SharePoint document library: Discover the latest features

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If you’ve ever wondered what the SharePoint document library is, how it’s changed, or best practices for using it in your organization, you’ve come to the right place.

The SharePoint document library is a great way to separate your files and folders, keep your SharePoint sites organized, and share files with your colleagues.

The SharePoint document library has been constantly evolving, and the last few years have seen a significant overhaul, especially with the switch from a classic view to a modern view. The modern SharePoint document library is more user-friendly and has even more helpful features.

Let’s take a deep dive into how this evolution benefits you and what best practices you can adopt to make the most out of your document library.

What is a SharePoint document library?

The Microsoft SharePoint document library allows users to store and share documents across the organization. The default SharePoint site comes with a document library, but if you create new SharePoint sites, a library is created automatically to support document management.

The SharePoint document library is an all-in-one file manager that displays all sorts of documents, including spreadsheets, images, audio files, text documents, etc. It navigates like any file manager you’re used to and allows you to add files, create folders, download files, move documents, and delete all unwanted material.

Since not all content is meant to be shared with everyone, SharePoint takes your document privacy very seriously. It allows administrators to create user groups for access and permissions management. A group is a set of users constrained to a set of permission levels. These users can only perform limited actions and view files defined by the group permissions.

Maximize productivity and organization with SharePoint’s latest document library enhancements

Before moving forward, let’s discuss the useful changes brought to the document library:

  • Upon login, users are directed to the default library rather than the selection menu
  • A drop-down list to choose between existing document libraries
Sharepoint Document Library Dropdown List Libraries 1
Source: office365itpros
  • Updated interface for moving or copying files between site collections
Sharepoint Document Library Move Files
Source: SharePoint in 60 Seconds
  • Users with edit permissions to videos now have the option to generate closed captions in English
  • The SharePoint start page and My sites panel now display sites that you frequently access and follow
  • You can now choose to have links open in a new tab.
  • Site-sharing emails are now sent from the user’s Exchange mailbox rather than [email protected]
  • Admins can attach CA policies to a label for finer access control. For example, the Top-Secret label can now have a conditional access policy that requires MFA when accessing a site.
  • You can now view file activity from the details pane
Sharepoint Document Library Details Pane
Source: Microsoft Support

If you don’t want any other user to edit a file while you’re editing it, you can check in from the ellipsis, and once you’re finished, the file can be checked out so it is visible to everyone else.

Sharepoint Document Library File Check In
Source: Microsoft Support

What’s on the horizon for SharePoint document library?

Every update made to the document library has been to enhance user control and experience, and that’s the direction Microsoft is taking for the future. We have already seen the addition of subtle features to make our digital lives easier, from being able to move files across sites to easy switching between libraries.

As the Office 365 roadmap suggests, the future is only a step up from here. We’re looking at being able to create and share playlists, enhance search with scope control, and create 10 unique landing pages for different users within the same site. Looks like it’s all about more power for the user.

Setting permissions in SharePoint document library

Microsoft offers extensive flexibility for SharePoint administration. SharePoint administrators can set different permission levels for different groups and users.

But what do we mean by permission levels?

It means that each group of users has a predefined set of actions that they can perform on the contents of the document library. Some may have SharePoint administrator role privileges, while other users may be limited to read-only access, meaning they can’t create or delete files.

So, as a site collection administrator, how do you create these user privileges?

By default, all sites, lists, and libraries in a site collection inherit the permissions from their parent site in the hierarchy. First, you must break the permissions inheritance from the library settings. Under the Permissions page, select Stop Inheriting Permissions.

Once the inheritance is broken, you can set specific permissions with the Edit User Permissions button. Simply select the users or groups you wish to permit and then select the level of permissions. At the time of writing, SharePoint site offers the permission levels shown below.

Sharepoint Document Library Edit Permissions
Source: Microsoft Support

Streamline your SharePoint administration with proven best practices

During the pandemic, Microsoft Teams usage jumped to 115 million daily active users, and since then, the numbers have only been going up.

Every time you share or upload a file on Teams, it is uploaded on the SharePoint server. This means, as an active Teams user, you have a lot of documents dangling around in the document library, and following certain practices could really clean things up. Some best practices for Sharepoint include:

Using folders

Folders are unavoidable anyways since every Teams channel creates a new folder to store files. Folders help manage and organize different file types and allow administrators to collectively set permissions for multiple files.

Creating content types

Content types in Sharepoint define information about specific items. For example, if you have different proposals linked to different clients, you can assign the client name and a template to certain items in their content type. This way, you can take your document organization to the next level.

Identifying critical data

Not all files are meant to be viewed across the company. Items like credit card information or financial records should only be visible to the finance team or SharePoint administrators. Such files should be identified with appropriate meta tags and have strict permissions.

Don’t forget the recycle bin

Mistakes happen, and useful items may be deleted. But remember, you can always restore them from the Recycle Bin. SharePoint retains deleted items for 93 days, and a Sharepoint site collection administrator can restore these within this period.

Pro tip: SharePoint Online retains a backup of deleted items for an additional 14 days beyond the retention period. In this case, you can submit a request to Microsoft support for recovery.

Document versioning

You can store multiple versions of a document by enabling versioning from the document settings. This feature enhances SharePoint document management by saving a history of every edit made to the item. You can easily open up a previous version of a file and view all the changes made. This feature is particularly useful when a co-worker publishes incorrect and unauthorized changes to a file. These changes can easily be reverted as the previous versions are all available.

You can set how many major versions and minor versions to save for a particular file to save storage and even enable approval requirements for publishing changes.

Experience SharePoint with ShareGate

The SharePoint document library is the ultimate file sharing and management solution for enterprises. It packs an easy to use UI and some amazing features that make for a smooth user experience. The document library also provides administrators with detailed options for setting file permissions for enhanced security and varying levels of privacy.

ShareGate simplifies SharePoint management and allows users to easily make and edit governance policies. To understand and utilize SharePoint’s true capabilities, try the ShareGate experience for free.

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