SkyDrive introduces smart files in Windows 8.1

When we designed SkyDrive for Windows 8.1, we thought a lot about how storage needs are growing much faster than device hard drives. So we invented smart files, which allow you to have your files always with you while being unconstrained by storage capacity.
In the Windows 8.1 preview we saw consumers using SkyDrive in two distinct ways. The first group of people are very conscious of what they have saved to disk and most of their files are online-only. We found that the majority of people using smart files take up 80% less disk space than they would without smart files. The second group of people are on the other end of the spectrum: they explicitly chose to have all their files available offline, and so have their entire SkyDrive stored locally.  This showed us that users understand smart files and are tailoring the feature to their needs.



Although smart files are a fraction of their original size, they behave identically to any other file. A great example of this is how smart files show up in Bing Smart Search in Windows 8.1. This feature, which is rolling out over the coming weeks, allows you to search from the desktop for the content of Camera Roll photos that have had text extracted from them.
For example, you might have taken a photo 6 months ago of the menu of your favorite restaurant, but can’t remember where it’s buried in your Camera Roll and want to remember the dish you had. You can simply type in the restaurant name on your desktop and Bing Smart Search will search text of your Camera Roll photos and pull up the picture of the menu with the restaurant name printed on it. With the power of smart files, this will work even if your Camera Roll is marked for online-only access. The moment you open the photo, it will be instantaneously pulled from the cloud for you to view the full version.



People are starting to take photos not only to capture special moments, but also to keep track of everyday information, so we are really excited about this scenario and proud to unveil this valuable OCR search feature.
Just weeks away from the general availability of Windows 8.1, we’re very excited to not only continue allowing you to have your files always with you, but to make your files smarter.


- Mona Akmal, Group Program Manager, SkyDrive apps



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32 Responses to SkyDrive introduces smart files in Windows 8.1

  1. 123321 says:

    ok. so i get it. smart files are great and stuff. but i don’t need them on my desktop computer where i have engough space and a good internet connection. but i really can’t understand why there are no syncing indactes on the desktop. i never know how many files are already uploaded, i never know when it finished uploading… i really miss the small green checks in my SkyDrive in the file Explorer… i really miss the small icon in the taskbar on the right side showing syncing stats. it’s really annoying to always be forced to open the SkyDrive app only to see if it is still syncing and how many files are left for syncing. (other than that i love using apps in win8 and all of the new modern UI things…but what you did with SkyDrive in win8.1 i really don’t understand…)
    looking forward to future updates solving this problem.

    • Starsonovasa says:

      If you open up the skydrive application itself, in the top right corner you can see whether your files are still uploading, downloading, or fully synced.

    • Steve Hollasch says:

      In the system tray, lower leve, click the triangle on the left size, and choose “customize”. This should open the “Notification Area Icons” window. In the Icons list, find the one titled “SkyDrive Sync Engine Host”. For Behaviors, change this to “Show icon and notifications” and hit OK. You should now see a systray icon that indicates synchronization status, without being forced to have some indicator take over your entire screen through manual interaction.

  2. M. Umar says:

    I am confused about that as well. I mean the little green tick sign on folders or files icons. I know there are no errors to store it on Skydrive but what if I am offline and later started to work on the older version of file from other device. Please return that green buddy back.

  3. Okay, smart files are a great idea, but what if I’m offline most of the time? I own a desktop computer that is offline the majority of the time, due to internet issues. Whenever I get the chance to connect to the internet, I mainly use it to install apps and update my copy of Windows 8.1. I’m not convinced smart files would be any use to me, unless they had offline compatibility.

    • Steve Hollasch says:

      I definitely agree. Bring up the SkyDrive application (Win key, then “SkyDrive”). In “Settings > Options”, see the switch titled “Access all my SkyDrive files offline”. Turn this switch on. Smart files aren’t really working fully yet, as they are done at too high a level. Since they weren’t implemented at the file system level, paging in files from the Internet (which you normally don’t want to do when you have tons of local hard-drive cache anyway) is the wrong aproach. In particular, SMART FILES DON’T WORK FROM THE COMMAND LINE. If you use the command line at all, I’d recommend disabling this feature.

  4. Adding the feature of version control for files makes them coming to truly smart. Please allow file version control for any type of extensions, not only MS’s documents.

  5. Scott says:

    How are smart files different from the .gfs files that Microsoft Office Groove offered 7 years ago, other than deeper OS integration?

    • Steve Hollasch says:

      Smart files are not integrated at a deep (file system) level. See my earlier comment about the fact that they don’t work from the command line (and thus from user scripts either). I don’t know about programmatic access, but I’m guessing not.

  6. Stephen says:

    Can’t wait to have green buddy back as well. Really annoying not to understand the status at any giving time.

  7. Daniel says:

    What happened to being able to access any file on a computer with Skydrive installed on it, not just those which were synched with Skydrive?

  8. Elvis says:

    SkyDrive is designed for Windows 8 but it don’t work fine with it! Win8 have an error very often and a new folder was created (and my wife who is not an expert, goes berserk). Windows 7 have no error with it!

  9. Larry L. says:

    I agree with the other commenter about missing the ability to sync my folders. I now use a different service in order to do that. I don’t want to store files solely under the Skydrive folder (soon to be onedrive folder).
    Can you allow for folder/file syncing again? Think in terms of what Sugar Sync does. They have a great way of accessing files and being able to sync folders. The only unfortunate part of Sugar Sync is that only the 1% can now afford to use their service.

  10. George says:

    I support the request for the little green arrows too. I am very concerned about my personal files and I like to be in control of them. That is not to say that I wouldn’t welcome automation which makes my life easier. I just want to be on top of things.

    • says:

      Only way to be in complete control of your personal files is to not store them online or on an internet connected cmputer. It’s like being concerned about pricvacy and being on Facebook.

      • Ted says:

        Not true. Transparent cloud sync with automatic encryption, where YOU hold the keys, makes it pretty safe to put your docs in plain site on public servers. You don’t even care if other people can fetch your documents – they’re encrypted so only the people you want can read them.

  11. kris says:

    Can you guys fix a little problem.

    1. If I open mp3 in chrome chrome cache it. Why SD not do same. Suppose I run mp3 file from skydrive then skydrive must cache it.

    so in future when I played that songs it will play without fetching from online again. I have blank memory card and I thing I can better use it if you gave feature like that. caching for objects that I fetch from Windows phone. This way I can better cache my songs that I like play most of my time.

  12. says:

    So I gen get extra gigs by referring friend but I can’t do it by email, only be social networks which I don’t have and don’t want?

  13. Grahame says:

    Can’t we just shoot marketing people? The name One-Drive is not better than Sky-Drive which I thought was just fine and I’d like to keep it!

    • Chris says:

      British Sky Broadcasting (UK Satellite TV Provider) took Microsoft to court to make them change the Sky Drive name and won.

  14. Andre Lavoie says:

    I am unable to open an MS Excel file transferred from MS Windows 8.1 to my MS SkyDrive installed on my Apple iPad. It was much easier with Dropbox.

  15. Soulshine says:

    why do you need to download programs with no real information about the need for them, secondly, I don’t want to be worldwide, I like space on cloud great, yet I already have trouble syncing with the cloud I have. what is up with the downloads, are you going to take over my information, off my hard drive, and now the app comes up with that I don’t have a payment set up. I get what I need and have had trouble with bing and its social aspect, if I don’t log out, leave my computer open and my outlook account is there and ready to be seen and used because there are hackers out that and I already went thru that!!!

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  18. Mike Faruki says:

    Making “smart files” a default setting in Windows 8.1 which makes my files available “online-only” is infuriating arrogance on the part of Microsoft. The “storage capacity” argument is complete nonsense. The real reason is Microsoft trying to dominate and control computer users by trying to deprive them of control of their personal files making them more dependent on Microsoft so they can eventually charge them money to see their own files. This is how Microsoft will destroy its user base. Horrible software design getting worse.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Does this mean that Microsoft can handover my “smart” files to the government (USA, Germany, xxxx) without me knowing about it?

  20. Pingback: Changes in Windows 8.1 | 78p.tvChanges in Windows 8.1 |

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