OneDrive may primarily be a cloud syncing service, but even if you don’t use OneDrive as your primary cloud storage, it has one killer feature: with it, you can remotely access any file on your PC, even if that file is not in your OneDrive folders.
Like most of cloud storage services, OneDrive makes it easy to store files in the cloud and even share them with other people. “Fetch” is a handy additional feature that lets you log into your OneDrive account on any web browser and then remotely access files on any PC running OneDrive. One interesting caveat to this is that the Fetch feature is not supported in Windows 8.1. We suspect this is because Windows 8.1 was the first version to integrate OneDrive (then named SkyDrive) into the OS and Fetch just wasn’t available then.
If you’re running Windows 10, you’re good to go. Just make sure you sign in to your OneDrive account before you get started. If you’re running Windows 7 or 8 (not 8.1), download the OneDrive app (if you haven’t already), install it, and sign in. If you don’t yet have a OneDrive account, it’s easy and free to set one up and useful even if Fetch is the only thing you use it for.
How to Enable Fetch in your OneDrive Settings
Fetch is not enabled by default. Once you’re signed into OneDrive on your PC, you’ll need to turn it on. Right-click the OneDrive icon in your system tray.
In the Microsoft OneDrive window, switch to the Settings tab.
On the Settings tab, enable the “Let me use OneDrive to fetch any of my files on this PC” check box and then click OK.
If you have more than one PC, you’ll have to repeat these steps to enable OneDrive on each one where you want remote access to your files.
How to Access Remote Files Using Fetch
Now that you’ve got Fetch turned on, you can remotely access your files from any modern web browser. Just head over to the OneDrive site and sign in.
In the navigation pane on the left side, you’ll see a list of PCs on which OneDrive is installed. Just click the one you want to browse.
You should see all the familiar folders from your PC. Folders that are stored remotely on your PC have solid blue thumbnails so it’s easier to identify what you’re looking at. Just click any folder to open it up.
NOTE: If it’s the first time you’ve visited that PC remotely and you have two-factor authentication set up, you’ll need to run through a security code check before you gain access. Also, if you see multiple PCs that you don’t recognize, it’s possible that older computers are still associated with your account. Just click through the listed PCs and you’ll see an option to remove the ones you don’t want.
When you’ve found the folder with the files you’re after, you have a couple of choices. If you want to download the file to the computer you’re on now, just click the file. Alternately, you can right-click the file and choose Upload to OneDrive to add that file to your OneDrive folders. You’ll be given the chance to specify which folder you want it uploaded to.
One exception to this functionality is if you’re looking at a folder with pictures or videos. In that case, you’re shown full thumbnails for the files. You can click any file to view the picture or stream the video without having to download it or copy it to your OneDrive folders. You even have the option to start a slideshow for all the pictures in the folder.
And that’s all there is to it. If you’re already using OneDrive, you don’t need to install any additional apps to gain remote access to the files on your PC. Just enable the Fetch feature and you can gain access from pretty much any web browser. If you aren’t using OneDrive…well, this is an awesome enough feature that it may be worth installing.