OneDrive sync icons explained

Posted on:  03/09/2021
OneDrive sync icons explained

OneDrive is great for syncing your files. OneDrive has a great feature called Files on Demand. Your files on your computer could have three possible status icons with Files on Demand running. These icons appear when you are in File Explorer. I'll explain the three OneDrive sync icons and determine the local hard drive space used on your computer from OneDrive. We will look at how to free up hard drive space used by OneDrive.

YouTube Video on OneDrive sync icons and storage space

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OneDrive three sync icons

There are three OneDrive sync icons when Files on Demand is enabled.


Blue Cloud icon

A blue cloud icon next to your OneDrive files or folders indicates that the file is only available online. Online-only files don’t take up space on your computer. No internet, no file download.


Green tick icons or green check mark

When you open an online-only file, it downloads to your device and becomes a locally available file. You can open a locally available file anytime, even without Internet access.

If you need more space, you can change the file back to online only. Just right-click the file and select “Free up space.” Unless Storage Sense is running and configured to move the Green tick icons available on this device back to online-only, files with this icon are the same as the white check with the green circle.


Solid green circle with the white check mark

Files that you mark as Always keep on this device have the green circle with the white check mark. These always available files download to your device and take up space, and they’re always available for you even when you’re offline. Storage Sense will never move these files to cloud only. If you want these files to no longer be located on your hard drive, and only available in the cloud, right-click the file and select Free up space.

Folder icons

If a folder has all three icons showing, as in image 1 below, the folder will display the Blue cloud icon as the default for the folder as seen in image 2 below. One important thing to remember, is just because you see the blue cloud for a folder, that doesn't mean all the files are cloud only. If you have large files, that have a check, they are on your local hard drive and may be taking up valuable space depending on the size on your hard drive. To get all the files to be availabe in the cloud only, right-click the folder and select Free up space.

Folder with a Blue cloud

Folder with a green check mark

If everthing in the folder is the same icon, for example, the green check mark, then the folder will show the green check mark. 

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Chris Menard

Chris Menard is a Senior Training Specialist at SurePoint Technologies. Chris is certified in Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Menard has a YouTube channel with other 600 technology videos covering Excel, Word, Zoom, Teams, Outlook, Gmail, Google Calendar, and other resources that over 7 million viewers have very appreciated. Because of Chris's certification and expertise with Microsoft, Chris is a proud member of Microsoft's Creator Team. Being a member of Microsoft's Creator Teams means many of his videos are available on Microsoft 365 YouTube channel and Microsoft support websites.