How to Remove OneDrive Files from PC without Deleting Them

Does OneDrive keep syncing files to your computer and take up a lot of space? This article will guide you on how to remove OneDrive files from PC without losing them from the cloud.


by Jonna Lasted Updated April 10, 2024

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How Do I Remove OneDrive Files from My Computer?


I have the OneDrive app on my PC, so I synced everything between the cloud and my computer. Now all my OneDrive files are on my PC and taking up quite some space. How can I remove OneDrive files from PC without deleting them from the cloud?

User case from

Take it easy if you meet OneDrive files taking up all local space on your computer. Follow this complete guide and learn how to delete OneDrive files from PC without deleting them from the cloud and how to remove OneDrive from PC now.

What Happens If I Delete OneDrive Files from My Computer?

If you want to delete OneDrive files from your computer, you can simply right-click the files in the OneDrive folder on your computer and choose Delete (Windows)/Move to Trash (Mac).

Delete OneDrive Files from File Explorer

One point to take care of is that OneDrive uses a two-way synchronization of files and folders between the OneDrive cloud and your computer. Specifically speaking, when you delete files on OneDrive from your computer, they will be removed from the cloud automatically. Conversely, if you delete files from OneDrive, they will be erased from your computer as well.

How to remove OneDrive files from PC but keep them on the cloud? Go and follow the stepwise guides below to remove OneDrive files from PC only.

How to Remove OneDrive Files from PC but Keep them in OneDrive

In this part, we collect two methods that can help you remove OneDrive files from PC. The methods work on both Windows 10/8/7 and Mac computers. Pick the suitable one and follow to delete OneDrive folders and files from your computer now!

Way 1. Remove OneDrive Files from Computer with Selective Sync

Using OneDrive, files you store online are synced across all your devices by default. However, you don't need to sync everything on OneDrive with your PC, or you could let OneDrive keep all files online only to save local space.

Step 1. Click the OneDrive icon in your notification area, and go to OneDrive Settings (Windows)/OneDrive Preferences (Mac).

Step 2. Go to the Account tab and tap on Choose folders.

OneDrive Account Choose Folders

Step 3. On the pop-up Choose folders dialog box, uncheck folders you don't want to sync to your computer, and hit OK.

OneDrive Choose Folder to Sync to Computer.

Way 2. Delete OneDrive Files from Computer using Free up Space

If you wish to clear OneDrive files but keep them available on PC, you can choose the “Free up space” option. This is a feature from OneDrive files on-demand which can display placeholder versions of online files in your local OneDrive directory without synchronizing and downloading them.

Step 1. Open OneDrive Settings (Windows)/OneDrive Preferences (Mac).

Step 2. On the Sync and backup page, click on Advanced settings, and turn on the switch next to Files On-Demand on Windows PCs. Or, click on Turn on Files On-Demand to enable it on Mac.

OneDrive Turn on Files on Demand

Step 3. Head to the OneDrive folder on your computer, right-click the files or folders you want to save online only, and select Free Up Space.

OneDrive Free up Space

Tip: When the OneDrive symbol of your files is marked as a blue cloud icon, they are removed from your computer. However, if you open the files, they will take up space on your computer again and you need to manually set them online only again.

How to Remove OneDrive Folder from File Explorer

We have learned that many people want to remove OneDrive from File Explorer to delete OneDrive files from computer. Here are 3 ways available to you.

Way 1. Remove OneDrive Shortcut from File Explorer by Unlinking Account

Step 1. Click OneDrive icon on the taskbar, and select Help & Settings > Settings.

Step 2. On the Account tab, tap on Unlink this PC.

Unlink This PC OneDrive Account

Step 3. Click Unlink account to unlink OneDrive from your computer.

Unlink Account Confirm

Way 2. Delete OneDrive Folder from File Explorer by Uninstalling OneDrive

How do I remove OneDrive from my computer on Windows 10/11, in which the OneDrive program is pre-installed? You can follow the steps below to do it:

Step 1. Search for “Control Panel” from the Start menu and click it.

Step 2. Click Uninstall a program under Programs.

Unisntall Device

Step 3. Locate Microsoft OneDrive on the currently installed programs list, right-click it, and hit Uninstall.

Uninstall OneDrive

Way 3. Remove OneDrive from Explorer with Local Group Policy Editor

If you don’t want to install OneDrive, you could use the Local Group Policy Editor to hide OneDrive from Explorer. Here is how to remove OneDrive from computer using local group policy:

Step 1. Type “gpedit.msc” in the Windows start box and click Enter.

Step 2. In the left pane of Local Group Policy Editor, direct to Local Computer Policy > Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > OneDrive in turn.

Step 3. Double-click Prevent the usage of OneDrive for file storage and set it to Enabled. Then, click OK.

Prevent Usage of OneDrive

Best Free Way to Sync Files to OneDrive without Local Copies

If you want a perfect tool to perform OneDrive sync and backup without taking up local space, CBackup is what you need. This is a free cloud backup and sync service that allows you to upload to OneDrive without having to add OneDrive to File Explorer or save a local copy of your files.

◑ Its Sync feature can help you keep files on your computer and the cloud the same, while its Backup feature allows you to use OneDrive for backup only and restore files when needed.
◑ It offers four flexible auto backup/sync modes - One time only, Daily, Weekly, and Monthly.
◑ It supports auto file backup and synchronization to OneDrive from local and external hard drives.
◑ Except for OneDrive, it supports syncing and backing up files to Google Drive, Dropbox, and more clouds.
◑ It provides you with 10GB of CBackup Cloud backup space and expandable storage plans.

Download CBackupWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Let’s see the detailed instructions on how to use CBackup to upload files to OneDrive without syncing to computer:

Step 1. Sign up for a CBackup account for free. Launch the CBackup desktop client and log in.

Step 2. Click Storage on the left side, choose OneDrive, and click Authorize Now to add your OneDrive account to it.

Select OneDrive

Step 3. Click Sync and choose Sync PC to Public Cloud to create a new sync task.

Choose PC to Public Cloud

To backup files to OneDrive, just turn to the Backup tab and choose Backup PC to Public Cloud to create a backup task.

Step 4. Guide to your sync source and select files and folders. Choose a folder in OneDrive as the sync destination.

Step 5. Click Settings to enable Scheduler and set up OneDrive auto sync (optional). Finally, tap on Start Sync.

Start Sync Desktop to OneDrive

That's all about how to remove OneDrive files from desktop but keep them on cloud. Also, with CBackup's Sync feature, you can remove files from OneDrive but not PC.


On this page, we introduced how to remove OneDrive files from PC and solutions to remove OneDrive from Windows Explorer. For someone who needs to upload to OneDrive without local copies, we present the free backup utility CBackup that allows you to perform OneDrive sync and backup without eating up local space.

Besides, if you need to backup OneDrive files, this tool can help you backup OneDrive to Google Drive, Dropbox, and more clouds quickly and easily.

Jonna · Editor
Jonna becomes a professional in the areas of cloud backup and restoration, data protection, etc. after years of learning and researching. She maintains a keen eye for the latest technology trends, ensuring that the information provided is always in step with industry developments.

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