OneDrive and Mac

Microsoft has been giving love to Apple users since Nadella took the reigns three years ago. Office 2016 was released to Mac slightly ahead of Windows, it worked(!), and is basically the same version as Windows users get. Also along the way Office was released for iOS and Visual Studio Code and .Net core were built from the ground up with cross platform support as a key feature.

Basically Microsoft is admitting that Windows is no longer a core pillar of their business. Office 365 is a new core pillar which derives more value as Microsoft extends it and the rest of the ecosystem to more platforms.

With all this goodness, however, the OneDrive sync client has lagged behind. Microsoft had a general goal to merge the personal OneDrive client with the SharePoint OneDrive client (which evolved from the Groove sync client), and while they achieved that goal on Windows, it took them longer to fully realize that vision on Mac.

A little background: I use many project sites in my Office 365 tenant. They host files for the various projects I work on. I sync these files locally so they are more easily accessible from my desktop(s). Well, they were easily accessible from my Windows desktop (running in VMware Fusion), but they were not accessible on my Mac. While Microsoft did develop a Mac version of OneDrive, it initially only worked with personal OneDrive.

They later added support for OneDrive for Business, but it would only sync files from the personal site of the connected user. That is, it was not able to sync files from document libraries on any other site. This limitation forced me into my Windows desktop or made me use other file syncing apps like Dropbox.

Until now, that is. A new client is available on Mac which allows synchronization of any document library on SharePoint Online. However, there are some hoops to jump through to get it to work.

First, you can’t use the OneDrive app from the app store. You need to download a special version which is installed via a package file. This special version has other improvements as well, as it is not limited by the app store sandbox restrictions. For example, it can add sync indicators to file and folder icons. The full-featured client can be downloaded here. Also, to work with various document libraries, the client requires special configuration, which is detailed in the first link below.

Secondly, SharePoint online needs to be configured to launch the new sync client in place of the old when a user clicks on the Sync button above a document library. The steps are outlined in the second reference link below. Unfortunately, which sync client the button launches is an either/or configuration for the entire tenant.

Overall this a long overdue capability and I am happy it has been added to OneDrive for Mac, but unfortunately it won’t be available to most without an IT group becoming aware of the feature, then coordinating, planning and deploying it to their users.

Reference Links:


Enable users to sync SharePoint files with the new OneDrive sync client