How I use SkyDrive on my Windows Phone

How I use SkyDrive on my Windows Phone

  • Comments 23
  • Likes

People use Microsoft’s free cloud storage service for all kinds of things—including their documents, OneNote lists, and music. But for me, SkyDrive is all about photos. Here are three ways I use it with my phone: 

First, I use it to automatically back up pictures on my Lumia 920.


I admit it: It took me a little time to warm up to the idea of storing all my personal things in the cloud. But SkyDrive has made me a believer. The first time you set up a Microsoft account in Windows Phone 8, you’ll have the option to back up all kinds of things.

I initially skipped that step so followed these step-by-step instructions to automatically start saving my photos and videos to SkyDrive, which takes the pressure off if I ever lose my phone. I also make sure to upload high-resolution copies of my shots as backups, so I can use them in the photo books I make each year using my Nokia phone.

Second, I create folders in SkyDrive to organize important photos.

That way, I don’t have to flick through hundreds of unorganized images on my phone’s Camera Roll to find the exact one I’m looking for. (I do all my SkyDrive housekeeping on my PC.)


Here are a few of the ways I’ve used this idea:

  • “A show & tell” folder. Yes, I intentionally left the ‘A’ in the title so it shows up at the top of my phone’s list of albums. Now when I run into an old friend and we start showing off photos of our kids, I have a handful right at my fingertip highlighting recent family adventures. My friends, meanwhile, are usually still fumbling with their phone’s Camera Roll to find a brag-worthy shot.
  • Price comparisons. After Washington State recently voted to privatize liquor sales, I spent a month doing some competitive shopping at grocery and convenience stores around Seattle to find the best deals, snapping photos with my phone as I went to jog my memory later. You could do the same with food, books, furniture, or whatever.
  • Trying on clothes. The ladies (and, ok, some of you guys) know how hard it can be to assemble the perfect outfit from clothes picked up here and there. I had to do this recently for our team’s masquerade-themed holiday party. First, I shopped around for a mask, taking pictures of ones that I liked. Then I went on the hunt for a dress. In the dressing room, I pulled out my phone and held up the mask photos to see how they looked with each dress.

Third, I use SkyDrive to privately share photos and videos with friends and family.

Because you can share a SkyDrive folder with just one person, it’s easy to show someone photos of that weekend beach trip. Or even transfer large video files. In my “To share with Gma” folder on SkyDrive, I post photos and videos for my sister to grab and show my grandmother when she visits her (since grandma doesn’t have a computer).

sd4 - new

What about you? How do you use SkyDrive with your Windows Phone? Do you just use it for photos like me, or do you use it for documents as well? Post your ideas in the comments of this article, and I’ll send a Windows Phone t-shirt to the person who submits my favorite one!

You must be logged in to comment. Sign in or Join Now
  • Hello Lisa,

    We primary use SkyDrive to upload our photo albums from Windows Photo Gallery (where we tag the Photos and give them captions) to SkyDrive and then share them with our friends as tiny URLs - very similar with your approach.

    Second, we use OneNote to share our important notes. Here we use the sharing feature of SkyDrive: we have one Microsoft account for the whole family (where we store the common notes), and each of us has its own Microsoft account. The family account is sharing all notebooks with our other accounts. This way, each of us has read/write access to all common notes and read/write access to his own, private notes.

    Third (and new): we share our shopping list with my own Windows Phone App, called ONE SHOPPING LIST. We sign in with this app to our family Microsoft account, and share this way a common shopping list!

    Maybe you are interested in a common shopping list for your family too? Give it a try!


    Windows Phone Store:

    Desktop Companion (BETA):

  • skydrive is a awesome application for windows mobile...see top7 mobile apps

  • Zune synchronizes all ur pics on ur PC, so no need to save photos to Skydrive - i use it more for saving documents!

  • gamby35
    0 Posts

    To take advantage of the automatic back-up feature, I'll be setting up a live slide show with my Xbox 360 at my sons 1st birthday party.  We'll be snapping pictures with our HTC 8x and they'll be getting added live to the slideshow, creating an always changing show!  Should make for some great photo viewing entertainment!  

  • Roger
    1 Posts

    I am very happy with my Windows Lumia 900 currently still on 7.5 (awaiting 7.8), however it doesn't allow for uploading of full res photos to SkyDrive. Maybe this feature wil be added. The only way to get High Res photo's to my SkyDrive is to upload from my PC from the Zune software it appears as it does make a backup copy of your photos (Camera Roll) to the PC. Then from there you can upload. Still can do it, just a different route and not as streamlined as I guess with a Lumia 920.

    Not sure if I would be so swayed by one function not performing like I would like and not purchase another Windows Phone (as some posters indicate), because one has to look at the overall functionality of the phone, not just one or two features. I beg the question - You bought it with that feature and no one ever promised it would be added, so why would one be so disappointed about the entire product to never purchase another again. Is there anything that is good about the phone?

    It's nice some appear to have received the 7.8 update on my Lumia 900, I am looking forward to getting it - it's been two weeks and starting the 3rd.

  • I use SkyDrive to Sync the documents, pictures, and my entire music collection (60+ GB) between two of my computers and now my awesome new Lumia 822.

    I literally have everything of value from all three devices all in one place on ANY of the devices I wish to use. To clarify: Yes, I am on a paid plan. But I also got the free 25 GB they gave out to legacy users about a year or so back. So basically I have 75 GB of cloud storage currently that only costs me about $25 / year ($2 or so per month). Definitely the best value for the dollar of any cloud service, even if you only started with the free 7 GB.

    Another thing I've noticed about some cloud providers, they add paid space to the free space they initially give you - which SkyDrive actually does.

    This service should be everywhere, that way they will be willing to add some more robust features and expand upon the functionality even further.

  • rbaro
    0 Posts

    I have a One Note 'Grocery List' link on my start screen and my wife has the same link as a tile on her Windows Phone start screen. Both links open the same grocery list on my SkyDrive space. Nobody ever thinks of items they need while sitting in front of their handwritten lists. If I'm in a meeting and I suddenly remember that we need doggie treats, I open the grocery list and type it in. Later that evening when my wife is at the store, she will open the grocery list and it will be updated with my addition. As a bonus, make the list with check marks and uncheck the items as you put them in the basket.

  • I use Skydrive for business and personal uses.

    I was using Live Mesh to synchronize CAD models between the office and work, now with 25Gb account there is no worries about needing to keep a flash drive up to date, my files are 'live'.

    I have given presentations from my Skydrive to multiple people on conference calls.  With Pdf files, Jpg, and video, I was given a review of "Paul is fantastic and his results are impressive. The entire team thanks you!!"

    I am in the process of buying and fixing a house, I have taken hundreds of photos that get automatically added to my SkyDrive camera roll, then with a few clicks move them to a shared folder for the contractors to use for bids. I also place the contractors bids in another folder only shared with the mortgage lender to discuss.

    Personally, I am keeping budget spreadsheets on SkyDrive that I can edit on the Excel Web App.  I keep noteworthy articles and get photos sent to my SkyDrive through the IFTTT service.  With SkyDrive built in to the Windows 8 home computer, my children have shared a folder of photos of things they "wish" for.

    I am sold on the new Microsoft and tell everyone I meet.

  • Kuranes
    0 Posts

    I shot a video on my Lumia 920 and shared it to Family Room.  It compressed the video and uploaded, but the version that's on SkyDrive is not viewable by either my or my wife's 920 - it says "your phone can't play this kind of file" or something.  This was after I tried sharing it with Tap-to-Send, where it sat at "sharing: 0%" forever :(

  • joshie
    1 Posts

    Can I use SkyDrive to store my music files?

  • SkyDrive is for OneNote. I have the same note pinned on my phone, Surface, laptop, and open on my work computer (still on Windows 7). This makes moving data between my platforms easy and "magic." That alone is my compelling reason for using the platform, seriously it's that good. But I also auto-back-up all my pictures, have shared spreadsheets that I edit on my phone, and put pictures I want to use on my phone on there (lock screens and such). It's an easy way to get things from PCs to the phone and vice-versa.

  • @JE Pedersen: Not sure where you live but this might be an option: you can remotely lock your phone.

  • I was a SkyDrive user before switching from BlackBerry to Windows Phone 7.5 and I upgraded to the free 25 GB storage when it was available.  About half that storage is consumed as my digital photo gallery, which even includes digital copies of prints from the 1990s. But I also have OneNote. PDF, Word and Excel documents easily accessible from my PC, iPad and Windows Phone. It's a great service.  I don't bather with mobile broadband;  all the uploads from my phone are over Wi-Fi directly or with a USB cable using Zune PC software.

  • Hawk
    61 Posts

    Question...I'm just now setting up SkyDrive but I don't see a function that can push all of my current photos, some 200 of them, at one time.  Looks like my only option is to push one photo at a time.  Is that accurate?

  • right now I am looking at pictures being uploaded to skydrive from my stolen phone (wp 7.5). the pictures even have location on them, just wish the police would take some action as I live in another country :)... so yes: backup of pictures, and I also have a financial spreadsheet in excel that I use across all devices, my new wp8, my home tablet (winRT) and my work-computer (windows 7). and I often share low-res pictures to facebook from my backup directory on skydrive with my tablet.

  • Imawesh
    0 Posts

    i can't remember my passwords, card details etc, so i use sky drive to store secure information (in not shared folder :))

    My family uses sky drive to share grocery or shopping list with me :P

  • I am a singer/songwriter as well as a tech. I save my songs on SkyDrive in Sibelius and in PDF formats. That way, if I want to show my music off or if I'm at an open mike, I can pull it up on my Surface. I also export my Band in a Box versions to MIDI. I can also pull up my PDFs on my HTC 8X in a pinch. I use SkyDrive for pictures and documents too, but my Scores folder on SkyDrive has saved my hide more than a few times. A good keyboard player can play directly from my Surface as if it were printed music. Life saver!

  • Hi

    Being a blogger I really enjoy SkyDrive on my WP 7.8 recently I found that SkyDrive can be used to sync my camera photos. But the one note integration with skydrive is really helping me to jot down blogging topic ideas on the go and made it available through out the devices. OneNote is superiour among other cloud note apps with its formatting options.



  • I am with chrosto. As an Australian and love taking photos with my Lumia 920, I am also very disappointed with Microsoft/Telstra for blocking the ability to do High Resolution (Wi-Fi) only uploads. Instead the only option we have is to upload reduced size photos or NOT at all and seeing that all the Carrier plans in Australia have EXTREMELY LIMITED DATA ALLOWANCES for the price of the plans, this SUCKS.

  • chrosto
    0 Posts

    Lovely article, I love Skydrive. But for some reason in Windows phone 8 in Australia, Microsoft has blocked the idea to upload photo's at high resolution automatically. Can anyone advise why this would be the case? It's not as if we live in the dark ages downunder!

  • I download my homework assignments there, and save there, that way wherever I go I have my homework, I also have my pictures in folders, I download pictures of yummy food from tumblr directly to my SkyDrive from the SkyDrive windows folder.  SkyDrive has made my keys a lot lighter since I don't need to carry a thumb drive anymore.  

  • danielgr
    73 Posts

    Me, I'd love to do as you do.

    Unfortunately Microsoft let me (and a few million) down by not enabling high-resolution automatic upload on my WP7.

    And please, do not tell me it has something to do with "hardware compatibility", nor that it would have represented a huge coding effort. Because WP7 already has the ability to do that, it's simply resizing the photos to the crappiest possible resolution before doing it. So it can't be so hard to add a switch not to do it.

    So yes, since I don't want to believe it "plain lazyness", so I choose that Microsoft simply rather not do it on purpose so that I feel more enticed to buy a WP8. Wrong strategy imho, since the majority of people buying smart-phones are on some kind of multi-year contract, so the result is simply "I'm pissed off at you", like so many others.

    PS: Same goes for other simple yet incredibly usefull stuff like "getting actual emoticons" on the keyboard, and so many small improvements that represent amazing value. I would have upgraded to WP8 on hardware alone when my contract expires, since I would have been so happy with my Windows Phone experience and Microsoft commitment to its customers. Now I'm far from being impressed, even after getting 7.8; sure better than nothing, but sure pissed off by your post.

  • cyancey
    0 Posts

    So far I use it just for storage, but I think using your idea as a template, I can stay more in touch with my family who I haven't seen in many moons. Question is, will it get me a t-shirt :)