Skip to content

Recap: 10 Ways to Work More Efficiently With OneDrive for Business

5 minute read

mdblue storagetwo

On August 19 we hosted our first Office 365 webinar on efficiency and productivity in OneDrive for Business, covering terminology, saving, sharing, syncing, admin controls, and more.

You can find the full webinar in the video above, but here in brief are our ten ways to work more efficiently with the tool:

  1. Learn what OneDrive for Business is (and isn’t)
  2. Make saving easy and instinctive
  3. Understand sync, the core of ODfB
  4. Share and discover files
  5. Use it for the right reasons
  6. Organize your OneDrive for Business
  7. Combine the benefits of OneDrive and email
  8. What administrators can do
  9. Accept the limitations of OneDrive for Business
  10. Embrace the benefits of OneDrive for Business

Check out the video if you want to dig deeper into any of our recommended methods.

We had a lot of great questions that came up during the webinar, so read on to learn what users are asking (and if you asked a question, you should be able to find it here–if not, let us know!).

The next sync client

There’s a lot of curiosity out there on the “next generation” sync client for OneDrive for Business. The most detailed information we’ve seen so far came out of the Ignite conference. This post gives a great overview of the improvements that were promised, and highlights the key date for the new client: Q4 2015, October through December.

To see the full Ignite session that addressed the roadmap, with extensive demos, click here.

General questions

Is there a setting to have items open in new tabs from ODfB?

Not opening items in new tabs is an expected behavior according to this thread. The right-click and “open in new tab” workaround is the best method for now.

How can users create Word or Excel files via the web in ODfB even if they are on a machine that doesn’t have Office installed?

If they have an Office 365 account, they can create Office Online documents and those docs will be automatically saved in OneDrive, no desktop app install needed.

Can you expand on 365 Groups vs. ODfB vs. SharePoint?

This is a great topic and one that we hope to expand on more here on 365 Ninja in the coming months. For now, here are some resources that should help give you an overview: Exploring Office 365 Groups, Groups for Office 365, The latest on Office 365 groups.

How is virus protection enabled? Can a file infected be uploaded to ODfB, will it be scanned?

Webinar attendee Susan helped us out with this one. She said, “According to Microsoft regarding virus protections: OneDrive for Business will scan each document before uploading it to verify that it is not a known virus or malware distributer. Do still use caution if someone you do not know tries to send you a file or invites you to a folder using OneDrive for Business or any other file sharing program.”

Does ODfB allow for the application of controlled keywords, AKA metadata, to files to help organize and be used as search?

You can use custom properties to apply metadata to your OneDrive for Business files. Check out the TechNet page on that topic. However, you won’t be able to do it through Windows Explorer.

Is there a supported way to map ODfB as a drive letter?

ODfB isn’t designed to be accessed this way, but you should be able to do it. This thread gives these instructions: “Get the URL of your Document Library, and create a new network mapped drive, put the URL in, and select the box ‘use different credentials.'” Check out this support page for troubleshooting steps.

Can you embed a PDF from ODfB into a web page, like you can with consumer OD?

So many of us want this capability, but it’s still stuck with consumer OneDrive and not supported with ODfB!

Compatibility and limitations

Do you know if ODfB will ever be Mac compatible?

The Mac client is in preview right now, but we should see a full version with the next-gen client–check out the links in the first section on this page.

When creating folder structures within OneDrive for Business you can easily face some frustrations due to path length limitation (I believe it is 250 characters max today). Is this getting any better in the future?

You’re not the only one with this frustration. We found info on the roadmap (see “next gen” section above) referencing the removal of the 20,000 item sync limit and support for files over 2 GB, but no concrete info about the path length limitation. (Only this.) For now it’s something we’ll have to work around.


Where can you find your storage limit for OneDrive for Business (for admins)?

We got a comment during the webinar, “SharePoint storage is separate from OneDrive for Business. All OneDrive for Business users get 1TB separate from SharePoint.” Absolutely correct. Here’s how to check your storage space, and some more info about OneDrive for Business storage limits.


Do shared links from ODfB have an automatic end date?

Links in invitations expire by default in 7 days. According to Microsoft, “If an invitee does not accept the invitation within 7 days, and you still want that person to have access to your site, you might need to resend the invitation.”

Where can outside sharing be enabled in the admin center?

From the admin center, go to Service Settings -> site and document sharing, OR if your admin center doesn’t have that option, go to the SharePoint admin center -> settings -> External sharing and select one of the Allow options:

Sharing an entire folder externally is a bit painful as it requires external users to have a Microsoft account. Is this story going to change in the future?

You’re right–it’s not possible to share an entire folder with users who don’t have a Microsoft account, only individual documents. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any information to point to this changing. For now, we’ll still have to use the workaround of inviting people with Microsoft accounts, but at least Microsoft accounts are free!


Can you save attachments from Outlook somewhere outside of the Email attachment folder?

Not at this time, unfortunately. This post confirms that you can only save to the Email attachments folder.


I currently use Dropbox as I was having issues with syncing files in ODfB to an iPad. Do files sync well to an iPad just as easily as to a laptop, etc.?

We don’t have anyone on the 365 Ninja team that uses an iPad, but the app should be able to handle syncing. There may be some limitations, as this thread suggests.

Can syncing be enabled for corporate machines but disabled for personal devices?

OneDrive for Business does have MDM capabilities, and if you have ADFS you can block access based on location. Here are more instructions on configuring sync based on document library.

I was having problems with folders syncing. I found out that my folder name was too big. How can I figure out how long my total file name is?

This is a tricky one–here are some recommendations. If you search around you will find some other fairly technical solutions using PowerShell and the like.

Thanks again for your attendance!

Sign up for our newsletter