Can multiple SkyDrive Desktop Apps be used in Windows 8?

SkyDrive has been thoroughly integrated into the fabric of Windows 8. The SkyDrive desktop app brings access to SkyDrive right into File Explorer – Windows Explorer of prior Windows editions. An earlier post, from before Windows 8 was released, shows a method for providing access to multiple SkyDrive accounts (Can I install multiple SkyDrive apps on my desktop?). That method works just fine in Windows 8. This article expands on that and provides some additional information.

Only one instance of the actual SkyDrive desktop app can be installed, however, shortcuts to SkyDrive folders of other users of the PC can be placed on the desktop. The illustration here shows access to three SkyDrive folders simultaneously.

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First a review on setting up the PC.

  • Set up a user on the PC for each SkyDrive, that is for each Microsoft account. Set up the SkyDrive desktop app for each user on their respective desktop. Leave the users signed in at all times.
  • On the primary user’s desktop right-click on an empty spot; click New, then click Shortcut.
  • In the Create Shortcut menu click Browse the navigate to Computer > Users > other user. Click on SkyDrive (in the expanded list for the user).
  • Click OK, then Next. Give the shortcut an appropriate name then click Finish.
  • Repeat for the other users.

You may have to give permission to proceed during these steps.

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All normal tasks can be done in these folders – copy, move, delete, paste – just as in any other folder. The difference is that any changes in these SkyDrive folders will be synced with the SkyDrive in the cloud and the SkyDrive folders on other PCs, smartphones, etc. Of course, you need to be connected to the Internet for synchronization to take place. If you are not connected to the Internet, you can still make any changes like any other folders in File Explorer. When a connection is restored, the syncing will take place in the background.

imageLimitations:

There are some limitations with this arrangement. You can see the sync status symbols only on the local SkyDrive folder (the check mark indicates that the item is up to date). There is no indication that another user is signed out and thus the changes will not be synchronized.

imageYou cannot make changes to which folders should be included in the local SkyDrive folder. Such changes have to be made on the respective user’s desktop.

You cannot initiate sharing in the folders for the other users, you can do this only in the primary SkyDrive folder.

When rebooting the PC you need to sign in each user.

These are relatively minor inconveniences compared to the ability to easily access several SkyDrive folders on the same desktop.

.:.

© 2012 Ludwig Keck

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Does the SkyDrive desktop app use disk space?

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. Win8-64-08So 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.

Win8-64-10Where 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.

imageWhere 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.image

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. imageWhen 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

Can I install multiple SkyDrive apps on my desktop?

The short answer is “no, you can’t”, but the longer answer is, “there is a way”.

If you have two Microsoft accounts (Windows Live IDs), you have a SkyDrive for each. The SkyDrive app on the desktop makes managing the files and folders in the SkyDrive as easy as any other folder. So you might want to have access to both right on your desktop.

imageYou cannot install the SkyDrive app multiple times on the desktop, that simply does not work. There is a work-around, however, and once established, works just as you expect – two folders on the desktop, each accessing its own SkyDrive. Not only that, both get synchronized automatically.

Here is the how to install two separate SkyDrive folders on your desktop. Assumed here is that the computer is running Windows 7.

  • Create a user account on your computer for the second Microsoft account. In this article I will call the original user “user 1” and new user “user 2” and the SkyDrive belonging to that user SkyDrive 2. User 2 can be a “Standard user” (and really should be).image
  • Switch to user 2. Start > power ►> Switch user
  • Start Internet Explorer, sign in with the user 2 credentials. Click SkyDrive in top menu.
  • imageClick Get SkyDrive apps (navigation pane, bottom). Follow through and download and install the SkyDrive app.
  • Switch back to user 1.
  • Open Windows Explorer. Navigate to Local Disk > Users > user 2. This is the default location where the local SkyDrive folder is located.
  • Right-click on the SkyDrive folder listing. Click on Send to in the drop-down menu and click Desktop (create shortcut).

That’s it. You now have a desktop shortcut to SkyDrive 2, the one for user 2.

Note that I did not ask you to log out either user. So long as both users are logged in on your computer the synchronizing of the SkyDrive folders will proceed for both. Keep in mind that downloading and especially uploading of files takes considerable time as determined by your Internet connection.

Both folders will be accessible, of course, at all times, including when the Internet connection is not available. Synchronization will resume when the Internet connection is reestablished.

.:.

© 2012 Ludwig Keck