When Microsoft released the last build for this year in the Windows 10 Technical Preview, build number 9879, last week the most significant change was in how Windows 10 and the built in OneDrive handled files.

In the past preview builds of Windows 10 and in the current implementation of OneDrive on Windows 8.1 we see what are called Smart Files. They are visible to us whether the file is synched locally or left in the cloud on One Drive.

When Build 9879 of the Windows 10 Technical Preview came out this feature was removed and now the only option was to sync the files locally, with control over what directories you choose to sync, or have no representation of the online only files on your local Windows 10 install.

According to Gabe Aul, the lead for the Windows 10 Technical Preview program this change was intentional based on feedback.

We’re also introducing changes to how OneDrive syncs your files in this build. In Windows 8.1, we use placeholders on your PC to represent files you have stored in OneDrive. People had to learn the difference between what files were “available online” (placeholders) versus what was “available offline” and physically on your PC. We heard a lot of feedback around this behavior. For example, people would expect that any files they see in File Explorer would be available offline by default. Then they would hop onto a flight (or go someplace without connectivity) and try to access a file they thought was on their PC and it wasn’t available because it was just a placeholder. It didn’t feel like sync was as reliable as it needed to be. For Windows 10, having OneDrive provide fast and reliable sync of your files is important. Starting with this build, OneDrive will use selective sync. This means you choose what you want synced to your PC and it will be. What you see is really there and you don’t need to worry about downloading it. You can choose to have all of your OneDrive files synced to your PC, or just the ones you select.

What erupted after this was a Twitter storm filled with immediate feedback.  The number of votes on the Windows 10 Technical Preview Uservoice site climbed very quickly and the bottom line was that this was a very poor change.

There are other stories out there to explain why it needed to happen, etc. but for now this is the way forward for Windows 10 – at least until it changes again – it is a technical preview and subject to swings and changes.

In the interim, my friends over at McAkins Online, have pulled up an old trick that used to be handy in the pre-integrated OneDrive/SkyDrive days to map your OneDrive to your local computer.

As Nazmus states on the blog post there are some limitations of using this option:

  • You cannot browse the files if you are offline. Only files synced to the PC will be available offline.
  • You must be online to add, delete, rename, our move files that are online only.
  • The experience will be a bit slow (depending on the speed of your internet connection).
  • You cannot right-click a file and use the “Make Available Offline” option. These files are always “Online Only”.
  • In order to use files offline, you must use selective sync using the OneDrive application in Windows 10, or copy the online only files to a local folder, such as “Documents”, or “Pictures”.

Mapping your OneDrive only takes a few steps so visit McAkins Online to regain the ability to see all of your cloud based files on the Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 9879.

Source: Browse all your OneDrive Files from File Explorer in Windows 10 (Build 9879)