Bad SharePoint! You deleted my document!

documentgone-imageAbout once a month I get a panicky phone call about “an important document that has suddenly disappeared”. Quite often SharePoint or even myself are blamed for this.

The reality is always different, of course: a user of the library has deleted the document, but who has done it is impossible to find out (for the Site Owner) and many people do not know how they can restore deleted documents.

I am therefore very happy with the new Document Library experience in SharePoint Online, where the “details pane” tells you what has happened in the library. (And even with each document!)

From now on, you can see who has deleted or modified a document by clicking he little “ï” icon on top right of your library to see what has happened.

documentgone-detailspane
The yellow-marked “Details Pane” opens up when you click it.

Let me show you how this works with a few common scenarios that may lead people to think their document has been deleted.

This is a library in the “All Documents” view.

documentgone-library
Document Library. Each file is named after an action.

1. The document has been deleted.

Deleting a document shows up in the pane.

donemuentgone-deleted
File deleted. The file name is not clickable.

Oh dear, you can see who has deleted the document! 🙂
I am always the bad guy in my one-person tenant, but please note everyone’s actions are visible to everyone in a more “normal” environment!

If you see this message, contact the person who has deleted the document and ask him/her to restore it. The Recycle Bin still only shows the items you have deleted.

If you restore the document from the Recycle Bin, the details pane will show you this:

documentgone-deletedandrestored
File restored. The file name is clickable again.

2. The properties of the document have been changed.

This may move the document to a different view, and may lead people to think the document has been deleted. (Depending on the views in your library)

I have a view for “Video”. It contains 3 files.

documentgone-videoview
3 files in this view, which is filtered on “Topic”= “Video”.

If I change the Topic property for one document, this is what happens:

  • The document moves out of this view
  • The details pane shows this message:
documentgone-editproperties
I “edited” this file.

“Edited” can mean various things, but in any case you will know that someone has done something to this document, and it was not a deletion.

3. The name of the document has been changed.

This will leave the document where it is, but people may no longer recognize it and may think it has been deleted.

This is what the details pane shows when you change the file name:

documentgone-edittitle
You get two actions in the details pane

Interestingly, you will see two actions mentioned:

  • “Edited” the old name
  • “Renamed or Moved” the new name

This will tell you where to look, and again shows you the file has not been deleted.

4. The document has been moved to a folder.

This will move the document out of the view, so people may think it has been deleted.
In this case, nothing new shows up in the details pane for your library.

However, if you open a folder and click on the details pane icon, you will see an action:

documentgone-movetofolder
You will only see any actions in the folder itself.

This means you will have to go to each folder and check if the document has been moved there. That is another reason to use metadata rather than folders to group your documents into meaningful clusters.:-)
I always suggest to create a “Monitor” view that shows all documents, sorted on “modified descending”,  without folders, to keep track of latest changes.

If you move the document back to the “All Documents” view, you will see it mentioned in the details pane of the document library again as “renamed or moved”.

documentgone-movedfromfolder
There is an action if the document is moved out of a folder into the All Documents view.

Good to know:

  • If you edit the content of the document, it will also show as “edited”.
  • When you select a document and open the details pane, you can also see and edit the document properties, see the document history, and a lot more, but that is not the scope of this post. (December 2016: I wrote this post about that)
  • All changes will remain visible for at least 2 months, but I do not yet know if there is a limit on time or number of actions.
  • If the same person performs a number of actions, they will be grouped as “<person name> made edits”. You can click the arrow to see them all:
documentgone-madeedits
Click the arrow to open and close the list.

Conclusion

I think this is very useful functionality to help any Site Owner. It will make the Site Owner less dependent of their site collection admin.
“Edited” and  “renamed or moved” may mean various things, but they at least indicate that a document has changed, but not been deleted.

What do you think of the details pane? Has it helped you?

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Title inspired by the movie “Bad Santa” with Billy-Bob Thornton.

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2 thoughts on “Bad SharePoint! You deleted my document!

  1. Veronique Palmer December 12, 2016 / 6:24 am

    We put instant alerts on for deleted items for all site owners on all important content.

    I don’t like the new look lists because the top link and quick launch menus all go crazy. You can’t get back to your home page from the lists and libraries, so now it’s extra clicks. I have deactivated the new look everywhere until they fix this.

    • Ellen van Aken December 12, 2016 / 8:42 am

      Hi Veronique, that is an excellent idea that I may want to “borrow”.
      I quite like the new experience. Once you understand why the view keeps moving around, I think it is more user-friendly. But that goes for me, who works on it all day…I still need to get all end users on board.
      I can move back to homepage by clicking the site icon. With the details pane, there is little need to open list items anymore, since you can do the editing from the details pane. If you open a list item you do not see the homepage button indeed, which is a pain.
      Nice to be able to exchange these findings with someone knowledgeable and experienced. Sometimes it feels as if I have to find out things all by myself.
      Thank you!

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