Has my colleague edited a file on my OneDrive?

OneDrivealert-headerWe received an interesting question the other day: “I am sharing a document on my OneDrive with a colleague. Where can I set an Alert to know when she has made edits?”

The Alert option is available on SharePoint, so it feels a bit weird that it is not available on OneDrive. There is a suggestion in User Voice, which has been posted in 2014 (that is 6 years ago!) with the response that it is “in the Plans”. Let’s hit that voting button, folks – it should not be that hard knowing that SharePoint and OneDrive are basically the same thing. Please vote here!

So I had to resort to a few workarounds:

1. Move to SharePoint and set an Alert.

If you are sharing a document or folder for a longer time, and expecting regular edits, you’d better move it to SharePoint. SharePoint is designed for long-term team collaboration and allows you to receive an Alert.
Remember, your OneDrive will be removed when you leave the organization, so do not hoard documents that belong to your team or department!

Moving a document from OneDrive to SharePoint is easy – see my earlier post about Copying and Moving documents.

2. Look at “Shared” and then “Shared by you”

Under “Activity” you can see if, and who, has edited your document, and when this has happened. Sadly you can not sort or filter so you will just have to scroll to find that file. This may be another good reason not to keep a lot of shared documents in your OneDrive forever 🙂

OneDriveAlert1
Here you can find if your document has been edited.

3. Make it a habit to add comments with an @mention

This one will need some training for all parties involved, but it is like learning html: you will forever benefit from knowing this 🙂
If you use Comments on the document, and @mention the other person, this person will receive an email that the document has been edited.

  1. Open the document and make the changes
  2. Put your cursor near the change and open the “Review” tab from the ribbon
  3. Click “New comment” and a panel on the right side of the document will open. It already invites you to add a name (you will get suggestions as you type) – it is sufficient to do this in one comment, only.

    OneDriveAlert3
    How commenting looks
  4. When you are done commenting click the arrow button to send the comment
  5. The @-mentioned person will receive an email notifying you of the comment, and you will of course see a more recent change in your “Shared by you” view.
    Please note that the person will receive an email for every comment that @mentions them, so doing this once is sufficient!
    BTW, this only works within your organization as far as I have found. 
  6. In the application (Excel in this case) under “Recent” you will see that Mystery Guest has commented.

    OneDrivealert5
    You can see that a comment has been made (This is Excel web app)

4. Use Power Automate

We have not really rolled out Power Automate throughout the organization yet, so this is just a quick test for myself. I used the recipe “When a file is modified, complete a custom action” and it looks like this:

OneDriveAlert6
A basic workflow for testing purposes.

It provides a basic email, that could be improved with the link or more details about the file and the author:

OneDrivealert4
The email

I would suggest to use this sparingly, and only for those folders you share (but then again, why not store them on SharePoint?) or you will get inundated with messages that you have edited a file 🙂

Conclusion:

There are a few options to know if someone else has edited your document. If this is a regular process, please move the document(s) to SharePoint! However, it would be so much easier if Alerts were just standard functionality for OneDrive. So, remember to hit that Vote-button!

Have you received this question as well? How did you respond? Did I miss an option?

4 thoughts on “Has my colleague edited a file on my OneDrive?

  1. Scott Lewis March 2, 2020 / 12:44 pm

    Hi Ellen, great post as always!

    I have a suggestion for your PowerAutomate solution. Why not add a condition before sending the email to check if the “last modified” property of the file was your own account? If it is, you just skip sending the email, if not, you can “notify yourself” with the email step.

    I have a screen capture of what the flow looks like, let me know if you would like me to send it as an example!

    Scott

    • Ellen van Aken March 2, 2020 / 5:19 pm

      Thank you Scott, cool idea! I think I can work it out for myself, I just had not thought about that. But otherwise I will know where to find you 😁

  2. David Smith March 2, 2020 / 7:51 pm

    Another option to check is version history.

    We have a monthly meeting that involves collaboration with about five different contributors to the team PowerPoint and I make it a habit to check what my coworkers have done or not done on their segment and who needs a follow-up reminder.

    • Ellen van Aken March 2, 2020 / 8:10 pm

      Nice one, David, thank you! Had not thought of that option at all.

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