How to use OneDrive Selective Sync in Windows 10

Cloud storage is primarily used as means to share files with others or have them transferred from one device to the other. And as the storage space became more affordable, even free in many cases, the service started gaining importance as an increasingly attractive backup solution, provided people didn’t mind any third party managing their data.

Microsoft was quick to learn this. As such, it is continuously started improving its OneDrive service. For instance, one of the changes that was recently introduced in Windows 10 was the addition of ‘OneDrive Selective Sync’ feature. The feature allowed users to display the files that are synced to their PC via OneDrive. What the feature particularly does is allow users to either sync all files and folders on your OneDrive, or Choose specific folders to sync, making them available locally.

OneDrive Selective Sync in Windows 10

In earlier version of Windows – Windows 8.1, the complaint was that the sync feature wasn’t that reliable. People wanted that the files they keep safe in file explorer on their computer should also be made available offline so they can access them anywhere. This wasn’t possible because it was just a placeholder.

Microsoft used placeholders on users’ PCs to represent files they stored in OneDrive. People had to learn the difference between Placeholders i.e. files available online against files available offline i.e. physically on your PC. Microsoft received a good amount of feedback around this behaviour and finally came up with selective sync feature.

The new feature gave users the freedom to choose what data they wanted to be synced to their PC from their online OneDrive. So, they could choose to have all of the online OneDrive files synced to the PC, or just the ones selected by them.

The OneDrive icon resides on the taskbar of Windows 10. Just locate the icon, Right click or press and hold on the OneDrive icon on the taskbar notification area, and chose Settings.

Then, from the Microsoft OneDrive window that opens, choose folders tab, and hit the ‘Chose Folders‘ button.


Now, to Sync All Files and Folders in my OneDrive, check the ‘All files and folders in my OneDrive’ option click on OK to proceed further.


To select particular Folders to Sync or Unsync on your OneDrive

Select ‘Sync only these folders’ option, and hit OK button.

All of the selected folders will now sync on your PC.

To check, click on the OneDrive icon on the taskbar notification area and open your OneDrive folder in File Explorer.

Hope this helps!

See this post if you receive This device has been removed from OneDrive message and this one if you face OneDrive sync problems & issues.

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.


  1. How is this different from the way Cubby and Sugarsync work. I want to keep all my files on my computer and to access them within my documents folder, NOT have to look for them in a cloud storage file like onedrive, google drive or dropbox, hence my preference for Cubby and Sugarsync. This article doesn’t really explain what I want to know.

  2. Ralf Martin Lebrecht

    Why would checking the option “Sync all files and folders in my OneDrive” not meet your requirement?

  3. clayto

    This is very helpful to me. I regret the loss of placeholders / smart files (which I understand may return in due course?). I have a small storage space, two-in-one Tablet for which the main purpose of OneDrive (and other Cloud services) has been to keep files off my local storage. The last thing I want is for my files on the internet to come flooding back onto my Tablet, as happened with Google Photos. This Selective Sync looks like it will be a reasonable way of dealing with the issue.

  4. Ralf Martin Lebrecht

    I also miss these placeholders. Even files were not present on the hard drive, I used to group files by availability to get an overview about the total files and the files I currently have access to. Without these placeholders I keep losing this appreciated overview. I wonder why it was not feasible to instruct users, rather than removing this feature.

  5. Billy

    This is an absolutely horrible change. I have 1TB in my OneDrive, but only 32GB on my tablet. Under Windows 8.1 I had the entire file structure of my 130,000 files and could access them as if they were local. This new Windows 10 setup is a crock.

  6. m_sethisuwan

    Exactly! Exact situation here. In Windows 8.1 — well exactly what you typed. If you happen to find any solution could you let me know too? Thanks.

  7. Clayton Train

    I have never used OneDrive before, but perhaps someone can help me out.

    My impression, from the outside looking in, was that I could keep all my folders organized as is (locally, on my laptop) and select these folders for syncing TO OneDrive. But it’s looking like OneDrive provides the opposite service: Save everything to OneDrive and sync TO the laptop. Am I correct? Is there a way to make it do what I want to do so I don’t always have to work within the OneDrive folder on Windows 10? I don’t want to have to move all my folders over to OneDrive, because I don’t really WANT all my folders on OneDrive. But I also don’t want to move the ones I want there from my local Documents folder TO the OneDrive folder, because it means then I’d have things stored in two places. Honestly, I was just hoping that I could keep working from my local folders and select some to be synced, or “auto-copied” into the OneDrive folder. I don’t know if I’m being clear but is there a way to do that?

  8. Bradley Wood

    i have exactly the same desire, but no idea how to do it? Any ideas?

  9. oscar fuso

    with win 8 you can use skyshellex
    SkyShellEx is a shell extension that allows you to sync any folder to SkyDrive (Onedrive) but keeps your existing folder structure intact. SkyShellEx is available as 32 bit and 64 bit extension for Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.

    SkyShellEx will not be compatible with Windows 8.1. The changes made in Windows 8.1 to integrate SkyDrive with the OS are using Symbolic Links. This prevents the further functionality of SSX.

    Symbolic Links in this link

  10. Ziad Krayem

    I am suffering the same.
    I chose light laptop with small SSD knowing that I do not need that much storage, now I am suffering and regretting I even upgraded to Windows 10.
    I can’t believe Microsoft would not make this an option. I would understand if they change the “default” behavior, but this down right breaking the compatibility (and rendering my paid subscription partially useless as I am seeking a different medium than Onedrive)

  11. Colorado Gold

    This content is completely incorrect for altering the syncing procedures using One Drive and Windows 10. The content does NOT match the screens on a PC.

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