Why is Onedrive Syncing my Desktop? What is this Onedrive?

Why is Onedrive Syncing my Desktop? To stop OneDrive from syncing desktop shortcuts, you must stop it from syncing your Desktop folder. Go into OneDrive settings, click “Manage Backup,” and toggle the “Desktop” folder off. Repeat this process on your other PCs running OneDrive.

OneDrive automatically syncs your desktop files between your Windows 10 and Windows 11 PCs, leaving you with a bunch of broken desktop icons on some of your PCs. Here’s how to put a stop to it.

Why is Onedrive Syncing my Desktop?

Putting commonly used folders such as your Windows desktop in the cloud is a great solution if you use your desktop to store downloaded files or frequently accessed items. That way, you always have those files synced across your devices. You can also connect other PCs you use with OneDrive sync.

Onedrive Syncing my Desktop

How to Make OneDrive Stop Syncing Your Desktop Folder

To stop OneDrive from syncing desktop shortcuts on a Windows 10 or Windows 11 PC to its cloud storage, the easiest thing to do is to make OneDrive stop syncing your Desktop folder entirely. It can still sync your other folders, including Documents and Downloads. (You could also turn off OneDrive entirely, but you don’t need to.)

To do this, locate the cloud-shaped OneDrive icon in your notification area and click it.

Click the gear icon at the top-right corner of the OneDrive popup menu and select “Settings.”

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Click the “Manage Backup” button at the top of the OneDrive Settings window to control which folders are backed up.

Disable the “Desktop” option by clicking the switch to its right. Click “Stop Backup” to confirm, and then click “Close.”

Keep in mind any files you place on your Desktop will no longer sync with OneDrive. Be sure to put them in another folder that is synced if you want them to be backed up to your Microsoft account and synced between your PCs.

This will only stop OneDrive from syncing the Desktop folder to and from the PC you’re configuring it on. You will want to change this setting on each PC you use to prevent OneDrive from syncing your Desktop.

You can also choose which other folders you want to sync to OneDrive from here. By default, OneDrive syncs Documents, Pictures, and Desktop. You can also have it sync Music and Videos if you want. (OneDrive will continue syncing the main OneDrive folder itself, even if you disable the other folders here.)

How to Make OneDrive Desktop Icon Sync Less Annoying

If you don’t want to disable Desktop sync entirely, there are some alternative things you can do:

Hide Your Desktop Icons

If you don’t want to see desktop icons, you can just hide them. The broken shortcuts will be there, but you won’t see them on your desktop all the time.

To hide desktop icons on either Windows 10 or Windows 11, right-click the desktop and toggle View > Show Desktop Icons.

You can open the Desktop folder in File Explorer or toggle desktop icons back on to see them.

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Move Shortcuts to the Public Desktop Folder

OneDrive syncs everything in your Windows user account’s Desktop folder. However, the Windows desktop shows shortcuts from both your user account’s Desktop folder and the “Public” user account’s desktop folder. This folder is located at C:\Users\Public\Desktop by default. In other words, icons in this folder will be displayed on every Windows user’s desktop on that machine. They also won’t be synced.

So, if you have desktop shortcuts you won’t want to sync, move them to this folder.

To do this, you can open a Terminal or Command Prompt window as Administrator. On Windows 11, right-click the Start button and select “Terminal (Admin)”. On Windows 10, right-click the Start button and click “Command Prompt (Admin)”.

Onedrive Syncing my Desktop

Why does Windows 11 now put Desktop on OneDrive?

On my Windows 10 PC, Desktop is where it’s been since Vista, which is C:\Users\MY_USERNAME\Desktop. However on my Windows 11 computer, I just discovered it doesn’t have it that location. Instead it has it in C:\Users\MY_USERNAME\OneDrive\Desktop. Of course, the OneDrive folder isn’t a real folder on my harddrive, but rather a virtual folder that links to a Microsoft server, where my Desktop files are actually stored.

To me, this is unacceptable. I want to know that files on my Desktop are really on my computer, and not floating in the “cloud” (in other words, on someone else’s computer that I don’t control). I want all my files on my own physical computer, for security reasons. I do not want files on my Desktop on another computer that I don’t have physical control of, because that means someone else has control of my files.

Even worse, is that this is the DEFAULT on Windows 11, because I know I certainly NEVER configured my Desktop like this, nor would I ever have. Unfortunately, I also don’t know how to set the Desktop folder to be a local folder like it was in pre-11 versions of Windows. Is this even possible in Windows 11? Or does Microsoft now just force everyone to have their Desktop folder on OneDrive, with no settings to change this?

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How to check if the OneDrive is permanently or often syncing


If your OneDrive is often or permanently syncing, this can cause issues such as the following:

Files that are in the OneDrive FYI – My Imports folder are not syncing and OneDrive seems to be stuck and is continually syncing. The files keep trying to be re-added into FYI.

  • When opening a document in FYI to edit it, an error displays “Sorry, we couldn’t find “https://…”. Is it possible it was moved, renamed or deleted?” or
  • “My imports cannot finish syncing. Unable to retrieve documents; OneDrive resource locked…” Cause
  • If your OneDrive is often or permanently syncing, this can be caused by the following:

A slow internet.

  • If you are syncing a very large number of documents, or if the documents that are syncing are very large (there is a file size limit of 500MB for a file that can be imported via your FYI – My imports folder).
  • Trying to sync a whole directory across the network.
  • Desktops that have been cloned for easy deployment, or MYOB installed with the demo files located within the OneDrive for backup.
  • Historical files across a practice being synced across everyone’s OneDrive for local access.

When opening documents via OneDrive, FYI does not have control of when a document has been sent to OneDrive and cannot check it has been sent. Syncing large files or a large number of files is not something that OneDrive is designed to handle.

Onedrive Syncing my Desktop

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