SkyDrive: Listing Folders and Files

May 1, 2012

IntroductionLive SDK

The previous article, Getting Started with the Live SDK: Authorization, shows you have to request a user’s permission to access parts of their Live ID, including SkyDrive.

Time to take a closer look at what we can do with the REST API and SkyDrive. Listing a user’s folders and files stored in his SkyDrive seems like as good as any place to start.

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When the user authorizes your application you can specify the scopes to which you want access. Their profile, work information, postal addresses…etc. The list goes on, you can find it here:

If you want to list the folders and files of the user’s SkyDrive account you need to make sure you request access for the following scopes:

  • wl.skydrive: Read access to a user’s files stored in SkyDrive.
  • Read access to a user’s photos, videos, audio, and albums.

So let’s quickly generate a new access token:

var uri = "";

var authorizeUri = new StringBuilder(uri);

authorizeUri.AppendFormat("?client_id={0}&", "your_client_id");
authorizeUri.AppendFormat("response_type={0}&", "token");

Remark: Each scope value needs to be separated by a space (%20). For brevity’s sake I’ve put them in there directly.

The user will asked to grant the necessary permissions:

SkyDrive Scopes

Permissions to which you already have access will not be listed again. Need more information on authorizing your application? Check ouf the first article.

When the user authorizes your application you will be redirected to the URL you specified and it will contain an authorization token. Get it. Even if it is ridiculously long.

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Folders, Albums, Files, Photos, Videos…

If you take a look at the REST reference you’ll find a couple of objects connected to SkyDrive such as Folder, Album, File, Photo, Video…etc. Most of them share a lot of properties, so let’s create a base class for them.

public class FileSystemInfo
    [JsonProperty(PropertyName = "id")]
    public string Id { get; set; }

    [JsonProperty(PropertyName = "name")]
    public string Name { get; set; }

    [JsonProperty(PropertyName = "created_time")]
    public DateTime CreatedTime { get; set; }

    [JsonProperty(PropertyName = "type")]
    public string Type { get; set; }


I’ve not listed all the properties here, there are too many. Check out the REST reference, compare the objects and add the common properties. The JSON.NET attributes will help us later when deserialing the response.

Photos have a couple of different properties. Let’s add those to a descendant class.

public class Photo : FileSystemInfo
    public int Size { get; set; }

    public DateTime? WhenTaken { get; set; }

    public Location Location { get; set; }


Again not all properties are listed. Check out the Photo Object if you want to add more.

The same goes for the Video object. I’ll not list it here, just check out the source code that comes with this article.

Did you notice the Type (string) property on the FileSystemInfo class? This type will tell us what type of object we are dealing with. Folder, photo, video…etc. It will come in handy when deserializing the returned data.

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Listing Folders

To list all the folder of a user’s SkyDrive account you simply sent a GET request to:

Just don’t forget to append the access token.

var requestUri = new StringBuilder("");
requestUri.AppendFormat("?access_token={0}", "access token");
var request = (HttpWebRequest)WebRequest.Create(requestUri.ToString());
request.Method = "GET";

The response will, as always, be JSON-formatted. Let’s deserialize it to an IEnumerable of Folder. But first add the following SkyDrive type to your project.

public class SkyDrive
    [JsonProperty(PropertyName = "data")]
    public IEnumerable<Folder> Folders { get; set; }

Now you can easily deserialize the list of folders.

var response = (HttpWebResponse)request.GetResponse();
using (var reader = new StreamReader(response.GetResponseStream()))
    var json = reader.ReadToEnd();

    var skyDrive = JsonConvert.DeserializeObject<SkyDrive>(json);

    foreach (var folder in skyDrive.Folders)
        Console.WriteLine(String.Format("{0}: {1}", folder.Id, folder.Name));

This will output all the folders in the user’s SkyDrive root.

SkyDrive Folders

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Other Content Types

The previous example is a bit hopeful. Only store folders and you’ll be fine. No files please. They will be treated as folders.

To use the other content types (album, photo, video, file…etc.) you have to inspect the type property. Once you have the JSON response, parse it and inspect the returned data.

For example:

var json = JObject.Parse(reader.ReadToEnd());

var contents = new List<FileSystemInfo>();
foreach (var item in json["data"])
    var type = item["type"].ToString();
    switch (type)
        case "photo":

        case "video":

        case "folder":
        case "album":

Then you can list all the content types and use their specific properties.

foreach (var item in contents)
    Console.WriteLine(String.Format("{0} : {1}", item.Type, item.Name));
    if (item is Photo)
        Console.WriteLine(String.Format("Size: {0} bytes", ((Photo) item).Size));

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Folder Contents

One last thing I want to address for this post is how to list a folder’s contents. Listing the folders of the root folder will not return the contents (files, subfolders…) of these folders.

However requesting the contents of a folder is very similar. Instead of sending a GET request to:

You need to send a request to:{folder_id}/files

Just replace {folder_id} with the ID of the folder for which you want to list the contents and you are set.

var uri = "{0}/files";
var requestUri = new StringBuilder(String.Format(uri, "your_folder_id"));
requestUri.AppendFormat("?access_token={0}", "your_access_token");
var request = (HttpWebRequest)WebRequest.Create(requestUri.ToString());
request.Method = "GET";

var response = (HttpWebResponse)request.GetResponse();
using (var reader = new StreamReader(response.GetResponseStream()))
    var json = JObject.Parse(reader.ReadToEnd());

    // Parse the JSON data here
    // ...

You can download the source code accompanying this article from the download page. If you have any questions or suggestions please drop me an e-mail or submit a comment.

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9 Responses to “SkyDrive: Listing Folders and Files”

  1. Gergo Debreczeni Says:

    Really nice article, but I want to ask you something.
    When you said “When the user authorizes your application you will be redirected to the URL you specified and it will contain an authorization token. Get it. Even if it is ridiculously long.” Could you exemplify how to do it? What I use in a windows form application (for win7) is to create a webbrowser control inside the form and follow the navigation event and when I see the “access_token” string in the url I take the entire url and extract that part.
    But how would one do that in a console application or any alternatives?

    • Christophe Says:

      It would be best to create a webpage that handles the callbacks, extract the token from the URL and saves it. For desktop applications I usually resort to using a webbrowser control and checking the navigation events.

      • KAYUMBA Says:


        Je voudrais créer dynamicallemeny des checkBox mais je l’ai fait et ça ne marche pas pourriez vous me dire où est mon erreur svp ?

        <% if (getRayon.Count !=0) for (Int32 iRayon = 1; iRayon

        CheckBox chkList1 = new CheckBox();
        Panel PnlControl = new Panel();

        chkList1.Text = getRayon[iRayon].ToString();

        chkList1.ID = "Chk" + iRayon;

        chkList1.Font.Name = "Verdana";

        chkList1.Font.Size = 9;

        chkList1.Visible = true;


        PnlControl.Controls.Add(new LiteralControl("”));


      • Christophe Says:

        Hi Kayumba, best to post your question on Your question is not related to this article. Seems like a ASP.NET question to me.

  2. joacal Says:

    Hi Christophe, could you do an upload example using both PUT and POST as well?

  3. Mathan Kumar Says:

    please send me code for upload a file to sky drive using php or javascript

  4. […] want to give the credit to Christophe Geers for his post which gives me an insight of the […]

  5. Erik Says:

    I’ve been working with Christophe code and I always wanted to access Live Connect services but without user interaction. Based in Christophe and PRASHANT work I did this demo that will help you to access Live Connect services v5 without the user interaction. Download the project, open it and read the README.txt file. This will tell you how to obtain the REFRESH TOKEN to acces Live Connect v5

    Hope helps everybody,

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