“Think before you print” becomes “Think before you insert an attachment.”

I read the following article this week, putting a clever twist on a familiar email signature footer.

Please consider the Environment: Print this email, don’t save it” – NZ Herald 17 August 2012

The main point made in this article is that there are a lot of “non-green” approaches to manufacturing hard drives and other digital storage media.


With the launch of Microsoft SkyDrive, I was inspired to respond to the article.


I want to leave you with a few easy steps to form a new productivity habit.

What is a productivity habit?

It’s when you learn how to use a new service or software feature and repeat it enough times to make it a habit.

New software features and services are only useful when you remember to use them, right?


Why should I change my habit of using attachments in email?

Many people share files by attaching them to an email.  But this is inefficient.  It can leave many copies of a document in mailboxes as the emails and versions of the document go back and forth.

It is better to save the file in one place.  Modern email servers can store a file as a single instance.  This means that when you send an email to someone with a mailbox in the same organization and on the same server, the file is stored in one place.  All emails that have the file attached will point back to the single instance of the file.

But this doesn’t help when you send an email and attachment to people outside your organization.


In comes Microsoft SkyDrive.

If you want to share a document with one or many people, follow these steps to form a new productivity habit.



Create a Microsoft Account, (formerly called a Live ID.) https://signup.live.com/


Productivity Habit: Email a link to files you want to share.

  1. You’re about to attach a file to an email and send it?  Save it to SkyDrive.
    1. Log into Skydrive with your Microsoft account ID and upload your document into your Public folder.
    2. You can use the new SkyDrive apps to easily access your SkyDrive directly from your computer.
      https://apps.live.com/skydrive for your Windows or Mac desktop, iPad / iPhone or Windows Phone.
  2. Save the document into your Public folder.
  3. Share the document –
    The sharing settings are managed from the SkyDrive website.
    While logged into SkyDrive:

    1. Select the document and choose Share.
    2. You can send an email  directly from SkyDrive to the people you want to share the document  with.  You can post it to other social sites such as LinkedIn.
      You can “Get a Link”.
  4. Get a Link – Create a “View Only” link or “View and Edit” link.
  5. Copy the Link and paste it into your email.  You’re done.

The link you send will allow the email recipient to open the file.  If the file is a Microsoft Office document, it will open in Office Web Apps.

The recipient can download the document.  Or they can edit the document in their browser by logging in with a Microsoft account.

What does this new method and new productivity habit achieve?

  • The document or file is stored in one place, reducing disk storage.  That should our NZ Herald reporter happy and fulfil your green ambitions.
  • If the document is a Microsoft Office document, all recipients can co-author the document directly from the browser.  This avoids keeping many versions of the document in mailboxes and locally on your computer.
  • Share an individual file or invite someone to connect to an entire folder in SkyDrive.


I mentioned earlier about installing the SkyDrive app.  Do it.  It makes accessing and moving files much easier.

Another advantage of the app is that it synchronizes the contents of your SkyDrive to your computer.


Take-away message

Think before you insert an attachment.  SkyDrive makes it easier to share files and documents.
Keep an eye out for similar new integrated functionality with the coming version of Office 365 and Windows 8.