How to stop Windows 10 from saving files to OneDrive

If you don't watch out, Windows 10 will put your documents, music, and photos automatically into its cloud service.

onedrive logo primary
Credit: Rob Schultz

Joyce Shue bought a new computer running Windows 10. After transferring data files from her older PC, she discovered that “it placed all my files and folders in OneDrive. How can I transfer these files and folder back to my PC?”

Joyce used Laplink’s PCMover to move her files, but I doubt it was that program’s fault. I simply dragged and dropped, and my data files also ended up in OneDrive (this was in a new Windows 10 environment; not an upgrade). I get the impression that Microsoft wants you to store your data in the company’s cloud-based storage service. Given that the company recently reneged on its promise of infinite OneDrive space--and of 15 free gigabytes--the more you store there, the sooner you’ll hit a paid tier.

If you prefer to stay local, you need to do two things: You have to move the files back to the traditional library folders. And you have to change some settings to avoid this problem in the future.

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

First, you need to unhide your data libraries. In File Explorer, select View > Navigation Pane > Show libraries.

1106 unhide libraries

Next, go to and expand the Libraries section in File Explorer’s navigation pane. You’ll find it below This PC.

Click Documents under Libraries. The files and folders displayed will be clearly divided into two sections. One of them, probably the first one, will have the name OneDrive in its path.

Drag your files and folders from the OneDrive section to the other one.

1106 drag to local

If you used OneDrive at all before moving to this computer, make sure you don’t move anything that you actually want to keep in OneDrive. As a general rule, don’t move any Internet Shortcut files.

Your files are now stored locally and only locally. But you need to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Right-click Documents in the Navigation pane (I’m referring to the Documents library, not any of the folders listed below it) and select Properties. In the resulting dialog box, select the local location (probably C:\Users\yourname, where yourname is your login name) and click Set save location button.

1106 change default

When you close the dialog box, your local Documents folder will be your default Documents folder. While both folders will be part of the library, new files will default to being saved locally.

Repeat moving the files and changing the library settings for your Music, Pictures, and Videos libraries.

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
Related:
Shop Tech Products at Amazon
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.