We always think very carefully if and how we communicate changes to our Microsoft365 environment. Generally, changes that affect all users, and may lead to questions or confusion, will be posted on the intranet. We do this for about 2 or 3 changes a year. Think about “the new Outlook on the web” last summer, and the new design of the SharePoint homepage earlier this year. Changes with a lesser impact are communicated through our dedicated Yammer group for people who take an interest, and during webinars. Additionally we regularly revise our training and webinar materials.
So, we were a tad worried when we found that some new functionality that had been in our tenant, and had been communicated, suddenly disappeared. In one case we found out that the functionality had been retracted, but we have no clue about the others.
Perhaps one of my readers can help?
1. The SharePoint start page
A few months ago we published an article on the intranet that there would be a new SharePoint start page. The column on the left hand side would be removed and some of the info there would move to below the site cards. We prepared the communication and an explanatory screenshot. When we could finally confirm that also our non-targeted release users had it, we published the article.
Around March and the start of the Corona-crisis, I noticed that my SharePoint start page had reverted back to the old setup, both at work and in my own tenant. I checked the Roadmap, the tenant Message Center, the internet, but nothing came up.
Only half May I found out that I had missed this article, which has a small paragraph on this topic.
Well, thanks for that. And I could not find the #192001 in my Message center, nor in that from my work tenant. 😦
2. Save documents for later in SharePoint
I was already aware of the Save for Later options in SharePoint News, but I was happily surprised to find that this function would also be available for regular documents in SharePoint sites. I saw it a few months ago, immediately saved a few documents and told our Yammer group.
I still have them saved on my SharePoint page. But the functionality is gone in both my private and my work tenant!
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:
And then started to do a few things and noted when a folder was being created and what it was called. The end result 👇
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.
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 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.
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. 😉
3. 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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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.
👎 Behaviour is explained for Forms and Pictures, 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.
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?
As mentioned in earlier posts, the majority of my colleagues have 2 GB of storage space in their OneDrive and some struggle to stay within those limits.
So, we are currently helping them with cleaning up and giving them some tips on how to keep within boundaries. It may be interesting for you as well!
1. Empty the Recycle Bin
You may want to start with a clean slate, so let’s empty the Recycle Bin first. If, during cleaning, you accidentally delete too much, you will have fewer documents to search through for restoring. Also, emptying the recycle bin will free up space!
2. Check the size of your OneDrive
It helps to know how much stuff you have, and how much you need to remove. So, click on the Gear wheel top right, click “OneDrive settings” and then select “More settings”. You will pass a useful screen with notification options – worth looking at but out of scope for this post.
Then click “Storage metrics”.
On the next page you will see the lists in your OneDrive site collection (it is a SharePoint site collection, after all) and the amount of free space is shown top right.
3. Move shared documents to SharePoint or Teams
Sharing documents in OneDrive to collaborate on is great as long as the document is not final. Once it is final, please move it to a SharePoint site so it can be part of the team’s collective knowledge and make room in your OneDrive.
Do not hoard shared OneDrive documents – if you leave the organization your OneDrive will disappear with all its content. (After a period when your manager can access it.) We frequently get questions about lost shared documents as many people appear not to be aware of this. 😦
So, check out which documents you share and with whom. Do you still need them at all? Do you still need to share them or are they ready to live elsewhere?
If you want to move the documents to SharePoint, go back to your “My One Drive” section, select them and then click “Move To” from the grey bar and select the SharePoint site where they will live. (Make sure you follow that site so it appears as one of your first choices). The documents will be deleted from your OneDrive in the process. (If you want to know how Copy To and Move To work, read my earlier post and also my post about the risks)
If you have many documents to move, you may either want to do it in smaller batches or use Copy To and delete the documents after you have checked that they have all safely arrived at their SharePoint destination.
And if you no longer need the documents you share, you can just delete them.
4. Create or Request a SharePoint or Teams site
In case you have no location at your disposal, create or request a SharePoint site or a Team (which comes with a SharePoint site) so you can share documents with your project team or department.
5. Find the largest and the oldest documents
Unfortunately you will have to do this by folder, as you can not create views without folders. Although OneDrive is a SharePoint site, it misses some cool SharePoint functionality, such as the option to add metadata columns and create views, or the possibility to add templates. (note to self: submit to User Voice 🙂 )
The following paragraph has been added in May 2020: * Please be aware that Microsoft365 adds folders to your OneDrive when you use certain applications. The “Attachments” folder to store email attachments is one, but Apps (contains Forms documents), Microsoft Teams Data, Microsoft Teams Chat files and Pictures can also contain a lot of documents that you may not be aware of. Read my post on this topic*
Open a folder and click on the pull-down arrow next to the File size column and click on “Larger to smaller”. Determine whether the largest files need to stay on your OneDrive. They may fit on your SharePoint or Teams site as well, so you can Move them there, or perhaps they can be deleted.
Then sort for the oldest documents by clicking the pull-down arrow next to the Modified column and selecting “Older to newer”. Generally you will have accumulated quite a lot of documents in your career. When projects have been completed or interest has waned, you might as well move them to a SharePoint archive site, a records center (in that case they should have been moved there long ago!) or delete them.
6. Remove versions
This can make sense for very large documents that you have worked on intensively and that you want to keep. There may be several versions that take up space.
Select the document, click the … to the right of the name, and select “Version History” from the menu.
You will now see the versions.
If you are still working on the document, it may be safer to remove the oldest versions only.
If your document is final, you can delete all versions and keep the latest version only. If there are many versions involved, the quickest route is to go to the Storage Metrics (see par. 2), click on “Documents” and drill down until you see the document.
Click “Version history” on the right of the document and then you will see an option to delete all versions in one go, leaving the last one.
7. Move private files to a personal location
While it is all too common to have a mix of private and organizational docs on your systems, your OneDrive is primarily meant for organizational stuff. Your private info should not be here, especially if it takes up valuable storage space. You also do not want to lose it when you leave the organization, right? So, move your personal files and photo’s to your private OneDrive (now with extra-secure Personal Vault), iCloud, Google Drive, a USB stick or another place.
8. Empty the Recycle Bin and check storage
Hopefully this has helped you get below that 2 GB. If you, you need to repeat and be a little more strict this time around!
9. Repeat regularly
In order to stay below the limit, go through these steps again on a regular basis.
Do you have tips?
Do you have experience with colleagues whose OneDrive fills up quickly? Any suggestions that we can use?
We 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?
Moved to another folder
Moved to SharePoint (which means deleted from your OneDrive)
Which tools are available?
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
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
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
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, 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.
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!
…We are going to complicate things by trying to retrieve lost documents from SharePoint!
In my current role I have a slightly wider scope than “just” SharePoint and Yammer. I am now troubleshooting and advising about the other Office 365 tools as well, so I need to expand my skills and knowledge rapidly to stay a few steps ahead of my audience 🙂 .
The other day one of my colleagues asked if there is an easier way to create the photo albums he needs to make as part of his role. The organization I work for occasionally rents out parts of their buildings or hires space from others. In those cases, my colleague takes pictures of the buildings to document their current state. The pictures are collated into an album which has to be signed off by both parties at the start of the rental agreement.
What is the current method?
Take pictures with smartphone
Send pictures to work email (in batches to avoid too large attachments)
File pictures from each email in OneDrive on laptop (Attachments folder)
Create project folder in OneDrive
Transfer pictures to project folder
Remove pictures from phone
Creating the album
Open a new PowerPoint presentation
Make cover slide
Insert pictures from OneDrive into PowerPoint
Arrange pictures on slides
Add end slide (usually, with the dates, names and signatures)
Save PowerPoint as PDF
Well, I thought that I (or rather, Office 365) could make things easier for him. I confirmed he had the OneDrive app on his phone, so I came up with…
The new method
Getting pictures with the OneDrive app
Create project folder in the OneDrive app
Open the folder
3. Take pictures with the + button top right or the diaphragm button at the bottom (make sure you set it to “Photo”) 4. Pictures will be saved in the folder
Creating the album in the OneDrive Client
Create a picture of the cover and end slides
Add to project folder of pictures, making sure that cover and end slide are the first and last items (generally, adding an A and a Z in front of the respective names will do the trick)
Select all images in the folder, click “Share” > “Print”
4. In the screen that pops up, select “Microsoft Print to PDF” as the printer and determine a layout (generally 2 or 4 to a page)
You can only create the album in the OneDrive Client – the Online and App versions do not have this functionality. In fact, this is Windows functionality and not limited to OneDrive.
You can use a “blank image” just before the last image to make the number even and have a better print result.
You can change the orientation of the pictures/album by clicking “Options” in the pop up screen and then “Printer Properties”.
Unfortunately you can only use one display for the whole series. It would have been nice if you could decide to make the both cover and end slides a full page in the series, and provide the pictures in e.g. 4 on a page. This is clearly a limitation of this way of working.
My colleague was especially happy with the camera options of the OneDrive app, which he was not aware of before. Just after taking a few pictures he realized that this will be a big time-saver. The second part, creating the album with the OneDrive Client instead of PowerPoint, felt like a bigger change in practice, but he was willing to try it.
As usual, this is nothing fancy. It is just trying to match a need with existing functionality. And it makes me happy when I succeed. 🙂
Recently someone reported an issue with Following. Whenever he wanted to follow a site or a document, he got this message:
I did a screenshare with him to find out what exactly he was doing. Sometimes seeing someone’s screen or actions provide you with a clue, but he did the correct things and there was nothing weird in his screen either.
I asked my more technical colleague and he came up with something good. Do you know where Followed Sites (or Followed Documents) are stored?
Follow a site and then click on the confirmation popup that appears.
I ended up on a page with “yourname/my.sharepoint.com/personal/” in the URLand this is…
I replaced the last bit of the URL, to the right of the tenant name, with _layouts/15/viewlsts.aspx?view=14
I saw the Site Contents of my OneDrive, with the Social List at the bottom.
When clicking the ellipses next to the Social List and clicking Settings, I ended up in the list, which has several content types and a ton of columns.
I asked the user to give me Full Control to his OneDrive, as this is out of my normal support scope so I do not have admin access.
I compared the Social List of the user with my own.
It appeared that his Social List missed two columns: File Type Prog ID and Server URL prog ID.
Also, on his Delve profile, any hints of his OneDrive were missing in his profile card. I looked at the Delve profile of unknown colleagues and there is always a mention of “[person name] ‘s OneDrive” even when no files are shared.
(I can not show that as I am the only person in my tenant)
I searched on the internet and found mentions about being unable to follow sites but the problems (one user, some users, all users), causes (the application pool account has no access to the database, security updates, a setting not configured correctly) and solutions were very mixed and I could not find anything about those ProgID’s.
Well, uh…this is beyond my scope and a different team supports OneDrive, so I have assigned the incident to another team. SharePoint Holmes failed…:(
But although I have not managed to solve this, I have spent some enjoyable time digging into new territory and learning something new.
Which issues have you found with Following Sites and how have you solved them?
About SharePoint Holmes:
Part of my role is solving user issues. Sometimes they are so common that I have a standard response, but sometimes I need to do some sleuthing to understand and solve it. As many of my readers are in a similar position, I thought I’d introduce SharePoint Holmes, SharePoint investigator, who will go through a few cases while working out loud.
Detective image courtesy of 422737 on Pixabay Drums image courtesy of posterize at FreeDigitalPhotos.net