How to transcribe a meeting with Teams or Word

I am quite happy with the speech-to-text options that the Microsoft365 suite provides, such as Dictation and Transcription. And while the Dutch language is apparently not fully out of beta yet, I am impressed with the accuracy of Dictation. It has saved me a lot of time, for instance when writing instructions or reports.

Transcription is a recent addition to the stack, and it comes in handy when you want to report an interview, create subtitles for a video or when you need a word-for-word report of a meeting, one with legal implications, for instance.

There are 3 ways to create a transcript:

  • Transcribe an existing recording in Word online
  • Transcribe directly in Word online
  • Transcribe directly during a Teams meeting

1. Transcribe an existing (meeting) recording in Word online

This is useful if you have an older meeting recording, if your organization does not have automatic transcription enabled, or if it is a non-Teams recording. You can transcribe up to 300 minutes per calendar month. This is calculated from the length of the video, regardless of the amount of spoken content.

  • You need to have a recording of your meeting, or other recording in .wav, .mp4, .mp3 or .m4a format
  • In your location of choice (OneDrive, SharePoint, Teams) open a new Word online document and give it a meaningful title
  • Click on the microphone on the Home tab, and select “Transcribe”
  • Make sure you select your desired language
  • Click “Upload audio”
  • Upload your recording and the transcription will begin
  • When the recording has been transcribed, click “Add to document” and you will be asked to add time and speaker name, if that makes sense
Clicking “Add to document” will create a popup with the options.

The document will then look like this. You can edit the text where necessary.

Your transcript from a recording.

Please note that the recording you upload will be copied to your OneDrive in a new folder, “Transcribed documents”, even if it is already in the “Recordings” folder! As recordings are generally large files, this can cause storage space issues. Remember, colleagues with an F3 license only have 2 GB of storage space.
Remove at least one copy of your video.

I have this video also in my OneDrive but a copy gets added to a newly created folder: “Transcribed Files”

This was only a small upload to transcribe so it only took 2 minutes of my monthly allowance!

Language and minutes left.

Tips:

  1. If you find 300 minutes is limiting, check if you can win time by cropping your video as much as possible (you can do that in Stream if you have no other software).
  2. Alternatively, you can use the free Word online that comes with your Outlook.com email address! (If the topic of your meeting and your company policies allows to store data there)
  3. If your recording is >200 MB and resides in your OneDrive, you may want to download it to your Downloads folder or Desktop before uploading. We have found that this reduces error messages on file size.

2. Transcribe directly in Word online

Check out the first of these two videos.
This will be useful for an interview, as shown in the video, but it can also be used for a meeting. Please make sure to warn the meeting participants that you are going to do this, as they will not get a system warning when you do!
Open a fresh Word online document and click Start > Dictate > Transcribe.
Click “Start recording” and your online meeting will be recorded and transcribed.
Next to the Word file with the text, you will get an audio file in the “Transcribed documents” folder in your OneDrive. There appears to be no limit in the amount of transcriptions you can execute this way.

3. Transcribe directly during a teams meeting

If you want to use this option, your Microsoft365 admin must have transcription enabled in the Teams admin portal, under Teams > Meetings > Meeting Policies.

Where to enable Meeting transcription

You can check whether it is available by clicking the … in your meeting control bar and then looking for “Start transcription”. This is available in the Teams desktop app only! If it greyed out, it has not been enabled.

Where you start to transcribe

When you click Start Transcription all participants will get a notification, just as when you start a recording.

All participants will get a warning that they are being transcribed.

During the meeting, you can watch the transcript by clicking … in the meeting control bar and selecting “Show transcript”. This will be shown in a panel on the right side of the meeting screen.

Open the transcript
The transcription pane opens on the right-hand side. With the … top right you can select the language.

After the meeting, you will find the transcript on the Chat tab.

All info is condensed on the Chat tab.

You can also see the transcript in the meeting itself in the Teams agenda, on the Recording and Transcriptions tab. The text is written on the tab, and you can download it as .docx or .vtt

The transcript is also visible on a separate tab in the meeting in the Teams agenda.

Tips:

4. You can download the transcript in .docx or .vtt format. The latter can be uploaded to the recording in Stream to provide subtitles.
5. Make it easy for yourself and your colleagues to identify you in captions and transcriptions. Toggle the button to automatically identify you. Anything you say will then be attributed to you.

If you have this setting enabled, your name will be added to everything you say. Otherwise you will be “Speaker x”.

My experiences

We have enabled option 3 as a test, but we have disabled this after a few weeks, as it was very confusing for our users:

  • Transcription in Dutch works well, but you will need to change the default language for every meeting you want to transcribe. Not everyone knows or remembers this, so chances are that you will end up with a Dutch meeting transcribed into English – and trust me, that is very very weird! ūüôā
  • We found that F3-licensed users do NOT see the “Show transcript” in their menu, but it may be that our experiment was too short to fully roll out to my test account. According to Microsoft, they should be able to. They can use the Word options, though.
  • You can start a Transcription without recording but…
  • You can NOT start a recording without starting transciption. This can be confusing.
When starting a recording, all participants will get a message that they are not also recorded, but also transcribed. You may have some explanation to do!

We may try again when we can enable Dutch as the default language, either by following the language settings of transcription starter (see this Feedback item – please vote!) or by following the tenant language.

Conclusion

If you need a word-by-word report of your meeting, Transcription can be a great help.

The Teams options is the easiest way to create a transcipt, but currently it works best if your organization speaks English and you have instructed your colleages about the use of transcription.

If your organization does not have English as their preferred language, and/or you do not have it enabled in Teams, you can still record the meeting and use Word online, or transcribe it directly in Word (but this is a bit sneaky). It is a bit more work, as you will have to adjust the speakers names, and you will get a additional audio file in your OneDrive, but it still works well.

Have you been using it and do you have any experiences and tips to share?

Things to know about Forms collections

Have you tried the Collection option for Forms yet? It is meant to group your Forms together in a meaningful way.  Mike Tholfsen explains it in this video. Microsoft has a support article as well.

It is not a functionality I have ever missed. Until now, pinning the Forms that I need on a regular basis has been sufficient for me. I do not have that many Forms, and I generally delete the ones that are no longer relevant.

So, I thought I’d check out what Collections do and why this is a useful functionality.

When is a Collection useful? 

I can think of the following use cases that could work for me: 

  • As archive¬†for¬†complicated¬†Forms¬†that¬†took¬†a long time¬†to¬†create¬†and¬†that¬†I¬†may¬†want¬†to¬†reuse one day. Simple Forms I¬†discard¬†when done and¬†create¬†from¬†scratch¬†when¬†needed again.¬†¬†¬†
  • To store templates,¬†so I do not mix active Forms with templates.
    Templates are¬†stand-alone¬†copies,¬†and¬†have¬†everything¬†from¬†the¬†original,¬†except¬†the¬†answers. Templating them adds “Copy” to¬†the title, but that’s it and it is easily removed. Grouping them in a collection would make sense.
  • The same goes for Quizzes.¬†I do¬†not¬†use¬†those¬†very¬†often,¬†and¬†I would¬†not¬†want¬†them¬†mixed up¬†with¬†my¬†Forms¬†either.¬†There is also no visual clue to identify a Quiz.
  • If I had many Forms I could imagine I would want to group them by theme, but right now I do¬†not¬†have¬†enough¬†Forms¬†to¬†have¬†that¬†need.¬†

What do you need to know about Collections?

a. You¬†only create¬†them¬†in “All¬†Forms‚Ä̬†which¬†is¬†one¬†click¬†away¬†from¬†the¬†Forms landing page. If you have not seen the option yet, try your “All Forms” page! ¬†ūüôā

b. On your Forms¬†landing page¬†you¬†will see¬†all¬†recent¬†forms¬†displayed¬†whether¬†they¬†are¬†in a¬†¬†collection¬†or¬†not.¬†Collections¬†are ONLY visible on¬†that¬†“All¬†forms” page. This¬†can¬†be¬†confusing¬†as you may accidentally¬†select¬†an incorrect Form.

Forms landing page – all Forms together
All my Forms page. Forms are shown within their Collection (Templates).

c. You can see the images, but not the titles of Forms in a Collection. (See screenshot above.) I would have liked to see the titles. But then, you can only see the first 4 so perhaps that is not a big deal.

d. You can not add a shared Form to a collection. This is sad, as I share many Forms (including templates) with colleagues, for instance for our webinars.

e. You can not add Polls from Teams meetings or from Outlook to a collection. Those polls have very few options anyway, so this was no big surprise.   

Polls (recognizable by the icon) can not be added to a Collection

f. When you show your Forms as a list (instead of Tiles), the Collection is shown on top, and the other forms are called Uncategorized forms, so this implies that a collection is a category. It’s just language, but as we have seen in an earlier post, different wording can be confusing.

The List view of my “All Forms” page.

My conclusion

In case you have many Forms, the Collection option is excellent to categorize your various types of Forms. In my situation, having just a few Forms at any given time, the ability to Pin the most current ones to keep them readily available is sufficient.

How are you using Collections?

SharePoint Holmes and the Tricky Text

The case

One of our teams is using a SharePoint list to capture the goings-on in their department during each shift.

At the beginning of each shift they create a new list item, add info for date and shift and the name of the person in charge and save the item. During the shift they edit the item, adding all the things that need to be captured for later and/or handed over to the next shift.
Generally they are quite happy as the list is less work to update and easier to search through than the Word document they used beforehand.

However, they noticed a few things:

  • When they used interpunction, such as ; or : the results often ended up a bit weird, especially when they were editing an item (e.g. to add something to the list during the shift)
  • They could not list items properly in a text field. They can add something on a new line while writing, but the end result is one large text without any indentation.

That was new for me, so I put my SharePoint Holmes hat on and started investigating. Incidentally Marc Anderson has just showed that you can edit columns on the List side , as well as on List Settings side, and you can get different results, so I checked both.

The investigation

I asked him to show me his issues during a Teams meeting. He shared his screen and I noticed the issues.

I checked the list setup. As it turned out, almost all columns were multiple lines of text (MLOT), Rich Text. (RT)

Rich Text (RT) promises more options than Plain text, yet is easier to work with than Enhanced Rich Text. (List Settings side)

I have always preferred Rich Text, as it has slightly more options than the plain text, while being less cumbersome than the Enhanced Rich Text. That one has more design options, but needs an extra click to access.
You create this Text field after creating the MLOT as Plain Text or Enhanced Rich Text, and then editing the column in the List Settings. (The option is not available when you create the column, and only available in the List Settings)

When you create a column (List side, shown here, OR Settings side) you can only choose Plain Text or Enhanced Rich Text.

I set up a test with three multiple line of text columns, each with a different configuration, and off I went. The strange thing is that I remember that a MLOT in RT always had a few formatting options, but the entry field looks exactly like the Plain Text.

The Rich Text looks and behaves exactly like the Plain text, even when you add and select some content. No formatting options whatsoever.

However, when you save the entries and check what it looks like , the RT field looks different than the others, and indeed, the behaviour is as described.

The Rich Text displays differently than the Plain and Enhanced Rich Text. It does not align texts properly.

Addtionally, when I edited Experiment 2, you see the : behaves strangely:

Strange behaviour with this : in Edit mode. It looks OK in view mode.

Additonally, when I checked the configuration of the Rich Text column from the List side, I noticed that the “Enhanced Rich Text” option was selected. When I pressed “Cancel”, nothing happened, but when I clicked “Save” the columns changed into Enhanced Rich Text.
It is not relevant for this case, but it confirms that there is something strange with this option.

The option appears to be already on, but not really implemented until you click Save.

The solution

You might have guessed: I changed all Rich Text fields to Plain Text, as that is sufficient for their needs and behaves a bit better.

Does anyone know if my beloved Rich Text is going away? As we are moving more towards configuring from the List page rather than from List Settings I am afraid so. I could not find anything about it, but if I have overlooked something, please let me know!

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.

Pin, save, follow, favourite the “Microsoft365 stuff you like”

While writing my latest post I came across the different words, icons and mechanisms to store “content you like and/or want to be able to find quickly later”.

So, I wrote this overview to know what is what. You may be able to use it when writing help texts and do not want to go and look what it’s called, or it may help you to understand what a colleague means exactly. There’s quite a few words and icons used for the same functionality.

I have captured the following for every application:

  1. Terminology for the action
  2. Terminology for undoing the action
  3. Icon
  4. Where you can find it later
  5. Anything remarkable

Homepage:

  1. Add to favourites
  2. Remove from favourites
  3. ‚≠ź (star)
  4. Favourites tab on the M365 homepage
  5. You can add everything that appears in the list to your Favourites. This is one way to save any interesting OneDrive or SharePoint documents for later.
    The other way is on the respective Word, Excel and PowerPoint online landing pages, where you can add them to favourites. These will be shown on the Microsoft365 homepage as well.
    There was an extra option in SharePoint but that has disappeared.
On the Microsoft365 homepage, you can add all content types shown to your Favourites by clicking the … . You can find them under the Favourites tab

Delve

  1. Add to favourites (popup text when you hover over it)
  2. Remove from favourites
  3. ūüŹ∑ (label)
  4. Left-hand rail in Delve under Favourites
  5. Not sure about the exact words in 1. and 2. as I had to test this on my work account and that is in Dutch. (My own tenant only has me, and that means no suggested content)
    You can also create Favourite Boards.
Screenshot from my work account, so it is in Dutch. You can click the label below a document and you will be able to find it under “Favourites” in Delve.

Forms

  1. Add to pinned
  2. Remove from pinned
  3. ūüďĆ (pin)
  4. Forms Homepage under Pinned
  5. This action does not influence what is on your Microsoft365 homepage and vice versa
You can Pin a form from the Forms homepage and you will then see it under the Pinned tab.

Lists

  1. Favourite this list
  2. Remove this list from favourites
  3. ‚≠ź (star)
  4. Lists Homepage under Favourites
  5. This action does not influence what is on your Microsoft365 homepage and vice versa
You can favourite a list from the Lists Homepage or in the list itself. This one works like SharePoint sites, right? You can see your favourites on top of the Lists homepage.

OneNote

  1. Add to pinned
  2. Remove from pinned
  3. ūüďĆ
  4. Pinned Notebooks are shown on the OneNote landing page, under the tab “Pinned”.
  5. So this is different from Word, Excel and PowerPoint while they are usually in the same range.
OneNote uses Pinning, contrary to Word, Excel and PowerPoint which use Favourite.

Outlook

  1. Pin
  2. Unpin
  3. ūüďĆ (pin)
  4. Pinned mails are shown on top of your Inbox, see also my post “12 reasons why I ūüíó Outlook on the web (owa)
  5. Only available in Outlook for the web, not in Outlook desktop
One of the reasons I love Outlook on the web! You can pin mails you want to keep to the top.

Planner

  1. Add to favourites
  2. Remove from favourites
  3. ‚≠ź(star)
  4. Left-hand rail in Planner
  5. Plans only; you can not favourite an individual task
You can add a Plan to your favourites by clicking the star next to the name, or by clicking the … and then selecting Add to favourites. You will see your favourite Plans on the left-hand side.

SharePoint Sites:

  1. Not following
  2. Follow
  3. ‚≠ź (star)
  4. Follow block in left-hand rail on SharePoint homepage, world icon in the SharePoint app bar
  5. Followed sites also appear as target sites when you copy or move files from OneDrive or SharePoint
You can follow a site from the SharePoint home page or in the site itself, by clicking on the star. In this screenshot, I am NOT following the Communication site. You can find your followed sites on the top left of this page and in some other places.

SharePoint News:

  1. Save for later
  2. Remove from your saved items
  3. ūüŹ∑ (label)
  4. See my earlier post
  5. Will be shown together with favourited documents, see my earlier posts
One way to see your “Saved for later” items is on the SharePoint homepage.

Stream

  1. Add to watchlist
  2. Remove from watchlist
  3. ūüďĄ (list)
  4. My content tab > Watchlist
  5. You can also “like” a video but there is no list of your likes – “likes” are a compliment to the creator
You can add a video to the watchlist – all added video’s can be seen under My content > Watchlist

Sway

  1. Add to pinned
  2. Remove from pinned
  3. ūüďĆ (pin)
  4. On the Sway homepage, tab “Pinned”
You can pin a Sway and it will appear under the tab Pinned on the Sway homepage.

Teams

  1. Save this message
  2. Unsave this message
  3. ūüŹ∑ (label)
  4. Profile picture top right > “Saved”
  5. You can also Pin a message, but that means you will add the message for everyone in a specific place, so this has a different purpose.
You can Save a message for later by clicking the … on the top right of the message, You can find all saved messages by clicking on your profile pic and selecting “Saved”.

Yammer communities

  1. None, just an icon underneath the community image + description
  2. Remove from favorites
  3. ūüß° (heart)
  4. Left-hand rail under “Favorites”
  5. There is also the option to Pin a post, but that is done by the admin for everyone, so this has a different purpose.
You can “ūüíó” a Yammer community, it will be shown in the left-hand rail.

Conclusion:

The functionality to save a specific content item for later is available in most apps. I could not find it in Whiteboard, ToDo or Power Automate, and please let me know if I have missed anything.
Next to this personal action, there is often a group action where you can make something easily available for your team. This is usually called “Pinning” ūüďĆ

The nomenclature and imagery vary widely, and I would appreciate some more consistency. Personally, I tend to prefer “Save for later”. That is very clear, even more so than “Add to favourites”. We can then use the word “Pinning” for group actions, such as pinning a document to the top of a SharePoint library, a message to the top of a Yammer groep or a chat to the right of a Teams channel.
I also notice that the location where you can find your darlings varies widely too.

So, Microsoft, is this in the roadmap for a little more streamlining? ūüôā

And while we are on this topic, I would also like to be able to categorize or group things using my own words, when I have more than 10, for instance. I seem to remember you could do that with SharePoint sites in earlier SharePoint versions. (On-prem, perhaps) And I know that Forms will have Collections (check out Mike Tholfsens’s video) in the near future, but I am looking forward to be able to do that with other content.

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. ūü§Į

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. ūü§Į
The Forms that you “pin” on the Forms landing page will also appear on the Favourites tab. ūü§Į

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. ūü§Į

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 ūüôā )

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! ūüôā 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. ūüôā

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. ūüôā

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‚Äôd 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 ūüôā

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! ūüôā

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! ūüôā

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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā

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! ‚Äď 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 ūüôā
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 ‚Äď 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!