Teams meetings for non-business users – the meeting

Teamsmeeting-3Right 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?”

This time we will look at the meeting experience.

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.

Teamsmeeting-enterorgweb
You see that I do not have an option to blur or change background – I must be on the web!

Gerald is already waiting for me in the lobby:

Teamsmeeting-Geraldinlobby
It is very clear that people are waiting in the lobby.

And this is what I see when I start sharing my screen

Teamsmeeting-orgwebshare
What the presenter sees when they start to share screens.

When my presentation is shared I take a look at the options (click on … in the bar)

teamsmeeting-OrganizerEdgescreen
You see that in the browser I do not have the option to blur or change background – please compare that with the app version below.

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.

Teamsmeeting-EllenorgEdgePeople
This is what the organizer/presenter sees when opening the People pane.

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)

Teamsmeeting-EllenOrgAppScreen
I have a few more options when I join in the app.

 

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)

Teamsmeeting-GeraldChromescreen
This is what an attendee sees when joining through Chrome (which shows the same as Edge, by the way)
Teamsmeeting-GeraldChromepeople
An attendee can only see who is there, but not their role. Nor can they do something.

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)

Teamsmeeting-KimAppAttendee
Kim’s menu shows background effects options, but otherwise it looks just like the other attendee on the web. She can also not share her screen.
Teamsmeeting-KimAppPeoplescreen
The People popup shows the same as for the attendee on the web.

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.

TeamsmeetingiPhone1
iPhone experience.

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”.

Teamsmeeting-iPhone2
Translation of these 3 items is above. In any case, very few options with the iPhone, not signed in.

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.

Teamsmeeting-EllenwerkAppScreen
Business attendee can not share screen, but has more options than a non-business user: the Live Captions option is available. And everything is in Dutch 🙂

Conclusions

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).

Agree?

Teams meetings for non-business users – getting into the meeting

Teamsclient-header2Right 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.

Teamsclient-joinmeeting
The link. Please note you can copy the link and share it with others.

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.

Teamsclient-JoinfromFirefox
You are pushed to use Microsoft Edge or download the appEnter a caption

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:

Teams-gmail-chrome
You will have to make a decision: download the app or join on the web.

I have occasionally seen this image, which is the new experience, or so I think:

Teams-yahoo-chrome
I think this is the new experience – it is more obvious you have 3 options

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.

Teamsclient-ipad
Safari does not support this – downloading the app is the only suggestion you get.

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.

Teamsclient-iphonedownload
It’s in Dutch but I guess you will understand that you are nudged to download the Teams 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.

Teamscliententermeeting
Strangely enough the name of the meeting is not shown. Enter name, select camera and phone settings and click “Join Now”.

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. 😤

TeamsClient-lobby
The lobby

In any case, you will enter the meeting as a Guest with the role that the organizer has given you. 

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.

TeamsClient-chromeandapp
Chrome and app
TeamsClient-firefoxandapp
Firefox and app
TeamsClient-edgeandapp
Edge and 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)
Teamsclient-enterwithapp
Some extra functionality when you join a meeting with the Teams app.

You will enter the lobby as usual.

TeamsClient-applobby
Again, you will see the extra options that the app has to offer. While you are waiting, why not select a nice background! 😄

If you download the app and you do not sign in with a Microsoft account, you will enter the meeting as a Guest with the role that the organizer has given you

b. iPhone.

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):

Teamsclient-iphoneintomeeting
You can enter as a guest or again, sign in.

After entering your name and clicking Participate you will get the lobby message, which looks similar to the ones above.

TeamsClient-lobbyiphone
iPhone lobby message (in Dutch)

c. iPad

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.

Next time, we will look at the meeting experience.

 

Teams meetings for non-business users – invitations

Teamsclient-headerTeams 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 created a meeting from Outlook Online, as described earlier.

  • It does not show attendees
  • You can not forward the invitation
  • Externals need to wait in the lobby
  • Externals are an attendee, not a presenter

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?

Teamsclient-OutlookChrome
Laptop/Outlook.com mail. This invitation looks the same in Edge, Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer. The yellow bar mentions that the invitation can not be forwarded. (in Dutch)
Teamsclient-YahooFirefox
Laptop/Yahoo mail. Invitation looks the same in Edge, Chrome and Firefox. Internet Explorer shows a basic version. There is no Accept/Tentative/Decline option and no mention of the non-forwarding. And what is that silly logo next to my name?
Teamsclientgmailchrome
Laptop/Gmail. Invitation looks the same in Edge, Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer. There is an option to respond, but no mention about the non-forwarding. Although the time is technically correct, it is not the “natural” Dutch time and I could not find a way to correct it.
Teamsclient-outlookapple
iOS: Outlook.com mail via Apple Mail app. Yikes, this is all you get. The top says: this message is plain text, download the full message. If you do that, you get this:

Teamsclient-outlookappleexplanded1

Teamsclient-outlookappleexpanded2
Well, double Yikes. While iOS is usually so cool and user-friendly, this is awful. You have to download the message to make sense of it, and then you get a ton of ugly links and then at the bottom your instructions and the .ics file. No mention of the non-forwarding.
Teamsclient-outlookandroid
Android. Microsoft365 account, Outlook app. Response options but no mention of the non-forwarding.

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.

Next time, I will discuss what happens when you click on the meeting link

12 reasons why I ❤Outlook on the web (owa)

OutlookheaderAfter 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)

Outlookdesktop1
Desktop. Booooooring! 🙂

Outlookwebapp
Web app. Nice and colourful! BTW, who will I see at Ignite the Tour Amsterdam? 🙂

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.

Outlookweblike
Instead of hitting Reply, why not send a “like” if that is all you want to say?

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.

Outlookwebcharm2
If you like to add a charm (icon) to your event you can do so – in the web app only.

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.

outlookpin
Just hit that pin to keep it on top of your mail.

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…

7. Sweep

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!

outlooksweep
You will find Sweep on the top bar. This is the setting I use for newsletters and RSS-feeds.

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?

outlook recurring meeting 1
In the desktop app, you can only change one meeting or the whole series – changing the series means you are also changing the history.

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!

outlook recurring meeting 2
You have more options, including only making changes to future events.

9. See all email attachments on one page

Outlook-files
The Files link. Hello!

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.

Outlookfilesresult
You can toggle between photos and files, but also filter on file type and time range.

 

It may be so convenient that it will not help people to clean up their mailbox though. 😦

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!

Outlookaccept
Outlook shows your availability, and if you click RSVP you get a popup with response options.

 

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!

Conclusion

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?

Using emoji as visual tags in Office365

It all started with this Tweet:

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 ;

Emojikeyboard
You can type and see suggested emoji (on top), or you can search (bottom left) or navigate between various categories. Now shown: recently used.

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.

Benefits

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 favourite

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.

Emoji-ToDo
Now that I have added icons to my lists, it is easier to see which task is for which list. BTW, you also see that the default list icon is being overwritten if I add the emoji to the left. Neat.

Things to know

  1. Not every image has sufficient detail – stay on the safe side and choose images that are clear and unambiguous for your team.
  2. 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.
  3. Do not overdo it – adding an emoji to every folder looks cluttered and defies its purpose of making things stand out.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. 🙂
  6. 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)
  7. 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.
  8. 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!

    emoji-sortorderfolders1
    Sort order: name ascending. Depending on the location of the emoji, the folders end up in different locations. Look at the Clothes folder.

    Now let’s see what happens if I add an emoji to the Clothing folder, to the left of the name.

    emoji-sortorderfolders2
    When I add the emoji to the left of the name, it moves up!

    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?

  9. 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:

    emoji-folderurl
    Different URL’s for the Clothes folders. But why can I not create a new plain Clothes one?
  10. 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)

    Emoji-Yammer group on laptop
    Laptop, where adding an emoji makes sense

    emoji-yammermobile
    Mobile app, which displays the group images anyway, so an extra emoji does not add much
  11. 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.

    emoji-teamchannels
    Team channels – I admit adding too many images make it a bit cluttered.
  12. 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)

 

Conclusion

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!

10 things to know as a SharePoint News reader

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

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

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

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

5. You can save a news article for later.

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

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

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

    SPNewsreader-how to save
    From the Newsfeed in the app you can also save for later. Sorry – in Dutch 🙂

There are 3 places to see your saved articles:

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

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

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

    SPNewsreader-appfilter
    Click the Filter and select “Saved Items”. Sorry for the Dutch! 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. Alerts suck big time.

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

Here’s what happens:

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

 

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

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

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

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

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

10 things to know about the SharePoint News digest

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

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

SPNewsDigest-Newsletteremail
The News digest as an email

This is what it looks like as a page:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SPNewsdigest-linkontop
Easy to reach for giving access.

He grumbled a bit but is IS a sign of success when people forward the News digest 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next steps?

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

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

15 things to know about creating SharePoint News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Promoted State: (Thanks to Susan Hanley)

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

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

5. You can unpublish an article.

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

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

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

SPNews-Unpublish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SPNews-siteassets2
Every News article has a dedicated folder, often with only one image 😦

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

14. The News web part is not very stable.

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

15. Edits take some time to update.

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

16. Give access before publishing News.

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

What’s next?

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

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

Image by kconcha at pixabay.com

Photos and Forms

fotoform-header

You can create really good looking surveys with Microsoft Forms these days, just by using colours and images.

There are 4 places to add an image:

1. Background

You can use a standard theme, which will add a predetermined background image (optional) and colour scheme to your Form.
If you want to use your own theme, click Theme and then the +. This will open a screen allowing you to upload an image and/or set a background colour for texts and buttons.

Formfoto-theme
You can upload a picture and change the colour here. Try #ff0000 and see what happens!

2. Forms title

You can add a small image to the title and introduction text of your form.

3. Question

You can add an image to a question. You can choose between small and large.

4. Section

If you want to create a new page for a new question or set of questions, you can use a section. A section header can also contain an image, large or small. It behaves like an image in a question.

Size requirements for images – a test

I recently received a question from one of my users, who wanted to know the size requirements for images in Forms. The background image she used turned out to be a bit blurry. Of course, and fortunately, you no longer have to use exact dimensions in Office 365, but not every size works well in every application, so I did some tests.

  • I photographed a few scenes with my iPhone, using square, landscape and portrait orientation. (4:3 aspect ratio except for the square of course)
  • I resized them using good old Paint, making a 50, 38, 25, 10 and 5% of the original. All images were 72 dpi.
  • Then I created a Form with 2 questions and one section.
  • I started with the 5% size and uploaded this image as background, as title, as question (large and small) and as section image.
  • Whenever the image displayed blurry, I repeated the exercise with the 10% and so on, until I had a good idea of what worked.

Results

  1. The background needs an image of at least 750 pixels wide, but 1000 is better.
    The orientation of the image (square, landscape or portrait) does not matter. The background focuses on the center of the picture.

    Formfoto-backgrooundportrait5
    With an image of 152 pixels wide, the background is extremely blurry.
    Formfoto-squarebackground.png
    With an image of 756 pixels wide, this background is acceptable.

    Formsfoto-landscapebackground
    A 1008-pixel wide background is really nice.
  2. In the title you can use an image as small as 150 pixels wide. It does not display a lot of detail, so you can get away with a small image.
    The height of the image display is fixed, and the orientation of the image does not matter much.
    Formfoto-squareheaderFormfoto-landscape header

    Formfoto-portrait-header
    3 examples of pictures in the title – the orientation (square, portrait, landscape) shows more variety than the picture quality.
  3.  If you use a small picture in your question or section, go for at least 150 px wide.
    Use landscape where possible, as it will keep your form shorter. Check out the differences in the screenshots with the background, above.
  4. For a large picture in a question or section, at least 400 pixels wide is best.
    Please note that landscape pictures cover the whole width of the forms, and the question is shown on top. This makes for a very nice image, but as it is blown up a lot compared to the other formats, you really need to make sure the image is sharp.
    If you use the same image in every section, you can create a nicely consistent experience. (But do not go overboard, every new section is a click!)

    Formfoto-diffsmallandlarge.png
    This is 152 pixels. The small picture  is OK but the large one is not.
    formfoto-squaresmallvslarge.png
    Again, 303 x 303 pixels is acceptable for a small picture but for a large one it is just not enough. And it is not even displayed on the whole width!

    Formfoto-landscapelarge
    The image in Question 2 is 404 x 303 pixels. It makes an acceptable picture, even in full width of the form. 

Suggestions:

  • Use landscape imagery where possible – it just displays nicer
  • Keep in mind that different purposes need different image sizes. If your image is too small, do not use it as background or the large image.
  • 150-400-750 is just a guideline – with a different aspect ratio in your photos and pictures, more dpi and different viewing screen size, you may find that other sizes work better for you. And perhaps you WANT the background to be a bit blurry!
  • More info about working with images in Forms

Header image by Peachpink on Pixabay.
“Photos and Forms” reminds me of “Diamonds and Pearls” by the late great Prince. 

7 ways to re-use texts in Office 365

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

There are a few ways to do that.

1. Re-use and existing mail or document

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

Yeah, thought so 🙂

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

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

3. Email template – text only

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

Outlook Client/Desktop:

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

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

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

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

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

Outlook Online – Current Outlook

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

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

Outlook Online – The new Outlook

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

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

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

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

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

5. Email signature

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

Outlook Client/Desktop

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

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

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

Outlook Online – current Outlook

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

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

Outlook Online – the New Outlook

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

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

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

6.  Document template in SharePoint – general

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Document template in SharePoint – custom

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

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

Have I forgotten an option? Please let me know!

Image by Cohdra on Morguefile.com