Surely there's a way to force OneDrive to prioritize/force sync a single folder or file...

So often I find myself waiting impatiently, frantically, HYSTERICALLY, for a folder or file to sync across OneDrive, darting between two computers and waiting for the iterative blue arrows to transform to comforting green check marks... It could be a folder with just tens or hundreds of megabytes, which I know would easily upload or download much faster than it's happening. WTF? Can I force it to just go?

7 Answers 7


That's quite a moving target with the changes in the OneDrive itself, yet - what works for me is to restart it - this forces a sync op (YMMV though).

Two simple commands in cmd/batch file:

%localappdata%\Microsoft\OneDrive\onedrive.exe /shutdown
start %localappdata%\Microsoft\OneDrive\OneDrive.exe /background

This isn't as efficient as a built-in feature could be, but Microsoft isn't interested in helping out... So, here's the brute force method.

  1. Right-click the folder/file and select "Free up space"
  2. Wait for the cloud icon to show
  3. (optional) Right-click and select "Always keep on this device"

Step 1 removes the file from local storage, so the next time you attempt to access it, it downloads a fresh copy - instant sync. If you simply open it, it will have a green/white checkbox indicating that it is temporarily saved to the device. If you select "Always keep on this device", it will keep the copy long term. That may or may not be interesting depending on what you plan to do with the file.

  • I tried this and it didn't work for me. I've got hundreds of thousands of 1 kb files in the queue to upload. They were created by a program that I use for work. The files that I need to upload are not uploading, even though I selected the option to "Free up space" hours ago.
    – GregNash
    May 15, 2022 at 0:26
  • This! Worked perfectly for me with one file that would not sync in time!
    – David.P
    Aug 2, 2023 at 13:22

The most easy way that worked for me was to open the onedrive location in browser, open the local PC folder in File explorer, drag and drop the files you want from the file explorer into the onedrive folder (open at web browser) and you just have forced onedrive to "upload" those files manually.

It might take some time though for your computer to realized that you have forced sync some files and change the status of those files to "synced".


Yes, but it's painful.
Assuming files/folders are uploaded on onedrive, go to the location where you wish to draw the synced files from. It's easier if you switch into list view, rather than icon/tile view. Select the files/folders you wish to use. click the download button. They will download into a zip file. Extract the zip file as appropriate.

  • 6
    You mean no. You can't force a single file to sync, but you can download a single file.
    – thelem
    Nov 2, 2018 at 12:05
  • I mean yes. Downloading the file will cause it's syncing to be prioritized. Just place it in the same location as the original. It's a work around that will accomplish the questioner's objective. Nov 2, 2018 at 16:19
  • 2
    @Charles Goodwin, Please add your comment to your answer. This is definitely important for understanding your answer. Without this, it looks like you are answering a different question.
    – PatS
    Feb 21, 2019 at 1:43
  • This doesn't work if it's new files you want uploaded, it seems.
    – Sepster
    Jan 9, 2020 at 14:31

For a file that seems to persistently not sync ... I've had luck with renaming the file (append 1) and then naming back. This seems to make OneDrive notice a change to that specific file, and push it up the queue as a simple update. FWIW ~


A potential work-around that worked for me in a specific case: 1) Requires two OneDrive accounts (personal and business), 2) one account is busy (the problem) and the other is not, and 3) you need online access to the file or folder in question that has yet to sync:

Move the file or folder in question to the other OneDrive and it prioritizes it.

Worked for me in this moment. Will not work for everyone.


6 years late but... The file/folder must be in the one drive directory on your computer. If it's also being stored on your hard drive and is taking up unnecessary space, it'll have a green tick in a circle. If it's uploaded onto one drive and is not taking up C disk space it'll show the cloud icon.

To force a file or folder to only be stored on one drive, and not take up hard drive storage right click it and choose 'free up space'

  • This answer does not exactly answer the question. Nov 27, 2023 at 1:05

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