Microsoft SkyDrive is a cloud-based storage and syncing solution that will work for just about anyone. All you need is a Mac, PC, or mobile device, plus access to the Internet.
Once you install SkyDrive on your Mac, it appears to be just another folder. Drop a file or folder of any type into the SkyDrive folder, and the data is immediately stored on the Windows Live cloud storage system. You can access your SkyDrive content using a supported web browser, which includes just about all of them, from any Mac, PC, or mobile device.
Using SkyDrive As a Replacement for iDisk
It may seem odd that one of the leading candidates for replacing Apple's iDisk is Microsoft's SkyDrive; well, what can I say? SkyDrive offers features that are very similar to iDisk, and it's just as easy to use.
The reason we're looking for a replacement for iDisk is that Apple dropped the iDisk feature from iCloud. Well, iCloud never actually had this feature, but it was part of MobileMe, the precursor to iCloud. iDisk allowed you to store up to 5 GB of documents and other files, and sync the data with any Mac or iOS device.
iCloud also offers data storage features, but in its first iteration for OS X Lion, it only allows you to store specific data types; essentially, any format that works with an iWork app (Pages, Numbers, or Keynote). In my opinion, that's too restrictive.
SkyDrive currently offers several tiers of service.
- SkyDrive Free: 7 GB total storage.
- SkyDrive +20 (an additional 20 GB of storage): $10.00 per year.
- SkyDrive +50 (an additional 50 GB of storage): $25.00 per year.
- SkyDrive +100 (an additional 100 GB of storage): $50.00 per year.
We're going to show you how to set up the free version of SkyDrive on your Mac; this will provide you with 7 GB of free cloud storage.
Set Up SkyDrive
For SkyDrive to work, you need two basic items: a Microsoft Live ID (free) and the SkyDrive for Mac application (also free). You may also wish to install SkyDrive for Windows or SkyDrive for iOS; both are available in the App Store.
- If you already have a Microsoft Live ID, you can skip this step; otherwise, launch your browser and head off to: https://signup.live.com/
- Fill in the requested information to create your Windows Live ID. Be sure to note the email address you use, since that will be your Microsoft Live ID; make a note of your password as well. I strongly recommend using a strong password, which is a password that contains at least six characters (I recommend using 14 characters), including upper and lower case letters and at least one number and one special character. Once you have everything filled out, click the I Accept button.
- Now that you have a Windows Live ID, head on over to: https://apps.live.com/skydrive
- Enter your Windows Live ID and click the Sign In button.
- Your browser will display the default SkyDrive folder configuration. For now, don't worry about any folders displayed in the web browser. What we're interested in is the SkyDrive Apps options. Go ahead and click the Get SkyDrive Apps link located near the bottom on the left hand side.
- A brief description of the SkyDrive for Mac app will display. Click the Download SkyDrive for Mac button.
- After your browser finishes downloading the app, navigate to the appropriate location on your Mac, usually the Downloads folder.
- Double click the SkyDrive.pkg item to launch the SkyDrive installer. Then follow the onscreen instructions.
- Double-click the SkyDrive app in your Application folder.
- You will be warned that SkyDrive is an app you downloaded from the Internet. Click the Open button.
- The SkyDrive welcome screen will display. Click the Get Started button.
- Supply your Windows Live ID, and then click the Sign In button.
- SkyDrive allows you to create a SkyDrive folder in the location of your choice. Click the Choose SkyDrive Folder Location button.
- A Finder sheet will drop down allowing you to navigate to the location where you want the SkyDrive folder created. Pick you location and click the Choose this Location button.
- click the Done button.
- The SkyDrive setup is complete.
SkyDrive acts like much like any other folder on your Mac; the only difference is that the data within it is actually stored on remote Windows SkyDrive servers. Within the SkyDrive folder, you will find three default folders labeled Documents, Pictures, and Public. You can add as many folders as you wish, and create any system of organization that suits your fancy.
Adding files is as simple as copying or dragging them to the SkyDrive folder or appropriate sub-folder. Once you put files in the SkyDrive folder, you can access them from any Mac, PC, or mobile device that has SkyDrive installed. You can also access the SkyDrive folder from any computer or mobile device using the web interface.
In the next SkyDrive guide, we will take a more detailed look at using the service.