Addressing resources in a drive on OneDrive

The OneDrive API allows a single URL to address two aspects of a resource:

  • The driveItem resource
  • A property, facet, or relationship of the Item

An Item facet represents an element of the resource, like the image metadata, folder metadata, and so on.

In this example, a canonical URL for a file might look like this.

This example URL has these components:

  • - The version of the Microsoft Graph being used.
  • /me - A top-level Microsoft Graph resource being addressed, in this case the current user.
  • /drive - The default drive for the previous resource, in this case the user's OneDrive.
  • /root - The root folder for the drive.
  • :/Documents/MyFile.xlsx: - The : : around /Documents/MyFile.xlsx represents a switch to the path-based addressing syntax. Everything between the two colons is treated as a path relative to the item before the path (in this case, the root).
  • /content - Represents the default binary stream for the file. You can also address other properties or relationships on the item.

ID-based addressing

OneDrive supports ID-based addressing of items. Items are assigned a unique identifier when they are created and the ID persists across the actions a user performs on the item. Renaming or moving the item will not change the item's ID.

ID-based addressing is a useful way to track items that might be moved by the user to different locations on OneDrive. As long as you have the item's ID and the item exists, you'll be able to find it.

Path-based addressing

OneDrive also supports path-based addressing. This allows you to use a friendly URL syntax to address items relative to the hierarchy of items visible in OneDrive. If you know the hierarchy to an item, you can directly address that item, without spending any time making repeated calls to discover each level of the hierarchy.

However, since path-based addressing is based on the name of the item, renaming or moving the item to a new location will cause the path of the item to change.

Path-based addressing can be used relative to any item in OneDrive, which enables some very useful scenarios. For example, when working with shared folders, you can use a path-based URL relative to the shared folder's item ID to address something in the shared folder by path.


These examples show the different URL formats that can be used to access data. All of these URLs are logically equivalent and return the content of MyFile.xlsx.

URL example Description
/drive/root:/Documents/MyFile.xlsx:/content Specified by path relative to the root of a drive.
/drive/special/documents:/MyFile.xlsx:/content Specified by filename in the documents special folder.
/drive/items/0123456789AB/content Specified by item-id.
/drives/AB0987654321/items/0123456789AB/content Specified by drive-id and item-id.

Path encoding

OneDrive supports addressing files and folders using the path of the item in the user's OneDrive. However, because the path contains user specified content which can potentially contain characters that are not URL safe, you should ensure proper encoding of any path segments.

Microsoft Graph expects that URLs conform to RFC 3986. The following is a summary of how to properly encode paths for Microsoft Graph.

OneDrive reserved characters

The following characters are OneDrive reserved characters, and can't be used in OneDrive folder and file names.

  onedrive-reserved  = "/" / "\" / "*" / "<" / ">" / "?" / ":" / "|"
                     = "/" / "\" / "*" / "<" / ">" / "?" / ":" / "|" / "#" / "%"

Note: Folder names can't end with a period (.).

Note: OneDrive for Business file or folder names cannot begin with a tilde ('~'). See Restrictions and limitations with OneDrive for Business for more information.

URI path characters

When constructing the path segment of a URL for the OneDrive API, the following characters are allowed for path names, based on the URI RFC.

  pchar       = unreserved / pct-encoded / sub-delims / ":" / "@"
  pct-encoded = "%" HEXDIG HEXDIG
  unreserved  = ALPHA / DIGIT / "-" / "." / "_" / "~"
  sub-delims  = "!" / "$" / "&" / "'" / "(" / ")"
              / "*" / "+" / "," / ";" / "="

Item name characters, which are not included in the pchar group, such as # and (space), must be percent encoded.

Encoding characters

Microsoft Graph uses standard percent encoding, where URL-invalid characters are encoded with a % and then the UTF-8 character code for the character. For example:

  • " " -> %20
  • "#" -> %23

Common URL encoding mistakes

You can't encode an entire URL in one call, because the encoding rules for each segment of a URL are different. Without proper encoding, the unencoded URL will be ambiguous for which segments contain which content. As such, you need to encode the URL path when building your URL string.

For example, instead of writing this:

string url = url_encode("" + path + ":/children")

Write this:

string url = "" + url_path_encode(path) + ":/children")

However, not all URL encoding libraries respect all the requirements of standard URL path encoding.

.NET / C-Sharp / Visual Basic

The .NET classes for HttpUtility and Uri include various methods for URL encoding. However, none of those methods properly encode all reserved characters for the path component of the URL (including HttpUtility.UrlPathEncode).

Instead of using those methods, you should use UriBuilder to construct a properly escaped URL.

UriBuilder builder = new UriBuilder("");
builder.Path = "/v1.0/drive/root:/Documents/My Files/#nine.docx";
Uri url = builder.Uri;

Objective-C / iOS

For Objective-C, iOS and Mac OS X development, use the stringByAddingPercentEncodingWithAllowedCharacters method and [NSCharacterSet URLPathAllowedCharacterSet] to properly encode the path component of the URL.

NSString *root = @"";
NSString *path = @"Documents/My Files/#nine.docx";
NSString *encPath = [path stringByAddingPercentEncodingWithAllowedCharacters:[NSCharacterSet URLPathAllowedCharacterSet]];
NSURL *url = [[NSURL alloc] initWithString:[root stringByAppendingString:encPath]];


Use the Uri.Builder class to construct a properly encoded URL.

Uri.Builder builder = new Uri.Builder();
  appendPath("My Files").
String url =;


Use escape() in JavaScript to properly encode a path component.

var root = "";
var path = "/Documents/My Files/#nine.docx";
var url = root + escape(path);


Here is an example of a OneDrive user (Ryan) with the following folder hierarchy:

    \Ryan's Files
        \doc (1).docx

To address each of Ryan's files, you use percent encoding, as follows:

Path Encoded URL for path
\Ryan's Files /root:/Ryan's%20Files
\...\doc (1).docx /root:/Ryan's%20Files/doc%20(1).docx
\...\estimate%.docx /root:/Ryan's%20Files/estimate%25s.docx
\Break#Out /root:/Break%23Out
\...\saved_game[1].bin /root:/Break%23Out/saved_game[1].bin