Microsoft Adds SharePoint Online Features for Site Creators

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Microsoft as of late declared a couple of SharePoint Online element upgrades for end clients.

Furthermore, Microsoft facilitated a SharePoint Online relocation talk with Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs). It likewise talked about the need to move to the “present-day” SharePoint this month.

Get to Modern

In SharePoint engineers talk this month, Vesa Juvonen, a chief program Manager at Microsoft, said that InfoPath, utilized for making structures on SharePoint, and the “work of art” SharePoint work process will leave. “Present-day is the future” for SharePoint, he included. The initial step for associations utilizing the more established SharePoint advances is to break down their SharePoint use abilities before supplanting them. For that, he prescribed utilizing the SharePoint Modernization Scanner.

Microsoft is focusing on the arrival of SharePoint Modernization Scanner adaptation 2.6 by part of the bargain, said. Right now, the SharePoint Modernization Scanner just works with SharePoint Online usage, he included. The Transformation Framework rendition 1.0.1909, for use on-premises, is required to get discharged by Sept. 9 at the most recent, Juvonen said.

The SharePoint Modernization Scanner, an open-source instrument, works utilizing a UI or the order line and creates documents in the comma-isolated worth arrangement. It can filter all or simply a few segments, (for example, InfoPath use in a domain). It has a Workflow View that shows SharePoint 2010 or SharePoint 2013 use in anticipation of utilizing Microsoft Flow. The scanner will convey an upgradeability score. The apparatus is portrayed in this Microsoft record, which incorporates a connect to the executable document.

Cloud Migration Talk

Microsoft additionally this month held a visit with Martina Grom and Marc Anderson, who are SharePoint MVPs, about relocating to the “cloud”- based Office 365 and SharePoint Online administrations.

Grom said that tech individuals, for the most part, imagine that it’ll resemble whatever other relocation where they’ll have tranquility for around a few years after the move. Nonetheless, they may not know that they’ll need to keep pace with Office 365 changes.

Anderson said that end clients aren’t pestered by the cloud move, however, it’s distinctive for the specialized individuals. A cloud move makes sense, however, when it’s comprehended that Microsoft will deal with the equipment and programming redesigns, he included.

As an advisor, Grom said she gets customer talk about doing substantial customizations, however frequently individuals love the cutting edge plan of the new SharePoint. She included that you’re generally the protected side utilizing the advanced formats with SharePoint. Customizations ordinarily complete when something isn’t accessible or the client needs a select application, she included.

Anderson concurred, saying that “in the event that you don’t have to compose code, don’t compose code.” Just invest energy in the code composing that makes the business increasingly compelling, he included.

The security point came up. Grom said that she just demonstrates the usefulness of Microsoft 365 arrangements, featuring multifaceted verification and secret key resets, and how secure they are. Protection is a worry in Europe that causes her more work, however, she included.

Anderson said that associations need to indicate their security prerequisites and that stresses over security are an alternate issue. Microsoft’s security comes as a hierarchical cost, and it might be superior to having lesser college alumni run things. He said he gets fewer inquiries than Grom about security.

New August SharePoint Online Additions

Microsoft is including a couple SharePoint Online abilities this month, including page composing and substance the executive’s improvements for Office 365 endorsers.

These enhancements will touch base for associations that get Microsoft’s alleged “focused on” Office 365 updates, which is a phase before “general accessibility” business discharge. The genuine general accessibility discharge is relied upon to happen “soon,” Microsoft showed.

Page Authoring Additions

On the page composing side, news and pages would now be able to utilize another Web Part for showing suggested content. It draws from Office 365’s Microsoft Graph authoritative data to make its proposals, Microsoft clarified in its Aug. 12 declaration.

SharePoint end clients are getting another “Vertical Sections” Web Part page-format structure ability this month, which gives them a chance to configuration content into a solitary segment. It works with a SharePoint page. At present, Vertical Sections must be made on the correct side of a SharePoint page, with the substance developing or contracting dependent on “the length of substance in non-vertical areas,” as indicated by Microsoft’s documentation. This element, discharged in Q3, is beginning to appear for some SharePoint Online tenures, as noted in this Microsoft Tech Community post.

Microsoft this month added the capacity to relocate records, for example, a picture, from a work area PC’s File Explorer onto a SharePoint page. Clients at that point have the choice to spare that record in the SharePoint archive library.

Microsoft additionally included an Undo/Redo work when making SharePoint pages. The progressions will get fixed, however, after a SharePoint page is spared or distributed.

Microsoft likewise made it conceivable to separate the connections to headings in pages utilizing stays. SharePoint consequently creates grapple URLs for headings down to third-level headings. Presently clients can get those connections by floating over the heading and tapping on the stay image or right-clicking to spare the connection.

Content Management Additions

A Microsoft Aug, 15 declarations reported a couple SharePoint Online substance the executive’s augmentations that are coming to associations getting focused on Office 365 discharges.

Associations utilizing Microsoft Flow with SharePoint Online would now be able to set up a computerized “registration and checkout” method for documents put away in the SharePoint Library. This element will be “accessible in the SharePoint connector” at some point this month, Microsoft’s declaration demonstrated. It’s perhaps a reference to the “SharePoint Connector for Microsoft Flow,” which is utilized to mechanize errands. It was referenced during May’s SharePoint Conference keynote talk. The arrangement subtleties, if necessary, for this element weren’t portrayed in Microsoft’s declaration. The procedure for making a stream for use with the SharePoint Library is commonly depicted in this Microsoft archive.

Another SharePoint Online work process expansion is another “mass endorsements” process for records anticipating endorsements, which additionally got featured during the May SharePoint Conference. This component seems, by all accounts, to be incorporated for SharePoint Online clients. They basically select a lot of records and right-snap to open a spring up the menu, which has an “Affirm/dismiss” alternative for the majority of the chose documents. This mass endorsements highlight is said to be “not far off.”

Finally, the File Hover Card include, which springs up and indicates data when a client’s mouse cursor floats over a document, will get the capacity to demonstrate “movement features” related with the record. Exercises may incorporate client “alters, remarks or @mentions,” as indicated by the declaration, which recommended that this component had taken off to “focused discharge” for Office 365 endorsers a month ago.

The File Hover Card highlight is said to possibly work when the documents are put away in OneDrive for Business, as per a portrayal a year ago by Nuno Silva, an MVP. With this element, clients have demonstrated the insights regarding who saw or altered the document, alongside the number of perspectives the record got, in addition to some other document subtleties, as per Silva.

Record Hover Card is turned on as a matter of course, as indicated by a portrayal by Jasper Oosterveld, a Microsoft MVP. IT aces have the alternative to turn it off utilizing Admin Center settings, he included.

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Create a team site in SharePoint

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Create a SharePoint Online or SharePoint Server 2019 team site to provide a location where you and your team can work on projects and share information from anywhere on any device. A team site includes a group of related web pages, a default document library for files, lists for data management, and web parts that you can customize to meet your needs.

Tip: Check out these YouTube videos from SharePoint community experts to learn more about building a modern intranet!

Should I create a team site or a communication site?

Use a team site when you want to collaborate with other members of your team or with others on a specific project. With a team site, typically all or most members can contribute content to the site and the information is limited to only the members of the team or project and specific stakeholders. If your intention is to simply broadcast information out to a broad audience, a communication site is the better choice. With a communication site, typically only a small set of members contribute content that is consumed by a much larger audience.

Steps to create a team site

  1. Do one of the following:
    • If you’re using Office 365, sign in. For help, see Where to sign in to Office 365.

      In the top left corner of the page, select the app launcher icon Office 365 app launcher icon and then select the SharePoint tile. If you don’t see the SharePoint tile, click the Sites tile or All if SharePoint is not visible.

      Note: If you don’t see the SharePoint tile or the Sites tile, your Office 365 subscription may not include SharePoint Online. Contact the person administering Office 365 in your organization. If you’re the administrator for your Office 365 tenant, see Switch to a different Office 365 for a business plan to add SharePoint Online to your subscription.

    • If you’re using SharePoint Server 2019, log into SharePoint.
  2. At the top of the SharePoint page, click + Create site and choose the Team site option. A site creation wizard will appear on the right-hand side of the screen where you input the information to create a team site.


    • If your plan is to associate the new team site with a SharePoint hub site, you can streamline the process by first navigating to the hub site and clicking the Create site link in the top right corner there. The new team site will automatically be associated with that hub site.
    • If you don’t see the + Create site link, self-service site creation may be disabled in SharePoint. Contact the person administering SharePoint in your organization to create a team site. If you’re a tenant administrator, see Manage site creation in SharePoint Online to enable self-service site creation for your organization or Manage sites in the new SharePoint admin center to create a site from the SharePoint Online admin center. Site creation is not currently available in the SharePoint mobile app.

    Create Site command

    Choose a site type in SharePoint Online

  3. If enabled by your admin, select the design you want to use for your site.

    Choose a design for your team site

    Note: This option only appears if custom site designs are available. For more information about how to create custom site designs, see SharePoint site design and site script overview.

  4. Give your new team site a name. Unless you’re using SharePoint Server 2019, Office 365 group e-mail will be automatically generated with the same name as your team site. As you type, you will see whether or not the name you’ve chosen is available.

    Note: If Office 365 Groups are disabled in SharePoint Online, the Email address field won’t appear.

    Create a SharePoint team site

  5. In the Site description box, add some text that lets people know the purpose of your site.
  6. If offered, in the Privacy settings section, choose either Public – anyone in the organization can access this site or Private – only members can access this site to control who has access to your site.
  7. If enabled by your admin, choose a site classification in the Site classification section. The options listed can pertain to the sensitivity of information or to the life-cycle of information on your site.
  8. If you’re using SharePoint Server 2019, click Finish, you’re done! If not, continue.
  9. Select a language for your site.

    Caution: Once you select a default language for your site and create the site, you can’t change the language to something else later. You can, however, add alternate supported languages.

  10. In SharePoint Online, add the names or email addresses of anyone else you want to manage the site in the Add additional owners box.

    Add members to a team site

    Note: The site creator is automatically a member of the site owners group.

  11. In SharePoint Online, in the Add members box, add the name or email address for everyone you want to be a member of your site and then click Finish. Members added to the Office 365 group associated with the site are automatically added to the site members group.

    To wait and add additional owners, members, or visitors later, click Finish.

    If you’ve chosen a custom site design, a banner will display at the top of your site showing the set-up status for your new site. To see which settings were applied by the site design, click Settings Settings for SPO Migration tool > Site designs.

    Once your site is created, it will appear among the sites you’re following. Your site will not inherit the permission settings or navigation of other sites. See the Manage site permissions section in Manage your SharePoint team site settings for more details.

Classic site creation

If your screen doesn’t match the images above, it means that your administrator has site creation set to the classic site creation experience. In this case, a corresponding Office 365 Group won’t be created.

  1. Click + Create site.

    Create Site command

  2. Give your site a name, and then click Create.

    Create a new site dialog when classic sites are enforcedYour site will be created in the location your administrator has predefined and the site will appear among the sites you’re following. Your site will not inherit the permission settings or navigation of other sites.

New classic site

Next steps

Now that you’ve created a site, learn how you can customize and get the most out of it:

  • Customize your SharePoint site
  • Customize your team site (classic experience only)
  • Change the look of your SharePoint site
  • Change the logo, title, and description of your SharePoint site
  • Customize the navigation on your SharePoint site
  • Customizing the “modern” experiences in SharePoint Online
  • Keep your team updated with News on your team site
  • Add a page to a site
  • Using web parts on pages
  • Upload a folder or files to a document library
  • Create a document library in SharePoint Online
  • Create a list in SharePoint Online
  • Manage your group-connected team site settings
  • Delete a SharePoint site or subsite
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SharePoint page enhancements

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There’s a SharePoint page for that. From content-rich home pages that serve entire organizations to recurring quarterly business review readouts, to internal campaigns, to “welcome to the company” starter pages. As the rich capabilities of modern SharePoint pages evolve, all communicators can better design and promote their information throughout their team and across the organization.


We are excited to announce the following page enhancements (screenshots + links to learn more below):

  • Customize title region | control what the title region of each page looks like (layout, alignment, title, date).
  • Section backgrounds | display as distinct sections with visual variety throughout the page.
  • Custom page thumbnails | Choose a preferred thumbnail from Page details.
  • Custom page descriptions | Create a custom description from Page details.
  • FYI: removal of the Feedback button in preparation of new feedback experience | in preparation for a new feedback experience coming soon, we are removing the current Feedback button from the site footer of all SharePoint home and modern site pages.
  •  FYI: removal of the pictures of the first three members of the group | Users who want to see members of the group can continue to click the Members link in the header to see the full membership list.


“We are reducing emails and creating a self-service culture were finding answers is as easy as searching for it on our intranet,” says David Pizzey: Manager, Centre of Excellence, Network and End User Services. “Office 365 surfaces personalized content across the suite, making it a great tool to search for information, and it even helps you make connections with areas of   interest you might not even know existed.” [Read the full Qantas Airways case study]


Let’s dive into the details of each new and updated page option – all-powerful additions for communicators throughout your organization.


SharePoint pages are simple to create and publish, and they look great on any device. When creating a page, you can add and configure web parts, and then publish your page with just a click. And, as previously announced, you can configure the surrounding elements of the page (navigation, header, footer & theme). Now more than ever, creators and site owners present the information in an elegant, easy to consume fashion – with full context intact.


Customize the title region for each page. Modern SharePoint pages and news articles will now have more options to customize the title region of each page, with four layouts, two alignment choices, text badges above the title, the ability to change the displayed author and show or hide the published date. Own the title and the rest will follow. Make it your own.


SP-pages-enhancements_001_custom-title-region.jpgMake the title of your page or news article appear more how you like it – with controls for layout, alignment, text blocks and more.

  • Learn more

Modern pages support section backgrounds – this makes it easier to see the distinct sections and adds visual variety throughout the page. Create additional visual design and clarity as a user scrolls through your content. Now you can add colors from your site’s theme (neutral, soft & strong) to the background of your page sections or leave them white as they are by default.


SP-pages-enhancements_002_section-backgrounds.jpgModern SharePoint pages (and news) section backgrounds make it easier to see the distinct sections and add visual variety throughout the page.

  • Learn more

Page owners can customize their page thumbnails and descriptions from within page details edit pane. Once adjusted, the content will then be represented in this way in search results, highlighted content, previews, and more – just the way you intended.


  • Pages – choose new thumbnail – Choose a new thumbnail from Page details: Previously, the thumbnail image for a page (used in search results, highlighted content, and SharePoint News) was auto-selected. Now, you’ll be able to select your own thumbnail image.
  • Pages – choose new description – Choose a new description from Page details: Previously, the first text that appeared on the page was auto-selected as the page description. You can now add your own custom description in Page details.

SP-pages-enhancements_003_page-thumbnail-description.jpgYou can view and edit the properties of a SharePoint page in the Page details pane.

  • Learn more

Starting the week of February 18th, 2019, we’re removing the product Feedback button from the site footer of all SharePoint home and modern site pages. For SharePoint users to easily provide product feedback and suggestions we included a footer link to our SharePoint UserVoice forums. Customer feedback continues to help us prioritize our work. We’ll be adding new ways to send feedback from the navigation bar in the coming months.


Note: If you had previously enabled or disabled the button using the Set-SPOTenant  -UserVoiceForFeedbackEnabled property, this setting will no longer be required as the button will no longer be displayed for any tenant sites.

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Parallel Approvals using Microsoft Flow, Forms & SharePoint

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I think one of the most common needs in any business is to create a simple approval workflow for more than one person to approve or deny a request. Office 365 has many simple to use tools that can be combined to create a user-friendly solution to this problem. Microsoft Forms can be used to quickly create a form that anyone in your organization can fill out, then a Flow can be created to pick up the responses, write them to a SharePoint list, and then send approval emails to multiple people to approve / or deny the request. Flow can then update the SharePoint list with the results as well as emailing back the original Form submitter with the result.

To create something like this its best to start with the Form and the SharePoint list. If you can get both of these rights before starting your Flow, it makes picking options in Flow much easier. Here is a simple Form I created with just two fields for this example:


Once you have your Form created, you can create a SharePoint List to receive the selections as well as columns to collect the approvals and reasons from each approver (for this demo I have Randy and Rachel doing approvals). For my list I have these columns:

  • Title – Will holds the request text box entry
  • Selected Option – Will holds the radio button entry
  • Rachel Approval & Randy Approval – Each column holds the Approve or Reject from the Flow
  • Rachel Reason & Randy Reason – Each column holds the Approval comment from each approver

I’ve found that it’s best to make all these columns either Single Line of Text or Multiple Lines of Text. These column types help make the Flow creation and operation go smoother. Here is a screenshot of my list:


Next, to start creating my Flow, I opened Flow and used Create From Template, searched on “Forms” and picked the “Record form responses in SharePoint”:


You may have to authenticate into each Flow connector at the next step, but after that, the shell of a Flow will be created:

template flow

From there it’s a matter of filling out the Flow options to match your Form, SharePoint site, SharePoint list, and then picking Form fields to put into the SharePoint list columns:

step 1 flow

Step 1: Select your Form from the drop-down

Step 2: Leave “List of responses” alone you will need that for the Flow to work

Step 3: Select your Form again (silly.. I know) and then leave the Response id with the default settings.

Step 4: Select your SharePoint site from the sites that you have access to. Then select a list from this site (therefore it’s best to have started by creating your list). After you select the list, all the available columns will flow out underneath it. Since we are just collecting Form entries right now, we can just drag Form fields into the Title and Selected Option columns.

For my Form, I picked “What is your request” and “Pick an option”. The next screenshot shows how you select fields from your Form:

field picker

If all went as planned, you should be able to Save and Test your Flow now. When you submit your Form, it will kick off the Flow and add a row to your SharePoint list. If you get errors, Flow will try to show you what you need to fix. If you run into any problems with Form fields, SharePoint lists, or list columns not showing correctly in Flow, try closing the Flow a re-editing it. Sometimes Flow can be a pain about this.


test result

In the next part, we will need to add in the Parallel Approval steps, record those answers back to SharePoint, and then if both answers are Approved, we can send back an approval email or if not, a rejection email. For those that are impatient and want to try this on their own, I’ve included a screenshot of the final Flow (click to enlarge):

entire flow


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SharePoint Online Sharing Improvements


Over the past few years Microsoft have been continuously improving the user experience and controls for sharing files in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business, for both end users and administrators. We now have per-site sharing settings, expiration controls for sharing links, the new sharing dialog and the Shared by me page, just to name a few. In this article, I will cover some of the latest improvements that were announced at Ignite in September which are now starting to appear in our tenants.

New Sharing Control – Block download

One of the more interesting settings that Microsoft showcased back at Ignite was the ability to prevent people from downloading files shared with them. In other words, we now have an option that will ensure the file(s) we shared can only be accessed via the relatively safe environment of Office Online, with any SaveCopy or Print functionalities disabled.

You can configure this setting directly from the Share dialog, by toggling the corresponding Block Download control, as illustrated below. A small indicator will appear next to the link once this option is configured, making it easier to identify links with Block downloadenabled.

SharePoint Online Sharing Improvements

There are few important things you should note about this feature. First, the type of sharing link you create must be read-only, as this setting cannot be used together with the Allow Editing setting. In addition, this setting is currently only available for anonymous Anyone with the link and tenant-wide People in Organization Name links. In the future, it will also be available for direct sharing links, via the Specific people option.

On the recipient’s side, clicking the link will open the document in a reduced functionality version of Office Online, like the one you get with the Conditional access/device restrictions feature. As shown on the screenshot below, the File menu and the Ribbon are missing and there is no way to open the document in edit mode. The right-click menu and shortcut keys are also disabled, so you cannot copy information from the document, and printing is also disabled (although you can still use the browser’s print functionality or take a screenshot). Using the Share button is also restricted and the only type of link you can create by using it is one for people with existing access.

SharePoint Online Sharing

It is also important to understand that this functionality is available only for files that can be opened in Office Online, that is Office documents. Finally, it seems that in the current implementation of the feature, you can bypass the restrictions by simply navigating to the Shared with me page in their OneDrive, then pressing Open > Open in Word to get the document opened in the desktop application. This might be a side effect of the incomplete rollout of the feature though, and will likely be addressed in the future.

Better notifications and reminders

Another feature that has already made its way to release are the email notifications for opening shared files, or a link open receipt. The idea is to let you know when the user has accessed the file, but unfortunately in my experience this feature doesn’t seem that reliable. I’ve had it in my tenant for over two months now, yet I’ve only received a handful of notifications, out of few dozen sent and accessed. When I do receive a notification, it looks something like this:

SharePoint Online Sharing Screenshot

Unlike the sharing notifications, these messages are generated using the default address. They also feature some additional text that guides the user on what to do in case the file was accessed unexpectedly, which basically redirects him to the new Manage Access experience for OneDrive files, which I will discuss in the next section. An interesting observation is that those notifications also feature an Unsubscribelink, which is handy considering there is no UI option to toggle them on or off.

In addition to the link open receipts, a new feature has been added to automatically remind people about shared file(s), if they haven’t clicked the link after seven days have passed since the initial email. The automatic reminders look just like a standard sharing notification email, with slightly changed text and subject. Another new element worth mentioning is the branding support for the sharing notification emails. If your organization has configured Azure AD branding, the Company logo will now be added as part of the notification email, as illustrated below.

SharePoint Online Document Sharing

Continuing with the notification improvements, the desktop client will now show sharing notifications as well. And, whenever you are uploading files to a shared library, you will now be able to notify your team members about the new file(s) you just added, all with a single click.

Lastly, we have some improvements around Access requests. First, we can now define a custom message that will be shown as part of the request access workflow. As this message is configurable per site, we can use it to inform users why they must file an Access requestand who to contact for in case of issues. And, the actual access request notifications are easier to work with now, as they use the actionable messages functionality in Outlook.

Easier management of sharing

Yet another set of improvements makes it much easier to manage sharing, both for end users and admins. On the user side of things, the Shared by me page can give you a quick overview of which items you have shared, as well as give you information about the last activity – such as who modified the file and when did that happen. The Shared with me page has also received some love and now features externally shared files, as in files shared with you by users from other organizations. Such items will have the “globe” icon and although some options will be missing from the UI, this is still a handy addition.

The new Manage Access UI allows you to manage all direct and link-based permissions to a given item from a single location. Additional information about the type of link will be presented as well as a quick option to remove a given link or Stop sharing the item altogether. Or, you can Share or Grant Access to another person directly from the same UI, using the familiar suite-wide controls. In the future, even more information will be presented by a new Link details control.

What’s even more important, the same experience will be integrated into the desktop client, allowing you to perform all the sharing or revoking access operations directly from your device, without having to open the browser. The screenshot below shows a comparison between the Manage Access experience on the desktop (left) and in the browser (right). While there are some differences in the way the UI elements and actions are presented, the core functionality is available, which is a great step forward.

SharePoint Online Sharing Options

Another very useful improvement is the ability to @mention a person, which not only makes it easier to comment on a given file but can also automatically grant permissions to people that were mentioned and don’t already have them. To wrap up new user improvements, it’s worth mentioning that we can also deep-link to the Manage Access UI, for example this link will open up the Manage Access UI for item “30914”:

On the admin side of things, the team has moved away from their custom implementation and the permissions model is now fully integrated with the Azure AD B2B experience. Among other things, this means that a new Guest user object will be provisioned the moment you send a sharing link, and you can take advantage of features such as Conditional Access.

Some cross-suite improvements have made it possible for the Share UI to immediately reflect on changes made to the link settings in the SharePoint Online and OneDrive admin portals. Similarly, Outlook’s cloud attachments functionality should now respect the default link type and settings configured by admins. And, those settings can be configured per-site now, via new parameters introduced for the Set-SPOSite cmdlet.

Other features worth mentioning

The improvements we listed in the previous section don’t represent even a half of the new features that were showcased at Ignite. While I’ve focused on the ones that we can already play with, the rest of them should hopefully be landing in production in the coming weeks and months. An example is the password-protected sharing links, which allows you to configure a password at the time of link creation. The user accessing the link will have to then provide the password to open the document, regardless of whether he’s currently logged in with his Office 365 account or not.

Among the other interesting updates, we should mention the Smart People Picker, which will assist you in selecting the right people to share with, or the much-anticipated External sharing reports and re-attestation for External users. The unified sharing and access management experience across all devices and endpoints should be coming soon as well, meaning that regardless of whether you are using the browser, the desktop client or the mobile app, you will have access to the same set of functionalities, presented in a unified fashion. Sharing with Teams or from within the Teams client is a prime example of this unified approach, which can even be extended with workload-specific functionalities, such as surfacing an only this Team share link.  For this and additional demos, make sure to watch the BRK3100 recording, if you haven’t done so already. We will make sure to cover those updates once they make it to production.

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If you already spent some time reading my previous articles on SharePoint Metadata and SharePoint Document Management, you probably ran into the phrase called SharePoint Content Types. It is somewhat ambiguous and somewhat a challenge to grasp, especially if you are new to the world of metadata, so let me do my best and explain what it is and how it could be used in your SharePoint environment.

In one of my earlier posts, I explained in great detail what metadata is and how it could be used to organize documents, view and group them anyway you wish. So let me first take a step back and explain how regular metadata works and then we will proceed to the SharePoint Content Types.

With the “regular” metadata, you create columns that you want to assign to the files you upload. For example, say, you have a document library where you store client data. So you would create and add 2 columns to this library: Document type (i.e. Invoice, Quote) and Client Name (i.e. Facebook, Google). Both columns could be choice-type/drop-down columns for user to choose from. Step-by-step instructions on how to achieve this can be found here. So far, so good!

The above approach has one major limitation – it assumes that ALL documents you upload to this library will be tagged against the 2 columns / metadata tags you created: Document Type and Client Name. So what happens if you add say, an Accounting Policy document that is not associated with a particular client? Or maybe you want to store some meeting documents(Agendas, Minutes, etc.) from the meetings that you have on an ongoing basis in your department. How do we store and tag those in this library?

One option would be to store each different type of content in a different library – but then you do not want to setup tens of document libraries on your site. The second option is to use the magic functionality of SharePoint Content Types!


If the name is confusing to you, switch the order of words and it will make more sense. Content Type is = Type of Content.

Here is a real life example for you. Say, you have 2 boxes at your house. One box contains books and another contains beer bottles. (That sounds like a great vacation – a good book and beer in hand) 🙂

beerbottleYou want to organize the contents of both boxes. So for the box with books, you might want to organize the books by title, author, genre. For beer bottles, you don’t have an author or a genre. You probably will organize that box by beer brand, type of beer or the country the beer was produced in. Now, instead of having stuff in 2 separate boxes (think of 2 separate SharePoint document libraries), you could combine them into 1 box (1 SharePoint Document Library). It is just that books would still be organized according to book metadata (title, author, genre) and beer bottles would be organized according to beer metadata (brand, country, type of beer).

Make sense?

So now, we translate this into the world of SharePoint, SharePoint content types are nothing more than a collection of columns (metadata properties) for a particular type of content. In other words, SharePoint content type is a category of documents that have common characteristics and can be classified under one roof. So back to my previous example about client data, if you upload a client document, you might have a SharePoint content type called Client Docs and 2 columns associated with it: Client Name and Document Type. For the meeting notes and stuff, you could have a content type called Meetings and 2 columns associated with that content type: Meeting Date and Document Type. And so on.

Client Documents   MeetingDocs

The best part about SharePoint Content Types is that they, just like Site Columns, can be reused. So if, for example, you created a Content Type for Meeting Documents, you can reuse it at any other site/library (if you followed information architecture best practices).

There is a whole science to creating and maintaining your content types. I will try to document it in one of future posts. In the meantime, if you want to learn how to do this yourself, please consider my “Introduction to SharePoint Document Management” training course.

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I have written a number of posts already on how SharePoint is a perfect tool to store and manage documents. With today’s post, I would like to explain to you, my loyal blog reader, how to build a simple, but versatile Document Management System in SharePoint (also known as SharePoint DMS).


Let me first explain what I mean by SharePoint Document Management System. I don’t mean that you would recreate your file share/network drives folder structure  and migrate 50 GB of documents into 1 document library. First, you can do this without this post. Second, dumping all files and folders into a single document library and essentially recreating the mess you currently have is not considered a wise SharePoint strategy.

What I mean by Document Management System in SharePoint is metadata based document library where users can upload and tag documents, search based on keywords and tags and not worry whether they are accessing a duplicate or latest version of the file.

Below is a quick preview of what we are going to build


Below is SharePoint functionality and SharePoint features we will be using in this blog post to build SharePoint DMS:

  1. SharePoint Metadata (to tag our documents)
  2. SharePoint Content Types (to categorize different types of documents)
  3. Metadata Navigation (to help users find the documents)

Step 1: Determine the types of documents you want to store in your SharePoint DMS

As I indicated in previous posts, it is not a good idea to dump all your company files into one SharePoint Document Library. The major objective of SharePoint DMS is to organize documents that are somewhat related and share same security/permissions. An example of such SharePoint DMS would be you storing various financial documents like:

  • Invoices
  • Purchase Orders
  • Quotes
  • Estimates
  • Receipts

If you are thinking of storing documents that belong to different departments, have different audiences, permissions/security, you do not want to store them in the same document library/DMS. Instead, you want to split them up into multiple sites/libraries. Check out this post for more info.

Step 2: Define different types (categories) of documents you want to store

So for the purposes of this post and example, let’s create a SharePoint Document Management System to store financial documents mentioned above.So let’s assume we are going to build a SharePoint DMS to store the following categories of documents:

  • Purchase Orders
  • Invoices
  • Receipts

Step 3: Define metadata for each of the categories above

It is very likely that each of the categories above will have its own, unique metadata. For example, you might want to tag all Purchase Orders against PO#, Vendor Name, PO Date. Invoices might be tagged against Invoice #, Client Name, Date Received, Date Paid. Lastly, Receipts might be tagged against Vendor Name, Receipt Date, Description, Employee Name. So it might look like something like this:

Purchase Order

  • PO #
  • Vendor
  • PO Date


  • Invoice #
  • Client
  • Date Received
  • Date Paid


  • Vendor
  • Receipt Date
  • Description
  • Employee

Step 4: For each metadata property, define the type of that property/column

For example, free text field, choice/drop-down, date. We will need that when we create our columns in next step

Step 5: Create your metadata columns

In case you are not familiar with how to create metadata in SharePoint, you might want to check out some detailed instructions here. I will do one example below and you can repeat the procedure for all the other metadata/columns you have.

How to create Metadata Column in SharePoint:

  1. You can create your column at library level, but it is always considered best practice to create columns at the Site Level. This way, you can reuse your columns in other sites and libraries. In our case, having our metadata columns built at a Site level, will also allow us to create global content types down the road.
  2. To create a Site Level column, go to Site Gear Icon > Site Settings > Site Columns (under Web Designer Galleries) > Createsitecolumns1
  3. Create your metadata column according to the information we gathered in Step 3. For example, I will create Vendor Column, which will be a drop-down choice of all vendor namessitecolumns2
  4. Repeat above steps for all columns you have identified.

Step 6: Create Content Types

If you are not sure what the content type is, I suggest you reference this blog post. With this step, we will create content types defined in Step 2 and associate corresponding metadata defined in Step 3.

How to create SharePoint Content Types:

  1. Go to the root of the Site Collection (or same site where you created all your site columns in Step 5).
  2. Site Settings > Site Content typesContentTypes1
  3. Click on Create linkContentTypes2
  4. On the next screen – this is where we define the name and characteristics of our future Content Type. Fill in the name of the first Content Type from Step 3 (i.e. Purchase Order). In the middle of the page, in the 2 drop-downs, choose Document Content Types and Document respectively. Essentially by this we are telling SharePoint that we will be using our Content Types in a Document Library to manage Documents. At the bottom of the screen, in the Group section, choose the grouping for your Content Types (just like with Site Columns, you can use Custom group or create your own). Click OK buttonContentTypes3
  5. You will now be presented with the next screen that looks like the one below. This is where we associate our newly created Content Type (category) with corresponding custom metadata (columns). There are many other things we can do with customization of the content types, but for the purposes of this post, we will just focus on associating site columns. To do that, click on Add from existing Site Columns. If you notice, by default we have Title Column. We will now add the ones we created.ContentTypes4
  6. You will now be presented with a screen you see below. Under Select columns from drop-down, choose the group you used to organize all your site columns (i.e. Custom Columns). This will filter and only show you corresponding site columns from that group. Choose the site columns associated with the particular Content Type from Available Columns and using Add> Button, add them to the right side of the selection screen. In our case, these columns are PO #, Vendor and PO Date. Click OK at the bottom of the screen.ContentTypes5
  7. Your result should look like the page below, where the Content Type now includes the corresponding custom columnsContentTypes6
  8. So we are done with first content type. Repeat the above 7 steps for all the remaining content types

Step 7: Create a document Library on the site where your SharePoint DMS will reside

I trust that you know how to create a new site and add a Document Library to it. Do not use default document library (there are reasons for it which I will document in later posts).

Step 8: Prepare your document library for custom content types and custom metadata

Before we do the magic and add our site content types to it, we need to prepare our Document Library for “metadata”. Essentially we will need to tweak few advanced settings before we do the rest.

  1. Go to Library Tab > Library Settings to access all “administrative” functions of a document libraryLibrarySettings1
  2. Choose Advanced SettingsLibrarySettings2
  3. Under Allow management of content types? choose “Yes” radio button. This will allow us to add our custom site content types to our document libraryLibrarySettings3
  4. Scroll to the middle of the screen. Under Make “New Folder” command available?, choose NoRadio button. I like to disable folder creation for users anytime library uses metadata. You really do not want to mix the 2 together.LibrarySettings4
  5. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click OK button
  6. From the Library Settings page again, click on Versioning SettingsLibrarySettings5
  7. Make sure Create major versions option is chosen (it usually is, but just to make sure)LibrarySettings6

Step 9: Add custom content types to the document library

OK, now we are into some exciting stuff. We are now ready to add out custom content types from Step 6 to our document library. To do this:

  1. Scroll down to the middle of the Library Settings Page. In there you will see a section called Content Type. This is a section that appears in a document library once we enabled content types in previous step. By default it shows a single, default Content Type called Document. We eventually will remove it. Bit for now let’s add our custom content types. Click on Add from existing site content typesConfigureDocumentLibrary1
  2. On the next screen, choose custom content types you created. Just like with site columns, select the grouping you used to organize your Content Types from the drop-down. Then choose the custom content types and click Add> button to push them to the right side of the selection screen. Click OKConfigureDocumentLibrary2
  3. Your middle section of the page will look like this, with custom content types added next to the default document type (Document)ConfigureDocumentLibrary3
  4. Notice how not only the document types were added, but also all corresponding site columns were brought over as well. You can see them in the Columns section at the bottom of the screen. That section also shows you all the columns used and where they are used (which content types). Pretty powerful!ConfigureDocumentLibrary4
  5. Before we forget, let’s go ahead and remove that default content type as we won’t need it in our SharePoint DMS. To do that, click on the Document Content Type from Content Types section (middle of the screen) and click Delete this content type. You will get a warning message. Click OK.ConfigureDocumentLibrary5
  6. Another thing that is optional, but I personally like to do is Hide the Title Field. Title Field is added by default to every content type. Sometimes it means an extra entry for the user. I like to hide it. If you want to hide it, go to the content type, click on the Title ColumnConfigureDocumentLibrary6and choose Hidden radio button. Repeat this step for all the other content typesConfigureDocumentLibrary7

Step 10: Add metadata navigation

We are getting very close to completion of our SharePoint DMS. Just few more steps. One thing I love to see on any SharePoint document library or SharePoint list is Metadata Navigation. This really only makes sense when you use metadata. This allows you to search for files/documents/items in your list or library using the cool-looking filters. I always compare that experience to shopping, where you punch in filters on the left hand-side and results adjust accordingly on the main page. I have actually written a pretty detailed blog post on the topic and already provided detailed instructions on how to set it up. So I am not going to repeat them here. Instead, I recommend that you check out this blog post here and follow instructions as per that post. Once all is set and done, you will end up with something like this below


Step 11: Optimize SharePoint DMS for 5,000 Item limit

I assume you would want to store lots of documents in your SharePoint DMS. In order to be able to do that in SharePoint, you need to optimize your document library accordingly. Once again, I have written a detailed blog post + published a slide deck with instructions on what you need to do. Please follow all of the instructions and take care of indexed columns, views, etc. Otherwise you will run into issues when you go above 5,000 files in your SharePoint DMS.

Step 12: Upload some documents

We are pretty much there. Now, go ahead and upload a document. You will notice that in addition to “regular” metadata properties, you also have a Content Type drop-down. As you toggle through the drop-down, your metadata choices will adjust accordingly. Below images show the difference


Step 13: Enjoy your Document Management System in SharePoint!


That’s it! Once all is set and done, you will end up with a really nice SharePoint DMS and wonderful user experience. Check out this video which shows what you would end up with if you follow all the steps above. Enjoy!

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SharePoint Online Document Library can hold as many as 30 million items, which is a lot. While I do not recommend that you ever approach this limit in a single document library, having a single document library with tens and hundreds of thousands of files and folders seems like a more realistic scenario. Ideally, you would want to break the content up into multiple sites/document libraries. However, should you decide to utilize SharePoint as file share / DropBox, you and your users would need to be aware of and live with certain limitations they did not have before. In this blog post, I would like to summarize these limitations.


Most of these limitations apply to libraries that exceed the infamous 5000 item limit. Since most file shares easily exceed this limit (both files and folders count as items), I am making the assumption that so does your file share/network drive, hence – the list of limitations below.

Limitation # 1: You would need to use a migration tool to migrate your file shares to SharePoint

It is not just the volume, but also the fact that once you go above 5000, you might encounter all sorts of issues if you try to move files and folders using other Out of the Box methods, like Windows Explorer. This is not necessarily a bad thing since with the 3rd party migration tool you would be able to preserve metadata properties/permissions of your files and folders

Limitation # 2: Users might not be able to open the Document Library using Windows Explorer

When you have a small document library, users can open the library using Windows Explorer and drag files and folders as if they are moving files in Windows Explorer on their computer. Once you go above 5000 items, your Windows Explorer window might act up. Any one of these can occur:

  • Windows Explorer can randomly hang/freeze
  • If you store more than 5000 items in any given folder, Windows Explorer will open up empty, though there are files appearing in SharePoint
  • Your users need to use Internet Explorer Browser (can’t open with Explorer from Google Chrome, the option is grayed out over there)

Limitation # 3: You might not be able to map to this document library

This is kind of related to Limitation # 2 above. When you map your drive, you essentially open up a Windows Explorer window on your computer that points to SharePoint Document Library URL. So any of the issues above will be true for mapped drives.

Limitation # 4: None of your folders can contain more than 5000 files

To clarify, your document library can contain way more than 5000 files, but they need to be broken up into subfolders. You can’t have more than 5000 files inside of the folder, sitting on the same level. Otherwise, you will not be able to view your files without further filtering (on indexed columns). Hope it makes sense.

Limitation # 5: Document Library will not display the whole breadcrumb

This limitation is just how SharePoint Document Library works, does not really depend on a number of items. Unlike Windows Explorer, where you get to see the whole folder path, SharePoint Document Library just displays the last two folders the user is in currently.


Limitation # 6: Search will not work the way your users are used to

There are a couple of scenarios that might occur. First off,  you might not get your keyword search to display any or accurate results based on the size of your library. You might also encounter the following message: “Some files might be hidden. Include these in your search”.


Once you click Include, you might get results displayed, but it is a Russian roulette at this point.

Limitation #7: Sync of SharePoint Document Library to desktop OneDrive will stop working

Once you go above 5,000 items in your document library, you will see the following message when you try to sync your SharePoint Document Library

Large Library Sync

You should not really be syncing SharePoint document library anyway, but in case you wanted to – you would be technically prevented from doing so.

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With SharePoint, you never stop learning! I learn something new every single day. I wish I had all the time to share all the cool little tricks with you. But I am super excited to share this little trick I learned just recently. It is on a very exciting topic of Recycle Bins. To be precise, on how to restore OneDrive for Business files from the Recycle Bin. I never thought trash would get so much attention! I learned the trick from SharePoint guru, Mike Smith. He mentioned it in response to my other post on SharePoint Recycle Bin. And while SharePoint Recycle Bin works very similarly to OneDrive Recycle Bin, there is one cool thing that is different. Let me explain.


Option 1: Restore OneDrive for Business files from Online Recycle Bin

Essentially this is the same technique I described in my previous post. You can restore your deleted OneDrive files same way you would restore SharePoint files:

  1. Click on Recycle Binrestorerecyclebin1
  2. Choose the file(s) or folder(s) you need to restore, then click Restore Selectionrestorerecyclebin2

Option 2: Restore OneDrive for Business files from your computer’s Recycle Bin

This is the trick I learned from Mike Smith. If you are using OneDrive for Business sync client, you can also go to your computer’s Recycle Bin and restore files from there as well. So it is just like restoring your regular computer files!

  1. Click on Recycle Bin on your computer desktoprestorerecyclebin3
  2. Restore files from the computer’s Recycle Bin by dragging them out of the Recycle Bin or by right-clicking on the files and choosing Restorerestorerecyclebin4

Couple of very important notes related to that second option

  1. You have to sync your OneDrive for Business to your desktop (if you don’t sync files using OneDrive for Business Client, this technique won’t work)
  2. You have to use the New Generation Sync Client for this to work. If you are using an old generation client, this will not work. Moreover, this trick does not work with SharePoint just yet (since it uses an old sync client for now). I expect the same functionality for SharePoint as well down the road
  3. Deleted folders do not end up in the Computer Recycle Bin, just the files. So if you delete a folder with the files inside, the files will end up in both “online” and computer Recycle Bins (and can be restored from either location). Folder by itself will only end up in “online” Recycle Bin (from where it can be restored).

Hope you learned something new! And thank you, Mike Smith for sharing this awesome tip with the community!

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One of the biggest draws of SharePoint Online and Office 365 is the ability to access the files anytime, anywhere. An added benefit, that in my opinion is somewhat of a revolution in collaboration world, is the ability to open and edit documents in Word, Excel and PowerPoint right in the browser. That means that you can work with those file types without having to have desktop version of MS Office installed on the computer. In this blog post I would like to explain advantages and limitations of using Office Online in SharePoint and OneDrive.


  1. To open the document in the browser, just click on any Word, Excel or PowerPoint file – by default, the file will open using Office Online (in the browser). Screenshot below shows an example of a Word document, opened in the browser, though same exact behavior applies to Excel and PowerPoint as well.officeonline1
  2. To Edit the document in the browser, just click on Edit Document dropdown and choose Edit in Browser (you can also open the document in native Word application if you so desire)officeonline2
  3. Word Online edting capabilities will now be exposed, and you can make changes to Word Document, just like in the installed version of the softwareofficeonline3
  4. Another way (shortcut) to quickly edit MS Office files is by right clicking on the file from within SharePoint and OneDrive and choosing Open > Open in Word Online from the menuofficeonline4


  1. It is FREE. Office Online is included in all Office 365 Business/Enterprise plans, and you don’t need to buy MS Office desktop license for it to work
  2. Simple sharing. It is easier to share Office Online documents as there is a Share button available in the upper right-hand cornerofficeonline5
  3. Quick Editing. Great option when you want to make quick changes to the document – files open up quicker than using the installed version of the software
  4. AutoSave. Office Online does not have a Save button – all changes are autosaved. So if you make a change and then close the browser – no worries – all changes are saved automatically.
  5. Does not require MS Office to be installed on PC to work. Since Office Online does not require Word, Excel or PowerPoint to be installed on the computer – this option is great when you need to access files in SharePoint and OneDrive from computer that does not happen to have this software installed (i.e. connecting remotely from hotel’s computer)
  6. Supports PDF.  In addition to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Office Online can also open PDF documents right in the browser. Please note that it does not support Edit capability for PDF files. For that, you would need an Adobe Acrobat software.


  1. Only works in SharePoint and OneDrive. In order to open and edit MS Office documents in the browser (using Office Online) the documents have to reside in either SharePoint or OneDrive. They cannot reside on a computer or file share (network drive). This is by design, not so much of a limitation, but you would be surprised how many users question this.
  2. Limited functionality. Word Online, Excel Online and PowerPoint Online are not fully-installed applications on your PC. They are stripped-down (lite) versions of the corresponding desktop applications and do not have the full functionality you have on your PC. As such, they are meant for “lite” editing, and are not meant as a replacement for the desktop software.
  3. Limited file support. Office Online only works with the following file formats: .docx, .xlsx, .pptx files and PDF. Note the “x” at the end of MS Office file extensions. That means only latest MS Office files are supported (see next limitation).officeonline7
  4. Requires conversion for older MS Office files. Related to the point above – if your Word, Excel, PowerPoint files have been saved using older versions of the software (i.e., Word 97 or Excel 2003), they need to be saved (converted) to the new file format (from .doc to .docx). If you try to edit older version of the file in the browser, you will get a conversion request message (once you click Convert, the file will be converted to the new file format on the fly (from .doc to .docx)officeonline6
  5. Does not support CSV files. In case you need to edit CSV (comma delimited or comma-separated values) file, you will need to use the desktop version of Excel. CSV files cannot be viewed or edited in Office online
  6. Does not support password-protected files. If your file has been encrypted (saved) with the password, Office Online will prompt you to open it using the desktop version of the applicationofficeonline8
  7. File Size Limitation. If you have large files (>10MB in size), you will be prompted to open the file in the native (desktop version) of the Office. For example, below is a message you get when you try to open an Excel workbook larger than 10MB in size. Here is a Microsoft article that talks about this limitation further.Excel Online Error Message
  8. Certain SmartArt shapes are not supported. If you are using SmartArt shapes to draw charts and diagrams in your Word, Excel or PowerPoint, please note that some shapes are not supported. If Office Online runs into the issue – it will prompt you to open the file in native (desktop) version of the applicationofficeonline9officeonline10
  9. Can’t run macros in Office Online. You can still access the documents with macros using Office Online, but to run macros, you will need the desktop version of the applications
  10. More limitations exist. For complete list of features that are not supported in Office Online, reference this comparison chart, courtesy of Microsoft.


The default behavior for opening Office files in SharePoint when you click on them is via Office Online (via browser) and not via the native, desktop application. You can change that behavior though, if you wish.

Option 1: Disable Office Online (Browser Mode) for a Document Library

  1. Go to the library where you want to change the browser behavior. Click on Gear Icon > Library Settingsofficeonline11
  2. Choose Advanced Settingsofficeonline12
  3. Under Opening Documents in the Browser, choose Open in the client application button. Click OKofficeonline13

Option 2: Disable Office Online (Browser Mode) globally

  1. Go the root of the site collection (the very top site)
  2. Go to Gear Icon > Site Settingsofficeonline14
  3. Under Site Collection Administration, choose Site collection featuresofficeonline15
  4. Scroll down to Open Documents in Client Applications by Default. Click on Activate. Please note that this will alter the behavior for the whole site collection (all document libraries) at once.officeonline16
  5. If you have multiple site collections in your environment, you will need to repeat above steps for all of them

Though I have provided above instructions for your reference, I strongly discourage you from implementing them. Office Online provides a great, modern and convenient way to work with the files and you should really embrace it and take advantage of it and not revert to the way you worked with the documents in 1990’s.


Ability to open and edit Office documents in the browser (via Word Online, Excel Online and PowerPoint Online) provides an awesome value and an additional mode for collaboration to SharePoint and OneDrive users.

One important thing to note is that…

Office Online is not a replacement for desktop Office applications, like Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Office Online is meant to be complimentary to desktop software, not a an alternative or a complete replacement. If you are trying to save on licenses, please don’t do it. You will not be able to get by on browser versions of the software alone due to many limitations listed above. I worked with several clients who migrated to SharePoint Online and thought they could save few bucks by purchasing cheaper licenses that did not include Office desktop suite and let’s just say I could be rich if I made bets with them at the beginning of the project.

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