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Saving files to SharePoint Online is HARD

Frequent Contributor

I migrate companies to SharePoint Online for a living. The biggest hangup my users have after their migration is adopting a new workflow for getting files INTO SharePoint. It's unnecisarily complex. Let me ilustrate my point: (Edit - reposting since my original post disappeared)

 

User A gets an email with multiple attachments in Outlook 2016. They want to place the attachments in their team's SharePoint library (https://contoso.sharepoint.com/teamdocs). Their options for this are as follows:

 

  1. Download the attachments to their desktop, drag all the attachments onto their browser which is signed into their Team Docs library, then delete all the attachments from their desktop
    (OR)
  2. Open each attachment, select Save As, hope and pray that their Team Docs library is listed under the "Recent" section. (Unlikely if they're working with multiple doc libraies every day) If it's not listed there, then select browse > paste the url for the Team Docs Library into the nav bar at the top of the Save As dialog > select save > repeat for every attachment
    (OR)
  3. Manually setup a Network Location for the site root (can't be setup via GPO) by going to Windows Explorer > My Computer > Add a Network Location (Repeat for all 300+ users in the company) Finally, have User A user select the option in Outlook to Save All Attachments > select the Network Location you just setup called "Team Docs" and save. 

 

See how hard that is? Users coming from mapped drives through on-premises SharePoint and file servers hate that new level of complexity. Below is some basic functionality that would go miles toward improving user adoption:

 

  • Work with the Outlook team to enable the ability to save Outlook attachments directly to a specific SharePoint library (like you can with OneDrive) - this flyout list of SharePoint libraries should be able to be populated via GPO and/or reg keys.
  • Enable the ability for admins to add specific SharePoint document libraries as PINNED save as locations in Office apps (via GPO) - none of this "recent" junk or links to the site root. My dream would be to have all the Accountants with links to the Finance doc library, all the HR reps to have links to their HR library, and all of this from right within their Office apps under the Save As menu.

 

This was a little general to include in User Voice, but if I can condense it all into a quick blurb I'll throw links down below. Thanks for listening, hopefully the right folks find this feedback helpful! @Sean Squires?

50 Replies

I agree 100%.

 

It would also be useful if you can browse all your team sites (linked to an O365 group) from within Office. I have a similar scenario for Word:

 

I often end up with a document in Word which I have to save to my desktop, open up a browser, navigate to the correct team site, drag the document onto the library in the browser.

After which I remember I have to add or change something, so I have to close the current document (because it links to one on the dekstop), and reopen the document from the browser.

 

This would not be necessary if I could browse all my groups from within Word.

Great contribution Paul. This real world view shows how difficult even basic tasks can be, particularly with a large scale migration. Users point this stuff out without filters. Thanks for sharing!

@bart vermeersch

Hi Bart, try the following:

  1. File menu
  2. Save as
  3. Browse
  4. Write or paste the document library URL
  5. Navigate to the desidered folder
  6. Click on Save
  7. Optionally, pin the folder to the recent list: from now on it will appear in Open and Save as, under Sites

This is exactly why we ended up purchasing a third party tool for our users. (Harmon.ie)

 

Since we had lots of problems with mapped network drives and trusted site GPO's not always applying correctly. Which stopped them accessing the drives. Also sign on was a problem as users would go to there drives before signing on which doesn't work either.

 

 

 

 

 

@Salvatore Biscari I know this process, but you can't expect from end-users to know the url of their libraries by heart. Opening a browser, navigating to the site, copying the url is not user-friendly. The list of your groups should be accessible from within the client applications.

Hi Philip. Problems with mapped drives can be resolved using a free script like the one from Jos https://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/OneDriveMapper-automaticall-d7d498b0

 

Zee Drive, a commercial drive mapping tool my company develops, also provides reliable network drive mappings to OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online with additional features including mapping to shared with me files, sharing directly from Windows File Explorer and viewing version history.

 

Myles

Thanks Myles.
We evaluated both those options.
Went for Harmonie as our users spend most of their time in outlook.

Hi Philip, thank you appreciate the feedback, and glad to hear you evaluated Zee Drive in the process!

 

Myles

Hi @Paul Youngberg - thank you for sharing! There's actually some great investments happening across client, ODB, Outlook, and SharePoint products to make these saving/sharing scenarios more seamless and user-friendly. Adding a few colleagues - @Lincoln DeMaris and @Christophe Fiessinger for notice and comment.

The other way that is open is using the OneDrive for business sync client. 

Still requires config to sync libraries people use frequently, but for bulk upload you just save to the local location. It at least cuts out the go find and navigate to the Sharepoint library part. 

 

 

I might be irrelevant, but in that case why not use a Flow ? Your user could set up a folder where emails attachments will be saved to a SP docs lib, and Flow will do the job.

 

One of the things with flow is that it is a giant security hole. 

 

If a user has the skills to use it they can easily send data off to other consumer services and no way of monitoring it other than DLP.

 

The other thing is to set up flows for users but then you are left to maintain those. Which would include

having some access to their email id's. 

 

Totally agree, this process is completely unfriendly to common users. It's not reasonable to think they would remember sites URL, or go to check and copy-paste them every time.

 

They should also copy the right path, another possible issue to process (see there).

 

The new sync client works really good, and it could be a solution; bu there are a lot of use cases in which syncing a library is not the best option.

 

 

A GPO solution would be amazing, but even just the possibility to see all the sites in the tenant (or the sites you are following, or those you see at the SharePoint online home page - tenantname.sharepoint.com/_layouts/15/sharepoint.aspx) would be great.

 

Still no news from Microsoft?

 

EDIT: I've found similar questions on the same topic:

Hi Bart,

This would be ok if Microsoft understood their own generated URLs. For instance, if a user is in a particular folder, and they copy the browser url, the office app does not understand the url and complains to the user. 

How does MS expect all users to understand that they need to get the URL of the library and not the folder url. How difficult would it be for the Office Team to parse a url their own product generates? 

That's a good use case where the "old way" wins.

 

I've had some success "selling" those folks on the enhanced collaboration features of Office 365, including document coauthoring, version history, doc check out/check in.


@bart vermeersch wrote:

@Salvatore Biscari I know this process, but you can't expect from end-users to know the url of their libraries by heart. Opening a browser, navigating to the site, copying the url is not user-friendly. The list of your groups should be accessible from within the client applications.


THIS 1000%!

 

I cannot believe in this time of SPO and Office 2016/ProPlus that it's still such a pain to save a file from one of the core Office applications. Yes, I know one answer is to get people to go to the library first and start a new document from there, but we're talking about decades of habits/patterns. We're already asking the users to change so much. We get them to buy into the benefits of a document management system, but then we make the experience of saving a file painful. Our credibility often goes down the toilet at this point. 

I totally agree. We started using O365 in January and are still using our onsite fileshare as we are unable to find an easy way to explain to people how they can easily save their documents in a SharePoint library. We also struggle with non-microsoft documents (autocad, vectorworks, ...) used by our designers.

I didn't know this product, it seems useful but a bit pricey.
+1 That's clearly one of the pain for users when migrating to SharePoint Online and OneDrive.

I'm not sure why they improved the experience for attaching files, but not for saving.

Maybe that will come in the next few months with Office 2019.