Microsoft’s SkyDrive For Mac: Not Dropbox, But Not Too Shabby Either [Review]


It looks a bit euw, but it works
It looks a bit euw, but it works

Microsoft’s online file storage service SkyDrive, got a boost today with the announcement of some new features, including a native Mac client app for OS X Lion. While SkyDrive might lack some of Dropbox’s more advanced features on OS X, it does offer something only a giant like Microsoft can afford: 7 GB of free space for everyone, and up to 25 GB if you already have a Windows Live ID and sign up fast enough.

Installing SkyDrive is simple; you’ll download (from here) a .zip file, inside which you’ll find the app. Of course, to make it work you need a Windows Live ID. If you already have one, great, just enter your details and get started. Alternatively you can sign up on the spot. So far, so simple.

SkyDrive exists as an app, and an icon in your Menu Bar. Unlike Dropbox for OS X, it’s very visible. You can’t remove its icon from the Dock, and leave it solely in the Menu Bar, which makes it feel rather intrusive.

Like Dropbox, it sets up a synced folder in your user folder (by default at /Users/you/SkyDrive, although you can choose another location if you wish). Just drag files and folders into this to have them automatically synced to the web, and to your other devices that support SkyDrive.

Unlike Dropbox, there’s no smart Finder integration. You can’t right-click a file and grab a public link, for example. The Menu Bar icon does provide quick access to the web interface, which is predictably Microsoftian, but perfectly functional. From there, you can do some file management functions (rename, move, copy, embed – that’s an interesting one), or share the file with named individuals. It’s also possible to share it on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.

Reach for the Menu Bar for basic controls

All of these functions feel a bit clunky compared with their Dropbox counterparts. I much prefer Dropbox’s sharing – right click, “Grab Link”, and get a URL to share however you wish. SkyDrive’s alternative feels slower, mainly because it requires many more clicks.

SkyDrive is the second major cloud service in the news in one day. First we had Adobe’s Creative Cloud, now this.

It’s clear that many companies see the cloud – or what we old folks used to call “the internet” – as a vital component for online service providers in the coming years. Apple wants you to commit to iCloud. Microsoft is dangling an alternative right in front of your eyes, although of course it will never offer the same degree of system integration. Not on OS X, at any rate.

This is just the beginning for SkyDrive. It will be very interesting to see how this battle for cloud customers plays out.

Pro: That 25 GB of free space is awfully tempting…

Con: Not as slick as Dropbox, at least on OS X. Not as integrated as iCloud.

Update: This post has been amended to remove the phrase “Dropbox clone”, since it was pointed out to me that SkyDrive predated Dropbox, as Windows Live Folders, by about a year. Thanks for pointing out my error, Dwight!

  • Miguel Oliveira

    I think that new users, from now on, won’t have acesso to 25GB for free ;)

  • SkyDrive

    Thanks for the write up! During the preview, here’s a tip on how to hide the dock icon. You can also check out a few unique features of (e.g. present from anywhere using PowerPoint Web App, email slideshows, fetch any file from a Windows PC)

  • kootenayredneck

    Just waiting to see what Googles offering will be tomorrow if all the rampant rumours were true last week. Will it be a DropBox killer!

  • Tom Moccia

    So do I need to download and install the desktop client for the 25GB? I signed up but only see the 7GB. Still good for free though. I’ll use it as a overflow for dropbox.

  • likethepear

    Oh! I am sorry, but to all the people who are complaining about Skydrive I say a big fat WHATEVER! I installed it, right clicked and got my 25Gb free storage. Then I deleted dropbox. Piddly chintzy little dropbox. Thanks for the free 25Gb Microsoft!

  • Ed Dixon

    For me it was mostly useless as it cannot handle long path file names or file names with any odd characters, both of which are common to developers in iOS.