There’s a ton of things I really like about SharePoint, as well as a couple of things I don’t like so much – but I want to share with you the things I’ve noticed that I use over and over, so here are the 4 coolest features in SharePoint Online that I would go so far as to say I really love. Insert googly love heart eyes emoji here.
1. Automatic Version Control
SharePoint document libraries have version control turned on automatically. So, every iteration of a document, every edit made is managed with versioning. What I really love about this is the automagic element, because version control is often something you don’t need until things go wrong and then you really need it. So, the fact that it’s happening in the background without me having to care about it until I need to care, is super useful.
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And when I do need to restore back or view an earlier version of a file, it’s so easy to do – just click on the three ellipses next to the document name (or tick to select it and use the ribbon menu) and select Version Control. Too easy.
2. Promoted Links App
This navigation tool is so awesome. It allows you to set up attractive tiles that link to your content and if you add an image, you can use this as a visual cue to help users navigate with one click straight to the content they need to do their jobs. When I’m developing for clients, I always set up a link to templates, policies, leave forms and incident forms, as these are key content that users often need to get to quickly.
3. One true version of a Document
Once you migrate your files from your server’s shared folder structure, you instantly reap the benefits of SharePoint’s shared doc libraries, and your day-to-day working with docs is revolutionised. Gone are the old server issues of multiple versions of a document, not knowing which the latest copy is, or being locked out while someone else makes edits.
I recently experienced the glory of the shared document (and the one true version) when I uploaded a user guide to my client’s SharePoint doc library. I shared the guide by sending a link to it via email. Then I went and did the extremely common and very human thing of realising (the minute I hit ‘send’) that I hadn’t updated the contents page in the user guide, therefore all the page references would be wrong. Gulp. My stomach lurched up into my throat for few seconds until I remembered that the user guide was saved to SharePoint.
Even though one of my super keen clients had already opened the guide (I could see she was in the doc reading it due to the fab co-authoring feature), I quickly made the edits to the contents page and my changes were automatically reflected in the document. There was no need to resend the email or even let the client know about the changes, as everyone was instantly viewing the same one true (correct!) version of the guide. So cool. I even did a little ‘thank you SharePoint’ dance after I finished my edits.
If I had instead sent the guide as an attachment by email, I’d have had to send out the ole “oops, sorry, forgot to edit the page numbering” email, rushed to make my edits and resend a new attachment of the updated doc. What a palaver that would’ve been.
Of course the problem with that wouldn’t just have been me having to admit my mistake and bothering my clients with several emails, I bet you in 5 or 6 months’ time I’d have referred the client to a page in the user guide, and there’d be all sorts of confusion as some folk would be using the original guide with the incorrect page numbering and out of date contents. We’d have lost productive time trying to work out why we weren’t seeing the same thing, or worse, I’d have sent them in the wrong direction of learning and action all because of a simple page numbering error and the disadvantages of using email attachments.
4. Save As directly from Word (or Excel or PowerPoint)
This new feature is so wonderfully smooth. In fact, it’s such a smooth operator you’ll likely question why it wasn’t possible in previous versions of SharePoint, but let’s stick with the positive – it’s here and it’s fabulous! You can now easily save your file into SharePoint (or OneDrive for Business) directly from Word (or Excel or PowerPoint). You just need to perform a one-off set up, and voila you now have the option to start your document directly in Word and then go to File > Save As and click Sites to save into your document library. Once it’s set up in Word, it’ll also be set up in Excel and PowerPoint too. To set up go to File > Save As > Add a Place > Office 365 SharePoint. You just need to login and follow the prompts to locate the relevant sites in SharePoint.
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