Microsoft is now offering Mac users a pre-release build of OneDrive for Apple Silicon. The ARM-based application runs faster and more efficiently on M1 devices than previous OneDrive releases, and funny enough, it makes OneDrive the best iCloud alternative on macOS.
Technically speaking, most x86 apps work fine on Apple Silicon. But they have to run through Apple’s Rosetta 2 compatibility layer, an advanced hunk of software that translates x86 “Intel” apps to Apple Silicon in real-time.
This compatibility layer can create performance bottlenecks for some applications, which would run a lot faster if they were reconfigured for the Apple Silicon ARM architecture. But more importantly, Rosetta 2 kinda blows through battery life—that’s a big problem if you’re using a cloud storage app like Dropbox or OneDrive, which constantly runs in the background as it looks for files to upload, download, or update.
Over a year after Apple Silicon’s launch, companies like Dropbox still don’t offer native support for the architecture. That means M1 Mac users are stuck using either iCloud or the new Google Drive desktop app (which kinda sucks) if they want a battery-efficient, native cloud storage solution.
Dropbox now says its working on an Apple Silicon native version of its desktop app, but OneDrive beat it to the punch. That makes OneDrive the best iCloud alternative for M1 Mac owners—OneDrive won’t blow through battery life like Dropbox, it’s less annoying than Google Drive, and unlike iCloud, it works properly on non-Apple products.
There are two ways to install this pre-release build. If you’re impatient, you can download the package directly from Microsoft (clicking this hyperlink will immediately start the download). You can also open OneDrive on your Mac (from the Menu Bar), click the “About” tab, toggle the button to get pre-release updates, and click the “Get Apple Silicon Build” to install this build.
OneDrive starts at $2 a month for 100GB of cloud storage. I suggest buying the Microsoft 365 Personal package, though. It includes 1TB of cloud storage plus access to Microsoft’s best Office apps for $70 a year. That’s less than $6 a month!