Attaching an existing Team file to a conversation

Darrell Webster

Attaching an existing Team file to a conversation

Hi @Laurie Pottmeyer. Here's some feedback about attaching existing Team files to a conversation. 

A file has already been uploaded to a Team channel, into a folder. I want to refer to that file in another conversation. 

I attach the file to my reply, using the file picker and browsing to the existing folder and file. 

When I pick the file, it appears to upload the file again. 

When I post my reply, I find the file has indeed been uploaded again to the root of the Files for the channel. 

When I attached the existing file to the conversation, my expectation was it would be a link and refer to the original file, rather than uploading it afresh and creating a copy. 

13 Replies

RE: Attaching an existing Team file to a conversation

CC @Kyle Blevens (sound's like you're the right person to loop in.)

Re: RE: Attaching an existing Team file to a conversation

Hello Darrell - I completely agree with you, and this is a scenario we'll be exploring enabling in the future. In the meantime, you can get a link to individual documents in Microsoft Teams to share and avoid forking.

Thank you for the feedback, and keep it coming!

Re: RE: Attaching an existing Team file to a conversation

Has there been any update made to address this feedback/request? This is creating duplicates in our file system and causing confusion.

Re: RE: Attaching an existing Team file to a conversation

I´m exploring the possibility of using Microsoft Teams instead of our current team conversation solution. This is a must have before that happens.

Re: Attaching an existing Team file to a conversation

This seems a pretty obvious feature requrement. Started using Teams today and is the first obsticle I hit. Are we close to fixing this issue?

Re: Attaching an existing Team file to a conversation

More feedback for you @Kyle Blevens:


Adding on to this challenge, I run into users every single day now who are attaching files into conversations in Teams from their OneDrive, and not realizing that a copy action is happening, not a share. This results in them continuing to work on their file in their own OneDrive without realizing that the Team is not seeing any of their updates until people start telling them they are falling behind on their deliverables and then there is this mad scramble to reconcile all the version confusion this has caused.


I can see why a Share action may not be ideal in this scenario because you are then still dependent on that one user, and could lose the file if they left the company or removed the sharing on that file, but some sort of solution needs to be offered here that lets the "graduation" of documents flow more naturally without confusion. From Individual in OneDrive, to Team in Teams, and then potentially to Company in some sort of larger Knowledge Management site/solution or even Yammer. 


Leaving this experience confusing and fragmented just sends users running back to email since they've been doing that for years and already know how to workaround that nightmare.

Re: Attaching an existing Team file to a conversation

Hi David. I have noticed the same behaviour with the new copy from OneDrive to SharePoint team site feature. It is a copy. Moving the file isn't an option. There is potential for confusion, as you have stated. The OneDrive based document is still in the Most Recently Used list of documents, so an end user is going to open the OneDrive copy. 

Guidance and governance is required here. When a document is attached from OneDrive to a Team conversation, the author and the team members should now access the document from the team conversation or the files tab. It is best that from that point onward, the author work on the document from within the team. 

I'm not sure if a Move feature will be introduced. I'd prefer that because it's a conscious choice and means the original document is no longer available in OneDrive. 

Re: Attaching an existing Team file to a conversation

I actually don't prefer a Move these days, but I'd take it! Storage space is rarely if ever a consideration anymore in full cloud scenarios which is why I would have preferred a Move in the past, but not anymore.


I'd prefer some sort of 'Lock original and Copy', with that Lock action putting some sort of notice or gate on the original file making the user take very specific steps to unlock and use it again. I say this because this helps in two scenarios while still eliminating version confusion/conflict:


  • I attach a file from my OneDrive into Teams and someone else comes along and either deletes the file, the Channel, or the entire Team. Right now especially while there are no recovery functions and recycle bin functionality is hit or miss (is this fixed yet?) this file would be completely gone and if you are past the recovery period for PSS to bring it back for you, you're left starting over from scratch. This should get better over time, but for now that can be devastating to a user.
  • If I attach a file from my OneDrive into Teams and then later leave that Team, I've lost access to that file completely, even though I created a portion of it myself before it graduated up to the Team. This tends to cause hoarding behavior as users feel like they are completely losing control over something that was originally theirs. Having an old locked copy in my OneDrive would still let me see my portion instead of having to reach out to former Team members and have them take action to Share the file with me again, and potentially have to create a new file for me if things have been added since that I should not have access to or need to be scrubbed.


Move actions in this interconnected world also tend to cause havoc with the sync client, as well as if any metadata etc has been added to the file that does not match what is available in the new destination. Some of this is probably one of the main reasons why they've gone with Copy in many places at least initially.

Re: Attaching an existing Team file to a conversation

I totally agree with you. It's very annoying and creates lots of confusion for users. The only workaround I have found is to open a file and start a conversation from there. In that case the file will be correctly referenced, which points that MS can easily solve this issue. We are planning to deploy Teams to 3k users and would be happy not to explain users all these workarounds.

The other thing that MS has to think about is where to store attachments. Unfortunately all attachments are saved in the root folder of the channel and after a while it will look like recycle bin. Channel folders can be used by teams an a team file repository with an easy access from desktop. With teams client you can avoid syncing files to PC or opening many browser windows. That'a clear advantage of Teams client, but I strongly suggest to create a more clear folders structure, e.g. to move all attachment to a folder called "Chat attachments" or smth like that. You have done the same with Mail attachments in the Groups and it's really useful.

Re: Attaching an existing Team file to a conversation

Folks, to reiterate, we completely agree with your sentiments here and are actively working on a solution to reference existing files and avoid creating duplicates. We've wanted this for a long time, but there's only so much we can do at once!


We also plan to give the option to choose the destination folder in the channel when attaching a file to a message, to avoid cluttering the root of the channel for teams that prefer to organize a bit more.


Sit tight, we hear you load and clear!

Re: Attaching an existing Team file to a conversation

I'm sure you've researched this, but I want to be extremely clear what functionality is needed. 


Assume that I have a collection of files in X number of sub-folders. 


I am in a conversation tab and I want to @notify someone to take a look at the "foo.docx" proposal document. My expectation, as set by other services I use, is to use a syntax something like this: 


Hey @notify - please look at foo.docx and finish the legal stuff at the end. 


What I expect to happen is this: 


I type in the @ notification and get to pick one (or more) team members (this happens now).

And then I expect to click on the "link" function and find myself navigating the file and folder heirarchy within my Teams site, until I select a file (or folder) which is then linked within the text to the existing item. This is effectively the same thing as navigating to a file in the heirarchy, clicking on "get link" and then making a hyperlink to that filename, but without forcing me to navigate to the file manually, get the link and paste it into my message.  


As others have mentioned, what's happening now is a process that is spawning duplicates of existing work and dumping them into the root folder of the team site. This is without question a bad thing, for so many reasons.  This problem was immediately discovered by my team members and caused a mass abandonment of the Teams platform due to uncoordianted changes and increased effort to reconcile multiple documents and to cite existing documents in progress. 


I would hope that this "fix" is accelerated to the next sprint, it's what I consider a critical issue. 


Re: Attaching an existing Team file to a conversation

Re: Attaching an existing Team file to a conversation

Still sitting tight, your reply was from March 2017. 

I can see a UserVoice for this now

https://microsoftteams.uservoice.com/forums/555103-public/suggestions/16944823-links-attachments-in-... and it was "coming soon" posted back in May 2017.


This is such a simple feature, and unfortunately if working with external users the share URLs you grab from Office clients don't automatically give you links that work for more than just "internal users".



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