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How Do I Disable OneDrive in Office 365?

It can feel like it’s forced on you, but you can change that.

OneDrive can be useful, and it can be annoying. It's on by default, but it's not terribly difficult to decouple or turn off.
Office With No OneDrive please.
Office with no OneDrive, please. (Image: canva.com)
I recently started using MS 365 and am confused by One Drive. Keeping digital storage organized is already a problem for me with Google One, Google Workspace, and Evernote accounts, and I don’t understand the value of having yet another cloud storage system. It’s no longer an automatic process for me to save documents and spreadsheets, and I find that documents are saved automatically before I’ve had a chance to — or understand how/where to — name them.

In my opinion, Microsoft has seriously bungled OneDrive.

Don’t get me wrong; I use it and actually love it, myself. The problem is that there are several questionable “features” that are difficult to understand and often lead to confusion and frustration. On top of that, the approach Microsoft has taken to “encourage” you to use it is, as seems to be typical for Microsoft, heavy-handed.

The good news here is you don’t have to use OneDrive in Office/Microsoft 365 if you don’t want to. You can uninstall the OneDrive app, or simply change the settings to disable it.

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TL;DR:

Disable OneDrive in Office

You can uninstall the Microsoft OneDrive app from Windows via the Settings app, which will decouple your computer from your online OneDrive account. In order to stop Microsoft Office applications from using OneDrive, there is a set of options to be adjusted. The most important is found in the Save settings of Office apps.

Optional: Uninstall OneDrive

I want to start with this optional step because most people who don’t want to use OneDrive don’t want to use it anywhere. Microsoft Office is just one place it appears.

First, make sure that OneDrive’s backup options are turned off. You can find out more about these settings in Why Is My OneDrive Full? This is one feature that’s been implemented poorly, leading to a lot of frustration. Even if you’ve never turned it on, you may find that Microsoft turned it on for you. Here’s how to turn it off.

In Windows Settings, Apps, Installed apps, you can right-click on, or click on the ellipsis next to, “Microsoft OneDrive” to expose an Uninstall option.

Uninstall OneDrive option.
Uninstalling OneDrive. Click for larger image. (Screenshot: askleo.com)

Click Uninstall to remove OneDrive from your machine.

Important: this will not remove files from your machine. You’ll still find them in your OneDrive folder. Uninstalling OneDrive simply removes the cloud synchronization tools. Similarly, this will not remove files from other machines syncing to the same OneDrive account, nor will it remove any files from OneDrive online.

At this point, your OneDrive folder is just another folder like any other. Depending on how you’ve used (or been forced to use) OneDrive until now, you may find files, a “Documents” folder, or other folders within it. It’s up to you where you’d like to keep your files, and you can move them to any other folder on your machine or leave them where they are. Without the OneDrive app running, there’s nothing special about the OneDrive folder.

Change Office settings

The use of OneDrive in Microsoft Office applications boils down to a couple of settings we need to adjust. (If you’re using the free online version of Microsoft Office applications, then by definition you’re also storing your files online in OneDrive. There’s really no way around that.)

Run an Office application. I’ll use Word for my examples.

Options link in Microsoft Word.
Options link in Microsoft Word. Click for larger image. (Screenshot: askleo.com)

Click on Options in the lower left.

Word Save options.
Word Save options. Click for larger image. (Screenshot: askleo.com)

Click on Save on the left-hand pane.

There are several options I recommend changing.

  • Uncheck “AutoSave files stored in the Cloud by default in Word”
  • Uncheck “Show additional places for saving, even if sign-in may be required”
  • Check “Save to Computer by default”
  • Set “Default local file location” to a folder on your machine that makes sense to you. In the example above, I have a “Documents” folder on my “E:” drive. “C:\Users\<username>\Documents\” is another common alternative, and was the default prior to OneDrive’s interference.

Click on OK to save your changes.

Word should no longer default to using OneDrive.

Other Office apps

Most of the settings you adjusted above are shared between Microsoft Office apps, but not all; and it seems likely that which settings are shared will change over time.

Thus, my recommendation is that you review the settings in the other Microsoft Office apps you use to ensure they’re set to what you want.

Do this

My gut reaction is to advise you to learn about OneDrive and how it can help you. It really is decent technology, albeit with annoying warts and perhaps an over-inflated sense of self-importance.

I get that it’s annoying, though.

So, in that light, if you use Microsoft Office, adjust the settings above to get it out of your way. And if you really feel the need, uninstall the OneDrive app as well.

That should result in things feeling significantly more in your control.

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15 comments on “How Do I Disable OneDrive in Office 365?”

  1. Great article! I checked the screens shown in my Office 2019 installation, adjusted the ones that were present (Article refers to Office 365). What I also realized is, because I use a Local User Account on my PC instead of one tied to my Microsoft account, no OneDrive settings or software are present. I prefer to have it all gone. Takes some work. You have to create a new user account, change it to a Local Administrator account, then log in & rebuild the desktop, etc. But when done, the original account can be deleted and no OneDrive is present.

    Reply
  2. My greatest issue with Office (also an issue with OneDrive by default) is that you HAVE to use OneDrive to have any kind of autosave feature.
    Autosave used to use your hard drive. Why can’t it still do so?

    Reply
    • Autosave still saves to your hard drive, just in an obscure location. According to Microsoft

      If you have a Microsoft 365 subscription, check the following folder locations for backup files:
      C:\Users\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Word
      C:\Users
      \AppData\Local\Microsoft\Office\UnsavedFiles

      Reply
  3. Let’s not forget. “Office” is no longer “Office”…it’s “MS 365”, just like everything else. I still can’t believe they changed the 30-year-old name of one of their flagship products.

    Reply
  4. Confirmed in Office 2013, 2016, 2019 & Office 365: Open a blank Word doc. Click on “FILE” in the toolbal fas left side, then “OPTIONS” In the resulting window, click on “SAVE” and configure your Autosave settings.

    Reply
  5. I have been using OneDrive and Dropbox for years. OneDrive comes with MS 365 along with 1T of drive space. It is a best buy for me. I use Office for every thing, but I particularly use Access and this is the only way to get Access that I know of for a reasonable price.

    I use OneDrive to share my non sensitive files among my various computers. Vera Crypt also seems to work well with it. I was a bit surprised with that.

    I also have .5T on ProtonDrive, but I have not used that yet.

    Reply
    • I use VeraCrypt, but there is one thing to be aware of with VeraCrypt. If you make even a tiny change to a file in a VeraCrypt container, the entire volume needs to be uploaded again and downloaded to all your other computers sharing that OneDrive or Dropbox account. For my cloud storage, I use Cryptomator or Boxcryptor so only the files I change have to be uploaded. I’d only use VeraCrypt with a small container if I had it n a cloud synced folder. For me that would be about 1 GB.

      Reply
  6. Hey Brian, or anyone else for that matter,

    So you use Dropbox as well as OneDrive I see. Why both?

    I pay heavily for the 2Tb dropbox, but I would rather not as I have MS365 anyway. In my Users/Austin folder I have a Documents folder and a Dropbox folder. I hardly ever use the Documents folder—for each file I touch or work with I find the appropriate folder within Dropbox and save it there.
    If I could have a OneDrive folder instead of the Dropbox folder, I would be very happy because I would save the heavy dropbox sub.

    Has anyone any suggestions as to how I could make that work without having OneDrive do all sorts of things automatically?

    Reply
    • I’m not sure I understand your question. If you have MS365, you have OneDrive, and can easily start dropping things in to the OneDrive folder at your convenience.

      I use multiple (DropBox, OneDrive, Google Drive) for a combination of reasons, including being able to answer questions about them. Biggest, though, is that I have many shared DropBox folders with others who do not use OneDrive.

      Reply
  7. Leo, maybe I haven’t read your comments correctly but I don’t seem to be able to disable OneDrive on my MacBook Air. It works perfectly on my IPhone and IPad but is not syncing properly on the MacBook Air. I have contacted Microsoft but they don’t seem to come up with an answer as they can’t give me direct support and takeover my machine and disable OneDrive. Microsoft have a sales office in Sydney but they don’t want to or are inexperienced enough to look at my computer. Any suggestions, please?

    Reply

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