Files On-Demand for macOS QA


Hello there! 


2.24.22 UPDATE: We've been listening to your feedback, and we've made some design changes. We're releasing a new version that addresses the most common themes and makes it easier to achieve the previous experience. Please read the latest blog post for more details.


Two weeks ago, we posted an update about Files On-Demand for macOS and have received overwhelming feedback from the community. We have spent a lot of time reading your comments and concerns to understand how we can improve your experience on macOS. To address some of the common issues and doubts we have updated the blog with a FAQ. If you still have more queries feel free to reach out to the team directly on this thread. 

Thank you for your constant support and partnership!

Team OneDrive 



@Jack Nichols





152 Replies

One issue I found is that when I open files from Finder, Auto Save doesn't works, and the Share button asks to upload the file to OneDrive. It opens like a file outside the OneDrive folder. But if I open the file from Word, Excel or PowerPoint, it opens with Auto Save and the Share button works as expected. Looking forward to an update fixing this issue.


Thanks for sharing. We are aware of an issue that we are going to fix asap related to AutoSave if you have OneDrive installed from the App Store. Is that the case for you? Can you share by DM your OneDrive Device ID and date of when you tried to open from Finder so we can take a look at the logs to confirm if it's the same issue or a different one?

@Ankita Kirti 


Okay, so since we have to manually download everything in our bright new shiny non-automated world:

  1. If I tell onedrive to make a folder always available locally, does that also recurse through the contents of that folder and download 100% of the contents or do we have to do so individually for every single item in the onedrive folder?

  2. In my testing, the setpin option listed here: worked so badly as to be useless. Specifically

    - the /setpin option can't be used while onedrive is running, which means to use /setpin, you have to quit OneDrive, then watch it restart and quit every time you use /setpin. This is a *very* bad implementation of a command line feature. Literally makes it effectively useless as a way to speed up pinning things locally faster than clickclickclickclick in the finder.

  3. Will the FileOnDemand preferences key documented here: be around for a while or is that going to get stealth deleted too?


The implementation of this decision is to put it mildly, awful. I can't think of a worse way to go about this, and for no real reason other than "The OneDrive Team is very enamored of FoD, so you will be too"


I'm very sure no one on the OneDrive team has to deal with this in a situation with heavily metered, slow, capped internet access, and that limitation in your design decisions shows.

Hi @johncwelch,

To answer your questions:

> If I tell onedrive to make a folder always available locally, does that also
> recurse through the contents of that folder and download 100% of the contents
> or do we have to do so individually for every single item in the onedrive folder?

The setting applies to the folder and all of its children. This is true on all of our platforms.

> the /setpin option can't be used while onedrive is running, which means to use
> /setpin, you have to quit OneDrive, then watch it restart and quit every time you
> use /setpin.

Interesting - this code hasn't changed in a while, other than a minor update to support this update, but we'll take a look.

> Will the FileOnDemand preferences key documented here:
> be around for a while or is that going to get stealth deleted too?

This key is no longer supported. We'll update the documentation. cc @gacarini

Thanks for the feedback. Regarding #1, if you mark a folder as "always keep on this device," that will apply recursively to everything below that, including new files/folders that are added. In the FAQ, there's a video showing how to do this for the root of your OneDrive, which has a similar outcome of previously disabling Files On-Demand checkbox.

Yeah, /setpin was literally worse than manually downloading every file from the web ui and copying it all over manually.

And of course you’re going to disable the key. Because why would you want OneDrive to not be a complete nightmare in a bandwidth-restricted situation for people who have to have their files local.

You know, so they can be properly backed up. Which by the way, your insistence on fod breaks every backup system on the planet, and no, OneDrive is not a proper backup solution. Man, I can’t wait until someone discovers that FOD means the only way to backup anywhere that isn’t OneDrive is to manually download the file. That’ll be awesome.

I mean for me to watch. It’ll be less than awesome for you when someone discovers that fod means once they deleted it off of OneDrive and your short retention expires, that file they thought they’d backed up wasn’t and now it’s gone forever. Good job.
And when I upgrade my computer and reinstall OneDrive, will it respect that setting or do I get to do that all over again?
1. How come this new "File Provider API" doesn't affect other competing businesses like pCloud. Sync com and especially Tresorit? I've contacted Tresorit about this as they already have a working Apple Silicon app, and this was their response "We have received a reply from the development team. At this time, we do not anticipate any problems with the 12.3 update, but if there is a problem, we will treat it as a priority and fix it immediately. If you run into any bugs, please feel free to contact us either here on Facebook or via email. "

2. How come they can still use the regular way of syncing local files and ALSO have a separate cloud drive available?

3. From your update blog post," That said, external drive support as it exists today is implemented differently than it was in the past because of how File Provider works. Very few users are running this configuration, but for them, it's an important scenario because often their content won't fit on the home drive.".

"Very few users are running this configuration " - I find this hard to believe, or bending the truth like Apple does when they have an issue. Sure, 100mil users is a small number if your install base is 3bilion. But it's still 100 MILLION users that are affected.

@Ankita Kirti


Thank you for the openness on this article

The purpose of having OneDrive is to sync across devices and backup. 

Since the beginning I chose to have most of my files on my Mac, for several reasons :

- spotlight index (just amazing)

- time machine backup

- other third party backup

- of course direct access even offline (working on the go)


From what I read (see below) files will not be indexed by Spotlight. This is a MAJOR issue, that will cause me to stop using OneDrive and use alternate services. Even if I have elected to have a local copy of the files, which does not make any sense.

Will this work with local file indexing (e.g. Apple's Spotlight)?

Yes. Spotlight indexes everything that is in your sync root, but note that Spotlight will not fetch (or hydrate) files that are dataless. If you are looking for something in Spotlight that could only be read from the full file (such as image EXIF data), only fully hydrated files will be indexed.

Spotlight will not index our cache folder."


Can you please look into that ? 

Also the roll-out of the new OneDrive has been a real pain for us. I appreciate the openness but your support staff is clueless, and before doing those changes that go against our wishes, careful consideration and communication would have been appreciated.

My normal way of working with Word documents with OneDrive is to open the Word document on my Mac (via Finder), edit the document, save it (or use Autosave), whereupon it will sync up to OneDrive and be available for others I have shared the document with.

The new version (in my case, the App Store version) does not permit this. If I open the document from within the OneDrive folder on my Mac using Finder, the document opens indicating 'DOCNAME - Saved to my Mac' at the top. However, if I open the same document from within the Word app, I see 'DOCNAME - Saved' at the top.

If I edit and save the document, it syncs immediately to OneDrive if I have opened the doc through Word. But if I open it my usual way - i.e., via Finder - the document saves to my Mac and shows a spinning sync wheel next to the name in Finder. But it does not actually sync up to OneDrive until I close the doc in Word.

This is bizarre and I can't believe it's intended to work like this. Have others encountered it?

Why does the "new and improved" OneDrive client refuse to download files even after you select "Always Keep on this Device?" On my M1 MacMini, I've been able to force this to work, although it took several days. On my Intel MacBook Pro, however, it simply will not download folders or files unless you click on each and every file, one by one by one...


It simply doesn't work consistently or sometimes at all. This is a complete failure, I still can't believe it. @Ankita Kirti 



The cloud icon staying there always is confusing and seems to be a bug :


Why are all my files redownloading with this update? Why are my always-available files displaying a "not downloaded" icon?


Let me first set you at ease: your files aren't actually redownloading. What you are seeing is a bit of an optical illusion.


When your OneDrive instance is upgraded to the new Files On-Demand, macOS creates a new folder for your OneDrive files and we move your old folder into our cache location. We do it this way for many reasons, but two of the most important are that we can preserve your settings around which files are always available, and we can prevent the sync client from performing a costly reindex of all of your content.

As your files are brought into our cache, we tell the macOS File Provider platform about them. That causes the operating system to create the files in the new OneDrive folder that you will actually use. As part of telling the File Provider platform about your files, we include metadata about them, so that the operating system knows how big they are, what icons to show, and so forth.

Unfortunately, the current implementation of File Provider does not allow us to tell the operating system that we already have the file's contents available – so they appear to be online-only, even though their contents are safe in our cache, ready for the first time you access them. The best that we can do is tell the system to show the always available icon (the checkmark), but we can't tell the system to hide the "not downloaded" icon. The "not downloaded" icon is shown automatically by the File Provider system when the file is dataless in the sync root, and there's no current way for OneDrive to override this. Please know that we are actively investigating ways to address this, as we understand that it is a top source (if not the top source) of user confusion with this update.


The key thing to remember here is that if you double-click the files that we already have in our cache (files that you pinned when you selected “Always Keep On This Device” and anything you had downloaded before we did the upgrade), they will be retrieved and opened as expected, without any network traffic. This will work even if OneDrive isn't running, is paused, and so forth.


Hi Michael,

> From what I read (see below) files will not be indexed by Spotlight. This is
> a MAJOR issue, that will cause me to stop using OneDrive and use alternate services.

Spotlight will index the content in your sync root (the path in ~/Library/CloudStorage). That will include any file metadata there, along with file content for files available in this path.

As far as getting the file content into the sync root, we're looking at ways to make this experience better, but in the near-term, if you want to force files to be available here, you can click the little "down cloud" icon to initiate a download. This works for folders too. For files that we already have in our cache path, this fetch should happen more or less instantly. Otherwise, we'll download the file from the cloud.

I've also shared the gist of your feedback with the rest of our team so we can think about how to better support this scenario.

Hi - I think this was mentioned on another thread yesterday, but this is just a bug and we're rolling out a fix for it now. You should see an update to the App Store version of OneDrive soon. Let us know if that doesn't resolve your issue.


@Ankita Kirti 

I've pinned most of my files. If I understand you correctly, they are now in the sync root and in the cache path as well, but only taking up space once as they are clones. So far so good. But now I noticed that Time Machine backs up the files in both locations as distinct files, i.e. not as clones, using up twice as much space as before. I could exclude one location from backing up but I'm not sure which one. If I had to do a complete reinstall of MacOS and using my Time Machine backup to bring back my files (instead of downloading 300gb from OneDrive), would it be better to have them in the sync root or in the cache path?

Hi @svenzin,

I think it depends a bit on what you are trying to achieve.

Unless you are space constrained, I'd continue to back up both, assuming your goal is to bring your Mac back to a "last known good" state. Having both would make that the most seamless. It seems a little weird that Time Machine makes two copies though - you might want to consider filing feedback on Apple using Feedback Assistant.

If you are space constrained, and want to prioritize avoiding downloading content from OneDrive, then I would probably back up the cache path. This only makes sense if you have pinned all of your content; otherwise, you aren't backing up anything meaningful. All that said, note that the existence of the cache path and how it is used is an implementation detail that can change at any time. If you choose to back it up, know that a future OneDrive update might render a backup of this content useless. That's probably not as much of an issue if you are doing regular backups, but it's just something to keep in mind.


@Michael_Dufranne: I read what you are saying but I am also telling you (and so are many others) that it does not describe what is actually happening. The files are not on my device, even after requesting that they be kept on. They are not indexed by spotlight, because I've checked. They are not captured by other spotlight-dependent applications, like Alfred. If I open them, they download, but if I edit them, I invariably get an error in the program they are opened in (for example, a pdf in Preview or a doc in Word) that the file has been changed by an external application and has to be reloaded. Then, when it's reloaded, all previous changes are gone. It's maddening. 

That sounds like something else is going on, as what you are describing is most definitely unexpected. Can you send me a PM so I can follow up?

Jack - I'm in the camp of having the Auto Save issues and I have the App Store version. Rather than uninstall / reset and install the standalone version, I'm choosing to wait for the hot fix.

1) How will I know that I have the updated version? I'm currently on Version 22.002.0103.0004. Is the hot fix a new version number? Do I need to restart my Mac in order for it to update?

2) Will this hot fix address the issue I have noted before - when saving a document and choosing "Online Folders" in the save as dialog... right now only my current business OneDrive account is listed as a possible location. By current - I mean that is the account that I'm signed into in my Office apps and on But I have two other OneDrive accounts currently active and syncing - a second business account and a personal account - that I do not apparently have access to when using this Save As approach. That same limitation applies when I try to turn on AutoSave from a document - which I opened up from finder in one of my 3 OneDrive folders - the pop up dialog asks me to upload or copy the file to OneDrive but only gives me 1 out of 3 OneDrive locations as a target.

Hopefully that description makes sense.