Favorites and Following in Groups, Teams, and SharePoint


I've been doing a lot of investigation and exploration lately of Microsoft Teams, Office 365 Groups, and the SharePoint Modern Team Site you get when you create either one. The trifecta of cool new stuff, if you will. I tend to do a lot of my experimentation with a small group of some of my best users. This tends to generate a good amount of feedback and tends to surface really good tips and tricks which I then adapt into guidance for wider audiences.


Through this experimentation we've noticed that within all three tools or experiences, there are functions to either 'Favorite' or 'Follow' a Team, Group, or Site. These are powerful ways to keep up with your most often used items in those various tools, but we've found that these three functions are not linked at all.


In Office 365 Groups ( @Christophe Fiessinger ) you can 'Add to Favorites' from the ...'s in the Groups user interface, or from within Outlook 2016 itself by right-clicking on the Group Mailbox.


In Microsoft Teams ( @Suphatra Rufo ) you can click the ...'s next to the Team name and click 'Favorite'.


In a Modern SharePoint Team Site ( @Adam Harmetz ) you can click the star icon near the top right of the site itself, or you can locate the site in the SharePoint Home Page and click the star icon there.


The difficulty I've run into is that users don't understand that none of these three are related or linked to each other at all. One does not trigger the other two, even though they are performing somewhat similar functions. Once I explain this to a user, even a tech-savvy user, I tend to get "the look" in return which sends me off to OneNote to add a +1 to this particular piece of feedback. This item has enough activity on it now that I thought it was time to surface the experience to a wider audience here.


I wanted to get this group's opinion and thoughts on this, as well as any thoughts from the Microsoft folks or their teams that I tagged to see if these functions might ever be unified in the future to offer seamless functionality as you cross tool boundaries.

7 Replies
We aren't using Teams yet, and probably wont for a good while. Just now rolling out Groups in wider numbers.

The approach we are taking is simply "Favoriting" is ONLY for Outlook/OWA, and "Following" is ONLY for the SharePoint site.

We have a webpart on our Intranet home page that has Sites I'm Following, so it has logically made sense to our users, you hit the follow button it goes in that list (https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/SharePoint-Developer/Following-O365-Sites-API/m-p/45708#M1499)

We also have (will have) a webpart next to the "Sites I'm Following" for My Groups. This wont have anything to do with Favoriting (at least not yet), but eventually we'll probably tie it in (https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Office-365-Groups/quot-My-Groups-quot-list-for-SharePoint-Hom...)

I can't see them being unified ever because they do perform different functions, as difficult as it is for a non-tech business user to sometimes grasp.

Counter scenarios:
I can "bookmark" a Group's sharepoint site even if I am not a member.
I can "bookmark" a Group's sharepoint site if I am a member, but it is not one of my featured Groups so I dont want it showing up in favorites because I am a member of 15 groups.
I can "favorite" a Group for conversations/calendar, but not "bookmark" the site because the Group is not using the site and it would just clutter up my "Site's I'm Following" list.

This is a thoughtful post and thanks for the clean writeup.


It's a tough design problem for sure.  Truth be told there are some technical blockers that would make it harder to rationalize that we'd like - and we are working on those blockers.   I don't want to hide behind that as an excuse to not think through the problem.  I can say in previous explorations there were a few constraints that have come up:

 - There are many sites that do not have a Group attached.  This includes Team Sites (this will be solved over time as we work on attaching to existing sites to Groups) as well as publishing sites and portals folks might want to get back to.

 - In hybrid deployments, customers will see on prem sites in this followed list.  On prem the name will be "Followed sites" without an ability for us to easily change or align.

 - In talking with customers, there does seem to be two camps - those that have a set of Groups they work with across all workloads and would like to see a single, consolidated list.  And those that have some Groups where they only use it for mail, for instance, and would find those Groups distracting when looking in SharePoint (and vice versa).  This applies even more with algorithmically-defined list of sites like our Frequent list, which we really want tuned to those sites (groups or not) that folks work with files/content in.


Anyway, I hope that provides and context and food for thought.  Figured I'd share openly in the spirit of this community.  On a broader level, we are always working on various work items to make Groups coherent across the suite.  @Christophe Fiessinger has the latest I'm sure on public roadmap there, but there is lots of exciting stuff that I believe will make a real difference.



If I create a private Office 365 group "my new private group", with person-xxx as member.


My understanding is that Delve and SharePoint do not index "private office 365 groups". So user person-xxx will not be able to view "my new private group" from the SharePoint dashboard.


My question is: How can person-xxx "follow" (sharepoint) the "my new private group" he/she now is a member of??


I agree that "favorite" (outlook) and "follow" (sharepoint) is confusing. These two should have been linked.

Hi David,

This is interesting.  We are just starting to explore O365, and I had not come across this yet.  Can you tell me where each of these favorites are actually saved?  In our on-prem SharePoint environment, the favorite sites lives in each person's mysite.  Is that how it works with SharePoint online, or is it part of something else like Delve?


They are spread all over the place, just like these features :) SharePoint is in the profile somewhere, Groups is probably in Exchange or AD somewhere, and Teams is... not sure really. Teams might be any of the above.

The inability to follow my private group is exactly the issue I am having right now. Thanks for articulating it so clearly!

Hi Tech Community.


I'm administration on a O365 education plan and wondering if it's possible to switch all groups to favorites on behalf of my colleagues? The reason is that the groups sometimes 'disapear' in OneDrive - probably when updated.


Thanx a lot

Linda Drowe