We received an interesting question the other day: “I am sharing a document on my OneDrive with a colleague. Where can I set an Alert to know when she has made edits?”
The Alert option is available on SharePoint, so it feels a bit weird that it is not available on OneDrive. There is a suggestion in User Voice, which has been posted in 2014 (that is 6 years ago!) with the response that it is “in the Plans”. Let’s hit that voting button, folks – it should not be that hard knowing that SharePoint and OneDrive are basically the same thing. Please vote here!
So I had to resort to a few workarounds:
1. Move to SharePoint and set an Alert.
If you are sharing a document or folder for a longer time, and expecting regular edits, you’d better move it to SharePoint. SharePoint is designed for long-term team collaboration and allows you to receive an Alert.
Remember, your OneDrive will be removed when you leave the organization, so do not hoard documents that belong to your team or department!
Under “Activity” you can see if, and who, has edited your document, and when this has happened. Sadly you can not sort or filter so you will just have to scroll to find that file. This may be another good reason not to keep a lot of shared documents in your OneDrive forever 🙂
3. Make it a habit to add comments with an @mention
This one will need some training for all parties involved, but it is like learning html: you will forever benefit from knowing this 🙂
If you use Comments on the document, and @mention the other person, this person will receive an email that the document has been edited.
Open the document and make the changes
Put your cursor near the change and open the “Review” tab from the ribbon
Click “New comment” and a panel on the right side of the document will open. It already invites you to add a name (you will get suggestions as you type) – it is sufficient to do this in one comment, only.
When you are done commenting click the arrow button to send the comment
The @-mentioned person will receive an email notifying you of the comment, and you will of course see a more recent change in your “Shared by you” view.
Please note that the person will receive an email for every comment that @mentions them, so doing this once is sufficient! BTW, this only works within your organization as far as I have found.
In the application (Excel in this case) under “Recent” you will see that Mystery Guest has commented.
4. Use Power Automate
We have not really rolled out Power Automate throughout the organization yet, so this is just a quick test for myself. I used the recipe “When a file is modified, complete a custom action” and it looks like this:
It provides a basic email, that could be improved with the link or more details about the file and the author:
I would suggest to use this sparingly, and only for those folders you share (but then again, why not store them on SharePoint?) or you will get inundated with messages that you have edited a file 🙂
There are a few options to know if someone else has edited your document. If this is a regular process, please move the document(s) to SharePoint! However, it would be so much easier if Alerts were just standard functionality for OneDrive. So, remember to hit that Vote-button!
Have you received this question as well? How did you respond? Did I miss an option?
After many years of using the Outlook desktop app at work, I now find myself using the web app more and more. Partly this is because the majority of our workforce only uses the web and mobile apps, so knowing the web app is important to provide support, but partly because it is starting to grow on me.
Why would someone prefer the limited options of Outlook on the web over the full functionality of Outlook desktop?
1. You can select the colour scheme that works for you
In my organization, we allow everyone to select their own theme. After 35 years of corporate multinationals with a “Brand Police” 🙂 it was a bit of a shock to discover that my current employer does not think it is that important to have the same Office365 top bar in our house style colour for everyone. It is the default, but if you prefer something else, that is fine.
This means that everyone can choose what works for them:
a few colleagues have chosen black, “because it is least distracting”
one of my colleagues loved and applied the rainbow unicorn theme at first sight
I change once every few months and usually go for something colourful
many people have never changed their default bar
and everything in between
Seriously, it looks so much nicer and more colourful than that boring grey-and-blue desktop and those cluttered wiry icons! (Yes, I know I can minimize the ribbon)
2. You can visually separate your personal from your group mailbox
We suggest those who have a group mailbox, to select a different theme for their group mailbox than for their own mailbox, so they can easily see in which mailbox they are. You can’t do that in the desktop app!
3. You can “like” an email
This sounded trivial when I first encountered it, but it is actually a nice feature. I frequently see that “like” in my notifications when my colleague has read one of my proposals for a text or something, but also when I have sent someone an answer to their question.
That like is often sufficient. It means people have read it and appreciate it. They do not need to send another email to say that.
4. It supports charms and coloured emoji
Again, very trivial but it is a nice touch.
The charms are added automatically to an event when you add a certain word in the title-field. They display on your agenda in the web app, but not in the desktop app.
You can also add a charm after creating the event. Just rightclick on the event in your agenda and select “Charm” from the menu.
And, as mentioned in an earlier post, you can use coloured emoji in folder names or other texts of the web app, but they are displayed in black-and-white in the desktop app.
5. You can pin an email to the top
This is very useful if you want to keep an email top of mind – and top of inbox. For instance, I have an email with directions and participants, for when I give a training in a few weeks. I do not want to have to search for it – and I can easily delete it after the event.
I am sure that Outlook has a Quick Action or so to keep track of these emails, but pinning them to the top is very easy!
6. Easy interface
In the web app, if any action or setting is not on the page itself, it is in the Outlook settings. Simple!
In the desktop app actions can be on different tabs on the ribbon, or sometimes they are hidden and need to be added to the ribbon first.
And for settings, there’s the File tab which gives you a number of buttons and a gazillion tabs and options under the button “Options”. Pfff, complicated!
Yes, you can do much more with Outlook desktop, so the extra complexity is understandable, but until now I have not missed anything while working with the web app. I do not feel a big need to use Voting buttons (I would use Forms!) or to delay sending an email or…
Sweep is a neat way to clean up. Per sender you can determine where to move their mails and when. I use this to delete newsletters and RSS-feeds after 10 days. If I have not read them by then, I never will and now I can rest assured they will not pile up.
Sweep is in fact a limited form of Rules. You can create a Rule (in both apps) that does the same. But Sweep is just there, readily configured!
8. Three options to change a recurring meeting
This has been a life-saver for some of our secretaries. If you want to edit a recurring meeting, there’s always the question: do I change this for all instances, including those from the past, or do I stop the meeting and create another?
In Outlook on the web you have the additional option to change “This event and all following events”. This means you can keep your history intact and just make changes to future events. So, if you are an Outlook desktop user but want to change only events in the future, switch to the web version and make the change there!
9. See all email attachments on one page
Not sure if this is widely available yet, but bottom left you will now see a little paperclip. If you click it, you will see all attachments from emails on one page, allowing you to quickly find that one document of photo without having to go through each email. You can filter the results on file type and date, and you can preview, download or email each document by clicking the ellipses to the right of the file name.
10. RSVP to a meeting request without opening the email
In Outlook web app, invitations show an RSVP-button in the title field. It also shows immediately if there is a conflict. You can accept or decline from the inbox interface, without opening the full email. BTW, this is also available in the mobile app – really nice!
11. Nobody blogs about it 😁
A blogger needs to find a niche! I search the internet frequently for answering user questions or issues, and it is really hard to find stuff about the web version as the desktop app is featured all the time. Many bloggers who write about Outlook write about the desktop version exclusively.
So, I have decided to include some more Outlook web app stuff for all those organizations where people are not desk-bound. But I would be happy if someone could point me to another blogger who writes about this topic.
12. Just in case 🙂
Originally this was titled “10 reasons”, then I found two new ones, so I think it is a safe bet to save one item for anything new that pops up!
Outlook on the web is, in my humble opinion, much more visually appealing and easier to work with than the desktop version. It even has a few cool options that the desktop does not have! It may have “limited functionality” but for someone who is not a heavy user, it works perfectly.
Do you prefer the web version as well? Any option I forgot to mention? Or are you enamoured of the desktop?
Some time ago we introduced the Microsoft365 F1-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 F1-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 F1 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”
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
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.
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”
Go to “General”, then click “Storage” and you will see how much you are using.
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.
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”
In Email, go to Message Handling, check the first box and click Save.
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 🙂
* 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: https://outlook.office.com/owa/?path=/options/mailboxcleanup
Have 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 😦 , 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:
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. 🙂
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! 🙂
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?
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 🙂
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.
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, we did not consider the fact that the Delve app would no longer be visible for the F1-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”.
2. Via the URL
Delve is available for users if they are logged in to Office365 and use the following URL: https://<datacenterlocation>.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.
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.
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.
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
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…
Do 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 🙂
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.
Open new email
In the ribbon, top right, click the … and select “View Templates” from the popup
You will see a few standard templates
To create a new template, click on +Template
Give your template a title (e.g. “Appointment confirmation”), add text and/or images and click “Save”
To use a template, click on the title and the text will be added to the email.
Outlook Online – Current Outlook
Open new email
Bottom right, click the Templates icon
Proceed with 3 as above
Outlook Online – The new Outlook
Open new email
Click the … at the bottom of the mail and select “My Templates” from the popup
Proceed with 3 as above
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.
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 🙂 ), 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.
Microsoft has good instructions for creating signatures. 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.
Outlook Online – current Outlook
To add a signature, click the Gear Wheel in Outlook
On the bottom of the popup, under “Your app settings” click “Mail”
Under “Mail > Layout” on the left of the screen, click “Email signature”
Add text and optional image, check the desired box if applicable, and click “Save”
To add a signature manually, open a new email, click … on top of the message and select “Insert signature”
Outlook Online – the New Outlook
To add a signature, click the Gear Wheel in Outlook
Click “View all Outlook Settings” on the bottom of the popup
Select “Compose and Reply”
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. 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!
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
Open the document library in question, click “New” and then “Add Template”
Upload the template
Check that it displays correctly.
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.
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.
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.