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.

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!

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 ūüôā

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 ‚Äď 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!

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!

Leaving the organization gracefully

We all know that your personal mailbox, agenda and personal documents will be deleted some time after you leave the organization.

But recently we have seen that more and more team content is stored (and automagically shared) on personal OneDrives, which means that when someone leaves, that shared content will be deleted and lost.
Owners may not be aware that they are the owner of the video, file or Whiteboard, and that these resources live on their OneDrive.
Colleagues of leaving employees may be in for several unpleasant surprises.

I tried to compile a list of things to look for, so if you are the leaver, you can check these items and decide if they needed to be handed over. You will save your colleagues, your manager and your Microsoft365 admins a lot of hassle!

Yes, the manager will have control of your OneDrive for some time after you have left, but

  • do they know enough about the details of your work to know what to keep and what to let go?
  • do you really want to burden them with this?
  • do you want to leave your remaining colleagues in the dark about team stuff?

If you know that a colleague is leaving, you may want to help him/her with checking NOW which content you need after they have gone.

Step 1: Teams Meetings

Are you the organizer of a regular Teams meeting? The meetings will keep running, but nobody will be able to change dates or times, add or delete invitees, or manage the meeting details. At this moment it is not possible to transfer the ownership, but I think that is in the Roadmap.
It is therefore important to either

  • Stop or cancel the meeting, and ask a colleague to re-schedule it. This will mean that meeting links and resources will change. This is the best suggestion for smaller meetings.
  • For meetings with many attendees, a collague can duplicate the event by opening the meeting, clicking on the … and then “Duplicate event”. The meeting will the be copied with the same invitees. The new owner can then remove the old organizer and make sure times and recurrence is OK. This will send a message to all people in the meeting, but in any case you do not have to add them all again.
    This will also change link and resources.
  • Check meeting chats for important files or attendee reports or recordings that needs to be safe-guarded in SharePoint.

Step 2: Regular files – copy or move to Teams/SharePoint or delete

  • Documents
  • Attachments (from Outlook)
  • Notebooks
  • Pictures
  • Office Lens
  • Transcribed files

Step 3: Special files

I have based this list on the various OneDrive folders as described in my earlier post “Who created those folders in my OneDrive?

Microsoft Teams Chat Files : everything you have shared in private chats

Do you realize that all those screenshots, funny videos and other stuff, that you have ever shared in a private chat (which means: not shared in a Teams channel) live on your OneDrive and will therefore be lost when you leave? It will not be big issue for that silly gif that made your colleague smile when they were feeling down, but there may be relevant documents or screenshots that your colleagues want to keep.

So, you can either check the Microsoft Teams Chat Files folder in your OneDrive, or scroll through your private chats. Upload the files to a relevant Teams/SharePoint site or send them as attachment to your colleagues. (Usually not recommended, but they will need their own document)

Now you will understand why Matt Wade, in his Definitive Guide to Everyday Etiquette in Microsoft Teams, says: “Work should not be completed in private chat”. (Page 14) ūüôā

Microsoft Teams Data: Meeting notes from Teams meetings

This contains the Meeting Notes you have created in Teams meetings. I personally do not use this very often to take notes, as I think the functionality is rather limited, but it is helpful in emergencies. Additionally, it does not open easily from OneDrive, I had to select an app to open it (it is an .mht file).

Do you have Meeting Notes that you would want to keep? Copy the text into a Word or OneNote document in the relevant Teams/SharePoint site.

Recordings: Videos from Teams meetings

Another shared resource that is being stored in a personal location. Make sure you move the video(s) that need to be kept to Stream or Teams/SharePoint.

Whiteboards: Sketching sessions (can be from Teams meetings)

At this moment Whiteboards are still stored in Azure, but they will follow the Recording path and be stored in the OneDrive of the person who creates the Whiteboard. This is expected to happen in October 2021, according to the Microsoft Roadmap.

I expect you will be able to copy/move Whiteboards, and I will update this post when I know more.

Step 4: Applications

Forms – the Forms themselves

Please check out my earlier post on how to handle Forms when you leave.

Forms – files from “File Upload” questions will be in a folder called Apps

If the Form will still be running after you leave, please move ownership of the Form to a relevant Teams/SharePoint site as mentioned above.
If you still need these uploaded files, whether the Form is still running or not, please move them to the appropriate Teams/SharePoint site.

This question type will create a folder in your OneDrive to store the documents – please make sure they are preserved if they are still needed!

Workflows

Power Automate workflows are not stored in your OneDrive, but they are personal. Your Flow will keep running (if it is not something in your personal apps, of course) but if it needs an authentication, or needs an edit, it will need a new owner.

You can simply share the Flow with a colleague, so you co-own the Flow.

In your “My Flows” you can select the workflow and share it with your successor. Make sure they have permissions to the source info!

If you have not done that before you leave, your Administrator will be able to hand it over to your colleague. But hey, your Admin is usually busy enough and all those individual fixes take a lot of time! ūüôā

How to manage orphan flows when the owner leaves the organization (microsoft.com)

Stream

Do you have any instruction videos that may be useful later, or do you have any old meeting recordings that should be kept?
In Stream, go to “My content” and then “Videos” and see what needs to be transferred. Open the video in question, click the … and select “Update video details”. See screenshot.

More info: Permissions and privacy in Microsoft Stream – Office Support

Here’s how to start changing ownership of a video. Not the most obvious wording ūüôā

PowerApps

I do not have too much experience with PowerApps, so I have found a blog that explains how to transfer PowerApps: HOW TO: Change PowerApps Owner | Todd Baginski’s Blog

Lists

For lists in a SharePoint site, you do not necessarily have to change ownership, as generally all Owners will be owner of the List.

For personal lists, that live somewhere in your OneDrive, it may not be so easy. You will have to recreate the list in a SharePoint site. You can use the Excel file as a basis (see my earlier posts on the topic). I hope Microsoft will make moving a personal list to a SharePoint site easier in future!

SharePoint sites

Make sure you appoint another Owner if you are the only one (which is not a good idea, I always suggest to have at least 2 Owners for backup)

You may also want to check the permissions to content that is important for the team, and make sure it will still have an Owner after you have left. Appoint another Owner or, even better, make sure that the permissions of that content follows the permissions of the site.

Have I missed anything?

Or do you have any experiences or suggestions to share? Please let me know!

Update 7 June 2021:

Good addition from Loryan Strant, I do not have too much experience with the apps mentioned (except for OneNote, of course) but be aware if you are using them!