Who created those folders in my OneDrive?


(Updated 13-04-2023)

Have you ever started a brand new Microsoft365 subscription and looked at your OneDrive? I haven’t – but when I recently gave a basic tour of the Microsoft365 suite to a new colleague she asked me what I meant with the “Attachments” folder in OneDrive, as she did not see it.
Nor did I when she shared her screen.
But once she saved a file from Outlook to her OneDrive the folder was created.

I had already noticed earlier that I sometimes get these folders in my OneDrive, which I could not remember creating, so I decided to find out.

I removed all folders in my OneDrive and ended up with a completely empty page:

An empty OneDrive at the start of the experiment. In fact, when I refreshed the page I got that “Let’s get started” popup as if I was a newbie!

And then started to do a few things and noted when a folder was being created and what it was called. The end result 👇

This was the result of my experiment. 

1. Attachments

When you save an attachment from Outlook to OneDrive, the Attachments folder is created. By default you add all attachments there, although I wish you could select a folder of your own choice, which saves time.

Attachments from Outlook – I guess we all know this one!

2. Notebooks

When I created a new Notebook, this folder was added. It is pretty straightforward. I think your personal Notebook gets created in the top level but as I do not have it anymore, I am not 100% sure.

This is where your Notebooks are stored.

3. Apps

This folder is created when you create a Form with a File Upload as a Q&A type.
Fortunately, you get an explanation of this behaviour.

As soon as you select this Q&A option, you get an explanation

Apart from the name of the folder being rather generic, you have to click through 3 nested subfolders before you get to the file that has been uploaded.
I sense an opportunity for optimization. 😉

The “Document Upload” is the name of the Form, so that is a logical structuring.

4. Microsoft Teams Data

Have you ever seen the option “Open meeting notes” when you were on a Teams meeting? I am still finding out why I sometimes see it and sometimes not. At first I thought it was an organizer’s privilege (like “End Meeting”) , but the organizer of our daily work meeting does not see it either.
But I digress! If you click “Show meeting notes” in your Teams popup behind the … you will open a small side panel where you can start typing meeting notes. They will be stored in the Microsoft Teams Data folder in a subfolder called Wiki.

Your meeting minutes. The document name could have been a tad more intuitive.

5. Microsoft Teams Chat files

This folder is created to store files that you share during a chat. This can be both a 1:1 chat, a group chat (outside of a Team site), or a chat in a meeting.
(added 13-042023): Loops created in Teams will also be stored here.

Files you have shared in a chat. No subfolders to distinguish meeting chats or other chats.

6. Pictures

This folder gets created when you connect your phone camera to OneDrive. After that, your pictures will automagically be added to OneDrive. Unfortunately it has a lot of nesting, like year and month.
👉 Be careful if you have a F3 license – you only have 2 GB of storage space so using this option may fill your OneDrive quickly.

If you want to see your pictures, you have to click a lot!

7. Office Lens

If you install the Office Lens app on your telephone and you select OneDrive as the storage place of choice, a new folder is created with your first image. It is a plain list of files. I prefer to use the Office Lens functionality that comes with the OneNote, OneDrive and Teams apps, however. It saves me an app. 🙂

Your Lens pictures will be stored in this folder. 

8. Recordings (added 21-10-2020)

Soon, or now if you have already made the switch yourself, your recorded Teams meetings will be no longer stored in Stream, but in OneDrive (mostly) or in SharePoint (for channel meetings in Teams). According to Microsoft this will simplify sharing the recording.

The good news is that our F3-licenses colleagues can not upload to Stream, so in the new situation they are able to record their meetings. The worry is that their OneDrive will fill up quickly as these are generally large files which may quickly fill their 2 GB of storage space.

Fortunately, from about September 2021 onwards, recordings older than 60 days will be automatically deleted into the Recycle bin. The owner receives an email warning and can restore it if needed. This will help keep small OneDrives within limits.

The Recordings folder will store your recorded Teams meetings.

9. Transcribed files (added 13-05-2021)

I assume you have already tried the Dictation options on Word or OneNote, which are absolutely wonderful. Dutch is not yet an official language, but it already works very very well, and we plan to advise this instead of (expensive) dedicated dictation tools, as soon as Dutch is out of beta. (or whatever it is).

But there’s also Transcriptions, which will write down everything everyone says, in a dialogue format. Pretty cool and very good for processing meeting notes or interviews, or creating video subtitles. It is available in Word for the web only, as far as I know.

Transcriptions are stored with a rather generic name, which is not the name of the Word document that I used for the transcription.

10. Whiteboards (added 13-05-2021)

Microsoft Roadmap Whiteboards are also stored in OneDrive. It works similarly to the Teams meeting recordings: the person who creates the Whiteboard will be the owner and get it in their OneDrive.

The Whiteboards folder

11. Power Apps (added 20-06-2021)

When you create a Power App and use an Excel file as part of the data source OneDrive creates a PowerApps folder for the file. Thank you Andy Huneycutt for mentioning this! I am not really creating PowerApps so this is a helpful addition.

12. Office Mobile (added 24-02-2022)

Do you use the Office app for mobile devices? When you scan a document, the images will be stored in a new folder with this name.

13. Voice Captures (added 24-02-2022)

This is another folder created by the Office app for mobile. You can use the “voice” option to dictate a message and the recording and transcripts will be stored here.

When you use the Office app for mobile, these two new folders will be added.

14. Viva Engage/Yammer (added 16-11-2022)

With the new Viva Engage/Yammer you have a personal timeline. Documents, images etc. that you add to your timeline, will be added to a new folder in your OneDrive.
Strangely enough this folder is hidden. While this is a good idea to force users to use the Yammer frontend, it is not so nice for F3 users, who only have 2 GB of storage space and will have to think of even more things in order to stick to the limits.

Thanks to Dan Rey for sharing this information in this post.

Wait, there’s more!

I tried adding documents to a few other applications (Yammer, ToDo, Planner) but they do not store files in OneDrive. I expected it in ToDo, being something personal.
The other day I installed Visio Data Visualizer which also created a folder. As I could not get it to work and it kept popping up in an annoying fashion I deleted it, and did not want to install it again just for this test. Guess I am not alone in my dislike according to the reviews.

Have I missed any?


👍 Your OneDrive serves as the hub for your personal documents in Microsoft365, so it makes sense that documents from all kinds of actions and applications are stored here. I expect that more applications will create folders over time.
👍 You can delete these folders and their content; when you start using the app again they will be recreated.
👍 Everything stored in OneDrive benefits from all document management options.
👎 Behaviour is explained for Forms, Pictures and Teams meeting recordings, but it should be explained everywhere.
👎 The naming convention and experience could benefit from streamlining, e.g. folder names, or the structuring of subfolders.
👎 I would like to see this also for attachments in ToDo, as this is your personal task list
👎 Users with an F3 license only have 2 GB of storage space in their OneDrive and they should be made aware of these folders, to avoid unpleasant surprises with a full OneDrive. I have written about cleaning your OneDrive before.
👎 There is a downside to having shared information in one person’s OneDrive…which will be another post soon!

Bad SharePoint! You deleted my document!

documentgone-imageAbout once a month I get a panicky phone call about “an important document that has suddenly disappeared”. Quite often SharePoint or even myself are blamed for this.

The reality is always different, of course: a user of the library has deleted the document, but who has done it is impossible to find out (for the Site Owner) and many people do not know how they can restore deleted documents.

I am therefore very happy with the new Document Library experience in SharePoint Online, where the “details pane” tells you what has happened in the library. (And even with each document!)

From now on, you can see who has deleted or modified a document by clicking he little “ï” icon on top right of your library to see what has happened.

The yellow-marked “Details Pane” opens up when you click it.

Let me show you how this works with a few common scenarios that may lead people to think their document has been deleted.

This is a library in the “All Documents” view.

Document Library. Each file is named after an action.

1. The document has been deleted.

Deleting a document shows up in the pane.

File deleted. The file name is not clickable.

Oh dear, you can see who has deleted the document! 🙂
I am always the bad guy in my one-person tenant, but please note everyone’s actions are visible to everyone in a more “normal” environment!

If you see this message, contact the person who has deleted the document and ask him/her to restore it. The Recycle Bin still only shows the items you have deleted.

If you restore the document from the Recycle Bin, the details pane will show you this:

File restored. The file name is clickable again.

2. The properties of the document have been changed.

This may move the document to a different view, and may lead people to think the document has been deleted. (Depending on the views in your library)

I have a view for “Video”. It contains 3 files.

3 files in this view, which is filtered on “Topic”= “Video”.

If I change the Topic property for one document, this is what happens:

  • The document moves out of this view
  • The details pane shows this message:

I “edited” this file.

“Edited” can mean various things, but in any case you will know that someone has done something to this document, and it was not a deletion.

3. The name of the document has been changed.

This will leave the document where it is, but people may no longer recognize it and may think it has been deleted.

This is what the details pane shows when you change the file name:

You get two actions in the details pane

Interestingly, you will see two actions mentioned:

  • “Edited” the old name
  • “Renamed or Moved” the new name

This will tell you where to look, and again shows you the file has not been deleted.

4. The document has been moved to a folder.

This will move the document out of the view, so people may think it has been deleted.
In this case, nothing new shows up in the details pane for your library.

However, if you open a folder and click on the details pane icon, you will see an action:

You will only see any actions in the folder itself.

This means you will have to go to each folder and check if the document has been moved there. That is another reason to use metadata rather than folders to group your documents into meaningful clusters.:-)
I always suggest to create a “Monitor” view that shows all documents, sorted on “modified descending”,  without folders, to keep track of latest changes.

If you move the document back to the “All Documents” view, you will see it mentioned in the details pane of the document library again as “renamed or moved”.

There is an action if the document is moved out of a folder into the All Documents view.

Good to know:

  • If you edit the content of the document, it will also show as “edited”.
  • When you select a document and open the details pane, you can also see and edit the document properties, see the document history, and a lot more, but that is not the scope of this post. (December 2016: I wrote this post about that)
  • All changes will remain visible for at least 2 months, but I do not yet know if there is a limit on time or number of actions.
  • If the same person performs a number of actions, they will be grouped as “<person name> made edits”. You can click the arrow to see them all:

Click the arrow to open and close the list.


I think this is very useful functionality to help any Site Owner. It will make the Site Owner less dependent of their site collection admin.
“Edited” and  “renamed or moved” may mean various things, but they at least indicate that a document has changed, but not been deleted.

What do you think of the details pane? Has it helped you?

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Title inspired by the movie “Bad Santa” with Billy-Bob Thornton.

Playing “the shell game” with SharePoint folders

ShellGameThe other day, I gave a training session in SharePoint document management. For most people, managing documents in SharePoint is synonymous with  “putting them into folders”  so I knew I had some explaining to do.

I decided to demo “folders”  and  “metadata” with a simple example.
I created two document libraries.

  1. Folders: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Paris.
  2. A choice column called “Location” with the same cities, and one column for Document Categories “Agenda”, “Meeting Minutes” and “Presentation”. Of course I prefer to capture Meetings information in a different way, but this example would be familiar to most people.

Both document libraries contained 5 documents, according to Site Contents. 2doclibs I showed both libraries and asked my audience to tell me how many documents there were for location Amsterdam.
For the metadata library it was easy: it was specified in the Grouping.

Grouping shows you immediately how many documents are in a certain category.
Grouping shows you immediately how many documents are in a certain category.

The other one was a bit less obvious. So I said I’d give away my precious SharePoint mug to the first person that could give me the correct answer.


So I opened Paris. 1 document.

Then I opened Barcelona. 1 document.

“Three” some people shouted. I opened the Amsterdam folder. No documents in folder Amsterdam. Nothing.

The audience gasped, and looked at me expectantly. Then I told them that a folder is counted as a document. And I showed them the other library again with the much more transparent grouping, and also showed them a view grouped by Document Type, and some other views.

The next day, two people called me to ask if they could do “that with the groups” in their own site.

I may still have several thousand people to convince but I was happy to see that some people got it. So, perhaps this is a good way to show people the difference and the benefits.

Please let me know if you have the same experience – or have found other ways to convince people in a nice way that they can relate to. Summing up all the reasons for not using folders is not always convincing for end users.

It is a sort of “shell game” really. O dear, have I just done gamification with SharePoint? 🙂

And in case you were wondering:  this is my SharePoint mug!

SharePoiint mug
My wonderful coffee mug from a SharePoint Connections event. Translation: “Silence! SharePoint guru tanking inspiration”.