Sharepoint columns sync with File Explorer view, or an alternative option

Copper Contributor

Hi all


I'm more an admin person rather than IT, but have been asked to find a solution for one of our directors who prefers to open his documents using File Explorer over Sharepoint online. And before you ask, no he won't change his ways! 


I need to be able to set up File Explorer to filter/display/order (however you want to name it) project folders synced with Sharepoint according to whether they are:

1/ Active or Complete (status)

2/ under his name as project manager.


I thought I had found the answer by adding columns to Sharepoint (see attached a screen shot below), but I have since discovered that those columns do not feed across to File Explorer.  

Sharepoint screen shot with column headings.png


The only other solution I have is adding multiple layers of folders to Sharepoint. This will only complicate the library for other users so I am averse to implementing this.


Is there a way of tagging or adding some form of metadata to folders that will pass between Sharepoint and File Explorer that we can use to then filter the view on his device? 


Any suggestions please and thank you.




21 Replies

@Carmen3008  - I know it's been a bit but did you ever get an answer?  I have the same need.

@Carmen3008 I totally agree this is a massive need. As Microsoft do more and more to enable both column management in modern SharePoint but also onedrive sync across the ecosystem this is sorely needed. I am merely putting myself into this conversation so that if Microsoft come with a solution, I am tagged :) 

I really need this feature. Hope someone from Microsoft reviews these threads and implements this feature. If there is a feature request voting option, I would definitely ask our folks to vote for this.


This functionality is not on the OneDrive roadmap (link). This will also not be supported when using File Explorer in Edge (link).

This leaves the following scenario's:
1. Accept the lack of functionality in Windows Explorer
2. Use third party tools that mimic Windows Explorer and support metadata (example)
3. Convert the manager to use the web interface.


This is why the debate on Folders Vs Metadata continues today... I personally perfer Onedrive sync in Windows Explorer for everyday working files, but there are so many benefits to utilising metadata against files.

Is there any update on this one? We have just created a content repository on sharepoint with a series of metadata columns. Since some of my colleagues live in areas were connection is very unstable, it would be so useful to them to access the repository through file explorer and still be able to filter out the document they are looking for thanks to the metadata information.


Not really.
Use OneDrive for business client that does not support metadata.
Use browser-based apps that mimic Explorer and support custom metadata (e.g. project) (example)

Using client-side tools that use WebDAV to communicate with SharePoint are afaik also not an option.

Thanks for the quick reply, Paul!
Yes, none of these solutions would work for my colleagues... I think for the moment I will probably use the "export to excel" option and share that excel query file with my colleagues, as it includes a list of the metadata for each file. Not ideal, but better than nothing.
Hopefully this topic will eventually get on the roadmap!
Sharepoint is being advertised as the preferred data architecture solution for our organization. It is barely functional for what I do. The massive need is in part file versioning, original and added authors, dates created, latest date modified, EVEN File TYPE! - all of which are easily displayed in file explorer columns and simply not available in sharepoint, unless you open EACH file! Not acceptable. Sharepoint must have been designed by people who never manage multiple file edits, from multiple editors - most of whom are not in or can't access the intranet! Why didn't UI designers discover that people often need to compare 3, 5, 15 different file versions by just staring at the metadata columns? The File Explorer people figured it out!
Online you can just add the fields you like in the view of your library (or make another view).

@Johan Stenberg 

Thank you for your reply.   I tried to add columns in sharepoint/onedrive/MS teams files - web or desktop app versions.  In online sharepoint I don't even see an option to add columns.


e.g., in MS Teams desktop app:

The column I'd like to add in this view is date created.  Not an option here, and I don't quite see how to Add column for original date created (Not Date Uploaded)  with these free form choices.  Thoughts?



@solson550 I know it's been a while, so maybe you've figured this out since then, but in the screenshot you're trying to create a new custom column instead of displaying an existing one (that would already have the metadata you're looking for populated). In the bottom left of your screenshot there's a settings wheel that says "show/hide columns", THAT'S where you want to be.

I'm looking for a solution to the same problem. We use a hybrid of folders and metadata labels in sharepoint and older colleagues default to using onedrive to navigate it wherever they can. It would be great to be able to marry the two approaches better.

Has anyone tried File Manager for Teams? I can't get it to function for me, but I'm wondering if it would be useful.

It seems mad that you can access the files using file explorer and there's columns to display details, but they won't show the one's you've added in sharepoint.

@Johan Stenberg Please show me where - I don't see options to do that.

I'm in MS Teams/a Team/Files. Web URL or Teams App - the bottom left wheel shows me options for the Team, not for files.

@Ethan_Cordner Right. I need this option that is available in File Explorer, to be in Sharepoint and in the MS Teams/Files app.  Simple right click on the fields bar to bring up the metadata to display.





Click on an arbitrary column header and choose Column settings - Hide/show columns


Then you can choose which columns you want to show in that view




But WHY use the explorer???
You're just asking for trouble and there are absolutely no benefits at all!
Scrap that crap and start from SharePoint or shortcuts to SharePoint in OneDrive online instead!

@Johan Stenberg  Thank you Johan and others.  Found it. WHY use File Explorer?  Not sure what trouble I'd see by using it, but here are a few reasons:


 - I am not always online to attach to my sharepoint files.  The "synching" does not always work - synching has synched the wrong file and set me back.

 - Sharepoint works well on an intranet - but most of the people I work with are not in our organization, some of them are not "Microsoft shops" and sharepoint access is intermittent; we are left with having to email a document back and forth.  

 - I work on documents with others, and as I'm writing, editing, changing, I don't always want my work public.  Some initial work and much wordsmithing is not necessary to track.

 - Though Sharepoint has "revert" to earlier versions, I  like to keep some of the drafts ver 1.0,1.5, 2.0 etc. intact as complete documents for future reference. 

- Yes we can give the complete docs different filenames with versions - and we do, but the final doc and maybe a last draft can sit in Sharepoint, not all 10 or 20 or however many draft versions. 

 - Working with multiple authors, a document can become unreadable with all changes tracked.

 - Sometimes it's helpful, even necessary, to compare an earlier draft or two side by side with a recent draft.  Especially when working with multiple authors.

  - Especially true for budget worksheets, or datasets. 

  - Provenance can have legal ramifications. 

 - Getting close to a final version, the Sharepoint versions of files changes or DESTROYs formatting. Sharepoint files don't have the same format options that the applications have... especially for book length documents or excel workbooks with complex features.  This is one of the biggest detriments. 


Further some of us use other productivity apps besides MS apps- It's a couple extra steps to convert from/to sharepoint.  


This is all the crap I'm not willing to scrap!

My guess is that Microsoft programmers/developers are just that - and not writers or project managers or people who need both privacy for some documents and complex document formatting.


Last note - the MS world is way overbuilt.  Too many different visions.  What the heck is the difference between and the need for Sharepoint, AND OneDrive, AND MS Teams desktop app files areas, AND MS Teams online web version?  Not all of them work all of the time.  Sometimes files just don't display. Why are attachments saved in some system generated folder that I do not want to keep?  Is it necessary to Manage Teams, and Outlook Groups & Contact Lists separately? I so miss the simplicity of google workspace, (drive & meeting).