkyDrive storage space for free (long-time users may have as much as 25GB), and if that isn't enough, you can pay Microsoft an annual fee to get more space (additional 20GB, 50GB, and 100GB plans are available).

When you first run the SkyDrive app, you're given the option to watch a short promo video of the service. By default, you've three folders in your SkyDrive storage: Documents, Photos, and Public.

Swipe down from the top edge of the screen to reveal more commands. For example, you can create a new folder or select files to upload to SkyDrive.

By default, folders and content are presented in the 'Details' view: you see details like the name, creation date, and size beside a small thumbnail.

The other view is the 'Thumbnails' view, which basically presents your files in giant thumbnails (for documents, file names will be shown as well).

You'll be asked to select files to upload when you click on 'Upload' in the commands bar. To move up the files hierarchy, you can press 'Go up'. The Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos libraries here correspond to the libraries you see in File Explorer on the desktop.

Alternatively, you can press the downward-pointing arrow at the top to reveal a list of locations, including from other apps.

To download a file, select it first then reveal the app commands to get to the Download option. You can also rename, delete, or move the file, or choose a different app to open it.

Searching the SkyDrive app is also possible.

Of course, you can also use the Share Charm to mail or share a file with other people. You can't share more than one item at a time though.

For the most part, the Modern-style SkyDrive app is best used for uploading files to and downloading existing files from SkyDrive. For more granular control such as configuring Windows 8 libraries with SkyDrive folders, you'd be better served with the desktop SkyDrive app. You can get it here, or as part of the Windows Essentials 2012 suite of apps. This app will create a SkyDrive folder on your PC, and everything you put in it (and any changes thereafter) will be synced between all your PCs and SkyDrive in the cloud. Especially for those who prefer working with directories and folders, the File Explorer UI provides a more familiar user experience. For Mac users, there’s also a desktop SkyDrive app for OS X.

This is how the online version of SkyDrive looks like. Notice the Modern UI similarities?

Prefer to access your SkyDrive right from File Explorer on the traditional desktop? Well, there's an app for that.