Perfect for sharing and editing documents with colleagues, SkyDrive is certain to become an everyday essential with Windows 8.
SkyDrive is one of the best free web storage services we've tried, offering up to 25GB of web space in which to store your photos, videos and documents. By comparison, many other online services offer only 1GB or 2GB of space before they start charging. It also works with Microsoft Web Apps – the collaborative version of Office. In other words, SkyDrive is ideal for sharing and editing documents with colleagues. For many Windows 8 users, it will become an everyday essential.
With this important use in mind, we have one caveat to highlight: SkyDrive is a means of ad hoc sharing and access. It isn't a commercial backup service, so you shouldn't rely on it to store the only copy of an important document. Instead, it should be viewed as a convenient service via which you can get at photos and documents as and when you need them. Nonetheless, it's worth while taking a look at what SkyDrive can do, both for photo archiving and sharing, and for working on documents with other people.
SkyDrive is pre-installed on Windows 8 – it's listed in the ‘Apps you already own' section of the Metro interface, but also has its own Metro tile. We found we had to track it down via our Windows Live account and remind it that we already had a SkyDrive account. Simply visiting the skydrive.live.com web page seemed to jog its memory, though.
How to share photos and files with SkyDrive
1 SkyDrive is found in the Metro interface. A SkyDrive is automatically created when you set up your Windows 8 user account. If the details don't show up in the Metro interface, go to Internet Explorer and type in: skydrive. You should see it along with your Windows Live account name.
2 Back in the Windows 8 app, you'll be presented with a blank SkyDrive and a choice of Documents, Pictures and Public locations. Choose one of these and you'll be told the folder is empty. Clicking Add will allow you to populate it. Unfortunately, no options are visible.
3 In its bid to be unobtrusive, Windows 8's instructions are often notable by their absence. Click or tap at the very bottom of the screen to bring up the option to Add items to your SkyDrive. You should see options for Documents, Music, Pictures and Videos.
4 Depending on the sharing settings you've specified and the types of app you've installed, you may see additional folders for sharing SkyDrive items. We been using Photobucket, so this also appears in our folder options when we want to add items to our SkyDrive.
5 You can add items to your SkyDrive from within Windows 8, but if you want to move any of them – perhaps from your Pictures folder to your Public one so other people can view them – you'll need to use SkyDrive's web interface. Click on items you want to move and right-click to move them to a new location.
6 Items in your SkyDrive can be saved to your current device by clicking the option on the bottom left to Save local. You can make items in your Public folder accessible by someone else by providing them with a link to the folder. Make sure you only share items you're happy for others to make use of.
7 Document sharing using Microsoft Web Apps is easy. You can upload documents you've already created or create documents via the SkyDrive web portal. If you don't have a copy of Word, Excel or PowerPoint, click the Edit in Browser option rather than Open in Word (or Excel, and so on).
8 Create your WebApp document and save it to the SkyDrive. In My Files, you'll see details of each document and whether it's accessible only by you or has been shared. Right-click on a file to share it directly with someone by email. Add a message if you wish, before pressing Share to send.