5 steps to clean up your Outlook on-the-web mailbox

CleanOutlookheaderSome time ago we introduced the Microsoft365 F3-license into our organization. I work in a health care organization and the majority of our staff is providing care and counseling to our clients and patients. They work mostly with the official patient/client data application. They do not use Office365 heavily.

The F3-license differs in the following aspects from the E3 or E5 license used in larger and more office-based organizations. (See also Marijn Somers’ post on this topic)

  • No desktop apps – it is all online
  • 2 GB Outlook mailbox instead of 100 GB
  • 2 GB OneDrive instead of 1 TB
  • No Delve app visible (on the Office365 landing page) or available (on mobile devices) – but I have a workaround
  • A few limitations in Skype-for-business – as F3 users can not organize meetings or share content. Teams meetings appear not to have these limitations, by the way. (I have had varied results so I am a little careful)

When we made the change, about 10% of users had more than 2 GB in their Outlook on- the-web mailbox, so we sent them a message about what was going to happen and gave them suggestions for cleaning up.
I have noticed that there is a vast amount of support for Outlook on the intranet but it is mainly for the desktop app and trust me, there is a BIG difference between the Outlook desktop and Outlook on-the-web.
BTW, I just found Nate Chamberlain’s tips to clean up your Outlook desktop!

So, here’s what we advise our colleagues. Feel free to re-use and embellish!

1. Empty the Deleted Items folder.

Apparently there is no tenant-wide option for Outlook Online to empty the the Deleted Items folder when you log out. (It is possible for the desktop app)
So, it is possible that you have years of Deleted Items in that folder, eating up space! If you know your Deleted Items are there to be deleted, the fastest way is this:

  • Right-click on the name Deleted Items in the left-hand menu
  • Click “Empty Folder”
CleanOutlook-deleteditems
You do not even have to open your Deleted Items folder in order to empty it!

If you have > 500 messages in there, or if you want to check what you are deleting, it may be best to do this in batches:

  • Open the Deleted Items folder
  • Select a number of messages
  • Click “Delete” from the top bar
  • Repeat when the selected items have been deleted
CleanOutlook-selecteditems
Open folder, select items and click Delete is a more gentle way to clean up.

The deleted messages will be stored in a new place. You will see this in your Deleted Items folder, called “Recover items deleted from this folder”.
The “Recoverable Items” works like the SharePoint or OneDrive Recycle bin. You can restore messages back to their original location within 14 days (default) or longer (tenant setting) after deletion.
Items in the Recoverable Items do not consume storage space.ย 

CleanOutlook-deleteditemsrecoverable
I only recently discovered this nifty option to recover deleted emails! It is in the Deleted Items folder.

CleanOutlook-recoverable

Select an item, click “Restore” and your message will be back to the original folder, i.e. Inbox or Sent Items or what not.

Now that your Deleted Items is empty, let’s go to the next step.

2. Check storage space.

There used to be a cool function in Outlook On The Web that showed you the storage space usage of each folder. However, with the most recent version (August 2019) that option has gone, so you can only see the total storage now.*

  • Click the Gear Wheel top right and then “View all Outlook settings”
  • ย Go to “General”, then click “Storage” and you will see how much you are using.
CleanOutlook-storage
Sadly, not a lot of detail here.

When a F1-user reaches 1,98 GB of storage space, they will get a warning message. (This is default, but the warning limit can be lowered by the Exchange admin if you want to give people some more breathing space)
They will also no longer be able to send messages at that point. So it is important to keep well away from 1,98 GB.

3. Clean up your largest folders.

Deleted Items, Inbox and Sent Items are generally the main storage space hoarders. Depending on your organization’s settings, Junk Mail can be a biggie, too.
So let’s start there with two sorting exercises:

a. Sort on largest items

In your Inbox, click Filter (top left), then Sort on Size, largest on top.
Check if you still need these messages. If they contain large attachments, save the attachments to OneDrive. You can move them to SharePoint later, if needed.
If the email text is important, you can save it as a PDF and store it on OneDrive or SharePoint.
Delete the message once you have safeguarded the content in another place. Or just delete it if it is no longer of value.

CleanOutlook-filterlargest
How to sort the contents of a mailbox folder on size.

b. Sort on oldest items

In your Inbox, click Filter (top left), then Sort on Date, oldest on top.
Do you really still need the oldest messages? If yes, store them in OneDrive or SharePoint as above before deleting.

Repeat steps a. and b. for Sent Items and any other folders that contain a lot of data.

4. Repeat steps 1 and 2 (and perhaps 3).

I have helped a lot of colleagues through this process and these steps were usually sufficient to get below the 1,98 GB threshold. If not, you will have to take step 3 again and be a little more strict.

5. Auto-empty the Deleted Items folder.

Now that you have a cleaner mailbox, you will want to keep it that way! You can empty your Deleted Items automatically after sign-out as follows:

  • Click the Gear Wheel top right and then “View all Outlook settings”
  • ย In Email, go to Message Handling, check the first box and click Save.
CleanOutlook-emptydeleteditems
How to make sure your Deleted Items is emptied on a regular basis.

Another time, I will discuss a few more ways to save space and hassle!

It was fun writing this post – my own mailbox is smaller now as well ๐Ÿ™‚

——————–

* For as long as it lasts (November 2019), there IS a way to see the individual folder size.

Use this link and this will take you to the old interface where you can see the individual folder’s size:ย https://outlook.office.com/owa/?path=/options/mailboxcleanup

CleanOutlook-foldersizeindiv
For as long as it lasts: the old Outlook interface. You can see individual folder size + do some deleting from here based on message age.

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 steps to retrieve a lost SharePoint document

SPdocgone-header2We frequently get calls from colleagues whose documents have “disappeared” from their SharePoint site. Over time, we have come up with a few steps to investigate and (often) find them.

They are comparable with the steps taken when you misplace a OneDrive document, but finding lost documents in SharePoint is a bit more complicated than finding them in OneDrive:

  • Other people can edit or delete documents
  • You only have 1 OneDrive (which is one document library), but you probably work in multiple document libraries in multiple SharePoint sites
  • Permissions can vary within and across sites

On the plus side, there is a Site Owner and a SharePoint admin who may be able to help you out!

What could have happened?

These are the most frequent “disappearing acts” of documents:

  • Deleted (deleting a synced folder without disconnecting it first also deletes the documents from SharePoint!)
  • Renamed
  • Moved to another folder in the same document library
  • Moved to another library in the site
  • Moved to another site. This means the original document has been deleted.
  • Moved to your OneDrive
  • Permissions have changed and you no longer have access
  • Metadata have changed so it appears in a different view than usual

Which tools are available?

  • Search
  • Recycle bin
  • The document details pane
  • The site owner or your SharePoint admin

Where to start?

Just like my post about the disappeared web parts and lost documents on OneDrive, I have thought about the best possible order to use the available tools. It may appear to be fastest if you go to the Recycle Bin first, but that may be quite a chore if your site is active, your document has been deleted some time ago and/or document name, the author or the suspected deleter starts with M or N. Sadly you can only Sort, and not Search, in the Recycle bin.

My suggestion would be to first try and find the document in the original library. But please, feel free to disagree! It also depends…:)

1. Search in the Document Library where it used to live

Found it? Open it to see whether this is the document you are looking for. It has most likely been moved from one folder to another, or metadata has changed so it appears in a different view. Take step 2 to find the location if you do not see it straight away and/or confirm with step 7 to see what exactly has happened if you are curious.

SPdocgone-searchlibrary
There are two documents in this library. You can click to open them from there or click “Show more results”

No luck? Move on!

2. Search in the SharePoint site

You can easily do this by clicking “Expand search to all items in this site” on the bottom of the Search results page from step 1.

SPdocgone-searchlibrary2
You do not get any more results in this case, nor the exact location of your documents, but this view allows you to expand search and that will give you more info.
SPdocgone-searchlibrary3
So there is another result if you search in the site. If you get too many results, you may want to use the Files tab and/or the Filters to narrow down. And…this view will show you the path of the document!

Found it? Note down the path and navigate to it to confirm this is the correct document. The document has been moved to another library. Confirm with step 7 if you feel the need.

No luck? Move on!

After this, you can do what is most easy for you.

3. Search from the SharePoint landing page

Found it? Well you are lucky! Unless your document has a very unique name, it will be hard to find between all the other documents in your organization. (Of course, using the Files tab and the Filters should help a little). So, it has been moved to another site. Note down the path and confirm it is the correct document. Confirm with step 7.

SPdocgone-spsearch
Results from SharePoint search. In this case you get results from all of SharePoint, so it will be necessary to narrow down the results by using the Files tab and the Filters. You see there is also a result from OneDrive.

Results from OneDrive are also shown in SharePoint search, so if you have accidentally moved the document to OneDrive, you will find it there as well. Unless you want to know WHEN you did this, there’s no need to confirm with step 7 as you are the only one who could have done this. ๐Ÿ™‚

No luck? It has probably been deleted, renamed or had its permissions changed (with or without moving). Take any of the next steps to find out.

4. Search in Office365

Frankly, chances are slim that you will find it here but you can try! If it is not in OneDrive and not in SharePoint (including Teams) it may be in Outlook or Yammer but would you not remember if you have done that? But, just to be on the safe side, give it a try.

Found it? Congratulations! Now move it back to where it belongs!

No luck? Well, you really did not expect to find it after all your other trials, right? Time to look in the Recycle bin.

5. Check the Recycle bin

Found it? Restore it.

No luck? Move on!

6. Ask the site owner if they know, or to search in Library or Site

Found it? It has probably moved to a place to where you do not have access, or you have actively been removed from the access group. Discuss with the site owner to give you access again, if possible.

No luck? Move on.

7. Check the Document Library’s details pane

In some cases you may want to do this earlier, but especially in a busy SharePoint site you need to scroll a lot! If someone knows a good way to export the data into a nice Excel file or something, please let me know.

The details pane is context-sensitive and will display different details depending whether you are on the document library landing page or in a folder.

DisappearedDocs-infopane
Nice icons, clear descriptions and clickable links for documents that are still in this folder or library. Deleted documents are not clickable.

Found it? Confirm it is the correct document and note down the path and/or new name.

No luck? There is one last option…to be done when all else fails.

8. Ask your SharePoint administrator

Your SharePoint admin will likely have permissions to everything so if they can not find the document in Office365 search, it will not exist in its original shape anymore.
Additionally, they can also check the 2nd stage Recycle bin to see if it has been deleted.

Found it in Office365 Search? Confirm it is the document, note down the path and ask the site owner to give you permissions again.
Found it in the 2nd Stage Recycle bin? Ask your SharePoint admin to restore it.
Confirm what has happened with step 7 and give your SharePoint admin a compliment on Yammer or Teams for everyone to see! ๐Ÿ™‚

No luck? Sorry….

Any other thoughts?

Did I miss something? Do you think there is a better order? Any other tricks to share? Please let me know!

Image courtesy of ronnieb on Morguefile.com

4 steps to retrieve a lost OneDrive document

onedrivegone-headerWe sometimes get calls from colleagues who have lost a document in their OneDrive. Over time we have learned some procedures to try and find it.
Please be aware that the majority of my colleagues has a F3-license, so I am focusing on OneDrive Online only.

What could have happened?

  • Deleted
  • Renamed
  • Moved to another folder
  • Moved to SharePoint (which means deleted from your OneDrive)

Which tools are available?

  • Search
  • Recycle bin
  • Document details pane

Where to start?

I would suggest to start either with Search or the Recycle bin. I love the details pane, and it has greatly improved since I last wrote about it, but as almost every change is captured, you will have a lot of scrolling to do.

So let’s start with

1. Search in OneDrive

OneDrivegone-search
The search results will show you where the document lives now. If you have many results, use the Filter option top right to narrow down the options. You can filter on modified date, document type and people’s names.

Found it? Phew, that was quick! That means it has been moved to another folder. Confirm it is the correct document and note down the new location. If you want to know WHEN you did this, check out the document details pane. Move the document back to its original folder if the move was an accident.

No luck? Well, there’s other ways to look!

2. Check the Recycle bin

onedrivegone-recyclebin
The search box does not work for the Recycle bin. You can only sort.

Sadly you can only Sort in the Recycle bin, not Search, so if your document’s name starts with M or N, and it has been deleted some time ago, you will have to scroll a great deal.

Found it? Restore it! It will be back into its original folder, but if you forgot which one that was, you can Search again.

No luck? Well, it has been deleted or… it may have been moved to SharePoint more than 93 days ago, so let’s just have a look there.

3. Search on the SharePoint landing page

onedrivegone-sharepoint
You will see where the document has moved to. If you get a lot of results, use the filter option!

Found it? Congratulations! Confirm it is the document you are looking for and remember where it is.

No luck? Most likely you have either deleted the document more than 93 days ago, or renamed the document. There’s only one way to find out!

4. Look in the document details pane

As I mentioned above, you can do this as step 1 or 2 but if you are using your OneDrive intensively, you may need to scroll a lot and the other steps may be quicker.

The details pane has improved a lot since I last wrote about it. It is now available for OneDrive for Business,ย  has clear icons and displays almost every change. It is context sensitive, so will display different things depending whether you are on your OneDrive landing page or in a folder. It also has clickable links for all documents that are still there. So please use this to check if the document has been renamed and/or moved.
If you have not been able to find the document in another way, this is the one option left. Scroll down until you see a “Deleted” or “Renamed” action for the document in question.

Onedrivegone-detailspane
To create this screenshot, I created a new document from OneDrive, gave it a name, added text in the document, deleted and restored it, and then moved it to another folder. Now you have all the icons and descriptions!

Moving a document to SharePoint only results in a “Deleted” mention, so you have no indication whether it has been moved to SharePoint or just plain deleted.

Found it? Hopefully you renamed it! Click on the title and find out where it lives.

No luck? Sorry, this is all that I can think of…

Can you blame the person with whom you shared the document?

No. If you share the document with someone, they can only edit the text in the document. They can not rename, move or delete the file.

Any other thoughts?

Did I miss something? Do you think there is a better order? Any other tricks to share? Please let me know!

Next time…

…We are going to complicate things by trying to retrieve lost documents from SharePoint!

Picture by ronnieb on Morguefile.

And even more about Forms

Forms appears to be top of my mind these days. It’s near the end of the year and lots of evaluations need to be done ๐Ÿ™‚ so I am searching the organization for opportunities to make the switch from other tools or processes to Forms.

GlurenbijdeburenAnother “win”

Every year my organization has a week where you can spend (half) a day with another department. This has mutual benefits as you can well imagine. This process involves:

  1. Making an inventory of which departments are open for receiving visitors that week
  2. Asking employees which one of the “open” departments they are interested to visit and when

When I joined the organization last year, I had seen the Google form for item 2. and I made a resolution to try and help the organizer move that to Microsoft Forms this year. So recently we sat together toย  create the Form and it turned out she had some doubts about the inventory. Last year she had sent out emails to various departments with some questions, and it was a lot of hassle to collect the data and get the overview. So I suggested she create a Form instead in order to

  • make sure that everyone replies to all questions
  • get everything collated into a tidy Excel sheet without having to copy it all manually

So, we created a Form and she sent an email with the request to complete the Form.ย  (Which is additional advertising and awareness for Forms, I hope!)

Then we set about to create the Form where employees can specify their interest and preferred date. As this had already been set up as an online form, this was rather simple. We could even shorten the form because we decided to collect people’s name and email address automatically.
When the inventory is completed, she just needs to add the dates and departments to the Form and the announcement can be posted on the intranet with a link to the Form.

So, unexpectedly we could move two processes to Forms! Yay! (Those little wins always put a big smile on my face)

Handing over ownership of a Form before it has been distributed

According to Microsoft, you need to add a Form to an Office365 Group if you want to hand over ownership. This will make sure that the data will be handed over as well.
If you do not have a Group for this purpose, and the Form has not been distributed yet, the original owner can Share the form with the new one, and the new Owner can then Copy it to make it his/her own.
This may come in useful when someone is leaving the organization (and whose account and content will be deleted) has created a Form that still needs to be introduced to the organization.

Share-ShareOne
Step 1: As the current owner, use “Share to Collaborate” if you want to share or handover Form ownership

Forms-Copy
Step 2. As the new owner, on the “Shared with Me” tab, click the 3 little dots top right of the Form to be copied, and click Copy

Top 3 differences between Forms and Forms Pro

In my earlier post I mentioned I did not quite get the benefits of Forms Pro, but then Doug Allen wrote a post that made things clearer to me. Especially the options for sharing of the survey, and the analysis and follow-up of survey results are much better than regular Forms. Those examples were quite an eye-opener for me.

Be a quiz-master!

I have done some experiments with the Quiz option but I was not overly impressed. It only works well for multiple-choice questions. I think it needs some more work, either from Microsoft or from myself ๐Ÿ™‚

However, Rebecca Jackson has dug a bit deeper and she says you can be quite a quizmaster, so I guess the “more work” is on MY ToDo list ๐Ÿ™‚

So, what have you found out regarding quizzes?

Photo by Gigi on Unsplash

More about Forms

New icon!

FormsHave you noticed that Forms has a new icon? I have been unable to get a good large file but here’s a screenshot from my tenant.
Planner and To Do have new icons as well.

Comparison of Forms and Forms Pro

Megan V. Walker has recently created an excellent comparison of Forms vs. Forms Pro.  Apart from more options in the typeface part, you have more options to integrate data from other Office365 applications.
However, the licensing cost for Forms Pro is quite high in my opinion, so I will try to guide people to the regular Forms as much as possible.
A few colleagues had the Forms Pro Free Trial and they experienced issues when their trial expired. Once I removed the Pro Free license from their accounts, all worked well again, except that your Forms created in Pro are no longer accessible. Any results you captured, are still available. Be aware!

Check out Megan’s blog as she has tons more info on Forms and Forms Pro.

I do not think anyone will ever create a SharePoint survey any more ๐Ÿ˜ฆ , but if you are still interested, or want to know how if Forms is a good replacement for SurveyMonkey or GoogleForms, here’s my earlier comparison of survey tools:

Forms or survey – that’s the question (on the question/answer types)

Forms or survey – what are the settings? (on the general settings)

Forms or survey – responses and results (on the way responses are shown and general opinion)

And a beauty contest!

Some months ago I shared an invitation to a farewell party in our Yammer group, as an example of Forms. It was to invite internal and external attendees and ask them for their attendance and dietary preferences. I had helped the organizer create it, and he got it immediately and included some lovely pictures.

This was the start of an informal “contest” in my organization on who can create the best-looking form. ๐Ÿ™‚
One of my colleagues no longer sends Outlook invitations for large meetings, but creates a nice-looking Form, which means she gets fewer emails and has all responses in a tidy Excel sheet.  I guess the receivers are pleasantly surprised by a nice-looking invite rather than a plain Outlook one.
Another colleague is carefully matching images and colours in her themes, and has even added a link to a hexcode website to her browser favourites!
I wonder if they are now thinking up new events just to be able to create a great-looking Form for it! ๐Ÿ™‚
I freqently get calls where people mention “this person has created a beautiful survey and now I want one as well – how do I do that”.
And if all goes well we may replace a third-party application with a simple Form in the next few months. Fingers crossed!

This all delights me as I am working in a health care organization and most colleagues have different priorities than sitting at a desk at a computer.

(Something similar is happening with the SharePoint modern pages by the way, which is another pleasant surprise. More about that later)

So, invitations for larger meetings appear to be THE Forms application in my organization. What’s your number one scenario for Forms?

An alternative way to dive into Delve

Delve-headerDelve is an interesting part of Office365.

In my previous organization I often received complaints about what was shown in Delve. Exactly like the results you see in Search, what you see is what you have access to, and for many people this was hard to understand. Every time the Search or Delve results got questioned (“Search is broken!”) I could prove that this person saw this search result or this document card on Delve because they had access to it, whether that was desired or not. I loved this demonstration of the importance of proper permissions management ๐Ÿ™‚
In Search, any mismanagement of permissions only becomes apparent when you are actively searching, but in Delve “content finds YOU” so it is ruthlessly in-your-face.

Joanne Klein has written a great post on Delve and how to disable it – entirely or partially.

In my current organization we have not promoted it very much yet, so when we recently changed a number of licenses from E1 to F1 and then to F3, we did not consider the fact that the Delve app would no longer be visible for the F3-users, a big risk.
However, we received a question from someone who uses the people-part for looking up managers and direct reports, so I found three alternative options.

1. Via “My Office Profile”

After all, the Delve “Me” page is your profile page, so that should be available for every user. Just click on your picture top right and select “My Office profile”.

Delve-myprofile
“My Office profile” leads to your Delve “Me” page

 

2. Via the URL

Delve is available for users if they are logged in to Office365 and use the following URL: https://<datacenterlocation&gt;.delve.office.com.
For our organization and my own tenant this is https://eur.delve.office.com and for a tenant in the UK this would be https://gbr.delve.office.com
I do not have access to any other tenants so I can not give you the “code” for other data centers but please take a look at your Delve to see what it is. It may come in useful one day.

Delve-Mepage
My Delve page. The URL will resolve itself to yours as soon as you enter the URL.

3. Via Outlook (people data only)

Like Delve, Outlook also uses Active Directory so all people data is also in Outlook.
Users with an F1-license use the Outlook On The Web experience and they can see people’s managers and direct reports in the people card.
When you hover over a person’s name (searched or from an email) you will first see the small card, which expands into a larger card. When you click “Show more” you will see a ton of info, including the “Organisation” which will allow you to see a person’s manager and direct reports. In my case the tab is greyed-out because I am the only one in my tenant and have not set up AD.

Delve-Mepage2
Lots of info available if you click “Show more” on the extended hover card. The “Organization” tab will show you direct reports and managers.

4. “Discover” on the Office 365 start page (documents only)

The Home page in Delve shows a mix of documents that are popular or have been edited recently by people you work with.
The Office365 homepage has a tab called “Discover” which shows you a mix of recent documents from others.

Delve-discover
The “Discover” tab, showing you a mix of documents from your “circle”.

When I compared the two I found these were very similar except for

  • Content: the “Discover” tab on the Office365 homepage only shows documents from OneDrive and SharePoint, while the Delve page shows documents from OneDrive, SharePoint and Outlook
  • Display: Delve shows cards, the “Discover” tab can show tiles or list items
Delve-documentcard
A Delve card, which shows modified date, preview, views, and allows adding to favorites and boards
Delve-documenttile
A tile in the Office365 homepage, showing much less info than the card

Sadly I can not share any comparative screenshots as I can only see this in my work tenant. I am the only user in my tenant so there is nothing to share from others.
But trust me, the Discover tab is an alternative, albeit not a full one, for the Delve Home page.

What’s next for Delve?

My colleague was happy with the alternatives provided.

But when I found this all out I wondered if Delve may be going away as a separate workload as the functionality is now embedded in other, more frequently used, tools. It also has not been included in the recent icon redesign, which may be a clue as well. Would anyone know?
Just as I was writing this post, I found this post from John Liu (in response to a Tweet about Delve from Joanne Klein) who is also wondering about the future of Delve – he has a good idea for its development.

So let’s wait and see if Delve keeps being a separate app, but with added functionality, or will be absorbed into relevant other workloads in Office365…

Photo by Matthew T Rader from Pexelsย 

10 things to know as a SharePoint News reader

spnewsreader-headerIn earlier posts we have looked at SharePoint News and the News digest from the sender’s perspective. It is time to look at it from a reader’s point of view!

1. You can find SharePoint News in the following places:

  1. The site where it has been published
  2. The site overview (click “See all” on the web part after publishing 5 articles)
  3. News digests (Newsletters), consisting of the above, gathered with previews in an email
  4. The SharePoint app
  5. “News from sites” on the SharePoint landing page
  6. ย All “News from sites” if you click the “See all” on the SharePoint landing page

To avoid a very long post, I have compiled some screenshots in this deck. You may want to watch it full-screen:

2. You will only see News articles to which you have access.

The News digest is an exception – it can be sent to you and you may not have access to one or more of the articles.

3. The SharePoint web part on the landing page can not be configured or removed.

So if anyone is posting News articles and you have access, you will see them there, whether you want it or not.

Our project was a first and we did not want to show the News to everyone just yet. That is why we made the News site and the News digest available to a limited group of people only, even thought the content was not confidential. We simply did not want to confront people with something new which may be there only once. (In theory ๐Ÿ™‚ )

We received some comments of people in the target audience because it “obscured their view of the Frequent Sites”.

4. You can like a page and/or comment on it.

You will find the options at the bottom of the page. The author will receive an email now and then with the likes and comments. If you @mention someone, they will receive an email immediately. This is great for urgent remarks to the author, and also to inform a colleague about this article.

SPNewsreader-comment
Likes and comments are available. If you @mention someone, they will get an email.

5. You can save a news article for later.

This will come in useful when you do not have time to read it now, or in case you will want to keep it. There are 3 ways to do that:

  1. At the bottom of the post you will see an option to “Save for later”.

    SPNewsreader-savefrompost
    You can save an article for later by clicking the label at the bottom of the page.
  2. You can also click the label of any News article that you see on the “News from sites” overviews.
  3. In the SharePoint app you can click the … at the right of each article and select “Save for later”

    SPNewsreader-how to save
    From the Newsfeed in the app you can also save for later. Sorry – in Dutch ๐Ÿ™‚

There are 3 places to see your saved articles:

  1. On the News cards in “News from sites”, saved articles will show with a “filled” label as opposed to have the outline only (Is this proper English? ๐Ÿ™‚ )

    SPNewsreader-savedfromSPPage
    The highlighted label show that this News article is “saved for later”. You can (un)save on this page by clicking the label.
  2. On your SharePoint landing page, in the left-hand menu under “Saved”

    SPNewsreader-savedSPpage
    You will see “Saved” News articles in the left-hand column on the SharePoint landing page.
  3. In the SharePoint app News, under Filter (on top) you can select the “Saved Items”.

    SPNewsreader-appfilter
    Click the Filter and select “Saved Items”. Sorry for the Dutch! ๐Ÿ™‚

I would have expected this to be on Delve, together with bookmarks. But no.

6 a. The SharePoint app (iOS and Android) is excellent for reading News.

The Newsfeed (in order of First Published Date) looks great and your saved items are available in a separate place. (Click the filter on top to see only the “Saved Items”)
You can easily read the News in public transport or in the evening on the sofa!

I often hear that people “do not have time to read the news during the day”.

I also heard a story from a bank that made the News available on smartphones (this was pre-SharePoint News and app) and they saw a massive spike in views around 8 pm, when people were ready to settle in for the evening. Apparently employees do not mind spending private time on work-related News, as long as they can consume it at a time that suits them.

6 b. The Android app is very sticky when it comes to post-publication changes.

Both iOS and Android are fast to show freshly published News articles. But while the iOS app is fast to respond to post-publication changes (e.g. items being renamed, edited, depublished or removed) the Android app is very slow and can take several hours to change. Some unpublished or deleted items never even go away, providing you with a 404 (not found) message when you click them.
Android phones and fast-moving news such as IT outages and their fixes are therefore not a good combination.

7. Make it a habit to click on the title to open a News article.

Clicking on the image in the News Digest will only show you the image. Everywhere else you can also click on the image. Weird.

8. You will get notifications of new News articles in the app.

This happens when someone you work with frequently posts a new article. This is determined by the Microsoft Graph (the machine that also provides you with suggestions of documents, sites and people) based on your interactions, so there is not much you can do about it ๐Ÿ™‚

SPNewsreader-mobile (2)
Someone I work with has posted one (1) News article.

9. Alerts suck big time.

If you do not like to wait until you get a News digest or an app notification, you may think about setting an Alert. Please don’t – Alerts do not work.

Here’s what happens:

  • If you set an Alert based on “All changes” you will get two Alerts – one with the raw URL and one with the title, content and metadata. After that, you will get notified of all changes, of course.
SPNewsReader-alert1
First Alert you will get – yikes!

 

SPNewsreader-alert2
You get this one minutes later.
  • If you set an Alert for “When new items are added” you get…nothing!
  • I also tried a Flow but the “Send email when new file is added” did not work (404 error) as it links to that “raw” URL which gets overwritten. Only once did I receive the correct URL and I have no clue why.
    If someone has found a Flow that works for this scenario, please share!
  • Using a filtered view (Published items, “version contains .0”) did not solve the issue with Alerts or Flow. Besides, would any reader know that?

10. You can unlike a comment, but not news post.

Be careful with your likes on news posts: they stay there.
However, you can unlike a comment to a news post.

LikesNews
I have liked both post and comment, but can only unlike one.ย 

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

10 things to know about the SharePoint News digest

After my massive list of things-to-be-aware-of when creating and managing SharePoint News, I though it would be good to share some lessons about the News digest (Newsletter) separately.

The News digest is a Newsletter created from News articles. It looks very nice in all browser and systems:

SPNewsDigest-Newsletteremail
The News digest as an email

This is what it looks like as a page:

SPNewsDigest-Newsletterpage
The News digest page or the “web version”.

So, here’s a few things that are not in the official support article but may be relevant.

1. You need 5 published News articles before you can send a News digest.

Frankly, this one drove me nuts. I knew I had seen Jasper Oosterveld and other people demo this functionality, so why did I not see the “See all” link on the homepage? Well, because I had only posted 4 items. Duh!

SPNEwsDigest-See all
The elusive “See all” link that allows you to send a News digest

2. The order is by selecting – the first article you select is on top.

This is independent of the creating or publishing order.ย  You can change the order of items after selecting them and clicking “Next”. Using the arrows you can then drag and drop the items into the desired order. The “x” will remove the item from the selection.

SPNewsDigest-moveitems
The yellow-marked icon shows “Move” and allows you to change the order.

3. You can only send this to an Office Group, Distribution List or individuals.

It looks like you can send this only to items which appear in the Global Address List.

I would have expected you could also use a SharePoint site user group (from this site) or a personal Group of Contact Persons from your Outlook, but no. In this case, it meant that our project manager had to add all people to a Distribution List. (We are not using Office Groups yet)

4. It is unclear (to me) what determines the logo.

  • If you do nothing the logo displayed will be the new SharePoint logo
  • If you replace the site icon by another image, the logo displayed will be the old SharePoint logo
  • Your organizational logo (the one in the Office365 top bar) does not show in the News digest
  • Both the support info and this blog by Juan Carlos Gonzalez Martin show that the site icon is displayed in the News digest.

I would like to know how this works, as I would prefer to distinguish the various News digests from one another by using a custom image. On suggestion of Juan Carlos I tested this with a modern team site (instead of a Communication site), but it did not work there either. That said, if there is one site template I would expect to allow more branding, it would be the Communication site!

There is already a number of User Voice requests out there for more options to manage the News digest look-and-feel.

At this moment Microsoft says in their support article that “It is not yet possible to make changes to the appearance of images, header area, or summary area of the email.” That gives hope for the future!

5. Your News digest will display the site’s name.

So make sure your site has a meaningful name.
This is of course another good way to tell the difference between this digest and another, but I still would like to have an image, too!

SPNewsdigest-logoandname
The logo (that I would like to be customizable), and the site name.

6. Access requests will be sent for the News article, not for the site.

If someone has been forwarded the News digest, clicks on the first item and then finds out they need access, they will send an access request to the News article.
You can click “Approve”, but

  • You will only give access to this specific article, so they will have to request access for the next article and the next, etc.
  • You will break the permission inheritance in the pages library, so every page will have its own permissions.
  • They will not see the header image because that lives in the Site Assets library, to which they do not have access.

I would suggest to treat the access requests as a general request for access to the complete SITE.
In our case, I have added a link to the Visitors group on the top of the site, so the project manager can quickly open the list and add new people.

SPNewsdigest-linkontop
Easy to reach for giving access.

He grumbled a bit but is IS a sign of success when people forward the News digest ๐Ÿ™‚

By the way, the access request email looks really nice these days. Sadly you can only Approve from the email if you are an Owner (not if you use a custom role, like we do) AND you can not give permissions for the complete site from this mail, only to the link requested.

SPNewsDigest-access
The new access request mail allows you to select role (but not Group) and Approve/Decline, for this specific News article.

7. Access requests will go to the original name of the article.

Have you changed the title of your News article after publishing? When you get an access request, the original name will be shown. If you have forgotten what it was, never mind – another reason to give access to the complete site! ๐Ÿ™‚

SPNewsDigest-accessrenamed
I renamed that article into “Share your best holiday pix” but the request goes to the old name ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

8. You can send this to external users.

The email and the articles will look just as nice for your external partners as for your internal colleagues, including all logos and pictures. Of course your external partners can only read the full articles when your site allows external sharing AND they have access.

9. Your News digest may end up in the Spam box.

I have had to dig my beautiful News digest out of several spam boxes, for different email addresses ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
So if your first News digests do not get the attention they deserve, you may want to ask around if people have received the emails. (and help them mark it as Not Spam)

10. Place-holder for something that I do not know yet.

I am quite positive that something will turn up. If you have found something, please let me know!

Next steps?

Overall, our audience was positive about the News digest and we have already received inquiries from another team.ย 

My next post will be about experiencing SharePoint News as a reader. Stay tuned!

15 things to know about creating SharePoint News

SPNews-headerLast week we distributed our first SharePoint News digest!ย  One of our project teams wants to keep their audience informed with a Newsletter, and we decided to give the standard SharePoint News option a try.

The process of creating and publishing a News article is pretty straightforward, but my Communications colleague had a ton of questions which were not always readily documented.

So here are a few real-life things that your Communications colleague may want to know:

1. You can add max. 110 characters in the title, but will they all be shown?

A different number of characters will be displayed in any of the other places where the article is shown:

  • SharePoint homepage and News overview: 48
  • SharePoint site, 2 side-by-side: 43
  • SharePoint app: 59
  • News Digest email: 110

Please note this is based on my screen with my test text. The “i” is a very thin letter and you will get more in the same space if you only use that one (for instance 100 on the SharePoint homepage and overview)ย  the “m” and “w” are wide letters and you will get fewer in that space (for instance 27 on the SharePoint homepage and overview.) So…it all depends…on your title!
And then I am not even talking about the body text!
These things can drive you nuts if you are trying to provide guidance! ๐Ÿ™‚

SPNews-sphomepage
27 m’s, 100 i’s and 48 letters of my test text on the SharePoint landing page.
SpNews-homepagesidebyside
25 m’s, enough i’s to give you a headache ๐Ÿ™‚ , en 43 test letters on the News web part.
SPNews-Mobile
37 m’s, 110 i’s and 59 letters of test text in the SharePoint app (iOS)

2. When you have no background image, the title is black. With a background image, even a light one, the title goes white.

Seriously, I would never notice these things but my colleague did! It is a tad annoying as I think black would provide more contrast in many cases.

SPNews-Blackletterswhennoimage
The regular header has black letters
SPNews-whitelettersiwhtpicture
I have selected the whitest background I could find, but it still appears greyish and with white letters…

3 a. Every News article is a site page and lives in the Site Pages library.

In my organization we use SharePoint sites mainly for document management (well, until I came along ๐Ÿ™‚ ).ย  Every site has a homepage and that’s it. So working with the Site Pages library was a new thing for my colleagues.
Unfortunately all News article pages live in the same Site Pages library, including your site’s homepage and any other page not related to News. Make sure you do not accidentally delete those while cleaning up old News articles.

3 b. A News digest (Newsletter) is another page in that Site Pages library.

If you create a News digest, you create another page in that library. That makes it easy to make it available for everyone who is not in the distribution list for your News digest, but it can make it difficult to know what is what.
Microsoft suggests to add the date to the title, to identify it better, but…

4. There IS a way to know if a certain page is a News article or another page.

A big applause to Elio Struyf who figured this out first, as far as I know.
In your Site Pages library, click on “Add Column” and then “Show/hide columns” at the bottom of the popup.

SPNews-PromotedState1
How to add the column that shows whether something is a News Article or not.

Then select the “Promoted State” column to add to the view. Be aware that this column is only available on the page itself; NOT via the Library Settings. (trust me, I tried ๐Ÿ™‚ ) And also remember to click “Apply”!

SPNews=Promotedstate2
It is the “Promoted State” column that enables you to see the difference between News Article and another page.
SPNews-PromotedState3
“Promoted State” can be 0, 1 or 2

Promoted State: (Thanks to Susan Hanley)

  • 0 = News digest or regular page
  • 1 = News article page, not yet published
  • 2 = News article page, published or unpublished

Please note that the default view (Grouped by Author) does not keep the column, so if you edit the view or log out it disappears. If you really want to make it “stick”, use it in a non-grouped view. Here’s an interesting thread about this topic.

5. You can unpublish an article.

This will keep the article in the Site Pages library, but will remove it from any views. Deleting the page has the same effect, but the article will be gone, of course.

You can unpublish as follows: Go to the Site Pages library, hover over the article and click the 3 vertical dots. Click “More” from the popup and then “Unpublish”. You can publish it again.

Please note this is not available everywhere – it may have to do with the site/web part type. I could not find it in some older posts in different site types, for instance.

SPNews-Unpublish

6. The Version tells you whether a News article is published or unpublished.

I have been looking all over the place to find how to see the difference between a published and an unpublished News article, and guess what? It is the Version, which has a x.0 for a published article and a x.1 for an unpublished article.
Thank you, Susan Hanley!

7. The author mentioned is the person mentioned in Author Byline or Created By (if Author Byline is empty).

My Communications colleague helped the project team out with their first efforts, but she did not want to appear as the author. We tried to leave the header empty, the project manager edited the item, but everywhere her name showed up.

However, Marc Anderson came to the rescue here. If we replace the name of my colleague in the article header (this is called the Author Byline) by the project manager’s name, HIS name will appear in all places. As I have only one user in my tenant I can not show it in a screenshot, but I have tested it at work and yes, that is the solution.

SPNews-authorbyline
The Author Byline (yellow mark) is the author name that will be displayed.

8. News articles are shown sorted on First Published date.

This can be different from the Created date! Thanks to Christopher Webb for pointing that out. As we published the articles as soon as they were written, we had not noticed.
It makes therefore no difference for the order of appearance if you change the article after a few days. It does not suddenly show on top.

The order of appearance/moving for the side-by-side webpart is top left > top right > bottom left > bottom right > off page.
(WordPress, I would appreciate an “insert table” option!)

9. You can change the order of appearance on the News web part manually.

This will be useful if you want to keep one (or more) important News article visible for some time, without it being pushed off the page by more recent articles.
Edit the page and click “Edit webpart” next to the News web part. Scroll down in the menu on the right-hand side and click on “Select news to organize”.

SPNews-changeorder
By default this webpart (side-by-side) orders automatically, but you can change that.

Drag and drop the News Article(s) you want to keep in the same place, to the desiredย  place(s) and click the x top right. Remember to remove it when it has outlived its purpose, as it will stay there otherwise. And please note that this order goes for this web part only!

SPNews-reorder webpart
You can drag and drop any item you want to “pin” in a fixed position to the right and move it up or down there. You see that the 3rd item is already appearing in 1st place.
SPNews-afterreorder
After pinning the 3rd item into the 1st position, new articles appear in 2nd place. This item will be in place until you remove it manually.

10. All images that you upload will be added to the Site Assets library.

You will get a folder for Site Pages and then one folder per page.
In most cases you will end up with one folder per page with one image. What a waste of folders and clicks!

SPNews-site assets
Your Site Pages library has a dedicated folder in the Site Assets

SPNews-siteassets2
Every News article has a dedicated folder, often with only one image ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

11. Images should ideally be 16:9 with a good focal point that is not too close to the edges.

Another “vague” specification that is a big change from the “images should be square, in .jpg or .gif format, max. 1600 pixels wide and max. 2 GB in size” spec that we used to work with before Modern SharePoint came along.ย  In real life it means that you generally get a decent result without being able to predict it. Keep in mind that the header image is wide and low, but in other places the images are displayed as a “normal landscape image”‘.

A deep bow for two ladies who have figured out picture behaviour extensively, so you do not have to:

Beth Hall: How SharePoint handles images.
It is a long and thorough post, and a little bit beyond me at times, but my Communications colleague, who is an expert photographer and editor, understood it very well.

Tracy van der Schyff: Creating banners for your online SharePoint pages.

12. If you delete a News article, the associated folder and images will stay in the Site Assets library.

Not sure if this is a good or a bad thing, but just so you are aware!

13. Changing the title of the News article after publication will not change the URL, the name of the Site page or the name of the image folder.

So this means links will keep working, which is good. On the other hand, you will lose track of that new title once the item has disappeared from the overviews and from the mind.

14. The News web part is not very stable.

When I was creating screenshots for item 7, I kept getting an empty web part when returning from the web part menu. Reverting to an earlier version helped now and then, but as soon as I hit the “Edit” or “Select news to organize” buttons, an empty page glared at me. I removed the web part and added it again, which helped, but it may be wise to not touch it too often! Microsoft help for the News web part.
John Sanders of Microsoft has kindly offered to look into that!

15. Edits take some time to update.

When you edit and republish an article after publication, the changes will be immediately visible in the article, the News web part and the overview in the site that the News lives in.
On the SharePoint landing page, the all-News overview page and the mobile app the changes take some time (in my test about an hour) to show up. This is probably due to the lag time in Search indexing.

16. Give access before publishing News.

Darn, a number 16! The other day I was given access to a site where a few News items had already been published. It took until the next day before the News was shown on my SharePoint landing page. Not a very big deal, but again something to be aware of!

What’s next?

I really enjoyed this project with my Communications colleague and the project manager. I appreciated their inquisitiveness and it was fun to research all their questions, find new blogs and support pages, see User Voice items, etc.

And…creating the News digest also generated some questions and insights. That will be my next blog as this one is quite long already!

Image by kconcha at pixabay.com

7 ways to re-use texts in Office 365

Template headerDo you have to write the same text time and time again? For instance, an email confirming an appointment, a work instruction or an in-company invoice?

There are a few ways to do that.

1. Re-use and existing mail or document

I guess this feels as the easiest way. But how often have you forgotten to remove the “FW” when you forwarded that email, or forgot to change the salutation? And have you ever overwritten and saved a document that you wanted to keep intact?

Yeah, thought so ๐Ÿ™‚

2. Store the text in Word or OneNote and copy-paste

You will have fewer accidents with this option, but now you may suffer from extensive but invisible make-up. This may cause your texts to have weird indents or line spacing when you have pasted them. The best way to strip off the code is to copy-paste to Notepad and then into the final message, but this is often forgotten and also not 100% guaranteed.
Besides, you will have to store that document or note and look for it whenever you need it.

3. Email template – text only

An easy way to manage your email texts is with an email template. That lives in Outlook so it is easily available when you need it – no need to search!
You can create as many templates as you want. You can store about 2100 characters in a template.

Outlook Client/Desktop:

  1. Open new email
  2. In the ribbon, top right, click the โ€ฆ and select “View Templates” from the popup

    Templates-OfficeClient
    Find your email templates in the Outlook Client
  3. You will see a few standard templates

    Templates-MyTemplates
    Standard email templates in the Outlook Client and the place to add a new one
  4. To create a new template, click on +Template
  5. Give your template a title (e.g. “Appointment confirmation”), add text and/or images and click “Save”

    Template-newtemplate
    Give your template a good name and add the text (and any embellishments)
  6. To use a template, click on the title and the text will be added to the email.

    Templates-Applied
    Adding the text to your email is very easy!ย 

Outlook Online – Current Outlook

  1. Open new email
  2. Bottom right, click the Templates icon
  3. Proceed with 3 as above

    Templates-OnlineOld
    The Templates icon is bottom right in Outlook Online – it’s highlighted in yellow!ย 

Outlook Online – The new Outlook

  1. Open new email
  2. Click the … at the bottom of the mail and select “My Templates” from the popup
  3. Proceed with 3 as above

    Templates-OnlineNew
    When you are using the New Outlook Online, you will need to click the …

4. Email template – text and make-up (Outlook Client)

If you need to use a template that contains both text and make-up, for instance for an email newsletter or other format, you can do this in Outlook Client/Desktop. It is a much more complicated process, so I would suggest to use this only if the look-and-feel is important and needs to be consistent.
BTW, you get a free email Newsletter when you use SharePoint News, of course, but for all those other occasions this option will be useful.

Microsoft has good instructions on how to create and save a template. It includes sending an email using the template as well.

5.ย Email signature

Before I discovered the templates, I used to store repetitive texts in an email signature. I have shared dial-in information for my personal Live Meeting (I think that was what web conferencing was called in those days ๐Ÿ™‚ ), and shared help and support information in that way. Although I only use templates now, there may be cases where you prefer an email signature.

Outlook Client/Desktop

Microsoft has good instructions for creating signatures.ย  However the screenshots are a tad outdated. Now, you either use “Tell me what you want to do” or open a new email and click the Insert tab > Signature” to get to the signatures location.

You can have multiple signatures in the Outlook Client, but please be aware you can only add one per email, so always make sure your name and other information is included.

Templates-Clientsignature
How to add a signature in the Outlook Client

Outlook Online – current Outlook

  1. To add a signature, click the Gear Wheel in Outlook
  2. On the bottom of the popup, under “Your app settings” click “Mail”
  3. Under “Mail > Layout” on the left of the screen, click “Email signature”
  4. Add text and optional image, check the desired box if applicable, and click “Save”

    Template-signatureoldoutlook
    In current Outlook Online, this is where you add your signature
  5. To add a signature manually, open a new email, click … on top of the message and select “Insert signature”

Outlook Online – the New Outlook

  1. To add a signature, click the Gear Wheel in Outlook
  2. Click “View all Outlook Settings” on the bottom of the popup
  3. Select “Compose and Reply”

    Templates-NewOutlook-Signature
    In the new Outlook Online, this is where you add your signatureย 
  4. Add text and optional image, check the desired box if applicable, and click “Save”

Please note you can only have one signature in Outlook Online.

6.ย  Document template in SharePoint – general

You can add a template to a SharePoint document library for your team’s recurring documents. Think about reports or work instructions. You can do this for all Microsoft documents and you can have multiple templates in one library.
Anyone who can manage the document library can do this, so you will need at least Edit permissions.

I use and suggest this very often right now and wish it was also available in OneDrive!

  1. Create the document you want to use as a template and save it with a meaningful name – it may help to add “template” to the name
  2. Open the document library in question, click “New” and then “Add Template”

    template-SPNew
    Where to add the template
  3. Upload the template
  4. Check that it displays correctly.

    Templates-SPAdded
    Giving a good name is important – you will want to notice the template easily
  5. To create a new document in the template, click “New” in the Document Library and select the template. A new instance of the template will open.
  6. To move position of the template, or to make changes to the template itself, click “New” > “Edit New menu”. A popup will appear on the right-hand side of the page.
    Hover over the document to be removed, repositioned or edited, click the three dots that appear to the right of the name and you will get a popup with options.

    Template-SPeditmenu
    Editing, deleting or changing the position of the template is very easily doneย 

7. Document template in SharePoint – custom

It is also possible to add a custom template document as the default document. I can imagine this may have its uses when you want to use it for very formal documents, such as contracts or financial reporting. Those documents will have a strict format that needs to be adhered to.
In that case you can do that via the Library Settings > Advanced Settings. Microsoft describes the steps here. Although they mention SharePoint Online, they talk about “email-enabling” the library, which has been deprecated for several years by now, so I wonder when this has been last reviewed. (Of course I gave feedback to this article)

This needs Site Owner permissions but may also be done by an admin or IT.

Have I forgotten an option? Please let me know!

Image by Cohdra on Morguefile.com