In my previous post I described how end users might adopt SharePoint (Online) more quickly if they can work the way they always have – in File Explorer. And this is certainly the case if there are no mandatory columns in the source SharePoint library.
However, the presence of mandatory columns (‘Required’ in Content Type settings) may result in different outcomes, in both the synced library in File Explorer and also in the SharePoint Online library. This post describes the various options.
Thanks to Francis Laurin for pointing out a particular issue, described below.
Synced library outcomes in File Explorer
There are five potential outcomes when a SharePoint Online document library is synced with File Explorer via the newest version of the OneDrive sync tool and Windows 10.
The first option is when there are no mandatory columns in the SharePoint document library, including when the document library contains a Content Type that contains a Site Column that is not set as mandatory in the Site Column settings.
In this option, When the document library is synced, the documents appear with a cloud icon under the Status column. If the document is edited, the Status icon changes to a green circle with a tick.
The second option is when the SPO document library has a ‘local’ column that is mandatory. When this happens, the OneDrive for Business Sync (ODBS) client alerts the end user that the synced library is now read only. No documents can be added or edited via File Explorer.
The third option is when (a) a Site Content Type (CT) is added to the library (after enabling the management of content types via the Advanced Library settings), (b) that CT has a site column that is made mandatory via the Site Columns settings, and (c) the CT is not the default or only CT.
In this case, the synced library in File Explorer is made read only (same as the second option above).
The fourth option is when (a) a Site Content Type (CT) is added to the library, (b) that CT has a site column that is made ‘Required’ via the CT settings, and (c) the CT is not the default or only CT.
In this case, the synced library in File Explorer is the same as the second option above. That is, the library in File Explorer is locked so end users can NOT upload documents or editing existing ones.
The fifth option is when (a) a Site Content Type (CT) is added to the library , (b) that CT has a site column that is made ‘Required’ via the CT settings, and (c) the CT is the default or only CT.
In this case, when documents are uploaded to the synced document library in File Explorer, the document is added but is automatically checked out in the SPO document library and ONLY visible to the person who uploaded it.
- The end-user can see their uploaded document in File Explorer but anyone else who syncs (or has synced) the library cannot see the newly uploaded documents.
- The end user can also see the document in the SharePoint library, which now has the ‘checked out’ and ‘required info’ missing notifications (see screenshot below). No-one else can see the document, which now sits in the ‘Checked out documents’ part of the library.
It is quite likely that an end user will not know that the document they have uploaded is only visible to themselves and checked out in the SPO document library. They will also not know, when they upload a document, that a special CT may exist. Accordingly, care must be taken with the fifth option.
Recommendations for the use of File Explorer
If you are planning to suggest that users sync their document libraries to File Explorer, try to ensure:
- There are no mandatory columns in the library, including Site Columns that are made mandatory, including in added Content Types. This will lock the library in File Explorer.
- There are no columns in a Content Type that have been changed from Optional to Required AND where that CT is the only or default CT for the library. Although this option allows end users to upload documents, it will cause documents to be automatically checked out when they are uploaded. Consider instead leaving the default ‘Document’ CT in place or using non-mandatory columns.