Microsoft 365 and SharePoint Online Cookbook

By Gaurav Mahajan , Sudeep Ghatak
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  1. Introduction to SharePoint Online

About this book

Microsoft 365 in an integrated suite that provides intelligent tools for managing everyday organizational tasks like content management, communication, creating reports, and automating business processes. With this book, you'll get to grips with popular apps from Microsoft, with a focus on enabling workspace collaboration and productivity using Microsoft SharePoint Online, Teams, and the Power Platform to name a few.

In addition to guiding you through the implementation of Microsoft 365 apps, this practical guide helps you to learn from a Microsoft consultant's extensive experience of working with the Microsoft business suite. Starting with a quick overview of the M365 ecosystem, the book covers recipes for implementing SharePoint Online for various content management tasks. You'll learn how to create sites for your organization and enhance collaboration across the business and then see how you can boost productivity with apps such as Microsoft Teams, Power Platform, Planner, Delve, and M365 Groups. Using a step-by-step approach, you'll also find out how to use the Power Platform efficiently, making the most of Microsoft PowerApps, Power Automate, PowerBI, and Power Virtual Agents. Finally, the book focuses on the SharePoint framework, which helps you to build custom Teams and SharePoint solutions.

By the end of the book, you'll be equipped with the skills required to set up Microsoft 365 and SharePoint Online and be ready to enhance business productivity using a variety of tools.

Publication date:
June 2020
Publisher
Packt
Pages
810
ISBN
9781838646677

 
Introduction to SharePoint Online

SharePoint Online is part of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem that lets you create and share content, knowledge and applications thus empowering collaboration and productivity in organizations. At its core, it is a content management system that gives its users areas (sites, lists, and libraries) where they can organize and collaborate on documents, data, and news. It also lets userssecurelyshare the content,not justwith their peers,but also with collaboratorsoutside the organization. Users are also able to find this content through powerful enterprise search capabilities. Additionally, SharePoint enables an organization to effectively communicate through rich pages and engaging tools and web parts.

SharePoint integrates well with a lot of other tools within and outside of the Microsoft 365 family, such as Microsoft Teams, Groups, One Drive, and Microsoft Office Suite, to name a few. SharePoint can be accessed through a variety of browsers, such as Edge, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, as well as on various desktop and mobile platforms.

We briefly discussed in Chapter 1, Overview of Microsoft 365, that SharePoint is available both as a standalon e installation ( on-premises) and as a cloud offering (through Microsoft 365). H owever, our book is focused on SharePoint Online . The recipes and related details in the next 4 chapters are focused on SharePoint Online but thekeyconceptsapply to boththe versions of SharePoint. All references of SharePoint in these chapters and in general throughout the book refer to SharePoint Online unless mentioned otherwise .

In this introductory chapter, we will look at the following recipes, which will show you how to carry out some of the more common tasks in SharePoint Online:

  • Gettingto the SharePoint start page
  • Creating a modern site
  • Viewing site contents
  • Creating a list
  • Adding an item to a list
  • Creating a document library
  • Uploading documents to a library
  • Sharing a document
  • Searching content

While this chapter covers the more commonly used scenarios, dedicated chapters later in this book will dive into many of the different areas of SharePoint in more detail. You will find references to these chapters in the See also sections of each recipe in this chapter.

 

Getting to the SharePoint start page

The SharePoint start page is the central location that shows you relevant content from all the SharePoint sites that you have access to in your organization. From here, you can easily get to the sites that you are following, frequently visit, or have recently visited. This page also lets you search for content across all the SharePoint sites that you may have access to.

This recipe shows you how to log in to Microsoft 365 and then browse to the SharePoint Online home page from there.

 

Getting ready

To be able to browse to the SharePoint start page, your organization should have purchased one of the Microsoft 365 products that contain SharePoint. In addition, they should have assigned you a license to use SharePoint Online.

 

How to do it...

To access the SharePoint Online home page, follow these steps:

  1. Browse to www.office.comand click theSign in button, as shown in the following screenshot:
  1. Log in using the email ID and password provided, as described in the Signing in to Microsoft 365 topic in Chapter 1, Overview of Microsoft 365.
  1. As shown in the following screenshot, you will be directed to the Microsoft 365 home page upon a successful sign-in:

  1. Click the SharePoint icon highlighted in the preceding screenshot.
  2. Doing so will take you to the SharePoint start page, which should look similar to the following:

That's it! You just learned how to log in to Microsoft 365 and browse to the SharePoint start page of your organization. The content that you will see on this page is personalized to you and can be customized by your organization.

 

How it works...

The SharePoint start page shows your interactions across all SharePoint sites that you may have access to. In short, this page lets you get to what's most relevant to you, even without you having to search for the content. The following is a brief description of the functionality and different sections on this page, starting from the top left and going toward the bottom right:

  • Microsoft 365 Suite Bar: The blue bar at the top is called the Suite Bar in Microsoft 365. We discussed the suite bar as part of Chapter 1, Overview of Microsoft 365.
  • Create site and Create news post: Clicking Create Sitewalks you through the steps of creating a new site in your SharePoint environment. We'll discuss this in more detail as part of the Creating a modern site recipe later in this chapter. Clicking Create news post helps you publish a new news post from within a site of your choice. Please note that these options are only available to you through the SharePoint start page if they are enabled by your organization. We'll discuss this in more detail as part of the Adding a page recipe in Chapter 3, Working with Modern Sites in SharePoint Online.
  • News from sites: As the title suggests, this section shows you the news from your sites in one single place. You can alsobookmark (that is, Save for later) a news item so that it shows up in your list of Saveditems on this page.
  • Sites - Frequent tab: As the title suggests, this section shows you tiles containing information about your most visited sites. In addition to the name of the site and a link to it, each tile shows statistics about when you last visited the site, when and who last modified anything on the site, and, optionally, what's popular in the site.
  • Sites - Following tab: This section shows you a list of the sites that you are following. The information shown for each site is similar to that shown on the Frequent tab. When you create a site, SharePoint automatically adds it to the list of sites that you are following. To follow an existing site, you can click the Not following text toward the top right of any page on that site, as shown in the following screenshot:

  • Sites - Recent tab: This section shows a list of sites that you recently visited. The information shown for each site is similar to that shown on the Frequent tab.
  • Featured links: This section lets you manage links that you may want to bookmark for the entire organization to view. Any changes that you make to this section by adding, editing, or removing links will show up for the entire organization. Only users that have the requisite admin access can maintain the Featured linksin this section.
  • Saved for later: This section shows content, such as news items, that you may have saved for later.
  • Recent documents: This section shows you a list of your recent documents across all of SharePoint and OneDrive for Business.
  • Get the mobile app: SharePoint has a very robust mobile app that lets you access your SharePoint Online content on the go. Clicking the Get the mobile appbutton takes you to a page that helps you download the mobile app. You will need to enter a mobile number or email ID on this page. Microsoft 365 will then send a link to this mobile number or email ID. You can then use this link to download the SharePoint app and log in to it to view your content on the go.
 

See also

  • Chapter 1, Overview of Microsoft 365
  • The Creating a modern site recipe in this chapter
  • The Adding a page recipe in Chapter 3, Working with Modern Sites in SharePoint Online
 

Creating a modern site

SharePoint provides various templates or site types so that you can create sites. These templates use similar building blocks but target different scenarios. They differ from each other in various ways, such as how they store information, how they present it, and even the nature of the functionality that they have to offer.

This recipe shows you how to create a site using the Team site template, which is the most commonly used site template for team collaboration.

 

Getting ready

Your organization should do the following before you can create sites from the SharePoint start page:

  • Grant you access to SharePoint as part of the Microsoft 365 suite
  • Enable the creation of sites from the SharePoint start page
  • Enable the creation of modern sites in your Microsoft 365 environment
 

How to do it...

To create a new site from the SharePoint start page, follow these steps:

  1. Browse to the SharePoint start page, as described in the previous recipe.
  2. Click on the Create site option and then Team site, as shown in the following screenshot:
What we're creating through this page is something called a Site collection. Please refer to the There's more... section, later in this recipe, to find out the difference between a site and a site collection. If you can't see theCreate site option, your organization has likely disabled the creation of site collections for you. Please refer to Chapter 3, Working with Modern Sites in SharePoint Online, for steps on creating a (sub) site if that's the case.
  1. Enter a title and description for your site, and confirm or change the pre-selected Group email address, Privacy settings, and language (more about these settings later in this recipe). Then, click the Next button, as shown in the following screenshot:
The group email address that you can see in the previous screenshot is used for the corresponding Microsoft 365 group that gets created along with the Team site. You can read more about groups in Chapter 10, Microsoft 365 Groups.

Furthermore, you should carefully choose Privacy settingson this screen. Choosing Private for this setting means only selected members that you have allowed on the next screen will have access to view and modify content within the site. Selecting Public for this setting would mean that everyone in your organization, by default, will be able to view and modify content within this site. You can always change the site's permissions after it has been created.
  1. At this point, SharePoint will start creating the site in the background.
  2. Even as it does that, SharePoint will prompt you to optionally invite other users to your site. These users are typically people from your organization who you'd like to grant owner or member access to this site. This can be seen in the following screenshot:
Owners and members who are added through this screen are granted two different levels of permissions in SharePoint.
Users who are granted owner access to the site will be able to alter site permissions, add and customize pages, and change other key elements of the site. This access should only be granted to a select few users from your team.

People with member access are granted the ability to contribute to the content on your site. They can carry out tasks such as adding, editing, and deleting documents and/or list items. They can also view all the content within your site.

There is a third permission setting that isn't shown here, and that is visitor access. Visitors to your site can view the content within your site. This content can be presented through informational lists, documents, or pages within your site.

Who you grant member and visitor permissions to should be carefully considered, but know that these permissions can be changed after the site has been created.
  1. Clicking Finish will then redirect you to the home page of this newly created site.

Congratulations! You just created a new site in SharePoint Online.

 

How it works...

At its core, a SharePoint Site is a website that lets us store information and then present it in different ways. Information can be stored as data in lists and in the form of documents and/or files in libraries within the site. SharePoint uses pages and, optionally, web parts in these pages to show this information in a variety of formats. When you create a new site in SharePoint, it automatically creates one or more of these artifacts for you within that site. Finally, every site that gets created comes with search capabilities built into it. Search in SharePoint is a quick way to find information relevant to you, not only from within your site but also other sites and workloads that your organization may have enabled in Microsoft 365. We will learn more about Search as part of the Searching content recipe in this chapter and then go through it in more detail as part of Chapter 8, Search in Microsoft 365.

 

Types of modern site collections

At the time of writing this book, Microsoft has made a variety of templates available for modern site collections. Let's go over them now.

 

Team site

This type of site collection is primarily used for collaboration within a team or a department actively working on shared content. As mentioned earlier, this is by far the most common type of site template used for creating SharePoint Sites. SharePoint Team Sites are also connected to Microsoft 365 groups, which, in turn, are connected to other components such as Planner and Outlook. Examples of team sites include sites created for individual project teams to collaborate on, extranet sites created to work with external partners or vendors, and sites created for internal departments (such as the Human Resource department or Finance department) for their team collaboration. This means your organization would typically have a lot of team sites.

While this recipe described creating a group-associated Team Site, you can also have your designated SharePoint admin(s) create modern Team Sites for you without an underlying group. They can create such Team Sites through the SharePoint admin center.
 

Communication site

This type of site collection is used to broadcast a message or simply tell a story to your organization. Communication sites can be used to share news, reports, strategies, and other information in a visually compelling way. The content in a typical communications site will be shared with a large audience (potentially the entire organization). Examples of communication sites include your intranet landing site, a training site, a site where members in your organization would view key business metrics, and a site that's created to gather information for an organizational merger. This means your organization would typically have very few communication sites.

 

Hub site

SharePoint hub sites are a way to bring together (roll up) information such as news and activity from a family of related site collections. As the owner (administrator) of your site collection, you can either register your site as a hub site or associate it with an existing hub site collection. If you choose to associate your site with an existing hub, your site will inherit the look and feel (theme) of the hub site.

Your site will also inherit other properties of the hub site, such as the navigation bar, additional navigation links, applications, or custom lists with specific columns.

Additionally, the users who have been granted access to the hub site will start seeing content, news, and activity being rolled up from your site, along with any other sites that are associated withthat hub site. This makes it easier for users to discover related content from across all these sites. An example of a hub site could be an enterprise Sales portal providing shared resources for the organization-wide sales teams and connecting multiple regional sales team sites and communication sites.

Hub sites need special permissions to be created and cannot be created by end users through the SharePoint start page. They can only be created by special users designated as SharePoint admins by your organization. You can read more about the SharePoint admin role here: https://m365book.page.link/SP-Admin
 

Home site

A home site is your organization's designated intranet landing site. Behind the scenes, the home site is just another communication site, but with the following differences:

  • It aggregates content from your entire organization through news, events, videos, conversations, and other resources.
  • The search experience in the home site defaults to the entire organization. This means that if you perform a search from the home site, it will bring back results from the entire organization.
  • You can only designate one site from your entire organization as the organization's home site.

It is highly recommended that you create a home site as a place to aggregate content that is of utmost importance to your organization.

You can read more about the home site and the best practices surrounding its setup here: https://m365book.page.link/Home-Site

 

There's more...

In this section, we will briefly review the concept of site collections. We will then look at the difference between the deprecated classic user interface versus the more modern experience.

 

Site versus site collection

As noted earlier, what we created through this recipe was a site collection. Simply put, and as the name suggests, a site collection is a collection of one or more sites that are grouped under the same URL. More often than not, all sites within a site collection will share identical navigation, branding, audience type, and sometimes even similar security.

When you first create a site collection, SharePoint will create a top-level site, or what is known as the root site, for you. You can then create as many subsites as you'd like to create under this root site. You could also create as many subsites as you wish under these sites. All these sites and subsites may or may not be based on the same template as the root site.

 

Modern versus classic experience

SharePoint supports two different user interface (UI) experiences:

  • The more modern, fluid, and mobile-friendly experience
  • The classic experience, which is now being deprecated

The modern experience makes it easy for you to create dynamic sites and pages that automatically adjust to the resolution of the device that they are being viewed on and are, hence, mobile-friendly. The modern site experience also includes a newer, modern way of working with lists and libraries. Since the classic experience is being deprecated and no longer recommended for creating new content, we will only be discussing the modern experience in this book. For those of you with the inquisitive mind, here is a great article on the SharePoint community blog explaining the modern experience and why you should use it for creating new content: https://m365book.page.link/Why-Modern

 

See also

  • Chapter 3, Workingwith Modern Sites in SharePoint Online
 

Viewing site contents

The Site Contents page in SharePoint provides a one-stop view of all the lists, libraries, and other apps on their site. Any subsites within that site will also appear here. Provided you have appropriate access, you can also add new lists, libraries, pages, apps, and subsites to the site from this page.

 

Getting ready

You should have at least Read or View access to a site in order to be able to view the contents within that site.

 

How to do it...

To view the contents of your site, follow these steps:

  1. Browse to your site in SharePoint.
  2. Click on the settings icon in the top-right corner of any page on the site and then click on the Site contents menu option, as shown in the following screenshot:

  1. You will be directed to the Site contents page, as shown in the following screenshot:

That's it! You can now view the various assets of your site from here.

 

How it works...

The Site Contents page lets you view a list of all the lists and libraries within your site. The view shows various information for each list and/or library, including its name, type, number of items in that list or library, and when anything was last modified in it.

If the site has subsites, you can also view a list of such sites through this page. The view shows various information for each subsite, including its name, description, number of user views, when the site was created, and when anything was last modified in it.

In addition to this, you can also perform various actions from this page, as shown in the following screenshot:

Let's go over these actions here:

  • Use the New menu to create various artifacts in the site: We discussed the different types of items that you can create in a SharePoint site using this menu through various recipes in this chapter and will continue to do so in Chapter 3, Working with Modern Sites in SharePoint Online.
  • View the Site usage reports: You can view these reports to understand how users interact with your site and what content is popular among the users of your site. Assuming you have the required access, this is also where you can generate and view reports about the content permissions within your site. You can read more about site usage reports here: https://m365book.page.link/Usage-Data
  • View the Site workflows: SharePoint workflows are now deprecated and we discussed them as part of the SharePoint Workflows topic in the Appendix. However, if you are still using SharePoint workflows and have appropriate access in SharePoint, you can click this link to view the Site workflows.
The modern way to implement process automation and workflows is to use Power Automate in Microsoft 365. We will discuss Power Automate in great detail in Chapter 13, Power Automate (Microsoft Flow).
  • View and manage Site settings: We'll discuss site settings in the Viewing and changing site settings recipe in Chapter 3, Working with Modern Sites in SharePoint Online. However, given that you have appropriate access, you can get to the site settings page by clicking this link.
  • View the site's Recycle bin: The SharePoint recycle bin is just like the recycle bin on your computer, and it lets you view the items that have been deleted from your site. The following section provides more details about the site's Recycle bin.
 

Recycle bin

Just like the recycle bin on your computer, you can either restore deleted items or permanently delete them from here. However, a number of key differences between the recycle bin on your computer and the site recycle bin are as follows:

  • The site recycle bin not only contains deleted files and folders but also deleted items of other types, such as list items, calendar items, contacts from the contact lists, entire lists or libraries, and even subsites. In that sense, it is a catch-all for anything that gets deleted from your site.
  • You can only view content that you have access to based on your permissions within a site. So, unless you had permissions to that content before it was deleted from the site in the first place, you will not see it in the site recycle bin. An exception to this rule is for the site admins – since site admins have access to all content on the site, they also can view and restore any and all content that was deleted from the site.
  • Two recycle bins: Deleted something from your site and deleted it again from the recycle bin? Don't worry! SharePoint's got your back. In addition to the primary recycle bin that you can see within a site, site admins also have access to a second- stage recycle bin (or the site collection recycle bin). This is where items go once they've been deleted from your recycle bin. Just as in the primary recycle bin, admins can restore or permanently delete items from the second-stage recycle bin.
  • 93-day retention: The total retention period for items in the recycle bin is 93 days. You can restore content or have your site admins restore content within the site for 93 days. After that, the content is permanently deleted.
Deleted subsites are stored in the second-stage recycle bin and can only be restored from there by your site admin.

We also read about site collections as part of theCreating a modern site recipe earlier in this chapter. Deleted site collections will need to be restored by a designated SharePoint admin from your organization.

You can read more about the SharePoint Online site recycle bin here: https://m365book.page.link/recycle-bin
You can read more about the second-stage recycle bin here: https://m365book.page.link/recycle-bin-2

 

See also

  • Chapter 3, Working with Modern Sites in SharePoint Online
  • The Viewing and changing site settings recipe in Chapter 3, Working with Modern Sites in SharePoint Online
  • SharePoint Workflows in the Appendix
 

Creating a list

SharePoint uses lists as the primary way to store information that end users such as you or I create. Almost all of the information in SharePoint is stored in some type of list.

This recipe shows how to create a new list from scratch. For illustrative purposes, we will use this list to store details of the products from our company's product line. This list will contain the following columns to store the product information:

  • Title
  • Code Name
  • Product Line
  • Date Released
  • Notes
 

Getting ready

You will need either an Edit, Design, or Full Control permission on the site where you'd like to create the list.

 

How to do it...

To create a new SharePoint list, follow these steps:

  1. Browse to the Site contents page for the site where you'd like to create the list.
  2. Click the New menu and then click List.
  3. Provide a descriptive name for the list so that others can identify the nature of the information that it stores. We are going to use Products List as the name for our list:
Instead of creating a new list from scratch, you can also choose to start From an existing list. Doing so will show you a list of existing sites that you have access to. Selecting the site will then show you all the lists from that site. You can then click on an existing list and click Create. Doing so will create a new list with the same columns, views, and formatting as the list that you had selected.
You can additionally create a list From Excel. You can select an excel file from one of the libraries in the site or upload a new file to create a list using the columns and data from the files. You can read more about this capability in the following support article: https://m365book.page.link/CreateList-FromExcel
  1. We will leave the Show in site navigation box checked. This will result in the list to be shown on the left-hand side navigation menu for the site.
  2. We will then click the Create button, toward the bottom of the screen, to create the list.
  3. This will create the new list and show us the newly created list in the browser.
  4. You will notice that the list already has a Title column created for us. We can now add the remaining columns to our list.
  5. To add the Code Name column, click on the Add column option and select Single line of text. Then, enter Code Name as the column name, optionally provide an appropriate description for the column, and click the Save button.
  1. To add the Product Line column, click on the Add column option and select Choice as the column type. Then, enterProduct Line as the column name. EnterComputers & Tablets,Gaming, andHome Theater in three separate lines in theChoices field. Then, click the Save button, as shown in the following screenshot:
  1. To add the Date Released column, click on the Add column option and select Date as the column type. Then, enterDate Released as the column name and click the Save button.
  2. To add the Notes column, click on the Add column option and select Multiple lines of text as the column type. Then, enterNotes as the column name, optionally enter a description, and click theSave button.
  3. When a new list is created in SharePoint, it creates a few additional columns that are not shown to the users by default. The Modified and Modified By columns are two such columns that get created with the list. We are going to add them back to the view of the list so that we can track who added the items to the list and when.
  1. Click the Add column option and then Show/hide columns. Then, select the Modified and Modified By columns, as shown in the following screenshot:
  1. This is what your list will look like in the end if you followed the preceding steps:

Congratulations! You just learned how to create a custom list and added new columns to it.

 

How it works...

In its simplest form, a list in SharePoint isa table-like container for information, similar to an Excel spreadsheet or a database table. It lets you store a collection of data in a way that enables you and your co-workers to organize and share information flexibly. Just like a spreadsheet or a database table, it lets you add and manage columns so that you can store and display different types of data such as text, number, date, and currency. You can also specify various column properties, such as setting a default or calculated value for your column, and making it required. The properties you can specify for a column also vary, depending on the type of column. The Adding a column recipe in Chapter 4, Working with Lists and Libraries in SharePoint Online, discusses list columns in greater detail.

In addition to the ability to define columns, a SharePoint list also lets you create views for it. List views enable you to filter, sort, group, and format the data in a list so you can easily highlight the information that's the most important to your audience.

Content in lists exists in the form of list items. Items in a list can include file attachments, people, and links. Furthermore, SharePoint provides pre-created forms that you can use to add or update the information in lists. You can also create your own customized forms to add or edit information in lists. You can use tools such as Microsoft Power Apps to create mobile-friendly forms and apps around this data. Additionally, you can configure email alerts for when list items are added, updated, or deleted. We will look at alerts as part of the Adding alerts recipe in Chapter 4, Working with Lists and Libraries in SharePoint Online.

Finally, SharePoint lets you create a blank list from scratch and also provides a set of pre-built list types. Examples of such lists include Tasks, Announcements, Contacts, Links, and Issue Tracking. We will discuss these pre-built lists and other advanced list capabilities in more detail in Chapter 4, Working with Lists and Libraries in SharePoint Online.

 

Deleting a list

You can delete a list by browsing to the List settings page. Please refer to the How it works... section of the Viewing and changing list settings recipe in Chapter 4, Working with Lists and Libraries in SharePoint Online, for more information about browsing to the List settings page and deleting a list.

 

See also

  • Chapter 4, Working with Lists and Libraries in SharePoint Online
 

Adding an item to a list

You can add items to a list in various ways. These methods will be covered in greater detail in Chapter 4, Working with Lists and Libraries in SharePoint Online. This recipe will show the most commonly used method to add items to the representative list we created as part of the previous recipe. Even though this recipe uses theProduct Listas an example, the steps here are true for other scenarios where there's a need to store data in SharePoint.

 

Getting ready

You will need Contribute permissions or higher for the list you would like to add the new item to.

 

How to do it...

To add a new item to a list, follow these steps:

  1. Browse to the list where you'd like to add the new item.
  2. Click the New button above the section that shows the title of the list.
Selecting an item from a list replaces the top menu bar with the item-actions menu. So, if you have the required permissions for the list and are still not seeing the Newmenu, make sure you have not accidentally selected an item from the list of items below it.
  1. Enter information for the required fields (highlighted by a red *) and, optionally, the non-required fields, as shown in the following screenshot:

  1. You can also optionally add file attachments for this item by clicking the Add attachments hyperlink toward the bottom of the form. File attachments include a variety of file types – images and documents, to name a few.
  2. Click the Save button to add the item to the list.
  3. Congratulations! You just added a new item to a SharePoint list.
 

How it works...

Information in lists is stored one item at a time (although there are ways to work with multiple items at a time). You can imagine a list item as a single row in an Excel spreadsheet, except that this row can hold a variety of rich information. Each list comes with a set of forms to add, edit, and view these items. Each list item can optionally also contain one or more attachments. Furthermore, the add, edit, and view forms can be customized to meet specific user needs. Every time an item is added or edited in a list, SharePoint also stores additional information (or metadata) against that item. This metadata includes information such as who created and/or edited the item and when. SharePoint also lets you create follow-up actions when items are added or updated in a list. You can do this using Power Automate, which we will discuss in depth in Chapter 13, Power Automate (Microsoft Flow).

 

There's more...

Provided you have appropriate access, you can also delete one or more list items from a list and documents from a library. Let's learn how to do that here.

 

Deleting an item

To delete a list item, simply browse to your list, select the file you would like to delete, and then click the Delete option from the list's menu bar, as shown in the following screenshot:

Alternatively, you can also right-click the list item or click the three dots to the right of the title field to open the context menu and then click Delete to delete the item. This is shown in the following screenshot:

Deleting an item from a list or library sends it to the recycle bin, where it stays there for a couple of days until it gets moved to the second stage recycle bin or until it gets permanently deleted. You can restore deleted items as long as they are still in the recycle bin and have not been permanently deleted. Please refer to the Viewing site contents recipe, earlier in this chapter, to read more about the site recycle bin.

Additionally, if you look closely at the preceding screenshot, you will notice that the various list item-related actions in the menu bar of the list are also available through the context menu. The context menu also shows quite a few other actions that you can perform on the selected list item. This is also true for the context menu that appears against the files or documents in SharePoint libraries. Please note that the steps provided here for deleting list items are also true for deleting files from SharePoint libraries.

 

See also

  • The Viewing site contents recipe in Chapter 2, Introduction to SharePoint Online
  • Chapter 4, Working with Lists and Libraries in SharePoint Online
  • The Adding alerts recipe in Chapter 4,Working with Lists and Libraries in SharePoint Online
 

Creating a document library

A library is a secure place in SharePoint where you can upload, create, and manage files for online sharing and collaboration with your team. Just like lists, each library comes with key built-in columns that store information about each file, such as who created the file and when, and who last modified it and when. You can always add to the columns in a library, just as you would do for a list. Almost all site types ship with a default library so that you can store the documents within that site. Libraries can be of different types. A Document library is the most commonly used library and, as the name suggests, it is used to store, manage, and share documents.

For this recipe, we will create a document library from scratch. We will use this library to store marketing documents. This library will enable you to classify each document using the Document Typeand Document Classification columns.

 

Getting ready

You will need either an Edit,Design, orFull Control permission on the site where you'd like to create the library.

 

How to do it...

To create a new document library in your site, follow these steps:

  1. Browse to the Site contents page.
  2. Click the New menu and then the Document library option under that menu.
  3. Provide a name and description for the library so that others can identify the nature of the information that it stores. We are going to use Marketing Collateral as the library name and This library contains collateral for use of the Marketing team as its Description.
  4. We will leave the Show in site navigation box checked. This will result in the library being shown on the left-hand side navigation menu for the site.
  5. We will then click the Create button to create the new document library.
  6. This will create the new library and redirect us to it in the browser.
  7. You will notice that the library already has the following columns created for us: Name, Modified, and Modified By. We can now add the remaining columns to our library.
  8. To add the Document Type column, click on the Add columnoption and select Choice as the column type. Then, enter Document Type as the column name. Enter Campaign, Case Study, Product Overview, and Product Pitchin four separate lines in the Choices field. Then, set Require that this column contains information to Yes and click the Save button, as shown in the following screenshot:

  1. To add the DocumentClassification column, click the Add column option and select Choice as the column type. Then, enter Document Classification as the column name. Enter Confidential, Restricted, Internal use, and Publicin four separate lines in theChoices field. Then, slide Require that this column contains information toYes and click theSave button.
  2. We will also change the position of the two newly created columns so that they show up next to the Name column (before the Modified and Modified By columns). To do so, simply click on the Document Type column name and drag it left, before the Modified column. Do the same for the Document Classification column, as shown in the following screenshot:

That's it – congratulations! You just created and configured your first SharePoint document library.

 

How it works...

A document library is a type of list that is centered around documents. Just like a list, it lets you add, edit, view, and delete documents and metadata related to those documents. One of the most popular capabilities that a document library enables is the ability for multiple users to concurrently work on the same document. Users can not only concurrently edit documents but can also view each other's edits in real-time. SharePoint also lets you create complex approval workflows on these documents. Similar to regular lists, you can set email alerts for when documents in a library are added, updated, or deleted.

Just like lists, SharePoint provides a set of pre-built libraries. Some notable examples of such libraries include the Picture Library, Form Library, and Site PagesLibrary.

 

See also

  • Chapter 4, Working with Lists and Libraries in SharePoint Online
  • Chapter 5, Document Management in SharePoint Online
 

Uploading documents to a library

SharePoint lets you create new documents directly within the library through the Newmenu. It also lets you upload documents that have been authored offline.

In this recipe, we are going to learn how to upload an existing document to a document library and then tag it with the appropriate metadata. Even though this recipe uses the Marketing Collateral library as an example, the steps here are true for libraries of all types.

 

Getting ready

You will need Contributepermissions or higher for the library where you would like to upload the document.

 

How to do it...

To upload a document to your document library, follow these steps:

  1. Browse to the library where you'd like to upload the document.
  2. Click Upload and then choose the Files option to open the file selection dialog, as shown in the following screenshot:

  1. Browse to the file that you'd like to upload and click the Open button.
You can upload multiple files or entire folders to a library using this method if you so desire.

SharePoint also supports drag and drop capabilities, which work with a wide variety of browsers. Simply drag and drop the files or folders anywhere in the browser window when viewing the library. This will result in SharePoint uploading the files or entire folders and any subfolders with the contents of these folders to the library, resulting in the same outcome as that of steps 2 and 3 here.
  1. This will initiate the file upload process. SharePoint will show the newly uploaded file in the library, as shown in the following screenshot:

  1. You will notice that SharePoint shows information about the file as well as a preview.
Clicking on the preview in the right-hand side pane activates the file and lets you preview the entire contents of the file right from within that pane.
  1. Before the document becomes visible to everyone, you will need to enter information in the required fields for this document. You will also want to give your file a friendly title at this point. Click on the Edit all link in the Properties pane for this document. Make sure the document is selected if you can't see the properties pane.
  1. Enter or select the required information for the document and click the Save button, as shown in the following screenshot:

After you've uploaded a document to a library, SharePoint will maintain a history of all edits that have been made for that document. You can view the previous versions of the document, when and who modified it, and even revert the document to one of these previous versions. This is particularly useful when a document is going through multiple cycles of updates by multiple users and you need to "undo" the last set of changes because they were inaccurate or incorrect, for example.

That's it! You have now uploaded your first document to a SharePoint document library. We will learn how to view and modify these documents in the Viewing and editing documents in the browser recipe in Chapter 5, Document Management in SharePoint Online.

 

How it works...

Documents are stored in libraries one document at a time. SharePoint also lets you upload or delete multiple documents at a time. If your documents have associated metadata, SharePoint lets you edit the metadata of multiple documents at once. The metadata that you add against the documents will also show up in the information panel in regular Office desktop apps or programs such as Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint. This can be seen in the following screenshot:

In addition to custom metadata, SharePoint will also store and show you additional information about who created or last modified the document and when. SharePoint also lets you create follow-up actions when documents are added, modified, or deleted. You can do this by using workflows in SharePoint or by using Microsoft Power Automate, which was added recently. For example, if a user uploads an expense report, you can send it through an automated approval process in your organization. Please refer to Chapter 13,Power Automate (Microsoft Flow), for more details.

Finally, SharePoint enforces some restrictions on file sizes and paths. You can view those restrictions here: https://m365book.page.link/File-Size-Path-Restrictions

 

Uploading a folder

You can upload an entire folder and any subfolders along with their entire contents to a SharePoint document library. To do so, simply browse to your library, click Upload, and choose the Folder option. You will then be prompted to select a folder from your computer. Selecting a folder will create a copy of that folder in the document library and copy all the contents of that local folder to the newly created folder in SharePoint online. Note that, as we mentioned earlier in this recipe, you can also simply drag and drop multiple folders into your document library view. Doing so will recreate the folders and their contents within the document library.

 

See also

  • Chapter 5, Document Management in SharePoint Online
  • The Adding alerts recipe in Chapter 4, Working with Lists and Libraries in SharePoint Online
 

Sharing a document

Once you've uploaded a document to SharePoint Online, you can use the Share or Copy Link features in SharePoint to easily share a link to it with your colleagues. This recipe shows you how to share a link to a document using the Share feature.

 

Getting ready

You should have at least Read access to the document you'd like to share.

 

How to do it...

To share a document with a member of your team, follow these steps:

  1. Browse to the document you'd like to share.
  2. Click on the Share icon next to the document. Alternatively, select the document and then click the Share option on the top menu bar, as shown in the following screenshot:
  1. On the pop-up box that appears, click on the People you specify can view option (note that the exact verbiage may differ, based on your organization's settings) and choose whether the people or groups you are sharing this document with should be able to edit it:

Your organization can control the options that are enabled and selected by default in the Link settings box, as shown in the preceding screenshot. Most organizations have theAllow editing optionnot selected by default. This means that the people who you are sharing the document with will be able to view it but will not be able to edit it unless you select theAllow editing option. You can additionally select theBlock downloadoption to prevent users from being able to download the documents. When this option is selected, they can only view the documents in the browser. This is useful when you do not want the users to maintain a local copy of the document. Note that the Block downloadoption is only available when you are sharing the document with a view-only link.
  1. Click the Apply button and then enter the name(s) of the people you would like to share the document with.
  2. Enter a message to be sent with the sharing invitation email and click the Send button, as shown in the following screenshot:

As shown in the preceding screenshot, and depending on how your organization has been set up, you may be able to directly share documents with entire groups, in addition to sharing them with individuals. Just start typing the name of your group or team and, depending on your organization settings, you might be able to select it as a recipient of the message.
  1. SharePoint then sends the recipients an email with your message and a link to the document, as shown in the following screenshot:

Congratulations! You just learned how to share a document with other members within your organization. The recipients of your sharing invitation can now view or edit this document, depending on the permission that was granted to them.

 

How it works...

There are a couple of things that happen when a document is shared:

  • SharePoint checks to see if the person that the document is being shared with already has the required permissions. If not, SharePoint alters the permissions for the document so that the appropriate rights (Read or Contribute) are granted to the person that the document is being shared with. You can read more about managing document permissions in the Viewing and changing document permissions recipe in Chapter 5, Document Management in SharePoint Online.
SharePoint also checks your permissions during the sharing process. If you do not have the permission to edit the document and try to share it with the Allow editing box checked, SharePoint will send an email requesting access to members of the site that have the authority to approve such requests. An email with a link to the document will be sent to the requested users after the sharing request gets approved. Additionally, note that the request approver can also control the level of access that will be granted to the requested user(s). They can restrict permissions and inversely grant greater access than what you had originally requested.
  • It generates a link specific to the people that the document is being shared.
  • It sends an email with the generated link, along with a message, if you specified one.

This recipe showed you how to share a document with specific people. Three other sharing options that you will see in the Link settings dialog are as follows:

  • Anyone with the link: Use this option to share the document with anonymous users that are outside your organization. People with this link can view or edit the document without having to sign in to Microsoft 365. Since this option enables you to share your organization's content with anonymous external users, there's a good chance that it may have been disabled by your SharePoint site or organization administrators. When sharing a link through this option, it is recommended to set an expiration date, along with a password, for added security:

If you do decide to password-protect your file, you will need to share it with the users of the link. They will then be required to enter the password every time they use the link, as shown in the following screenshot:

  • People in <your organization name> with a link: This option generates a link that anyone in your organization can use to view or edit the document. Note that unlike the previous option, users of the link will be required to sign in to the site.
  • People with existing access: This option enables you to simply get a link to the document without changing its permissions. Just like with the other options, if needed, you can directly send a message containing a link to the document right from within this dialog.
 

There's more...

As we just saw, the Shareoption sends an email message with a link to the intended recipients. You may, however, need to just copy the link so that you can then share it through different means (such as a Teams channel or even an existing email chain). The Copy linkmenu option, which is right next to the Share option, enables you to do just that.

 

Copy link

You can access the Copy link option from either the top navigation bar or the context menu for a list or library item:

 

See also

  • The Creating a new document recipe in Chapter 5, Document Management in SharePoint Online
  • The Determining and revoking permissionsin a site recipe in Chapter 3, Working with Modern Sites in SharePoint Online
  • The Sharing a file recipe in Chapter 7, OneDrive for Business
 

Searching content

Search is a core part of the SharePoint user experience. It enables users to find relevant business information and documents more quickly and easily than ever before.

For this recipe, as a marketing manager in my organization, I am going to search for the visual design guide called "Branding Elements" that my team just helped put together.

 

Getting ready

All you need is Read access to the site where you will be performing your search. The results that SharePoint returns are "security trimmed," which means you will only see content that you have access to through permissions.

 

How to do it...

To perform a search within a site, follow these steps:

  1. Browse to any page on the site where you'd like to perform the search.
  1. Start typing your search keywords to see the relevant results. In this case, we will start typing Branding Elements. We'll notice that we immediately start seeing the results after entering the first two letters, as shown in the following screenshot:
  1. At this point, we can click the appropriate result if we've found what we're looking for.
  2. Otherwise, we can finish entering the search keyword(s) and then click the See more results link, toward the bottom, to be taken to the search results page to see the matching results from the current site. Note that these results are sorted in order of their predicted relevance to you.
  1. We can then expand individual results to see the matching text in context, as well as an inline preview of the matching document. You can also filter the results by the type of result and apply additional filters by clicking the Filters link, as shown in the following screenshot:
The whole SharePoint search experience is highly customizable by your organization. For example, your organization can define additional filters that you can utilize. Another search customization that's widely used is to define "Best Bets," which are results that would show up at the top, depending on your search keywords.
  1. Finally, the results you will initially see are those from within the site where you performed the original search. Clicking the Work @ Contoso link on the top, however, brings back results from the hub that this site is part of. Furthermore, clicking the Organization link on the top will expand the scope of the search results to the entire organization. Bear in mind that the results you see are always security trimmed, which means that you will only see documents and content that you have access to in the first place.
 

How it works...

Microsoft Search is a component of Microsoft 365 that helps you find information that you already have access to but do not know where to look for it. This information could be a document that you had previously created or it could be information that was shared by your colleagues. In its simplest form, SharePoint Search crawls and indexes information in lists and libraries. For libraries, the content that gets indexed includes the metadata associated with the respective documents. In addition to lists and libraries, SharePoint Search also indexes content in pages and the profiles of the employees in your organization. It then lets you search this indexed content using advanced filter criteria. Finally, it lets you view the results through a user-friendly presentation experience.

Some of the salient features of the search results page shown in the preceding screenshot are as follows:

  • Search scope: Earlier, we discussed the ability to expand the scope of the search results from the current site to the current hub, and then to the entire organization. When you expand the search scope, you will still see what's most relevant to you first. So, if you have been working on a document in the recent past and that closely matches the search term, it will always be shown to you at the top, irrespective of whether you are searching within the current site, the hub that it belongs to, or the entire organization. Searching from within the Microsoft 365 home page or the SharePoint start page automatically defaults the search scope to the organization level. Similarly, performing a search from the hub site defaults the scope to the entire hub, meaning that it will show you results from all the sites within that hub.
  • Search result verticals: The various tabs shown in the preceding screenshot are also commonly known as search verticals. Verticals are a way to group content of different types. The preceding screenshot shows verticals for Files (which only shows file and folder results), Sites (which only shows matching sites), and News (which only shows matching news posts). It also provides an All vertical that shows combined results from all the verticals. In addition to these, you may also be able to see a People vertical, which, as the name suggests, will show you matching people results. The People vertical is only shown when you expand your search scope to the organization level. We'll discuss People search in more detail in the Finding experts and people recipe in Chapter 8, Search in Microsoft 365.
  • Result previews: Clicking anywhere in the blank area against the search result opens up the search preview. Here, you can see a preview of the text where the search result occurred within the document. As shown in the following screenshot, you will also see a small preview of the document within this section. You can scroll through the document using this preview capability. This is particularly helpful since it enables you to review the result inline to validate its usefulness, even before you click on it:

  • Filters: Clicking this option currently lets you further filter the results by the last modified time. You should expect more capabilities to be available in this area in the future. However, the idea behind all the improvements being made to Microsoft Search is that the relevant content should automatically come to you, instead of you having to perform a search, apply filters, and so on.

Microsoft has been investing heavily in Search, resulting in numerous improvements being made to it. These improvements include things such as showing results based on their relevance to you. This relevance score could be based on the things you work on the most, the people you interact with the most, and the freshness of the content, to name a few. Recent enhancements to the platform have resulted in users being able to get the results back instantly, even as you click in the search box and start typing your keywords, and even before you click the search button to perform an actual search.

At the time of writing this book, Microsoft is rolling out a unified search experience through all of its Microsoft 365 workloads. This means that the search experience is going to be identical, regardless of whether you perform the search from SharePoint, Outlook, Teams, or other workloads in Microsoft 365.

 

See also

About the Authors

  • Gaurav Mahajan

    Gaurav Mahajan is a technology evangelist with a focus on Microsoft 365, SharePoint, and AI. He has over 19 years of technical consulting experience and is passionate about helping organizations envision, build, and deploy solutions focused on solving practical problems. Gaurav has a Bachelor in Engineering, is Stanford certified in machine learning, and holds a PG Diploma in management from the Indian Institute of Management. He is also a Microsoft Technology Solutions Professional (P-TSP) and holds various other Microsoft certifications. He occasionally blogs, and speaks at and organizes technical events, code camps, and conferences. He is a co-chair of the M365 & SharePoint Saturday, Pittsburgh (US) annual conference. In his free time, he likes to travel and spend time with his family.

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  • Sudeep Ghatak

    Sudeep Ghatak has over 17 years of experience working with Microsoft technologies. He started as a .NET programmer, later moving to SharePoint back in 2007. Sudeep currently works as a senior solution architect in NZ and designs solutions based on Office 365 and the Azure platform. He is a certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) and holds a postgraduate degree in instrumentation engineering. He is an active member of the Microsoft community in New Zealand and runs an Azure meetup group. He is also an active speaker and advocate of Office 365 and Azure. He is often seen speaking at user groups and conferences in and around Christchurch, New Zealand. Outside of work, Sudeep loves to spend time with his family and has a strong interest in music and astrophysics. He loves playing guitar and is currently taking violin lessons with his 7-year-old daughter.

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