Where do you find news posts saved for later?

We launched our new intranet this week. Although it is vanilla SharePoint (and what a joy NOT to have complicated requirements and unmaintainable customizations) I have had to create some help materials for users, as we have some organization-specific information to share, and the Microsoft support documentation has not always been translated correctly.

One of the help items is “Where to find the news items you have saved for later”.

Saving is easy: click the label. When you see the post on the SharePoint start page, the label is on the card. When you have opened the item, you see the label on the bottom of the post.
Unsaving: click the label again.

The image to look for when you want to save a news post for later

But where can you find them later?

There is only one place where you can view your saved news items only. Most places I found also contain favourited documents and even other types of content. Most confusing!

Let me list the locations:

1. Clicking “Save for later” or “Saved for later”

When you accidentally hit the text next to the label you get a popup with your latest saved or favourited items.

If you click the text next to the label, you will get this popup

When you click “See all saved items” you get a page with all your darlings.

All my six saved items

You see this is a mixed bunch: news items and documents.

2. “My saved items” web part

We have this web part on our main news page, to make it easy for our colleagues to find their saved items. Again, it shows news posts and documents. (More info from Microsoft)

This web part shows news items and documents

When you click “See all” you get that page with all saved items. Mind you, while the overview above appears to be a page in the SharePoint landing site, this is now shown within the site where the web part lives.

All my six items, but now in the same site as where the web part is added

3. “Saved for later” on the SharePoint start page

In the left hand rail of the SharePoint start page, underneath “Following” and “Recent” there is a block displaying your most recent 5 darlings. I would have expected to have an option to “See all” here, but no.

The Saved for later web part on the SharePoint start page.

4. SharePoint mobile app: “News” and “Me”

The only place where you can list just the news posts is the SharePoint mobile app.

  • “News” shows all your news posts, and allows you to filter the saved items.
  • “Me” shows your recent and saved items, and in the Saved items you can again filter for news posts only.
This is the News part; you can filter for “Saved items” on top.
This is the “Me” portion. In the saved items (“Opgeslagen”) you can filter for just news items.

5. The Microsoft/Office365 landing page

Here is where it gets really confusing.
At work I see my opened news posts in the “All” tab of content, and in my Favourites tab when I have saved it for later. In my personal tenant I do not see those. I have been unable to find out why. 🀯

Saved news items do not appear in Favourites in my own tenant. I made the one shown here a favourite when it appeared on this page.

While we are on this page, let me inform you how to make something appear in your Favourites. On the All tab you will see all items (Lists, news, Forms, recordings, images) that you have recently looked at or edited. Hover over an item you would like to add to Favorites, click … and then “Add to favourites”.
(Remember you could briefly do this from SharePoint? That has been gone for some time)

How to make a content item a favourite so it is shown in the Favourites tab

It is a star icon, just like when you want to “follow” a site. 🀯
The Forms that you “pin” on the Forms landing page will also appear on the Favourites tab. 🀯

You can also make a List a Favourite from this page. But if you go to the List itself, and click the star near the list name, it will appear as a Favourite on the Lists landing page, but not on the Microsoft/Office365 landing page. 🀯

Well, this homepage functionality appears to be a bit messy. Does anyone know if this is being worked on?

In any case, did I miss a location where you can see your saved news posts? Let me know in the comments!

Intranet demo videos

For the past year-and-something I have been unable to add Vimeo videos to my List.ly collection, as they did not show well. Yesterday I tried again and it turns out it works again. The only problem is that they have changed their business model, so I can only add new videos to my existing list until I pay…

Let me share some recent finds with you, while I ponder what to do. (Suggestions welcome, although the thought of moving all those vids to the 4th platform does not really make me happy; the thought of paying is not much better πŸ™‚ )

As we are launching our intranet in a few weeks, I have decided to do only demo’s this time.

1. The Vine (Financial Services, USA)

Intranet demo for a bank. The intranet looks quite friendly, and not very corporate. It has to do with the font that they use for headers. Interesting to see that makes such a difference! The intranet has many pages and a deep structure, from the look of menu’s and all.

I like the request to update your profile, although they ask too many things, in my opinion. But hey, if it works for them, that’s all that matters!

Tip for presenters: do not move your cursor around too much while talking. It can make your audience restless. Instead, try to keep your cursor at the exact item you would like to show.

Uploaded March 2021.


2. 4Cs Connect (Insurance, UK)

I really need to make a list of all intranets called “Connect”. There are so many! πŸ™‚ This one is based on SharePoint.

Very nice overview of this intranet, which looks pretty clean and has a megamenu in the top navigation. It explains the basics in a straightforward way, together with text balloons. The voice is a tad mechanic, I wonder if the narrator is trying too hard be very neutral.

I realy like the clear and concise explanation of the search function, the call for feedback, and the instructions for mobile. It is really a good inspiration for our own video-to-be! s

Uploaded August 2021.


3. Intranet for VIB (Flemish research institute – Belgium)

Well, this must be computer-spoken as the words sometimes have an incorrect intonation. This makes it a bit boring to listen to.

Clean-looking intranet, with several personalization options and a very nice People finder! (Microsoft, can you take a good look, please?) I also like their Roadmap, and the fact that it is visible to everyone.

Uploaded: June 2021.


4. Sioen (Industrial textiles – Belgium)

The spoken word in Dutch, with English subtitles. Now and then you will see that it has been built on SharePoint.

I really like their shared documentation, such as standard materials, business presentations, templates and logo’s. Having those in one central place can save everyone time!

Uploaded June 2021.

That’s it for this time, folks!

SharePoint Holmes and the Event Error

Our new SharePoint intranet is getting its final shape, and now that we have the different sites and the news in place, we can start working on other things.

The case

One of those “other things” is the Events calendar, where we share important events within the organization. As these are published on the intranet home page, we needed to give people access to the Events list in the home site only, to avoid them being Masters of the Intranet. πŸ™‚

We created a group of Event Publishers, added that group as Contributor to the Events list, and instructed them how to create a new event. (It works much like creating a page or a news item, just with extra predetermined columns).

The form to add a new event from the Events web part.

Shortly after we gave out the instructions, questions started to roll in. Some Event Publishers had no issues at all, but some reported strange error messages and could not publish their event. It was time to see if SharePoint Holmes was still around!

The investigation

  • I checked permissions. Yes, this group had Read access to the intranet site (this is not a given at this moment pre-launch!) and Contribute access to the Events List. So far, so good.
  • I asked one of the users to show me what she did. She did as instructed – clicked on “Add Event” from the homepage and added a custom image from her PC
This is a custom image that was stored on her PC
  • When she clicked on “Add image” she got the following error message. The same happened when she wanted to add something “from the web”.
I had never seen this error message before!
  • It was a rather mysterious error message, that I had never seen before, but it looked as if it had to do with the image and uploading.
  • I wondered if it could have to do with the fact that she did not have Contribute access to the homepage, so I asked her if she could create an event directly from the Event list. She could add the event without issues, but there was no option to add an image.
The “new event” form from the list looks much different from that form from the webpart
  • I then asked her to repeat it from the web part, this time using an image from the Stock Images. The event was published to the homepage smoothly.
  • This somehow felt like News, where images are being stored in a separate Site Assets library. (Except Stock Images or Organizational Assets; those images do not get stored)
  • I checked if Events were stored in the Pages Library, as they looked much like a page. They were not – they were stored in the Event list.
  • I then checked the Site Assets library, and in the folder “Site Pages” there was a subfolder called “Event”. In that library the Event images are stored.
Apparently Event images are stored in the Site Assets library.

The solution

We did not know that Event images are stored in the Site Assets library when we started, so we had not thought about giving them Contribute access to this library.
We added the Event Publishers group as Contributor to the Site Assets library, and then every Publisher could add events without any error messages.

The Event calendar. The middle item has been created from the Event list directly and has no image.

We could have asked them to use images from the Stock Images or Organizational Assets only, but we felt that was too restrictive. Our education folks have custom images to brand their events consistently, for instance. We could have added those to the Organizational Assets but giving everyone access to the Site Assets is easiest and saves us a lot of instruction and support. πŸ™‚

About SharePoint Holmes:
Part of my role is solving user issues. Sometimes they are so common that I have a standard response, but sometimes I need to do some sleuthing to understand and solve it.
As many of my readers are in a similar position, I thought I’d introduce SharePoint Holmes, SharePoint investigator, who will go through a few cases while working out loud.

Many roads lead to your Teams meeting

The official English saying appears to be “there is more than one way to skin a cat” but as I love cats and do not support their being skinned, I have translated the good old Dutch saying that “many roads lead to Rome”.

What I want to show is that you can start your Teams meeting in many places, to make it easy for you to join your meeting.

Let’s see if I know them all, and let me know if I have forgotten one! Or more!

1. Teams calendar

This is my regular way to access. The meeting is displayed on your calendar and when you click on it, a popup will show you the details and the link to join.

Popup with meeting details

When the meeting is about to start, or in progress, the link will be shown on the calendar, saving you a click, so you can access immediately.

As the Weekly meeting is currently in progress, the Join link is already displayed.

2. Invitation in Outlook

In this case, I have created the meeting myself so I can only show the “sent” mail, but every invitation email contains two links to the meeting. When you accept the invitation, the email is removed from your Inbox, so this is not the most frequently used option, I guess.
Unless you make it a habit NOT to respond to invitations of course…but I hope you are not that kind of person πŸ™‚

There’s a button top left, and the link on the bottom of the email.

3. Outlook calendar

As your Teams calendar syncs with your Outlook calendar , your meeting will be displayed here too. If you “live” in Outlook, you will probably use this most often. Again, when you click the meeting, you will get a popup with the meeting details, including the link.

Regular calendar view – the Join link will show in a popup
Again, as this meeting is in progress at the moment of screenshot, the link to Join is already available.

4. MyDay in Outlook/Microsoft365 landing page

If you click on MyDay, you will see your schedule for today and more, including your meeting. If you click on this message, you will get a link to the meeting. If your meeting is already running, you will see the Join link straight on the MyDay popup.

5. Outlook notification/reminder

Do you see the notification at the top right of Outlook 15 mins before start? Click on it and you will see the meeting link in the MyDay screen.

You will see this reminder in your Outlook email and calendar

6. The Microsoft365 landing page

When your meeting is about to start, you will see it in the Recommended documents on top of the page. It disappears shortly after meeting start time. Does anyone ever use the MyDay button on the top of this page? It’s there too!

OK, so the reminder is not a document, but it has frequently saved me a late entrance! πŸ™‚

7. My Feed webpart on SharePoint

If you have a MyFeed webpart on SharePoint, the meeting will show up there, with a link to Join. The MyFeed shows your stuff, see my earlier post.

It is a “you” thing, so this reminder will also pop up in your My Feed webpart

8. Desktop notification

When someone else starts the meeting, you will see a purple banner on the bottom right of your screen, when enabled. You can Join from here, too, or send a message that you will be a tad later. Again, this has been a life-saver when I forgot I had a meeting! πŸ™‚

As I am the only person in my tenant, I can not share the usual screenshot (that your colleague has started the meeting) but this one from an external guest is almost the same.

The banner will show you when someone else has started the meeting.

9. From OneNote (if you have sent the invitation to OneNote)

You can send an email or invitation from Outlook to OneNote, which gives you a very nice page with all info in a nice structured way, and the link to the meeting is included as well.

OK, it is in Dutch but you will get the gist.This page in OneNote is also an excellent starting page for your meeting notes.

Have I missed anything?

Please let me know in the comments! I know there’s probably a few extra places on mobile, but I do not use that very often now that I am mostly working from home.

Troubleshooting external access to SharePoint sites

We frequently get questions about external contacts that can not access SharePoint sites that they should have access to. Well, access and permissions are troublesome in all organizations, but access issues for external users can have additional causes and solutions, so here’s an overview to help Site Owners and support and admin people (such as myself) to identify and fix issues.

The site owner can check the first 4 items, and if that does not work, the support and admin folks may be able to help with 4, 5, 6 and 7.
It always helps to ask for a screenshot of the error messages, because you can already learn a lot from those.

It is wise to advise external users to log in with their browser in private or incognito mode, especially if they are from an organization that also has Microsoft365. It will avoid account mixups.
Thank you, former colleague Anita, for reminding me!

1. Does the user have access?

Let’s make sure that is not an issue, right? Check if the user is a Guest on Teams, or in case of a stand-alone SharePoint site, check if this person has permissions. Please be aware that external users only become visible in SharePoint permissions after they have been in the site once. So, if you can not find them in the Visitors or Members, it does not mean they have not been added.
In the screenshot below, I have already added someone with a Gmail account, but that person has not yet accessed the site. You may want to check item 2 first.

External users are only visible when they have accessed the site. Most annoying!

2. Has the user seen the invitation?

Warn your user that the invitation may end up in the Spam, Junk email, Unwanted items or whatever their non-regular mailbox is called. My invitation to a Gmail account was considered Spam, and my invitation to a Hotmail account also ended up in Junk mail. Messages in Gmail Spam are deleted after 30 days (see below) and in Hotmail Junk in 10 days, so your external contact may never have seen their invitation!

Invitations easily end up in Spam or Junk mail!

3. Has the user’s invitation expired?

External users need to do their first log in within 90 days, or their invitation expires.
In Classic team sites, the Site owner will see this in Site Settings > Access requests and invitations, under “Show History”. If it says “Expired” you may want to add the user again.
In Communication sites, check Gear wheel > Site Information > View all site settings > Access requests and invitations.
I could not find this option in other site types, and adding “/Access%20Requests/pendingreq.aspx?mbypass=1” to the root did not help either.

Here’s where you see who has been invited.

4. Does the user log in with the exact email address as per the invitation?

This is a frequent cause of problems. If you have added your externals with their Outlook or Hotmail account, they can generally access smoothly; if they have a Gmail, Yahoo or other free mail account you can warn them to expect issues, but if they have an email account for work, using their own domain name, you can not tell whether they can expect issues or not.
Externals should access with a Microsoft account. So if you give someone access with their Gmail account, they are prompted to create or use a Microsoft account. This is not always clear, I have found.

Gregory Zelfond has created a good overview of what the external user sees, and how they should proceed.

Another issue can be if the user has multiple emailadresses, and they access with the wrong one. We recently had an issue where the person had two very similar addresses. It was not clear to both the external and the site owner that he was logging in with @organization.eu, while access was given to @organization.nl ! It was clear from the error message, but you know how people can panic over error messages πŸ™‚

SharePoint admins may use the follwing Microsoft info when trying to help the Site Owner:

Error when an external user accepts a SharePoint Online invitation by using another account

“Access Denied”, “You need permission to access this site”, or “User not found in the directory” errors in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business – scroll down to see some trouble-shooting for external users.

5. Is the site accessible for external users? (admin only)

Another reason for issues can be that the site is internal-only. In my organization sites are by default internal, but when external access is needed, we can open them up. When people request a new site and they specify that the audience contains external users, we make it accessible for externals from the start. Otherwise, it needs to be changed when the need is there, but site owners do not always know or remember that most sites are internal-only.
An admin can check the sharing settings in the SharePoint admin center.

This site is accessible for external users.

6. Is the external user listed as a Guest user in the Admin center? (admin only)

External users added to Teams will be visible straight away, but again, for stand-alone SharePoint site they need to have accessed the site first. If they are mentioned, they have access and have been able to access this or another site in your tenant.
If they are not visible, it does not necessarily mean they have not been added.

Guest users have their own list in the admin center

7. Has guest access expired automatically? (admin only)

This is a relatively new feature in the SharePoint admin center. You can limit the time that a guest has access, counting from the moment the guest has been given access. After the time has expired, the site admin receives an email and can extend the period.

You can set an automatic guess access expiry in the SharePoint admin center.

Personally I would welcome the option to set an expiry time after a certain period since the last log-in, but “from the moment you have been given access” does not make much sense to me. You can be in the middle of a project and then get kicked out because it has been 60 days since you were given access and the site admin has overlooked the email or forgotten to extend your access? Most annoying!

8. Has the other organization blocked access to external networks?

Sometimes the employer of your external guest does not allow access to external networks. You will not know, and it is up to the external guest to find out. There’s not much you can do about it, except giving the external person an account from your own organization.

Access to Teams

Although external users can have difficulty accessing a Team as well, access is much easier to check than in stand-alone SharePoint sites. Permissions to a Team are easier to check, and guest users to Teams are immediately visible in the Guest users in the admin portal, while SharePoint users only become visible when they have accessed the site once.

Did I miss anything?

Have you found a frequent issue with external users and how have you solved that? Would you know where to find the Access requests and invitations in modern non-communication sites? Or do you have another question or remark? Please add them to the comments!

How to link from a SharePoint page

Did I tell you we are finally moving towards a SharePoint intranet?

We are currently training staff to publish pages and News on SharePoint. Many of them are very happy with the ease of creating pages and news articles, and the fact that you can so easily embed pictures and video. (The old platform can handle one picture or video per article)

One common question is: how do we create links from a page or News article?

Let’s discuss some options. Do you want to link to just one site, page or document? Of do you want/need multiple links on your page? And do they need to be functional and modest, just pretty or attention-grabbing? SharePoint has something for every occasion πŸ™‚

I have made examples in a Team site, but it works the same in a Communication site.

Link opening behaviour

You may want to know that links to content within your tenant always open in the same window. Links to content outside of your tenant always open in a new window. I have been playing around with different options that I found on the internet, but no luck so far.

Make SharePoint Online Menu Items Open in New Tabs! – Views from Veronique (veroniquepalmer.com)

How to open SharePoint Online Modern SPFX links in new tab | Code2care

Suggestions welcome, as sometimes you want to keep people on your page and the link is supposed to be only a side-step!

1. In text

When writing a news article or explanatory text you may want to link to additional information. You can do this in two ways:

  • Linking to a page within your site: type [[ and the list of pages in your site will pop up and you just select one. It will be added with the page name.
Type [[ and the list of pages will show, just click to create a link
  • Linking to anything else: select the text and click the link icon
This is the only option allowing you to open the link in a new tab!
The links will be shown in the text.

If you want your links to stand out, you will need to use a separate web part for that. You can use a two column section where you have a link in the column next to the text, for instance.

The following web parts all handle links in different ways. I will show you how they look in edit mode, what the editing options are and what the end result looks like.

2. Link

The Link web part shows a preview of one link. It depends on the website whether a preview is available. As mine does not have a preview (What! I need to work on that!) I have linked to another very useful website. You just paste the link and the only option you have is to add alternative text or not.

In the screenshot below, from left to right: the empty Link webpart, the web part with link and preview, and the edit options.

If you work with SharePoint, you should follow Gregory Zelfond’s site, sharepointmaven.com!

3. Button

Again, this is for one link, which will be displayed as a button in the colour scheme of your site. You can determine the alignment, but that’s all. Our intranet sounding board contains a number of therapists, and they have warned us against making pages too full of stimuli. So this is a good option if you want to have a quiet, non-overwhelming page.

The Button web part. Very straightforward.

4. Call to Action

If you want people to do something, like register for a webinar or subscribe to a newsletter, a Call to Action webpart may be the best option. It allows you to write an explanatory text (“Attend a webinar”), add the action with the link (“Register now!”), add a background image and align the text.
You pick the background image from the same source as header images for your news items – is there a word for that place? Let’s call it link-picker-page.

This is where you pick images and links from. But not all web parts use this as a source.

The button will be in your site’s colour scheme. If only you could change that black background, it is very visible and sometimes clashes with your colour scheme.

5. Image

You can create a click-through image by using the Image webpart. You will immediately go to the link-picker-page. This web part has an option to add a link, an overlay text (off by default) and to add a caption.

Before we move on to the multiple-link options, let me show you what the web parts look like on a page. I have used three columns, so you have an idea of the relative size. The size can vary depending on the number of columns – the Call to Action and Image web parts will fill the column width, but the Button will always be this size.

This is what the single-link web parts look like.

6. Hero

If you prefer your page to be visually interesting, the Hero web part may be useful. You can choose anything between one or 5 links (also depending on screen resolution and the number of columns in the section) and you start with adding the link (you will go to the link-picker page), then click on the pencil in the bottom of the image to add an image, a call to action for the first item, etc.
This web part consumes a ton of real-estate and I personally think it is too much imagery, too little content πŸ™‚
There’s a lot to this web part and there is good help from Microsoft available: Use the Hero web part – Office Support (microsoft.com)

The Hero web part has many options

7. Quick Links

Another good option if you want to display multiple links. You can go from large image tiles to modest buttons (as below). You can have as many as you like, and you have a ton of options (352 to be exact) to display them. Click “Add Links” and you get taken to the link-picker-page to add the link, then you can adjust things with the pencil underneath.
This is my favourite as it is versatile and you can keep it compact, yet nice looking. The number displayed horizontally will adjust to the column.
This is my blog about it: 352 ways to show Quick Links in SharePoint – Ellen’s Digital Workplace (wordpress.com)

The Quick Links web part has a lot of display options. The Button option is my favourite.

What do all these web parts look like? Below is an overview of all options used.

This is what all web parts look like.

8. Navigation

Of course there is also the navigation menu that you use to link to the main parts in your site. That does not look as pretty as the options above, but it will be shown all over your site, so it has its own merits.

Just click the Edit button below (Team site), or next to the navigation (Communication site) and you can add links, sublinks, move, edit and delete them.

The navigation – adding a new link

Navigation – moving, editing, deleting, indenting a link.

Conclusion

You have many options to select the web part that works for you. I understand it is not always easy to choose the best option, but in general I would say:

  • Keep it simple; visually pleasing but not cluttered.
  • Use Alternative text with images whenever possible – you do not know if anyone in your organization has a temporary or permanent loss of vision and they may want to use the Immersive reader to have the page or news read aloud to them. (I assume the Immersive Reader reads the alternative text – not sure!)
  • Think about the future. If your page is there for a long time, think about the number of links needed over time. Will this stay the same or do you expect more or fewer items needed next year? If you expect that your 5 links of today may be 6 or 7 next year, it may be better to use Quick Links from the start rather than a Hero.
  • Do not forget about your navigation; as it is visible all over the site, you may want to use that for important pages rather than a pretty link on your home page alone.

Have I missed an option? Would you like to say something else? Please comment – I love to hear about your experiences and thoughts!

Things I don’t like about Office/Microsoft365

You know I am a total Microsoft fangirl. I can drive people crazy by asking why they are using SurveyMonkey or Google Forms instead of Forms, why they are using expensive dictation software when they have built-in dication in OneNote and Word Online, and I have tons of other irritating questions πŸ™‚

There are a few things however, that I do not like so much.

1. Lack of accurate timing on the Roadmap

We have a Roadmap-into-Planner setup, so every day I check what is new, what is relevant for IT and/or users, and if and how we will promote this.

While I can live with the sheer amount of change and the inconsistent content of the items (sometimes it is just a line, sometime it is a complete article, sometimes it has screenshots (yes, that is really helpful, more of those please!)) I do have a problem with the timings.

Sometimes we seem to have to wait forever. For instance, I have not yet seen the option to make every meeting a Teams meeting in the Outlook desktop at work, but I have seen it in Karuana’s demo’s and I have it in my home tenant. It should have been launched in March, but it is July and I still do not have it in our tenant. I, nor my team, have a clue when it will enter our tenant.

Right now the highlighted line is not in our work tenant for Outlook Desktop users.(Screenshot from my personal tenant). The functionality has been available for Outlook Web users for months. If anyone can tell me when I can expect this for my work tenant, or what we have to do to make it visible, please do!

Another example: my F3-licensed test account still does not have the text options in Forms (Bold, italics, underscore, lists) in Forms that I have had for months in my E3-work account. But nowhere it is mentioned if and when this will become available for F3-users.

On the other hand, sometimes my colleagues ask me questions about something that I have not even seen yet. And my E3-work account is on Targeted Release, so I should have had it before them!

So, please make that timing a little bit more accurate, so we know what to look for, and promote, when!

2. The hype around PowerApps

This is an onpopular opinion but I am not very impressed with Power Apps, with the exception of Power Automate, although it is getting more and more complex, after nicely starting out as “the Microsoft alternative to IFFFT”. (which is a very simple workflow tool).

In many cases I simply do not see why you would create a PowerApp when you can do it perfectly well on SharePoint. Yes, a Power App will generally look better, and may be easier to use on your phone, but is that worth the extra complexity, the extra licensing, the extra consultant costs?

Additionally, it is being marketed as a “low code/no code” product. Well, as someone who does know a bit of code and generally picks up things quickly, I must say that creating a PowerApp is quite a lot of work and definitely not “low code/no code”, especially not in my type of organization. Our Microsoft partner has installed a few PowerApps and they have been hell to set up, get to work, and maintain.

3. No delegation options in Teams

Yes, I am perfectly aware of the fact that every manager should be able to make their own appointments and view their own meeting documents, but in real life things may be different. You do not want to bother managers with organizing a meeting with people with full agendas. A secretary/personal assistant can do that. A secretary/p.a. can take a lot of work out of a manager’s hands so the manager can focus on the skills they were hired for. Call me oldfashioned, but I think the secretaryp.a. still plays a valid role in organizations.

While Outlook has a ton of options to share mailbox and calendar and what not between manager and secretary/p.a., Teams, especially private chat, is very much a personal tool. It does not allow delegation and it does not accomodate group mailboxes or group accounts. Yet, Teams is being promoted as “THE new place to do your work”. If we want Teams to be the only work tool you need, there should be delegation options for secretaries/p.a.’s, otherwise there is not much point for those people to move away from Outlook.

There’s a User Voice item out there: Delegate capability – Welcome to UserVoice!

4. Differences desktop/online

I told you before that the majority of our users has an F3-license and works exclusively with the web apps. (Except for Teams, where we have the desktop app installed for everyone).

While the web apps are very good and getting better quickly, they lack some functionalities of the desktop apps, and that can lead to questions and irritations. These often come from people who have worked at another organization where the desktop apps were the norm, and they sometimes have difficulty switching to the web apps.
We always try to come up with either the way to do it (some things are just in a different location, you need to check View > Reading View to see the final document) or with an alternative, such as the Watermark. We do not know every small package of functionality so we are often surprised by a question and then have to investigate the options. Sometimes we redirect people from Word or Excel to PowerPoint (e.g. when they use a lot of graphs or pictures), sometimes we replace a document with a Form or a SharePoint list, etc.

The ribbon in Word for the web. Fewer tabs, and in some tabs fewer options, especially for designs and layouts. That does not mean things can not be done, sometimes you can do it in a different way.
The ribbon in Word desktop. More options, especially for graphics and designs.

While this is often fun and challenging, it can be a nuisance when people really need the desktop app because they work with another software that only works with the desktop apps. Some people need to sync an Excel file from another system once a week, or once a month, and then they need the desktop since the web app does not do that. If we switch them to an E3-license for those 5 minutes a week, chances are that they will never learn to appreciate the web apps.

So, to Microsoft: the fewer differences there are between the two app versions, the better. And to Microsoft partners and developers of software and apps: please make your products compatible with the web apps, not with the desktop apps.

Are there any things you do not like about the 365 suite?

Please let me know!

Intranet promotion videos – part 9

Time for something else…time for some intranet videos!

1. Intranet for a global health care organization.

This intranet is called Together. The sound appears to be quite loud, so be aware when you press the Play-button.

There’s also a French version: Intranet Institut MΓ©rieux_REVEAL_FR on Vimeo

Uploaded June 2021

2. Teaser for a country-regional intranet (in French)

I thought by now we would not need to think of an intranet as “something from the future” anymore, but this teaser has the space theme all over it. The visuals are very nice, though. The intranet is called Y-Connect (“Connect” appears to be a very popular names for intranets these days). I am not sure what they mean to say exactly with the examples, but apparently YConnect is dynamic, intuitive and efficient.

Uploaded May 2021.

3. Two teasers for Kelloggs (breakfast cereals)

And guess what…this intranet is called K-Connect! πŸ™„
The first one contains a lot of puns, based on Kellogg’s products.

The second one gives a little more information, such as the reasons for change and what they aim to achieve. I think it is a nice idea to have speakers with various accents from across the world; it shows that this is a global intranet. Oh, and it is on SharePoint!

Uploaded May 2021.

4. Intranet explanation series for a solar panel installation business.

This is a series of videos, about 20 minutes in total, for the launch of the intranet at this USA organization. This intranet is called Freedom Forum.

The Opening video shows a nice journey metaphor, although I am no fan of those “real-time hand-drawn images” (for lack of a better description, I know it is an animation), as I find this very distracting. The “one stop shop” idea is still very much alive here. In the Closing video there’s a few calls to action. All in all, nicely done.
I am showing the Opening and Closing here, but these are the others:

Walkthrough – Logging In.mp4 on Vimeo

Chris Walkthrough – Tools and Resources.mp4 on Vimeo

Caileigh Walkthrough – News and Events.mp4 on Vimeo

Amanda Walkthrough – People Center.mp4 on Vimeo

Thomas Walkthrough – Company Information.mp4 on Vimeo

EJ Walkthrough – Company Forum.mp4 on Vimeo

Intranet Knowledge Base Video 1080p.mp4 on Vimeo

Uploaded June 2021.

That’s all for this time, folks!

Photo by Ethan Robertson on StockSnap

Organizing a Teams Webinar with an F3-license

The Teams webinar functionality has rolled out. Many things have already been said about it (Mike Tholfsen’s video says it all really) and basically it is a regular Teams Meeting with a registration form and very limiting meeting options, so it was both a relief to me (“oh good, it works like a Teams meeting”) and a disappointment (“oh, it works like a Teams meeting, what is all the fuss about?”) when I investigated it.

However, F3-licensed users do not have the option to create a Webinar, just as they can not create a Live Event. Our E3-licenses users have three options when they click the New Meeting option: Schedule meeting, Webinar, Live event. F3 users only have New Meeting option.
They can of course use a regular Teams meeting for any webinar, as described in my earlier post, but seriously, they can use the webinar option as well! Here goes:

Webinar creation for E3-users. F3 users only have the New Meeting button.

1. Create the event

  • In your Teams calendar, click New Meeting. The invitation screen will open.
  • On the top right, you will see an option “Require registration”. Select “people in my organization”. “(If you want to make this available for external attendees, you may need to create a Form for registration – remember to make this available for everyone)
Click the arrow and select “For people in your org” to create a registration form. F3-users can not create a registration form for everyone.
  • Leave the registration form for now, as that can be done later when you can give it your full attention.
  • Add all relevant event details, and invite the presenter(s) only.
Make sure you only invite the presenters.
  • Send the invitation to the presenter(s) and the event will be added to the agenda of yourself (the organizer) and the presenter(s), looking like this:
a Webinar looks like this in your calendar

2. Edit the registration form (attendees from your organization only)

  • Open and edit the event from your Teams calendar and click “Customize registration form”.
  • Op the top left, click “Edit”
  • Adjust the registration form – make sure date and time are correct (it does not always copy correctly!!!) and you can add a picture, add speakers, and (optional) ask a few extra questions.
The registration form – you can add all details and even a picture! Check if date and time have copied over correctly!
  • Click “Save” top left, and “View in browser” to see what it looks like. Adjust when necessary. Copy the registration link to distribute to your audience.

3. Adjust the meeting options

  • Open the event from your Teams calendar and click Meeting Options or Change Options
Two places to change the meeting options
  • Adjust the meeting options until they look like the screenshot below and click “Save”.
  • If you do not want to be bothered with adding people from the lobby, make sure you set Lobby to “everyone”.
These are the standard Meeting options for a webinar.

4. Advertise your webinar

Make sure that your audience knows about the webinar. Share the information and add the link to the registration form in and outside your organization. You can use the intranet, a SharePoint site, Yammer, email, social media, an external website, a printed flyer with a QR code, whatever is relevant.

5. Check registrations

The registrations will be added in a nice list in the Details tab of your event.

You can keep track of registrations from your calendar

6. Before the webinar

  • Download the Teams desktop app from the Microsoft Store. F3-licenses users use the web and mobile apps by definition, but the Teams desktop app is free and gives you a ton of extra control options for your event. Download, log in and familiarize yourself with it.
  • Plan your break-out rooms (desktop-app only) and add any Polls that you would like to use during the webinar.

7. During the webinar

  • A little before the start time, open the Teams desktop app and click “Join meeting” from one of the usual places
  • Proceed as in any other Teams meeting
  • You can add Polls, use breakout rooms, and what not, just like any regular meeting
  • If you want to allow live questions at the end of the webinar, open the Meeting options (… in the Meeting control bar) and allow microphones and cameras to be opened up (Teams desktop app only)
Options available for the organizer in the Teams desktop app

8. Attendance report

The attendance report will be on the Chat tab, as usual.

Good to know:

  1. That little lectern icon appears on events which require registration, only in the Teams calendar. Check out the second and third screenshots from the top to see the difference!
  2. When you have selected registration “for people in your organization” only, their names and emailadresses will be added automatically when your colleagues open the registration form.
  3. There has to be a presenter in the Meeting options, otherwise you can not save the Meeting options. When the organizer is the presenter, make sure you select “Only Me” as the presenter.

Conclusion:

Every F3-licensed user can create a Teams webinar, with one limitation and one manual action compared to an E3-user:

  • The F3 license has no option to create a registration form for externals – you will need to use Microsoft Forms to collect registrations.
  • They will need to adjust the Meeting Options manually.
  • Using the Teams desktop app (free from the Microsoft Store) gives you many more options to control the event.

Good luck!

Watermark in Word on the Web

As mentioned earlier, the majority of my colleagues have an Office365 F3 license. This means they work exclusively with the web and mobile apps.

That can be a surprise for new employees, who are used to the desktop variety of everything. The fact that you can not open documents from your desktop Explorer causes a lot of confusion, for instance. And the fact that documents look different in editing and reading view is another frequent complaint, although this can be solved by pointing people to the Reading View. The web apps have improved greatly over the past few years, but they do not have all functionality of the desktop version. So in some cases you really need to rethink your processes to mimic a desktop function in a web app.

Microsoft has an overview of differences. Differences between using a document in the browser and in Word – Word (microsoft.com)

One of the questions we received was adding a watermark to a Word document. This functionality is not available in the web app. When you look for “watermark” in the web app, you get a prompt to open the document in the desktop version.

This shows that the watermark is only available in the desktop app

How to add a watermark in Word desktop

The option is in the Design tab, which is missing from the web version. You can select one of the mentioned marks, or create a custom one.

Adding a watermark in Word desktop

How to add a watermark in Word for the web?

In this case, we needed “Confidential” in a diagonal style.

My colleague and I brainstormed a bit and we came up with three alternatives:

1. Add a blank Word document with the watermark as template in a SharePoint library

This works well when you and you colleagues have a SharePoint site and you regularly need to use the watermark.

  • Ask someone to create a Word document in the desktop version with the desired watermark
  • Add this as a template to a SharePoint document library (item 6 in that post)
  • Whenever you need a document with watermark, create a new instance using the template. You will not see the watermark when in editing mode, but if you click the tab View > Reading View you will see what the final document will look like.
The template is added to the document library, and when you click “New” you can select it to create a blank document with the watermark
While you won’t see the watermark while you edit, you will see it in the Reading View

2. Add an image with the watermark to the document

This works well when you do not use this very often or have no SharePoint site at your disposal.

  • Create an image with the correct words. You can do this in PowerPoint, with a text box, which allows you to rotate to the correct slant. Use soft grey letters. Save the image.
  • When you have finished writing your document, click the Insert tab and select Picture from this device. Then, under Wrap Text (will appear after insertion) select the option “Behind text”.
  • Make sure it looks good before you exit the picture editing, as it is hard to go back and re-edit location and size of image.
  • Repeat for the next page. It can be sensible to decide beforehand where in the document (height) the image sits best so you can create a consistent appearance.
  • It may be wise to save and share this as a PDF document as the image can easily be taken off.
When you select the image, you will get options to add it behind the text. You can also move the image and change size for a good fit.
The end result, viewed with the Reading View. Not bad, huh?

3. Use header and/or footer

A watermark is an established option to create a message about the status of your document, but it is not the only way. Headers and footers will be visible on every page of your document, too! So you can also use those.

  • In your document, click Insert > Header and Footer.
  • Add the text as a header and/or a footer. You can change the font size and colour; just click on the word and an edit menu will pop up.
  • You will not see the texts when you are in editing mode, but the words “header” and “footer” will be visible next to the top resp. bottom of your page to remind you that they are there.
  • Use the Reading View (under the View tab) to see what it looks like.
The header and footer can also be used for a message about the status of your document.
The end result, in Reading View.

Do you have any workarounds for desktop functionality in the web versions? Please share in the comments!