How to turn off Files On-Demand for OneDrive on macOS to keep all files locally

OneDrive suddenly stopped the option for turning off Files On-Demand on macOS. Here’s a workaround that lets you keep all OneDrive files offline.

One of the first things I do after installing OneDrive on my Mac computers is turn off Files On-Demand. Turning this off allows me to keep a local copy of everything on my computer. This means I will have no regrets if the internet connection is sloppy when I need a file from my OneDrive storage.

However, I was annoyed when I found out something had changed in the latest version of OneDrive. Somehow, Files On-Demand had been turned on. Suddenly, my OneDrive files were no longer available offline on my macOS disk.

I opened OneDrive’s Preferences tab from the Menu and was even more annoyed to see that the Files On-Demand feature couldn’t be turned off anymore.

OneDrive Files-On Demand turn off on Mac.
There used to be an option to turn off Files On-Demand. Well, not anymore.

A few searches later, I found out this is happening due to some changes Apple is making to the macOS operating system.

I didn’t try to get into the nitty-gritty details, but I realized that the change had already been live from OneDrive on macOS version 12.1. In an elaborate blog post titled “Inside the new Files On-Demand Experience on macOS” – Microsoft goes into details about what is changing and why.

How to keep all OneDrive files downloaded locally

In a section titled “Always keep on this device,” Microsoft shares the workaround as to how to keep a file on the local disk. Instead of turning off Files on-demand, you will be able to do the following:

  • To keep some files downloaded locally: Right click on a file or folder inside your OneDrive folder and click “Always Keep on This Device”
  • To keep the entire OneDrive library downloaded locally: Right-click on an empty space inside the OneDrive root folder and click “Always Keep on This Device” – doing this will keep all files from OneDrive synced on your device. It’s shown visually in the GIF below.
Keep OneDrive files locally on Mac.
GIF courtesy: Microsoft.

Microsoft explains the technical reason why Files On-Demand must always be enabled on macOS going forward, but I’m still puzzled as to why doing making all files available for offline access couldn’t have been done via a toggle under the Files On-Demand option in Preferences.

The company says it is looking at ways of making this easier to configure. Perhaps all they need to do is look at how it’s been done so far.

While it’s technically not turning off Files On-Demand, I feel it’s achieving the same result. So I hope you found it useful at least.

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