Microsoft previews OneDrive for Business for the Mac

Also releases a two-in-one iOS app for accessing both personal and business files

OneDrive for Business for OS X

The Mac preview of OneDrive for Business integrates with the Finder for local operations, and syncs to Microsoft's cloud-based storage service.

Microsoft on Wednesday released the promised preview of OneDrive for Business for OS X, the first way to sidestep the browser when accessing company documents and the only way so far to sync files for offline use on a Mac.

The app requires an Office 365 business-grade subscription, and can replace in most instances the browser UI (user interface) that was previously the only available to OS X users.

A week ago, Microsoft pledged to ship a preview of OneDrive for Business and an updated OneDrive iOS app before the end of the month. The Redmond, Wash. company released both on Wednesday.

The OneDrive for Business preview on OS X integrates with the Finder, ala Dropbox and iCloud Drive -- the latter, part of Apple's own iCloud storage and sync service. Unlike those alternatives -- or OneDrive, the consumer-grade service Microsoft also offers -- OneDrive for Business is exactly that, focused entirely on documents shared by employees at a company with each other and invited outsiders.

It corresponds to the OneDrive for Business client for Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.

Once added to the Finder, OneDrive for Business operates as any other local folder -- or for that matter the cloud-based doppelgangers like Dropbox -- allowing drag-and-drop and one-click file launching as usual in OS X.

Computerworld briefly tested OneDrive for Business on a Mac, and was easily able to locally synchronize an Office 365 library to a MacBook Pro, upload documents to the cloud, open those stored there using the Finder, and deposit documents into a folder that was previously shared with a manager.

Neither the OS X or Windows OneDrive for Business client lets users share folders; that must still be done from a browser.

Office 365 enterprise subscribers now have a 1TB storage allowance, although Microsoft is rolling out unlimited storage to those customers this year.

Microsoft also released a revamped OneDrive iOS app whose major enhancement was to combine both OneDrive (consumer) and OneDrive for Business (commercial), but keep the content segregated.

OneDrive for Business for the Mac requires OS X 10.9.5 and later (Mavericks and Yosemite) and can be downloaded from Microsoft's website. The free iOS OneDrive app is available for Apple's App Store.

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