Change OneDrive’s Default Opening Behavior for Office Documents

OneDrive from Microsoft allows both business and personal users to save their files in the cloud and access them anytime, from anywhere. In this blog we will discuss the issue of OneDrive only opening documents in the online version of their app. While this action may seem like an error to users, it’s actually the default behavior of OneDrive to open files in the online version. The good news is that changing this behavior is rather easy and takes only a few quick clicks.

Start this process by logging into your OneDrive account on For this, you must use Internet Explorer. Once logged in, you’ll notice that things look slightly different than normal. This is because you’re in the modern OneDrive site instead of the older, classic version. Look in the bottom left corner and click on the blue link “Return to classic OneDrive”.

Once on this page, click on the settings gear in the upper right-hand corner. This will bring down the settings menu. The first option listed is ‘Ribbon’, if this is turned off - which it likely will be - turn it on. You’ll see the changes reflected immediately with the Library tab now available.

onedrive library pic.png

Click on the Library tab in the ribbon, and then click Library Settings in the Settings section of the ribbon. In Library Settings, click on Advanced Settings.onedrive settings.PNG

The third item down will be a checkbox that says “Use the server default (Open in the browser). As stated earlier, OneDrive’s default behavior is set to use the server default, which will open documents in the online version of their application. On this page, all that needs to be done is to click the button that says, “Open in client application” and then click OK at the bottom of the page.

onedrive docs in browser.PNG

Going forward, all your Word, Excel, and other document types will open in the desktop version of the app instead of online, allowing you to continue working offline.

Change Default Behavior for Files Opened from Search

Another way that files open in a browser automatically is if a user opens a document from the OneDrive search bar. In this scenario, OneDrive’s default behavior is still to open the document in the online app. While this can sometimes be useful to quickly preview an item and assure that it’s in the right place, it may not be how you want things done. Thankfully, there’s a fast fix to change this as well. Simply type anything into to your OneDrive search bar – you just need to get to the search results page. Scroll to the bottom of the search results page and you’ll see three links, Alert Me, Preferences, and Advanced Search, click on Preferences.

onedrive preferences pic.PNG

On the search settings page, you will again see the listing “Opening Documents in the Browser” that is set to open in the browser. Simply select the other option, “Open in the client application”, and then click Save Preferences at the bottom. That’s it! From now on, all OneDrive documents will open on the desktop app and NOT in a new tab on your browser.

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2022-03-10 11:52:43
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