Windows 7 Tip of the Week
Use SkyDrive with Windows Explorer (Part 2)

Tip date: May 21, 2010
Tipsters: Vernon Vincent and Andrew Nurse

In the April 30 Windows 7 Tip of the Week, I discuss two ways in which you can access Windows Live SkyDrive-based folders directly from Windows Explorer in Windows 7. You can use third party applications, like Gladinet Explorer or SDExplorer, or you can utilize Office 2010 to map drives to SkyDrive locations manually. However, many people would like to access this storage directly from Explorer without having to install a third party application. And they don't (yet) have access to Office 2010, so there's no easy way to do so.

Fortunately, there are other ways in which to map SkyDrive-based locations to Explorer. The first involves browsing to SkyDrive with a web browser and manually dissecting part of the URL and then pasting it into a WebDAV address (that takes the form \\pemvvw.docs.live.net@SSL\DavWWWRoot\[SkyDrive ID]\[Folder Name] or similar) that you can map via Windows' standard "map network drive" functionality. This method works sometimes and doesn't work sometimes, in part, I think, because different users access SkyDrive via different Microsoft servers, so the resulting URLs aren't always exactly the same. For this reason, we'll just skip over this method and go directly to the one that should work for the largest possible audience.

This second method does involve a third party software download, but there's no installation per se as you just run the application, log on to your Windows Live account, and then have it provide you with the URL(s) you need so you can map a network drive.

Here's how it works.


First, you must link your Windows Live ID to your Windows 7 user account. This is documented in Use SkyDrive with Windows Explorer from April 30, in the section titled "1. Link your Windows Live ID to your Windows user account." But the short version is that you do so from the User Accounts control panel; click the Link online IDs hyperlink in the navigation bar to the left and follow the prompts to link your Windows Live ID to your Windows 7 user account.

When that's complete, download the free SkyDrive Simple Viewer for WebDAV utility. It's delivered as a ZIP file. Simply unzip the files into a folder and run SkyDriveSimpleViewer.exe. The application offers a simple UI, allowing you to enter your Windows Live ID user name and password.

When you do so and click "Login to my SkyDrive," the application connects to your account and displays the list of top-level folders in your SkyDrive storage. (This will vary from account to account.)

Select one of those folders to generate a WebDAV address (URL) for that folder. (And to see a list of the folders and files it contains.)

Select the entire WebDAV address and copy it to the Windows clipboard. (Right-click, Copy, or type CTRL + C.)

Now, open Windows Explorer and navigate to the Computer view. Click "Map network drive" in the toolbar. The Map Network Drive window will open, providing you with a Folder field into which you can paste the WebDAV address, and a Drive drop-down so you can choose the drive letter you want. (Only available drive letters will be shown.)

Select a drive letter, paste the WebDAV address into the Folder field, and then click Finish. Windows will prompt you for your Windows Live ID (username@live.com, username@hotmail.com, or whatever) and your password. Check "Remember my credentials" if you don't want to logon to Windows Live every time you access the mapped drive. Then click OK.

When it connects, a standard Explorer window will open, navigated to that folder on Windows Live SkyDrive.

Also, you'll see in the Computer view that a new mapped drive has appeared in the Network Location section. You can now access this location like you would any other storage on your PC, albeit a little bit more slowly.