Microsoft OneDrive Student Guide

Microsoft OneDrive is a secure file-hosting service that allows you to store, share, and synchronize files and folders from any connected devices. It offers 1TB of encrypted data storage, file versioning, and the ability to access and edit files and folders offline. In Microsoft OneDrive, you can access your files from any device, share them with other students and your instructors, and view and restore previous versions.

Microsoft OneDrive is FIPPA compliant and its data is stored securely in Canada.

What will I use it for?

You can use Microsoft OneDrive for secure file storage that comes with many convenient features:

  • Creating, editing, and accessing your files from anywhere
  • Synchronizing files across multiple devices
  • Sharing and collaborating on files with others at UBC
  • Accessing files from Microsoft Teams

What do I need to use Microsoft OneDrive?

A UBC Microsoft account

To access Microsoft OneDrive and other integrated Microsoft products at UBC, you will need a UBC Microsoft account. To get a UBC Microsoft account, you have to be an active and registered UBC student and follow the opt-in process outlined later in this document.

The Microsoft OneDrive application or a supported web browser

Although Microsoft OneDrive has a web interface, you may find it more convenient to install the OneDrive application on your computer or mobile device. The application will create a OneDrive folder in your regular directory, where you can interact with the files you’re storing without having to log in on your web browser.

If you will be using the web browser, Microsoft OneDrive supports using the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.

Tips

  • If you are using Windows XP or Linux, you will need to access OneDrive through the web interface, as these operating systems do not work with the OneDrive application.

How do I use Microsoft OneDrive?

You will first need to make sure you’re set up with a UBC Microsoft account. It’s also easiest to download the Micosoft OneDrive application for managing the files you will store on it. Alternatively, you can log in to the web interface and manage files there.

Click any bar below to find instructions and tips for using Microsoft OneDrive.

Set up a UBC Microsoft account

To get a UBC Microsoft account, you need to be an active and registered UBC student and follow the opt-in process below. Once you opt in, you do not need to follow the process again.

  1. You will first create a new UBC email address that uses your UBC CWL (i.e., CWL@student.ubc.ca, where “CWL” is replaced with your CWL). This will serve as your UBC Microsoft account.
  2. Sign in to the UBC CWL myAccount page.
    • If you have privacy concerns about sharing your CWL with others, you may anonymize your CWL first by clicking Rename CWL in the navigation and following the steps there.
  3. Click Activate Student Email in the navigation.
  4. After reading the terms and conditions, click Accept.
  5. It may take up to 48 hours before your account becomes active. Once your account is active, you can access Microsoft OneDrive (as well as Microsoft Teams) with this new email address and your CWL password.

Install the Microsoft OneDrive application

Using Windows

  1. On Windows 10, OneDrive is already installed. For other versions of Windows, download the desktop application by going to the Microsoft OneDrive download page and clicking Download.
  2. Open the OneDrive installer that downloads, and follow the steps to install the application.
  3. Enter your CWL@student.ubc.ca email (where “CWL” is replaced with your CWL) when prompted for your work, school, or Microsoft account.
  4. When setup is complete, you will see a new OneDrive folder in your directory.

Using Mac

  1. If you are currently using the OneDrive Mac Store application, you must first uninstall it by dragging the application into your trash.
  2. Download the desktop application by going to the Microsoft OneDrive download page and clicking Download.
  3. Open the OneDrive installer that downloads, and follow the steps to install the application.
  4. Enter your CWL@student.ubc.ca email (where “CWL” is replaced with your CWL) when prompted for your work, school, or Microsoft account.
  5. When setup is complete, you will see a new OneDrive folder in your directory.

Tips

  • You can download the OneDrive mobile application from the iOS App Store or Google Play Store.
  • You do not have to install the application to use OneDrive; however, you may find it more convenient than using the web interface, as the web interface will regularly require you to log in.

Log in to the Microsoft OneDrive web interface

  1. Go to portal.office.com in your web browser.
  2. Enter your CWL@student.ubc.ca email (where “CWL” is replaced with your CWL) when prompted for your work, school, or Microsoft account.
  3. Select OneDrive from the dashboard, and the interface will open in a new window.

Tips

  • You don't need to use the web interface, if you've installed the OneDrive application; however, you can use the web interface along with the application, as they work in tandem with each other.

Add files to Microsoft OneDrive

You can add, edit, and delete files through both the OneDrive folder (if you installed the application to set this up) and the web interface. Files in OneDrive will sync in one place no matter how you access them (e.g., a computer, a mobile device, the OneDrive web interface), so you can work on files from anywhere, without having to move them around.

Options for adding files

  • If you installed the application, you can add files to OneDrive by dragging and dropping them into the OneDrive folder.
    • Additionally, you can save new files you create to the OneDrive folder.
  • After logging in to the web interface, you can add files to OneDrive using the New (to create a new file) or Upload (to upload an existing file) options at the top.
  • You can also save new files you create to the "OneDrive - The University of British Columbia" destination.

Tips

  • You can make changes to your OneDrive folder while you are offline, and updates will be synced automatically once you are online again.
  • Green checkmark icons in your OneDrive folder indicate files you can work on offline. Other OneDrive status icons mean different things.

Share files on Microsoft OneDrive

One of the most useful aspects of OneDrive is the ability to share files with other people, so you can collaborate in one spot without having to exchange multiple versions of the same document and manually merge changes from different contributors.

By default, files and folders you store on OneDrive are accessible only by you until you share them. You can see who files are shared with and modify the sharing at any time.

  1. Launch share settings for a file:
    • If you installed the application, you can manage sharing of individual files by right-clicking them in the OneDrive folder and choosing Share.
    • Alternatively, after logging in to the web interface, select individual files and click Share at the top.
  2. Once you've launched the share settings, you can choose who should see and/or edit the file. To find people at UBC, use their first name, last name, or email address.
  3. Click Send for the specified people to receive an invitation through email, or click Copy Link to send the link yourself.

Tips

  • You can follow the same process outlined here to update existing share settings, but if you log in to the web interface and click a file, you will find a more streamlined way to modify share settings.
  • You can also use OneDrive to share entire folders with other people. Files placed in these shared folders will automatically be shared with the people who can access the folder. This method is convenient if you have a number of documents to share with the same group.
  • In the mobile application, press and hold the file, in order to see the share option.

Access a file shared with you in Microsoft OneDrive

You will receive a notification from OneDrive or from the person sharing with you when a new file is available.

  1. Click Open or the link, and you will be directed to a new tab in your browser.
  2. If prompted, log in to OneDrive with your UBC credentials.
  3. Confirm your email address to open the file.

Tips

  • Using the web interface, you can access what's been shared with you by clicking Shared in the navigation. In fact, you can toggle there between "Shared with me" and "Shared by me".

Collaborate with classmates in Microsoft OneDrive

If you’ll be working with classmates on group assignments or other coursework, you can use Microsoft OneDrive to track your collaboration in several ways.

  • When you are working on a shared document, if anyone else is also working on it at the same time, you'll be able to see them as an icon at the top of the document.
    • Clicking that icon will give you the option to jump to where they are working in the document.
  • Each shared file has something called version history. This history tracks changes made by each person and saves different versions over time, so you can see who made which edits and restore or save older versions.
    • View the history of any shared document when you are in it by clicking the file name at the top, and selecting Version History. You can see and restore previous edits to the document.

Tips

  • If you are in the web interface, you can see a summary of recent activity on any file by right-clicking the file and choosing Details from the options. This action will open a panel with a chronological activity history.

Microsoft OneDrive FAQ

Find UBC-specific answers to frequently asked questions by clicking any bar below.

Yes. You’ll need one UBC Microsoft account to access all Microsoft products, but you can use them independent of each other.

Yes. Microsoft OneDrive meets UBC policy and BC requirements for security. All data in Microsoft OneDrive are encrypted, stored securely, and hosted in Canada. You can read more about OneDrive privacy and security from UBC IT.

No. You can install the desktop or mobile application to use Microsoft OneDrive, but you can also access it from your browser by signing in at portal.office.com and selecting OneDrive. However, you may find it more convenient to use the app than the web interface, which will regularly require you to log in.

If you install the Microsoft OneDrive app, you will see a new OneDrive folder in your directory for managing your files. You can also use the web interface along with the application, as they work in tandem with each other.

Where can I get more support with Microsoft OneDrive?

Technical support

If you have trouble with Microsoft OneDrive:

For support with online learning:

Learn more


« See all tools