We launched our new intranet this week. Although it is vanilla SharePoint (and what a joy NOT to have complicated requirements and unmaintainable customizations) I have had to create some help materials for users, as we have some organization-specific information to share, and the Microsoft support documentation has not always been translated correctly.
One of the help items is “Where to find the news items you have saved for later”.
Saving is easy: click the label. When you see the post on the SharePoint start page, the label is on the card. When you have opened the item, you see the label on the bottom of the post. Unsaving: click the label again.
But where can you find them later?
There is only one place where you can view your saved news items only. Most places I found also contain favourited documents and even other types of content. Most confusing!
Let me list the locations:
1. Clicking “Save for later” or “Saved for later”
When you accidentally hit the text next to the label you get a popup with your latest saved or favourited items.
When you click “See all saved items” you get a page with all your darlings.
You see this is a mixed bunch: news items and documents.
2. “My saved items” web part
We have this web part on our main news page, to make it easy for our colleagues to find their saved items. Again, it shows news posts and documents. (More info from Microsoft)
When you click “See all” you get that page with all saved items. Mind you, while the overview above appears to be a page in the SharePoint landing site, this is now shown within the site where the web part lives.
3. “Saved for later” on the SharePoint start page
In the left hand rail of the SharePoint start page, underneath “Following” and “Recent” there is a block displaying your most recent 5 darlings. I would have expected to have an option to “See all” here, but no.
4. SharePoint mobile app: “News” and “Me”
The only place where you can list just the news posts is the SharePoint mobile app.
“News” shows all your news posts, and allows you to filter the saved items.
“Me” shows your recent and saved items, and in the Saved items you can again filter for news posts only.
5. The Microsoft/Office365 landing page
Here is where it gets really confusing. At work I see my opened news posts in the “All” tab of content, and in my Favourites tab when I have saved it for later. In my personal tenant I do not see those. I have been unable to find out why. 🤯
While we are on this page, let me inform you how to make something appear in your Favourites. On the All tab you will see all items (Lists, news, Forms, recordings, images) that you have recently looked at or edited. Hover over an item you would like to add to Favorites, click … and then “Add to favourites”. (Remember you could briefly do this from SharePoint? That has been gone for some time)
It is a star icon, just like when you want to “follow” a site. 🤯 The Forms that you “pin” on the Forms landing page will also appear on the Favourites tab. 🤯
You can also make a List a Favourite from this page. But if you go to the List itself, and click the star near the list name, it will appear as a Favourite on the Lists landing page, but not on the Microsoft/Office365 landing page. 🤯
Well, this homepage functionality appears to be a bit messy. Does anyone know if this is being worked on?
In any case, did I miss a location where you can see your saved news posts? Let me know in the comments!
Did I tell you we are finally moving towards a SharePoint intranet?
We are currently training staff to publish pages and News on SharePoint. Many of them are very happy with the ease of creating pages and news articles, and the fact that you can so easily embed pictures and video. (The old platform can handle one picture or video per article)
One common question is: how do we create links from a page or News article?
Let’s discuss some options. Do you want to link to just one site, page or document? Of do you want/need multiple links on your page? And do they need to be functional and modest, just pretty or attention-grabbing? SharePoint has something for every occasion 🙂
I have made examples in a Team site, but it works the same in a Communication site.
Link opening behaviour
You may want to know that links to content within your tenant always open in the same window. Links to content outside of your tenant always open in a new window. I have been playing around with different options that I found on the internet, but no luck so far.
Suggestions welcome, as sometimes you want to keep people on your page and the link is supposed to be only a side-step!
1. In text
When writing a news article or explanatory text you may want to link to additional information. You can do this in two ways:
Linking to a page within your site: type [[ and the list of pages in your site will pop up and you just select one. It will be added with the page name.
Linking to anything else: select the text and click the link icon
If you want your links to stand out, you will need to use a separate web part for that. You can use a two column section where you have a link in the column next to the text, for instance.
The following web parts all handle links in different ways. I will show you how they look in edit mode, what the editing options are and what the end result looks like.
The Link web part shows a preview of one link. It depends on the website whether a preview is available. As mine does not have a preview (What! I need to work on that!) I have linked to another very useful website. You just paste the link and the only option you have is to add alternative text or not.
In the screenshot below, from left to right: the empty Link webpart, the web part with link and preview, and the edit options.
Again, this is for one link, which will be displayed as a button in the colour scheme of your site. You can determine the alignment, but that’s all. Our intranet sounding board contains a number of therapists, and they have warned us against making pages too full of stimuli. So this is a good option if you want to have a quiet, non-overwhelming page.
4. Call to Action
If you want people to do something, like register for a webinar or subscribe to a newsletter, a Call to Action webpart may be the best option. It allows you to write an explanatory text (“Attend a webinar”), add the action with the link (“Register now!”), add a background image and align the text. You pick the background image from the same source as header images for your news items – is there a word for that place? Let’s call it link-picker-page.
The button will be in your site’s colour scheme. If only you could change that black background, it is very visible and sometimes clashes with your colour scheme.
You can create a click-through image by using the Image webpart. You will immediately go to the link-picker-page. This web part has an option to add a link, an overlay text (off by default) and to add a caption.
Before we move on to the multiple-link options, let me show you what the web parts look like on a page. I have used three columns, so you have an idea of the relative size. The size can vary depending on the number of columns – the Call to Action and Image web parts will fill the column width, but the Button will always be this size.
If you prefer your page to be visually interesting, the Hero web part may be useful. You can choose anything between one or 5 links (also depending on screen resolution and the number of columns in the section) and you start with adding the link (you will go to the link-picker page), then click on the pencil in the bottom of the image to add an image, a call to action for the first item, etc. This web part consumes a ton of real-estate and I personally think it is too much imagery, too little content 🙂 There’s a lot to this web part and there is good help from Microsoft available: Use the Hero web part – Office Support (microsoft.com)
7. Quick Links
Another good option if you want to display multiple links. You can go from large image tiles to modest buttons (as below). You can have as many as you like, and you have a ton of options (352 to be exact) to display them. Click “Add Links” and you get taken to the link-picker-page to add the link, then you can adjust things with the pencil underneath. This is my favourite as it is versatile and you can keep it compact, yet nice looking. The number displayed horizontally will adjust to the column. This is my blog about it: 352 ways to show Quick Links in SharePoint – Ellen’s Digital Workplace (wordpress.com)
What do all these web parts look like? Below is an overview of all options used.
Of course there is also the navigation menu that you use to link to the main parts in your site. That does not look as pretty as the options above, but it will be shown all over your site, so it has its own merits.
Just click the Edit button below (Team site), or next to the navigation (Communication site) and you can add links, sublinks, move, edit and delete them.
You have many options to select the web part that works for you. I understand it is not always easy to choose the best option, but in general I would say:
Keep it simple; visually pleasing but not cluttered.
Use Alternative text with images whenever possible – you do not know if anyone in your organization has a temporary or permanent loss of vision and they may want to use the Immersive reader to have the page or news read aloud to them. (I assume the Immersive Reader reads the alternative text – not sure!)
Think about the future. If your page is there for a long time, think about the number of links needed over time. Will this stay the same or do you expect more or fewer items needed next year? If you expect that your 5 links of today may be 6 or 7 next year, it may be better to use Quick Links from the start rather than a Hero.
Do not forget about your navigation; as it is visible all over the site, you may want to use that for important pages rather than a pretty link on your home page alone.
Have I missed an option? Would you like to say something else? Please comment – I love to hear about your experiences and thoughts!
Over time I have captured the various appearances of the Office365/Microsoft365 Homepage. As you may know, I quite like this page as the page where I start work.
That page is updated quite frequently, and I keep all versions in this post. Please scroll down and get some nostalgic feelings. 🙂
Update February 2021 👇
A few quite subtle changes this time, mainly dealing with filtering and the tabs names and functionalities.
The page looks like this; you will notice that, besides the regular file types Lists are shown, as are Forms, videos in Stream and SharePoint News items. (See bottom). It also shows attachments from emails!
The first change is the option to filter, both on a word (top right above the list of files) and the file type (top left)
The second change is the name and contents of the tabs. The first tab is now called “All” and shows all kinds of items, the second one contains the “Recent” files you looked at or worked on, the next one is “Shared” (no change) and the “Discover” tab has gone and has been replaced by “Favourites” which used to be called “Pinned”. On the one hand, I prefer the word Favourite but in many other places (Teams channels, chats) you can still “pin” things so I hope we will end up with one and the same word. I personally will not grieve over losing the Discover tab, but this was the only Delve-mimicking functionality available for F3-licensed users.
The menu that you see when clicking the ellipses next to a file, will also show the word “Favourite” with the little star that we know from “Following a Site”. Hmm, this might get confusing. 🥴
All in all, a decent update. I like the word Favourites, I appreciate the filtering options and I am happy that that confusing Discover tab has gone. I am less happy with Lists and all the other stuff on my “All” tab – it looks rather messy. I hope we will get consistency in the use of “Favourites/Bookmarks/Pinned/Followed” and the symbols that go with it. 🥴
Update August 2020 👇
The new design has finally arrived at my personal tenant, but it is still a bit wobbly (on and off) in my work tenant. In case you think you need to communicate this: a 3-part explanatory popup is part of the rollout, so it should not be too much of a surprise to users.
All icons have moved to a left-hand side rail and are much smaller.
There’s a new Home icon (not sure what that does) and the + icon to create a new document looks a bit different too.
There’s also a new “All Apps icon”. This “floats” on the bottom of the rail, so it is always visible. Screenshots are below as the new WordPress Block Editor does not allow me to add images in a list block. 😦
The app names are no longer displayed, unless you hover over with your mouse, which is OK for me but may be rather daunting for new users.
As I have rather a lot of apps it means I need to scroll down to open some, especially when using my laptop screen.
Apparently the focus is on documents even more, but I do not see that as a major benefit. However, I have always liked the “Recent” and “Pinned” tabs, and so do my colleagues as they tend to lose track of their documents.
Still hoping for badges with the icons telling me if and how many unread messages I have in Outlook, Teams and Yammer – I prefer that over an endless slice-and-dice of documents.
The new Home icon:
The new “All Apps” icon:
Update July 2019 👇
The top part of the page has changed again, and now has more visibility of the + option to create a new document. I personally am not a fan of starting a document from the Office365 landing page. Navigating to the intended OneDrive or SharePoint location makes more sense to me, and is something I teach my users as they frequently complain of “losing documents”. The “Explore all your apps” link under the apps has been replaced by “All apps” next to the apps which makes sense. And…the “Good day” message is back! Which I know is calculated and nothing personal, but I like it.
The bottom part of the page has not changed.
Update February 2019 👇
The new icons have arrived! The “Good morning” message has disappeared, which is a pity, especially as the words “Apps” does not really add much to the party. And the Search bar is now in the top middle. I think this is the reason that the company logo has moved from this position to the left some months ago. It breaks up the nice colour gradient of my pencils though 😦
The bottom part has not changed. I am still looking for non-document updates, such as emails or notifications from Teams or Yammer.
Please scroll down for older versions of the Office365 landing page.
Update February 2018 👇
Microsoft has recently made some changes to the Office365 Homepage. You know you will never have a dull moment when you subscribe!
The landing page now looks like the screenshots below. Compared to the last version, it has more white space and the icons are less bulky and coloured (I hope you have not created custom icons in white 🙂 )
It is more gentle on the eyes than the previous design, although that may also have been my own choice of theme.
The profile photo is also better integrated into the design, and my name is displayed.
It now shows more than just “recent” documents, and it shows folders in OneDrive and your Frequent and Followed sites, meaning you will be able to access your favourite sites from this page. This means it is becoming more relevant as the landing page.
In my original post below you will find screenshots of the two most recent versions, as well as what I would like to see next.
Original post from June 2016 👇
Yesterday I logged in to my Office365 and I immediately thought : “Wow, that looks nice”. It is not often that I am struck by a beautiful page, so I decided to write about it.
This is the top of the page:
First good impressions:
The small top bar is much larger now and that really looks good. It must be my Raspberry theme, although it also looks cool with Cats 🙂
The welcome message is nice, although I know it is calculated from my time zone and my account. Still, it looks vibrant and cheerful.
Your most recent documents are displayed underneath.
You immediately see you can install software. On iPad, you can download Office apps.
What would I like to see as improvements?
It would be nice if you could also search for other things than documents. I am trying to wean myself (and my colleagues) of documents where possible, and this does not help.
That also goes for the recent documents underneath the apps. I would like to see my unread email, or my unread Yammer messages, or the Tasks due today, as well as documents. If Office365 is going to be my Digital Workplace, it should display more than just documents.
A little badge on each app to show the number of unread messages, or new tasks, or something like that, would also be nice!
The coloured bar overlaps the profile picture a little, so that needs some tweaking.
And this is the page as it used to look (on a different tenant) or still looks, if you are not on First Release.
All in all, I quite like this change and I think it can be made even better!
Right now Teams is being used by many non-business people, and I have had a lot of questions about “how it works” for non-business or external users, as in: “what do they get and what do they have to do in order to participate?”
We started with a variety of email programmes, which all give different views and results. But all emails contain the link to the meeting, which is just a link, albeit a long and non-intuitive one. So in the end, everyone uses the same link in a browser or in the app. Let’s see what that brings.
I have the following people in my meeting:
Myself, as the organiser and presenter, joining from my own tenant, initially via web (Edge), later through the app on my laptop
Gerald Adams, an attendee joining from web (Chrome)
Kim, an attendee joining from the Windows 10 app, not signed in
Ellen iPhone, an attendee joining from iPhone
My work’s account, joining as attendee from the Windows 10 app, signed in.
Prepare for an awesome (or awful if you do not like long posts) amount of screenshots!
1. Organiser/Presenter – web
So, this is what I see when I join the meeting on the web – the latest version of Edge.
Gerald is already waiting for me in the lobby:
And this is what I see when I start sharing my screen
When my presentation is shared I take a look at the options (click on … in the bar)
When I look at the people in the meeting I see that most of my “external attendees” have entered as a Guest, except Ellen van Aken (outside of your organisation) who has joined from another Office365-account. I can also invite other people, and mute all of them.
The presenter can also manage people individually, this is independent of web or app. I can make either people from other organizations (business users, in this case) or Guests a presenter or an attendee again, or I can mute or remove a person from the meeting.
I can also pin a person, which means I will always see that person when they have their camera on and nobody is sharing a screen, regardless of who’s talking.
2. Organizer/Presenter – app
What do I see when I join via the desktop app and signed in? I have some more options: meeting notes, background effects, the option for Live Captions and End meeting. (I can also check my audio settings before I join)
Not shown here, because I am sharing a presentation and Kim, Gerald and myself were on the same PC: with the desktop app (and the mobile app) you can see 4 people if you have the camera on, with the web only 1 person. That is where the pinning comes in handy. I can not wait until we will see 9 people!
3. Attendee – web
Gerald is the one attending via Chrome. This is what he sees: a greyed-out Sharing screen, and fewer options in his meeting menu (or whatever that popup behind the … is called)
4. Attendee – app
Kim is using the app without sign-in, as she does not have an Office365 account. What does that look like? She can not share her screen and has one extra option compared to the web attendee. (However, she will see 4 people when there is no screen sharing and people have their webcam on)
5. Attendee – iPhone
The meeting experience on the iPhone is different again. Please note the attendee is not signed in to the app. Top right you see chat and people options. There’s no “share” button, not even greyed out.
When you click the 3 dots in the meeting control bar, you have even fewer options than a regular attendee: just “put me on hold”, “keypad” and “turn off incoming video”.
6. Attendee – Business User
It was a bit of a juggle to get this meeting together with all these people (all of them ME) and all these devices and options. But a second user, with Office365 account and a fully-fledged laptop, was easily available (again: ME at work) so for comparison’s sake: here goes.
The meeting experience is very similar for all attendees, regardless of how they got there.
There is hardly any difference between a Guest (someone without Office365 account, not logged in) and Someone outside your organization (an external business user with Office365 account, logged in). The only difference is that the organizer/presenter can see who’s what.
The role is the largest differentiator – if you are a presenter, you can simply do much more than when you are an attendee. See the differences here.
There are some differences between web and desktop app. The main advantages of the desktop app are
4 people visible instead of 1 (when you have cameras turned on).
This has been a BIG issue in my organization, especially for our therapists doing online group therapy sessions. Most of our therapists have an F3-license, which means they can only do web and only see 1 person. We have suggested they also log in with their phone to see 4 more people. We have now installed the desktop app for them as well but we are still looking for another tool that shows more people. I really can not wait until Microsoft finally rolls out the 3 x 3 view!
The option to blur or change backgrounds.
The option to do a Test call.
Live Captions. As these are currently only available in English, this is not relevant for my organization right now, but it may be a big plus for others.
The iPhone experience is sufficient, but sparse.
My suggestion would be to tell your non-business users to use the web version. I would only suggest to download the app when
it is important to see 4 people
a non-business user is the presenter (so they can adjust their background)
when they join on iPhone.
Joining on the web will probably be easiest for them, especially if they are not very savvy. Perhaps you can just send them the link in an email, instead of the official Outlook invitation, and tell them to open the link in Chrome or Edge (new versions).
Right now Teams is being used by many non-business people, and I have had a lot of questions about “how it works” for non-business or external users, as in: “what do they get and what do they have to do in order to participate?”
In my former post we discussed the email invitation to the Teams meeting for non-business users, and how it can differ depending on device and email client.
This time, we will look at getting to the meeting.
It’s the browser, baby!
In this part of the process the main difference is not in the email programme, but in the browser that people use. I have added a ton of screenshots so you know what participants can expect.
I use an up-to-date Windows 10 laptop with up-to-date browsers. This may already be different from what your “consumer” users have. I have no Mac, but I have used an iPad and an iPhone.
In the invitation you will see the link to join the meeting.
1. What happens when you click on the link?
a. Firefox and Internet Explorer
If you are using Firefox or Internet Explorer as your browser, you will get the message that those browsers do not support Teams and a nudge to move to Edge OR to download the app.
b. Edge or Chrome
If you are using Edge (the new one) or Chrome, you will get this nudge to either download the app or to join on the web:
I have occasionally seen this image, which is the new experience, or so I think:
c. Safari on iPad
If you use this, you will get a similar screen as for Internet Explorer or Firefox, except that you will only have “Get the Teams app” as suggestion.
d. Safari on iPhone
If you are on an iPhone you will get a warning that Safari does not support it, and a nudge to download the app.
2. What happens when you join on the web?
a. Edge or Chrome
When you have decided to open Edge or Chrome (if you are using Chrome as your default browser) you will get to this screen. You are requested to enter your name and click “Join Now”. Look at the bottom, where you are again enticed to sign in (if you have a Microsoft account) or to download the app.
After clicking “Join Now” you get into the lobby. As you may know, recently Microsoft changed the default settings for all meetings to “People outside your organization will have to wait in the lobby”. While I agree with this setting, especially now that so many new (and often non-business) people are using Teams, it led to a lot of questions in my organization because we had just been telling everyone that by default everyone could get into your meeting immediately. 😤
If you have a paid subscription to Microsoft365 it is worth signing in, because you will get the full web experience. The link to the meeting is accessible for everyone, so you can just sign in even if your Microsoft365 account has a different email address than the one that you have been invited with.
3. What happens when you download the app?
a. Laptop (Windows 10)
Downloading and opening the app can take a few minutes, so you may want to warn your newbies to start early or do a test run well before the meeting.
Once you have the app installed, and you click the meeting link from your email, you can use the “launch it now” button or your browser will ask you to open the link in the app. Internet Explorer just opens the app.
Once the app has opened, you will be requested to add your name and click “Join Now”, like when you join on the web. Please note that the app has two extra features:
You can enter the meeting with a blurred or custom background (the toggle between camera and microphone)
You can check your microphone by clicking on “PC Mic and Speakers” and then selecting “Test Call”. (Functionality that I know and ❤ from Skype)
If I download the app on my iPhone, give permission to use the microphone, and click that horrible long link from my email, it will ask me if I want to open the link with Teams and then I get this message (Time to meet):
After entering your name and clicking Participate you will get the lobby message, which looks similar to the ones above.
On my iPad the “Open in Teams?” message did not happen so I could not make the switch from my email to the app. I was also forced to sign in with an account, which is not the purpose of this exercise. Anyone out here who had more luck?
Copying the link to the meeting and pasting it into the Edge app on my iPad worked. It switched over to the app and I could enter as a guest, with the same image as above for iPhone (but wider).
What have I found so far?
Your non-business participants do not need to have a Microsoft account to participate.
You do not need to download the app on your PC, as you can participate on the web if you use Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome as your browser.
Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox can not be used for a Teams meeting.
If you do not have a Microsoft account (or if you do not sign in with it), you will have to enter a name when you log on, and you will participate as a Guest.
The Teams mobile app is a must if you want to take part from an iPhone.
Both the mobile and desktop apps may take a few minutes to download and install, so always ask your participants to download and test-drive well in advance, or start at least 10 minutes before the meeting.
The desktop app will give you more options such as the custom backgrounds and the option to do a test call.
If you have an external presenter or discussion leader, strongly suggest to use a laptop and download the desktop app as the extra options will be very useful especially for them.
Teams may have originally been intended as a business-to-business meeting and collaboration tool, it is now, in COVID-19 times, used heavily for all kinds of gatherings. The education sector is using it big time, my own organization is using it temporarily as a group therapy session tool, and I use it to meet with my fellow “citizen activists” who want to keep our lovely home town a great place to live in for real people.
So, right now Teams is being used by many non-business people, and I have had a lot of questions about “how it works” for non-business external users, as in: “what do they get and what do they have to do in order to participate?”
The fun part when you use Teams for “consumers’ is the variety of systems that people use – devices, browsers, email clients. So, I tried a few things, starting from my own Office365/Microsoft365 tenant.
I sent this to various online emailclients: Outlook.com, Gmail.com, Yahoo.com
I opened the mailboxes with various browsers on laptop and the Outlook one on Iphone and Ipad.
I looked at the invitation and accepted the meeting (where possible).
What does the invitation look like?
What have I found so far?
Do not expect a response message if you are inviting external non-business users. I did not receive any responses except from the Microsoft365 user, even though I did accept the meeting on Gmail and Outlook.com.
Invitations to Gmail often go into the Spam box, especially when I used the “hide meeting attendees” option. You may want to check with your externals that they have seen the invitation.
Check if the meeting is on the right date and time on the receiver’s end. If people have their mailbox on a different timezone, they may want to adjust it.
Or in case of Gmail, do they realize that the time is in UTC and what UTC means?
Tell people that the invitation may move out of their inbox after accepting or declining it and that they can find it in their Deleted Items if they want to keep it.
Sending an invitation does not mean that the date and time are added to the Calendar option of the email client automatically. In some case you need to download the .ics file (which not everybody may understand) or specify to the email client that invitations should always be added to your calendar.
“Do not forward” appears to work only within Microsoft email – the option to forward is greyed out in Outlook, but the emails sent to Yahoo and Gmail could be forwarded and the recipient could enter the meeting. ☹
Please note that I have an up-to-date Windows 10 laptop with current versions of browsers – be aware that non-business users may have different setups and different versions!
Do not assume!
In other words, do not assume that everything will work in the same way as with your external business contacts. Your “consumer” audience has a much larger variety in devices, mail clients, updates and browsers than your business contacts (who in many cases use Outlook, if not the full Microsoft 365suite). Your “consumer” audience may also be less exposed to formal meetings and be not as tech savvy – or be more savvy with other systems than Microsoft365.
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?
Uh… why did it take me so long to figure out I can use Emoji in folder names and they sync perfectly to OneDrive / Web / Mac. Have not figured out why they are black and white on Windows and this ice cube doesn’t render…. pic.twitter.com/ka2JEFHzeA
That looked interesting so I spent a most enjoyable day finding out how and where it works in Office365, and if I could find anything remarkable.
By the way, you get the emoji keyboard when you click the Windows-key plus . or ;
The Windows 10 emoji work almost universally, including Office365. You can use it in SharePoint document libraries, folders and documents; in Yammer groups, Teams channels, Outlook, To Do, well, everywhere I have tried!
It also works in Twitter and Hootsuite and I guess on many more platforms.
In most cases they merely look nice, but I think their biggest benefit is that they can help people identify the most important item(s) in a long list, e.g. OneDrive, SharePoint or Outlook folders. They act as “visual tags”.
My personal favourite usage is in List names of ToDo. I share a lot of lists with my colleague and I like being able to see to which list a task in My Day, Assigned to Me or Planned Tasks belongs. The colour scheme you can apply to a list does not provide sufficient contrast, and if you have more lists than the 5 colours available you still need to look at the list name.
Until now I always thought I had a lot of redundant tasks, because one task can show in different views, but now I can easily see where they belong.
Things to know
Not every image has sufficient detail – stay on the safe side and choose images that are clear and unambiguous for your team.
Always use text in combination with your emoji…otherwise you will have to refer to “that folder with the red-and-white striped tshirt” which is a bit silly.
Do not overdo it – adding an emoji to every folder looks cluttered and defies its purpose of making things stand out.
Does adding “little coloured images” fit your organization? I am quite sure that I would have had a serious (and unpleasant) discussion in my former organization, had I suggested to use it there. I think it will be appreciated in my current one, though.
They display nicely in all web and mobile apps (screenshot below, left), but the desktop apps (screenshot below, right) show them only in black-and-white. No problem for me, as I find I am using the web apps more and more, but be aware if your colleagues are all desk(top) jockeys. 🙂
I would suggest to not use this in high level names and URLs, such as SharePoint site names or Teams names. I do not know if you run into issues if you need to access these types of names or URLs with Powershell or in the admin mode. (Please let me know if you have experiences with this)
Although you can use this in document names, I would suggest to pin a document to the top of the library if you want to highlight it. That way the document will always be visible, regardless of sorting, folders, etc.
Speaking of sorting, the sort order can change when you add emoji. In the screenshot below I have made a list of folders in the Ninja Cat library in a SharePoint site. All folders were created in one go, i.e. I added the emoji when creating the folder. You see that a folder with an emoji first, gets shown on top, while an emoji behind the name sorts “normally”. (Look at the “Clothes” folder, which are two different instances) If I add the emoji to the left of an existing folder name, it suddenly moves to a different position!
Now let’s see what happens if I add an emoji to the Clothing folder, to the left of the name.
In the above example I could create two folders with the same name – so apparently “👕 Clothes” is NOT the same as “Clothes 👕”. They have different URL’s, where an addition comes either before or after the word “Clothes”. Yet it is impossible to create a third plain “Clothes” folder as “that already exists”. Why?
I tried to copy and paste the different URL’s of both folders in this post, but as soon as I did that, the red-and-white stripes of the emoji in 8. suddenly turned into plain blue! (BTW, this also happened when I switched to the HTML editor writing this post) What sorcery is that? So I have to use a screenshot:
Yammer groups have a number in their URL, not a name, so you should be able to use them safely in Yammer groups. But if you use Yammer on your phone or tablet, the group icons are already displayed so why add another one?
I hope Microsoft will address this and make the group icons also show in your list when you work on your PC or laptop. (which would make the emoji redundant)
In Teams, the team image is displayed with the name, so adding an emoji in the Teams name only clutters things up. But using an emoji in a Channel name makes sense, both on laptop and on mobile.
Should you add images left or right to the name? To the left gives a more uniform appearance, and in To Do, it nicely overwrites the default icon. But I think it is generally better if they are to the right, as the text should be more important than the image and you are more in control of the sorting. Also, they stand out more when they are not all aligned. Any thoughts? (Since Wedge told us that decorative illustrations of a post should be to the right, unless they are an essential part of the post, I have added illustrations to the right of my post, so that’s why I think to the right is better)
Adding an emoji to a folder or Teams channel name can be a nice way to shows its content or purpose, or to make it stand out. However, use with caution as not everyone may like it or understand the image, things may get cluttered and it may even break some things as well.
There’s still a lot to find out, especially in admin and any other occasion where a URL is involved. If you have any experiences with usage in Office365, especially from the admin side of things, please let me know!
In 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:
The site where it has been published
The site overview (click “See all” on the web part after publishing 5 articles)
News digests (Newsletters), consisting of the above, gathered with previews in an email
The SharePoint app
“News from sites” on the SharePoint landing page
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 🙂 )
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.
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:
At the bottom of the post you will see an option to “Save for later”.
You can also click the label of any News article that you see on the “News from sites” overviews.
In the SharePoint app you can click the … at the right of each article and select “Save for later”
There are 3 places to see your saved articles:
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? 🙂 )
On your SharePoint landing page, in the left-hand menu under “Saved”
In the SharePoint app News, under Filter (on top) you can select the “Saved Items”.
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!
News in the app. The third item is “saved for later”. You can see all saved items nby changing the filter on top.
This items is “saved for later”.
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 🙂
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.
If you set an Alert for “When new items are added” you get…nothing!
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!
2. The order is by selecting – the first article you select is on top.
This is independent of the creating or publishing order. 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.
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
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!
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.
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.
He grumbled a bit but is IS a sign of success when people forward the News digest 🙂
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.
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! 🙂
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 😦
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. The web part layout determines if there is a “See all” link
I only recently found out that the Hub News layout does not show a “See all” link, even when you have 5 items or more. Additionally, if you turn off “Show title and commands” in the web part, the link will not show either.
Overall, our audience was positive about the News digest and we have already received inquiries from another team.
My next post will be about experiencing SharePoint News as a reader. Stay tuned!