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OneDrive arrives with its files on demand

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Microsoft is continuing its efforts to make OneDrive a better citizen on macOS. Some functions are still under construction but today the publisher has finished with the “Files on Demand” system..

It is in the process of implementing the new version of its Files On-Demand service for users who have switched to macOS 12.1. The first version dated back to 2018 and the new one now uses Apple’s File Provider mechanism, like iCloud Drive or Dropbox.

Concretely, OneDrive can appear in the sidebar of Finder windows, under the heading Locations. Then the files contained in OneDrive can have three statuses: stored locally, stored on the cloud only or always available locally.

The titles speak for themselves but the third represents a file (or a folder of documents) that you want to have available on your Mac in all circumstances. It is, so to speak, pinned there, while others will be able to see their presence evolve according to the space available on the volume.

Selection of a file which must always remain available locally

This reliance on Apple’s APIs makes OneDrive more efficient with things it didn’t know how, or poorly, to do previously. Like synchronizing package type files (.pkg) — documents and folders put together in a package that is the only one visible to the user. Added to this is support, during synchronization, for several attributes of a document: the colored tags added by the user, the date of last opening, the flags of the file system, the type and creator codes , extended attributes and symbolic links.

This new OneDrive engine needs at least macOS 12.1 and version 12.2 will be the last to be able to run the old version of Files On-Demand. Microsoft gives several explanations to enlighten users on this in-depth evolution. He also underlines the need to have volumes formatted in APFS instead of the old HFS+ that OneDrive will stop managing beyond 12.2 and that few still use among the regulars of the synchronization service.

Two other projects remain open as part of this in-depth revision of OneDrive. First the adaptation to Apple’s Arm processors: the OneDrive for M1 has been in public beta since the beginning of December, the final has not yet been announced. Then the “Known Folder Move” function with which you can automatically synchronize with OneDrive – and to another Mac – your Desktop, Documents and Pictures folders. This option will be offered for testing next month (see also Like iCloud Drive, OneDrive will synchronize macOS desktop and documents).

Enabling macOS Special Folders to sync with OneDrive.
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