SkyDrive is Microsoft’s cloud storage feature for sharing files among various Internet-connected devices.  You can upload files from your computer to the cloud and access them from your web browser, or your phone.  You can even share files with others.

Here’s how it works.  To get started, open your web browser and go to  Click on the Get SkyDrive button.  A small file will download to your computer.  Double click it to launch it.  As part of the installation process, you will be asked for your Microsoft Account.

If you don’t have one, you can create one at that time (all it requires is an email address and a password).  You will have to verify your existing email address by waiting for an email from Microsoft.

The installation continues to run and creates a SkyDrive folder on your computer .

Click Next and then Done, and you can access your files from anywhere.

You are probably wondering what to do next.  Well, SkyDrive launches automatically from the System Tray (in the lower right-hand corner of the Task Bar) and opens a folder.  You can drag and drop any file or folder into the SkyDrive folder and it will immediately become available in the Cloud.  People with slower Internet connection speeds may have to wait a few minutes for this synchronization to occur.

Keep in mind, you only have 7 GB of storage, and you are limited to the size and number of files you can upload.  Still, that is a large amount of space, but you can easily misuse it without meaning to.

After you drag and drop your files into the SkyDrive folder on your computer, open your web browser and go to  You will be prompted to sign in with your Microsoft Account.   After you do, your SkyDrive folders will be displayed.

When you look, you’ll see the files you copied into the SkyDrive folder on your computer are summarized.  What is interesting is what they look like when you click on the tile.

Because pictures would make this article too long for publication, I’ll help you out.  The files are displayed using the same features that will appear in Windows 8, and files are color coordinated with their products.  So Word documents are in blue; PDFs are in Adobe Reader red; Excel spreadsheets are in green, and text files appear in Notepad grey.  Also note that the picture files (.JPGs) are displayed in miniature.

Click on a Word document and, just the first time, you’ll be prompted to use the Microsoft Web Apps.  Agree to that, and the document opens in preview mode.  Click Edit Document (upper left) and the new Office ribbon appears on the top of the document.

Now keep this in mind, because it is critically important:  You are editing this file on your SkyDrive.  That means it is available both in the cloud and on your desktop.  But it is not the version of the file that you dragged into the SkyDrive folder on your desktop!  If you expect to find the latest version there, you will be making a mistake.  It is in the SkyDrive folder in the cloud and on your computer.

At some point, perhaps in Windows 8 and with Office 2013, Microsoft will make the Documents folder and the SkyDrive folder the same – but that is several months off in the future.

For now though, you can take advantage of a free version of Microsoft Office.  Oh, there is one other note of caution.  Some people had WordPerfect installed on their old computers.  These .WPD files can be opened by the desktop version of Microsoft Office Word.  However, these same files cannot be opened by the Office Web Apps version of Word.  If you want to work with them, you must purchase the desktop edition of Microsoft Office or a new edition of Corel Office, which contains the current version of WordPerfect.

If you have any questions about using SkyDrive or Office Web Apps, let me know.

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