SharePoint Online with Forced Checkout and Synced Folders

Occasional Contributor

I have enabled a setting in our SharePoint Online instance that forces the checkout of files in our Document Library.ForceCheckout.png




I want this setting to remain as-is for a multitude of reasons.  (I believe it has solved some other issues we had in the past with collaboration and documentation of changes to shared files.)


The difficulty I have is with effectively using this Document Library now.  When the file is checked out and the folder is synced to my local machine shouldn't I have the ability to modify said file?



However the file remains uneditable.



Furthermore, shouldn't we be able to add files to the local synced location?


I cannot save to this folder natively (using other software) or by dragging files into the folder.  I don't want to prevent people from adding things!


Alternative Workflow

The only alternative I can see is doing everything via the web-interface.  I have to check out the file, download it, edit it, reupload it via the web interface to the same location, make sure it prompts with the "A file with this name already exists" message (I have a colleague that swears it didn't give him this prompt for a PowerBI PBIX file) and then click "Replace".  It is a lot of extra steps and really removes any effectiveness of having the Sync client at all.  (It also means a completely different workflow for these files compared to other files in SharePoint document libraries because other libraries don't have this setting.  It's more of the forced-different-workflow than anything that bugs me.)


Am I missing something or is this a big limitation of checking in and out of a document library?


Suggested Alternative by Coworkers

The reality is people just end up suggesting, "Let's just turn off the requirement for checking things out" which is the opposite behavior of what I'm trying to accomplish here which is trusted and tracked collaboration on files with colleagues.


Are there any other workflows here that I'm missing?


Sync Client Version

I know the OneDrive client has gone through multiple iterations, but I try to stay on top of having the latest versions of everything.  I'm on Version 2017 (Build 17.3.7076.1026)


FWIW, I have reviewed the top questions about Check Out and Check In and have looked for an answer to this question in various spots, but have not found any.

10 Replies

This subject has already been discussed in several other threads: you can search for them.

Making short a long story: NGSC syncs libraries with mandatory check-out as read-only (showing the green padlock). At the moment this behavior is by design. Nobody knows if and when this limitation will be removed.

How about some search terms I should've used instead?  Or a link to just one of those several other threads.


I looked for the following terms (boolean and quoted searches included) on the Community...

  1. Require documents to be checked out
  2. Force checkout
  3. Sync folder check out
  4. All of the above with both permutations of "checkout" and "check out"
  5. And the corresponding searches in Google as well

Most of the responses I see are about native Office file formats (and Office program interfaces for checking in and out) and normal synced folders, but I still have yet to find one that addresses the situation with this setting enabled.


This subject has already been discussed in several other threads: you can search for them.

I'm sorry, but that response sucked.  What part of "FWIW, I have reviewed the top questions about Check Out and Check In and have looked for an answer to this question in various spots, but have not found any." was ambiguous?

best response confirmed by Walter Pelowski (Occasional Contributor)

I am afraid you have not searched in the right places... ;)

For the official Microsoft statement, look for "Libraries with Checkout" in

A couple of threads in this community are the following:

But there are others.

In these threads, of course, are discussed several reasons for the green locks, not only mandatory checkouts.

Hope it helps...

Anytime you turn any required anything on your library sync becomes read only and there is no way around it. Adding required meta data column, poof, read only sync. etc.

Your alternative would be to train folks to manually use the check-out and in feature on a file when they edit it to add comments or investigate using a SharePoint workflow and or preferably a  Flow to do some kind of workflow to reach out for comments possibly on files that they edit? That could be an alternative to the situation instead of forcing the users to check-out and in all the time. 

Use of version history etc. as well. as Co-Auth could be a good solution here assuming these are office files but if not then that's out of the question.

So what do you mean by Trusted and tracked collaboration? With audit logs and version history you can see who changed what so guess I'm confused personally at the end goal if maybe you could expand on that a little bit.

Yes, that does indeed help.  Thank you.  For anyone that stumbles across this message in the future, this is what it read...



I did actually search the Microsoft site before I posted here, but didn't find this section in this article.

So one of the things we wanted to do on the BI Team is be more purposeful about when we modified our PowerBI PBIX files.  The force checkout also prompts for a version and a comment when people check things in.  Maybe there are other ways of accomplishing this (that I don't know of or haven't found yet) but we wanted to...

  1. Know when changes were made, by whom, and for what purpose.
    (Version history alone does parts A and B but not C.)
  2. Know when someone was working on a report/series of reports so that another person wouldn't clobber the other person's work afterwards.
    (Without a native integration between PowerBI and SharePoint yet we couldn't just "edit the file in place.")
  3. Allow us to revert back to a known-quantity/state-of-being when needed.  (Requires all of #1.)


FWIW, I tried to just encourage/cajole folks into adding comments to files, but when it's all done via a synced library with no-prompts, I think people would end up modifying a file without even being conscious of the fact that they just created a new version in the document library.


This is what the file history looks like for one of these files.


Like I said, there may be other ways of accomplishing these goals, but by forcing a checkout of the files and prompting for a comment on check-in, it seems to have solved most of our issues but simultaneously created another one when there is a different workflow to check-out and check-in than folks are used to using.


Hopefully that makes some sense as to why it was enabled.  If there were other/better ways of accomplishing these goals that you know of, I'm all ears.

I've only used Flows a little, but will look into it as an alternative for providing comments to checked in files. I also wanted to avoid folks inadvertently clobbering each other's changes, and the check out/check in process seemed like a reasonable way of preventing that from occurring.

@Walter Pelowski Did you find a solution for this in Flow?  I have users with similar needs of tracking comments but are being frustrated by the issues discussed in this thread.  If Flow could be leveraged to gather comments so that the require check-out could be removed it would be very beneficial.

@BRETT COX, sorry, I have not.  I looked at it a little but I am not proficient with Flow yet and we don't have anyone here who is.  It's another technology that would take me a while to figure out how to do this.  While I have seen some things about how to prompt users for file "Comments" via a flow, (which would allow me to turn off the Force I still don't like the idea that changes to a file could be inadvertently overwritten without the "Require Check Out" process.  I don't think there is any way of addressing that issue with a Flow.


For now at least I think I may error on the side of...

  1. User training for now about how the Require Check Out Document Library setting works and that it doesn't really work if you want to edit the files in a synced local folder.  (Because the files remain read-only.)
  2. Hope that at some point OneDrive gets more feature-rich and can allow files to be modified on a Forced Checkout library when the file is indeed checked out.

If we had a larger team for this project I would probably decide to pursue the Flow route, but for now, it's easier for us to keep the "Require Check Out" option on, get comments, and unfortunately have to go through a more complicated workflow of re-uploading the changed files that does not involve using the much more convenient synced local library.

@Walter PelowskiThanks for all the fantastic info you've collected here in this thread. Your post was the first relevant result that came up in a web-search.


Depending on how sophisticated you want to get with Flow (PowerAutomate), all you should need to do is create an 'Automated' flow that fires whenever certain SharePoint files are edited (or created, depending). You can then simply send an e-mail reminder to the creator or editor of the file (or to an admin) noting that the file requires comments. A more sophisticated version might sleep for a few minutes, and then re-check to see whether the (soft-)required fields have been filled in, and send an e-mail if not. If you have access to Flows and you'd like to message me or reply here, I can give a little more detail.


Somewhat related to this is how requiring metadata via SharePoint causes the affected OneDrive files to become readonly. I believe MS developers did this because OneDrive doesn't have good enough integration with SharePoint to allow this just yet. I'm not sure if a solution to the main issue being discussed here will come out of progress on this related subject, but here's the relevant UserVoice issue, which would allow OneDrive to reflect SharePoint metadata via Windows' file-explorer. Please consider voting on this if you haven't already.


To any Microsoft reps who pass by this thread: I was really hoping that checking out files would allow them to be written locally via OneDrive, using whatever applications and add-ons a user might like. I'd been looking into a way to make sure that no two users could edit files in same directory until the other was finished, in order to prevent problems from simultaneous editing of files that contain cross-references (as a simple example, Word documents and Excel sheets can refer to oneanother in this way, so edits to such interlinked files should in turn be atomic. There are numerous examples of non-Office project-files that are similar e.g. shapefiles (.shp) since they are accompanied with little database-files and projection-definitions (.prj) that sit in the same directory. There is no simple way to handle this situation for non-Office files...).