Microsoft Teams OneDrive Integration Tutorial 2021 [END THE CONFUSION]
Updated: Apr 24
One of the main things I find when people want to start working towards getting more out of Microsoft365 is that there is so much confusion around OneDrive.
OneDrive has become more complicated over the years and the rise of Teams has meant that more people are now confused about it than ever before.
Couple this with SharePoint, and the name 'OneDrive' meaning different things, then you can be forgiven if you are confused 🤷
I made this video to go over the basics of OneDrive, how it has gotten more confusing over the years, and how we can now use it to make SharePoint and Teams more useful:
Getting confused about OneDrive integration into Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, Teams, OneDrive, sync? Watch this video to find out more.
I've got new videos on Teams coming out every Tuesday so make sure to hit the subscribe button and the bell icon to get notified every time I release a new video.
So OneDrive is really useful but it has become ever more complicated over the years and now more and more people are using Teams, even more people are more confused about it than ever before. So by the end of this video, you'll know all the basics of OneDrive, SharePoint and Teams files in the cloud and how to sync them all so it just looks like you're just using a plain old file on your computer.
Part 1: OneDrive Basics
So first we need to understand all about OneDrive really before we get on to anything else. So if you've ever heard of Dropbox then OneDrive started life pretty much like that but both apps have got more complicated over the years. So if I go into finder, which is the same as file explorer, and look in my OneDrive I can see all my files and folders there and, if I just go through the basics of OneDrive first. How it started, the first notion is that if you've got a green tick you know that everything that's in your OneDrive folder is stored on your computer and also it's then synced up into the cloud. So you've got a copy in the cloud and a copy on your computer and they're all in sync and they are one and the same thing. So whenever you make change on one it's going to sync you up, if you make a change in the cloud it's going to sync back to your computer.
So i'm just looking at our Microsoft Teams training for YouTube, which if you want that deck you can go and grab it in the download link below, and we've got a green tick there so it means it's yep it's on my computer it's definitely saved on my computer's drive and it's synced nicely up into the cloud and we can see it in the cloud if you wanted to as well. So that all sounds quite simple so far, right? Hopefully? The second bit where it gets started to get complicated is that you can then share files out of OneDrive because they're in the cloud and just give someone a url to them and they can access that file or folder from anywhere no matter who they are. Now this is an example where we've got our webinar, which if you have not signed up for our webinar then you can go and sign up for that in the description below as well, but for everyone that's attended the webinar we send out the recording and we put that into our OneDrive and just share the link with specific external people. And we then got a little icon, we've got a green tick and a little person to show that we've shared it and it's out of our OneDrive and now. All the people that we've shared it with can view that file as well. If we shared a folder with external people, which I don't have an example of, then the people who we share that folder with can see anything that we ever put into that folder.
So that's where OneDrive started to get slightly more confusing and I'll come on to SharePoint in part two. The third way that then OneDrive started to get more complicated was with files on demand.
So it started life as just saying right it's definitely on your computer and it's definitely in the cloud, everything's synced. As long as everything's synced, everything's hunky-dory. To then say, well files on demand can free up space on your computer because it is already in the cloud, but it then just appears as if it's on your computer. So everywhere there's not a green tick and there's a blue cloud icon, my computer thinks that that folder and these files are on the computer but they're not they're just stored in the cloud. So if we find a useful one, say this PowerPoint slide, it's not on my computer, it's only available when we're online, which is great if we've always got connectivity but sometimes we won't. If we double click it it's going to quickly download it, although I chose one that's quite a large file as luck would have it. It's going to quickly download it and open it as if it was on your computer. So if it was a smaller file you wouldn't even notice that it's downloading because of the speed of our internet these days, it would just quickly download it and open it as if it's on your computer and then it would be synced. It'll just be on your computer and in the cloud at the same time and everything's in sync, the same as it used to be. I'll just cancel that opening because it's just gonna download and open itself.
So if you want to make sure that you were keeping stuff on your computer that you needed, if you're going to go on the train or on a flight or something where you didn't have internet but you needed to work on stuff, you can then like force download things. So you can either do that by individual file, and always keep on this device, or you can just open it to make sure you download it but if you're running short on space it might, you know, get rid of stuff for you and think it's being helpful and just keep it in the cloud. You can say always keep on this device and you can do that anywhere up the tree. So if we did it for the whole of the projects folder, say always keep on this device, anything under that folder now or in the future would be kept on your device and automatically download. So you can sort of force it to work the way it used to work, although obviously having files on demand is useful because you can get away with a smaller hard drive and more space up in the cloud which you largely will get for free as long as it is part of your Microsoft subscription anyway.
Part 2: Sharepoint Basics
So if you can share from OneDrive what's the point of SharePoint?
So if we just jump into SharePoint on my computer, we're in Edge, and most people think that SharePoint is just document storage in the cloud, it's the same as a shared drive, an on-premise shared drive, you know, most people don't understand everything else it can do. So when they come into this part of SharePoint, if they ever came into this view, they might be quite confused because it doesn't look like files at the moment, does it? It's news and loads of rich web pages and we've got our Twitter feed going into here and, you know, my documents popping up on the right and trending posts. But most people would know a SharePoint site as just this: coming into the documents bit of SharePoint and just seeing documents and knowing that they're shared with other people in the organization and they get access to the SharePoint site and that's how they access the shared files and they can put stuff there if they want to share it just like using a shared drive.
So hopefully most people are used to that concept, so then begs the question: why can you share stuff out of SharePoint and share stuff from OneDrive? And it's because Microsoft are competing on two different fronts. OneDrive's competing with Dropbox and SharePoint's competing with organizational-type storage. If you've got files you need to work on across your organization I would say they should be in SharePoint you shouldn't be sharing things from OneDrive that people are going to need as part of the day-to-day running of the organization for a long time because if you leave then, yes the IT admin can archive your files and folders for you, to make sure the businesses and the organization's got them, because they are the organization's files, after all. But if they don't do that then they might be lost. If you're sharing a link, the links might be broken. So if you're working on stuff that is true collaboration you should be storing those on a central storage, which should be SharePoint.
So hopefully that's also fairly simple to this point. How SharePoint then gets slightly more complicated is that you can then sync stuff from SharePoint. So if I click sync here it's going to sync everything in resources. If I come back one folder tree and click sync it's going to sync everything under QnA. And it's going to be exactly the same as syncing OneDrive it just happens to be the storage location is SharePoint and not OneDrive.
So OneDrive you should think of being private by default. That's your own little bit of the cloud, it's all backed up and only you can see it unless you choose to share it. SharePoint, hopefully the clue's in the title, is shared to everybody else in that SharePoint site and everybody else can see it by default, but you can still have the benefits of syncing the SharePoint library to your computer. So if you need to work on stuff offline, you can still work on it offline and once you get back online it's going to upload it. If someone else has made changes it might have a conflict but you can still do that. It's also a good workaround to get around non-office files, for example, that might not open in SharePoint or in Teams. You can sync the SharePoint library and it's going to show up just like another file or a folder. So if you click that sync thing it's going to show up back in finder for you. So here's an example of that. If I go back into my finder window that's my OneDrive that I've just shown you and this is where it looks like a picture of a building is where I've synced a team or a SharePoint site. So I'll come onto Teams shortly but if you can see they've got little cloud icons next to all three of those folders and everything under there is going to be, you know, downloadable. It's stored up in the cloud. I don't don't need it on my computer the whole time but if i do double click it's just going to download and open the file as if it was on my computer already.
So hopefully, that also sounds quite simple. The way that it's a little bit confusing is the way that SharePoint syncs, it happens to use the OneDrive app.
So the OneDrive app on mac appears at the top and I've got one for MeeTime and one for my Hotmail, actually, but you'll just have one most likely. If we go into help and settings and preferences, account, you can see it's syncing my company's OneDrive which is my little bit of cloud for me and also it's syncing one of my Teams, which is the only one I've chosen to sync but any other SharePoint site or team that I chose to sync would appear in the OneDrive app but it's nothing really to do with OneDrive, they're completely separate, they just happen to use the OneDrive app because that's the app that it's using to sync.
It's starting to get a bit more confusing now but hopefully, that makes sense in practice.
So I'm curious; comment below and tell me if you were confused about this before and if this video is making sense so far or any other questions you've got about files, SharePoint, OneDrive, Teams. Let me know in the comments.
Part 3: Teams Files and OneDrive Sync
So if we jump back into Teams, Teams has got SharePoint behind it to manage its files. So if we use the one that we synced, which is the the pilot version of our of our modern workplace program, and come into live beta and into files then everything here, all the files and folders that are stored in SharePoint, they're just viewable through teams but that means we can still then use sync to sync anything that's in Teams because it's the same as syncing anything that's in SharePoint. And now since last time we recorded a video on sync microsoft kindly put a sync button right in Teams for us. So when we click sync it's going to open up onedrive app again to help us manage that sync relationship and anything that we put in teams is going to sync to anything that we've got on our computer. And this is the 'unlock the power of the modern workplace,' the previous name of our program when we did the pilot, is already synced to our computer.
So that's what we've got right here that's the team that we've synced. All the files and folders are there and everything's just appears as if it's on a computer and if, I was bothered about keeping that entire team on my computer, as well as being in the cloud I could just right click and say always keep on this device, which i'm not going to do because its 8 gigs worth of content at the moment which I don't want on my laptop, particularly.
If you've had problems finding files and folders in teams then make sure you click on this video to see some options about how to make that more easy for you.
Part4: OneDrive And SharePoint Web And Mobile Apps
So part four, to finish off eliminating the confusion, is the apps: the onedrive and SharePoint apps, both on the web and on mobile.
So I'll look on web first and if I come into the waffle menu and click on all apps, and then on onedrive, this is where things start to get muddied between onedrive and SharePoint. But as long as you've got the concept that they are separate things: onedrive's for you and SharePoint is for sharing stuff across the organization, although onedrive helps you share individual things that you might not want to share with everybody, then that's a good place to start.
So if you've got a file that you just want to work with one other person, onedrive's a great place to do that. Just share it with one other person. If it's not private or confidential you can still just really share with one other the person, just put it in sharepoint and tell them it's there. The likelihood is no one else is gonna see it anyway really are they? I'm sure people have got better things to do than go snooping through other people's files, but maybe you haven't I don't know.
So if we jump into the onedrive app then that's gonna show me all of the files that i've got in my onedrive and if you notice they're exactly the same things as as is as is in as this is is it easy for me to say. As is in my folder on my computer. So here we've got the computer view and there it is in the cloud. So both the same things really. I can open anything I want from the web so if I'm on another computer or I'm away from my, you know, main computer, I can still access anything from the cloud. It's still just going to open it, I can edit it, I can do everything I could do as if it was on my computer anyway, so that's why files on demand is so powerful. You don't really need files on your computer anymore these days.
So that's fairly simple. Recent files, shared: you can see what has been shared from other people to you and what you've shared to other people in the shared bit and then it starts to merge onedrive and SharePoint together because then it's got shared libraries. So in a SharePoint site, people think that SharePoint is just documents anyway, but in a SharePoint site there is a document library and that's why it says shared libraries because they're all document libraries. So it then shows me every SharePoint site that I have access to inside my organization and all the files there. So what the onedrive web app is then designed for you to get any files you want across anywhere that you've got access to them.
So that's where the notion of onedrive then starts to become slightly muddied. If I jump back into SharePoint, SharePoint isn't just documents, it's news posts, it's web pages, it houses lists and lots of stuff. So we jump into the SharePoint app it's then showing us news first because that's what it thinks it is mostly useful for SharePoint. So then you have to jump into each team or into each SharePoint site therefore to then go and see the files and then it jumps you to a home page for each team because a SharePoint site has a home page and you can make it look however you want it to look.
So if we jump into our modern workplace accelerator team then that's got some things that we, you know, set up how we want it to look and then you have to go into documents. So that's where the web apps then start to get a bit confusing because onedrive is designed to show you all of your documents and files and folders across SharePoint and onedrive, and probably could have come up with a better name, and SharePoint is to show you everything to do with SharePoint which is pages, lists, whatever else is that the folders and files and folders, so that's where it starts to get a bit more muddied.
If I just jump on to my iPad and show you that, it's going to be very similar on there. So onedrive is going to be designed to show you all of your files and folders across all of your, wherever you've got access to them. So you can see recent files there. Shared libraries, like we had on the web app, and if we come, files, it's going to show me just files from my onedrive. If I go on shared, it's going to show me the same thing as the web which is things that I've shared out of my onedrive and libraries, then, is everything across all of my SharePoint sites that I've got access to.
So if I come out and go to the SharePoint app, that's going to be pretty similar to the web app so it's going to be designed more to show you news than it is for files. So it's trying to help us out saying welcome to the find out, explore sites, people, files and more. The main bit of the SharePoint app is going to be the news section which is going to show you news that it thinks is relevant for you or stuff that your organization wants to push to you.
Find app, Find is then going to help you through people, recent files across all SharePoint sites, but again that doesn't show you stuff from onedrive unless you go into recent. Those are across onedrive and SharePoint when you go into 'me.'
So, like i said, it's getting slightly confused between the web app, the mobile app and all the concepts, but if you just keep the concepts of: onedrive's for you, SharePoint is for everybody, then the nuances will hopefully be manageable for you.
So now that you know all the basics you need to know about onedrive, SharePoint and teams files in the cloud and sync but that's just scratching the surface about the structures you need to make a real difference in your organization. If you want more help designing your teams channel and file structure to move towards a more modern way of working in your organization, then book a call to see if we're going to be a good fit for working together.
If you want to find out more, check out these videos next. If you liked the video remember to give it a thumbs up, hit the subscribe button and if you really liked it and want to help support the channel consider buying me a beer, it really does help. Before you go, remember to tell me in the comments below if onedrive confused you before and if this video helped and thanks for watching and we'll see you in the next video.