UPDATE 16Nov2012: Selective sync is now enabled. See: How do I choose the SkyDrive folders to sync with the desktop app?
When the SkyDrive app is installed a folder is created on your computer and all of the contents of your SkyDrive is downloaded to that folder. So the answer to the question, “does the SkyDrive desktop app use disk space”, is definitely yes. This folder is synchronized with SkyDrive.
So what is the advantage of having the SkyDrive app?
The most important advantage is that with the SkyDrive app you can manage your SkyDrive like any other folder on your computer. You can add and remove files, add and remove folders and subfolders. You can copy files and folders with sub-folders and all their contents to SkyDrive with the normal drag-and-drop or copy-and-paste routines that you are familiar with.
Another advantage is that all your SkyDrive contents is available even when you are not connected to the Internet. When a connection is reestablished SkyDrive is automatically synchronized.
If you have multiple computers, all of them can be up to date and have your SkyDrive files available.
Where is the SkyDrive folder on the computer and how much space does it take?
The default location for the SkyDrive folder is C:\Users\YourName\SkyDrive. It is set during the SkyDrive app installation and another location can be selected. Note the Change button shown in the illustration here. The picture also shows where in Windows Explorer SkyDrive can be found: It is listed in the Favorites group.
Since the SkyDrive folder maintains a copy of everything in your SkyDrive the disk space will be the same as the online SkyDrive space. If you have 5 GB of files in SkyDrive, this folder will need 5 GB.
Where do I get the SkyDrive app?
Go to your online Microsoft account, go to SkyDrive. At the bottom of the listings in the navigation area on the left, click on Get SkyDrive apps. This will take you through the download and installation procedure.
How do I know when the files are up-to-date?
Open the SkyDrive folder. While a folder is being synchronized there will be a little double-arrow symbol next to it. When it is up to date, there is a checkmark in a green circle. While processing changes, you can also see a progress bar under the little SkyDrive icon in the notification area (right end of taskbar). Move the pointer to the symbol to get a screentip message of the status.
© 2012 Ludwig Keck