How can I see my SkyDrive photos in Windows Explorer?

You Windows Live SkyDrive photos are stored “in the cloud” on Microsoft servers. Normally you access them through a browser like Internet Explorer.

It is possible to map a SkyDrive album to a drive letter in Windows Explorer. Then you can see what photos you have stored in that album.

NOTE: This method works in Windows 7. Windows Vista also supports mapping with this procedure, other operating system do not, sorry.

Here is how:

Obtain your Windows Live account “cid” number. Once you have that you may want to save it in a file for future use.

  • Sign in to you Windows Live account by going to home.live.com.
  • Click on profile underneath your name in the upper right.

The address in the browser address window contains your “cid” number. It is the number following “cid-“ up to the next period (“.”) as shown highlighted in this example:

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Of course, the number will be your own unique number, not mine as shown here.

  • Copy this number for later use.
  • Get the name of the SkyDrive album that you wish to map.

Next proceed on your computer.

  • Click Start – Computer. Windows Explorer open showing your drives.
  • On the menu bar click Map network drive.

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A “Map network drive” dialog opens.

  • Select the drive letter you wish to use. By default the selection is the highest drive letter available, normally Z:.
  • In the Folders box enter this text (without the quotes) “\\docs.live.net@SSL\” ,followed by your cid number, followed by a back-slash, followed by the album name.

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  • Click Finish.

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You will see a “Map Network Drive” dialog. It may take a while for this process to complete.

When the “Windows Security” dialog opens enter your Windows Live ID – the complete email address and your password.

After another delay a new Windows Explorer window opens showing your SkyDrive album (as illustrated here).

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You can see thumbnails of your photos and you can see the properties of a selected photo in the properties pane.

Can you use this mapped folder like any other? Alas, at the present time (October 2010) when you drag a photo to this folder it seems to work at first. Then you get an error message.

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imageThe error message may say that the file is too large, regardless of how small it actually may be. Maybe soon Microsoft will enable the functionality that is so close to reality.

For now you will have to settle for just seeing your photos in the album. Use Windows Live Photo Gallery to upload photos to the album (see: How do I upload photos to SkyDrive using Windows Live Photo Gallery?) or upload from the SkyDrive side (see: How do I upload photos to SkyDrive?)