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5 Tips on Syncing OneDrive to Devices
  • Post type:
  • Knowledge
  • Posted by:
  • Sarah Chao
  • Published on:
  • 8/2/2017
  • Suitable for:
  • Staff; Students; Teachers
  • Level of difficulty:
  • Intermediate
  • Office tool:
  • OneDrive
Last modified: 12/12/2019 4:13 PM by Sarah Chao

​​​​​​​​​​Keep OneDrive sync problem-free!​

​​​Having OneDrive synced to your computer and laptop is awesome, it saves you the hassle of logging into Office 365 first before getting to work! That is until error messages show that there is a problem with the sync, and they seems complicated or tricky to resolve. However, if you pay attention to the following tips, OneDrive will work seamlessly for you. As mentioned in our Sync OneDrive to Your Device post, you should NEVER sync your OneDrive on a shared computer at work or school. ​​​Also, as a friendly reminder, sync should only be done on PERSONAL devices and not the ones provided b​y the District. ​

​​Tip #1 - Pay ​attention to the OneDrive icon

​​​Depending on your personal computer or laptop, you will see that the OneDrive icon in the corresponding application bar when it is running. For reference, the OneDrive icon is located in the bottom right corner of Windows computer/laptops (top screenshot) and in the upper right corner for MacBook (bottom screenshot). For Windows users, you might also have to click on the upper arrow in order to see the OneDrive icon. If you don't see the OneDrive icon in these locations​, it means that OneDrive is not running​ yet.


A quick glance of the OneDrive icon​​ will tell you whether your OneDrive is running properly:

​State of the OneDrive icon
​OneDrive is...
​Solid blue (Windows) or black (Mac) color​
Updated and synced to the server
​Has an extra ​ icon on top
​Updating and syncing to the server;
Unless you're syncing large folders and a lot of files, this icon should only be temporary visible
​Has an extra ​icon on top
​Having a sync issue
​Grey color (both Windows and Mac)
​Disconnected and not syncing

The icon should always be in​ a solid blue or black color state on your computers where OneDrive is synced and running. If it is grey, the first thing is check is your internet connection.​ 

Tip #2 - Keep an eye on file and folder sync icon

Other than having an error-free OneDrive icon, you also need to pay attention to​ the sync status of your OneDrive files as well. ​When a file or folder is synced to your computer, you should notice little icon next to each item when viewing them in the File Explore (Windows) or Finder (Mac).

syncing.png onedrive-sync-file.png

A quick glance of the file or folder icon will give you the following information:

​​Sinc​​e December 2018, OneDrive Files On-Demand for Windows 10 has become available to save disk space. When this is turned on in your OneDrive, this adds an additional "cloud icon". Learn more about Files On-Demand​.

Type of​ icon
File or folder is...
​​Blue cloud icon - new December 2018​
​Accessible only when there is internet
​Green icon​
​Synced to the server and has no issue
​Blue ​ icon
Updating and syncing to the server
​Red​ icon
​Not able to sync to the server;
Usually an extra yellow icon overlays your OneDrive icon as well and a pop up error message will let you know what the issue is with the particular file.

To ensure that you're always accessing the latest version of your files, you should get into the habit of noting the sync status when you're working and ensuring that your files all have a green icon​​. Depending on the size of the file, syncing will take longer for some folders than others. However, they should eventually all have the green icon. Do note that once a file or folder has a green   icon on it, it means they are synced to the server. This means that whenever you make edits or delete a file in the synced OneDrive folder on your desktop, you are making the same changes to the file in the server too. Be extra careful especially when you're deleting files.​

If an blue ​ icon seems to persist despite no other error messages, you should close the current file explorer/finder and then open it again to see the icon is updated to a green   icon instead.​

Tip #3 - Check your internet connection

When you get a failed internet connection, your browsing experience get interrupted and you cannot reach the website content. Similarly, when there is a failed internet connection, edits that you have made to the synced file on your computer will not be updated to the server and vice versa.

If you are editing a file for some time in the browser and notice that your saved changes are not reflected in your synced copy on another device, then usually either OneDrive is not running or the internet is not working.

When you're not connected to the internet, you will notice that the OneDrive icon has extra icon on top. If the ​ icon on top persists even though all the files have already gotten a green icon and there is additional error messages on your OneDrive icon, then there might a be a disruption in your internet connection. At this time, you should open up a internet browser and confirm whether your computer or laptop is still connected to the internet.​

Tip #4 - Clear error messages as they come up

​Whenever there are issues with OneDrive, your computer will have pop up messages, similar to ​the screenshot, to let you know what the problems are. Clicking on the message would walk you thru the proper steps to troubleshoot the error and resolve the files that are affected. You should ALWAYS clear the error as soon as they pop up, otherwise the​ issues will become more problematic and create more conflicts that are harder to solve​.


As mentioned, there often would also be an extra yellow icon over your OneDrive icon to indicate there is a problem. If you have missed the pop up messages and OneDrive isn't working, you can often check the sync problems when you right click on the ​OneDrive icon from the app tool bar > "View sync problem". Please note that if there isn't any problems, this is greyed out.


Tip #5 - Always have the latest OneDrive​

Is the​ latest OneDrive already installed? ​​​

Search for "OneDrive" on your computer​ and see if you got a result that looks the same as the following screenshots (Windows and Mac respectively). Do pay attention​ that it's​ named exactly as "OneDrive - Desktop app" (Windows) and "OneDrive" (Mac). If there are no results, ​then you can proceed to the next step​​.



Download and Install the latest​ OneDrive

​If you haven't installed Office 2016 from Office 365 onto your personal devices, which incl​udes the latest OneDrive, that's one way to get it on your Windows or Mac computer.

Another easy method to get the latest version of the OneDrive is to log into Office 365, navigate to OneDrive and select the "Sync" button from the tool bar. Since you don't have the latest OneDrive installed, you will see a pop up message with a link to download the latest OneDrive.

Once the file finished downloading, install it accordingly. If you are on a Mac, then you might be prompted for your AppleID to download OneDrive ​from the Apple Store.​

When installation finishes and OneDrive ​runs, you will then be prompted to log into the OneDrive and complete the sync setup with your VSB ​email and password.

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