Sharepoint Tutorial for Beginners
By Dux Raymond Sy for Udemy
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So, you have received your first link to a document in SharePoint:
It looks like you can “open” the document, “follow” it, and that you may have a “newsfeed”. When you click the link, it is clear you have barely scratched the surface; there seems to be a whole world of possibilities in SharePoint.
By the end of this guide, you will know how to use SharePoint effectively to review and edit documents, author and share your own documents, and manage your team’s work on project deliverables, all using SharePoint. It is written for those who are completely new to SharePoint.
There are many ways to approach first using SharePoint. Some companies use SharePoint as an Intranet to share information about their products, events, news and achievements. In the example email above, SharePoint is being used as a document management system. This often replaces network folders, providing a centralized way to store and collaborate on documents. Since SharePoint is a part of Microsoft Office, it enhances the document authoring and editing experience beyond what Office provides on its own.
So, what is SharePoint? You may have asked this question before. SharePoint allows individuals in an organization to easily create and manage collaborative business solutions.
SharePoint can be used for many things: storing documents, collaborating with colleagues on projects, publishing departmental information, and even managing common processes like time off requests and expense reports. It is hard to define since it offers many capabilities, but generally it provides a flexible platform to enable you and your colleagues to get work done. The great part is that all you need is a web browser and you can begin.
There are two types of SharePoint: one that is run on your company’s servers, and one that is hosted by Microsoft through Office 365. Microsoft offers two versions of their web-based platforms: Office Online for consumers, and Office 365 for businesses. You may have an email address from @outlook.com or @live.com or even @hotmail.com; this is the Office Online consumer experience. For Office 365, you log in using your work email and may have access to more functionality, such as SharePoint Online and instant messaging.
From your perspective, there is little difference between SharePoint Server and SharePoint online in Office 365; they both offer great ways to collaborate, and they both are accessed through a web browser. When there are differences, they will be pointed out.
The link to the document in the introduction screenshot will bring you to a Word document stored in SharePoint. Your company is using SharePoint to manage documents such as these for many reasons. While you may be used to authoring and storing files on your local computer or a share drive, using SharePoint means centralizing these files so that you can use them when you are not physically at your office, search for them and others like them, have them backed up regularly, have less chance of losing valuable content due to theft or hardware failure, and you can even keep multiple versions of a document while you and others work on it together.
In SharePoint, documents are stored in Libraries, which have many useful features that are not available in a local folder or file share.
You have three options when opening a document. You can read the document in the browser, you can choose to edit it in the browser, or you can choose to edit it with Office installed locally on your computer.
If you choose the edit it locally, it will act exactly like a local document, but your changes will be saved to SharePoint.
Often before publishing a document, you will work together with colleagues on it. As opposed to emailing the document around, with SharePoint you can all work off of the same document at the same time. This is called simultaneous co-authoring, and it is made possible by Office using the features to track changes and comments.
If we look at the SharePoint Document Library more closely, we will find some more helpful features for managing our document. The ribbon (or fluid UI in Microsoft-speak) at the top of library, much like in Office, contains features to help you manage the files stored in the library as well as the configuration of the library itself.
At the top, the Browse tab will hide the ribbon, showing the SharePoint navigation below; the Files tab will show relevant actions to the file(s) selected in the document list below, and the Library tab shows actions that affect how the library itself looks and behaves.
The Files tab is most relevant to us while we work on these documents. From left to right, the New section of the ribbon allows us to add new documents to this library by creating them directly in SharePoint or uploading them from the computer.
In the Open and Check Out group, we find the Check Out and Check In functions. These are useful while co-authoring a document. If you wish to be the only one able to edit a document while you have it open working on it, you can choose Check Out to lock others out. Once you are done with your edits, you can Check In to allow others to see your edits and make their own. The purpose is to prevent conflicts while editing a document, which is often helpful for larger teams or once the document is in the final stages before publishing.
In the Manage group on the ribbon, you will find Version History. SharePoint allows you to enable version controls on your library so you can keep, review and restore previously saved versions of a document. When you click on the Version History button, you will see all the versions of this document saved by SharePoint and have the ability to view, restore and delete old versions.
In the Share & Track group of the ribbon, there is the very important Share button. This allows you to invite your colleagues to view or edit the document along with you.
Document libraries tend to grow large as projects progress, so having the ability to search for the document you are looking for is very handy. Use the search box directly above the list of documents in the library.
Also, you can see in the upper right that there is a second search box that says, “Search this site”. The library we have been working in (“Documents”) lives in a SharePoint Site that may contain other libraries, lists of data, calendars, web pages, wikis and more. In this way, it is different from a typical internet web site that would only contain pages. The search box allows you to extend your search beyond just this library to find what you are looking for.
You may be starting to see the advantages of working with documents in SharePoint – remote access, easy collaboration with colleagues, versioning and backup – and want to start using it regularly for your own documents. So, how do you get a document library of your own?
In the upper right corner of the SharePoint site, you will see OneDrive and your name (here, Diane Tibbot). Clicking About Me will lead you to your personal site in SharePoint.
The personal site (or sometimes MySite) provides a lot of different functionality that we will discuss in detail later, such as your profile, blog and newsfeed. For now, we will focus on the OneDrive.
In Office 365, your OneDrive is in the App Launcher (affectionately known as the waffle) in the very upper left corner of the screen.
If you click on the OneDrive link near your name in the upper right corner of the page, you will find a document library that you can use for your work. If this is your first time going there, it may take a few minutes to show up. This is because SharePoint is automatically creating your OneDrive for you in the background.
You will see that it is very similar to the Library we were working with before: it is called Documents, there is a ribbon at the top, and a search bar above the file.
OneDrive on Office 365 is not a typical Document Library you would find under Sites in the waffle. Instead, you will see intuitive controls directly above your documents.
By default, there is a folder provided called Shared with Everyone. Any document you put in there can be seen by anyone in your company, including through search. All other documents and folders in this Library are private just for you until you choose to share them with others.
OneDrive is just a fancy name for a personal Documents Library, so everything we know about libraries already applies here: using the ribbon, sharing, co-authoring and search.
This specific OneDrive is known as OneDrive for business. If you have an email address @outlook.com or @live.com or @hotmail.com that you log into live.com with, you will find a consumer version of OneDrive there as well. While the naming can be confusing, when we discuss OneDrive it is the for Business version that you log through SharePoint or in Office 365 with your work email address. They are not connected and describe two different products.
We know we can create new or upload existing document from the ribbon, but there is another way to integrate our existing work with SharePoint called Sync.
There are also SharePoint-specific actions you can take by right-clicking and going to the OneDrive for Business folder, such as sharing and linking to the document all from the familiarity of your computer.
Back to OneDrive in SharePoint, now that your documents are all synced, there are a few other helpful Library features that will help you manage your content.
The “View” of a library allows you to change how and what shows up in the browser when you load the library page. Next to the library search box, you will see that the current view is “All” (that is the default view) and the “…” give you the option to Create a new view.
When you create or modify an existing view, you can choose which columns you would like to display, how you would like your documents sorted, if you would like to filter out any documents, if you would like them grouped into categories, and other advanced options. I created a view called Diane’s View that added a version column and sorts the documents by the Name.
You can now see “Diane’s View” is selected next to the search box, and the version column and sort change. From the ribbon Library tab, I can choose to modify this view in the future. I can also click on All again to see the previous default View. In Office 365, views are available in Sites but not in OneDrive.
You do not need to create or modify a view just to sort and filter the documents. For ad hoc sorting and filtering, you can use the column headings to temporarily change the look of the library.
will be lost when you reload the library, so create a new view if you want something more permanent.
To take advantage of versioning in SharePoint Libraries, it is important to confirm that it is enabled. Start at Library Settings in the ribbon.
Then select Versioning settings. From here you can select the number of versions you would like to hold for each document in the library – for example, 5.
This is an important step to take in securing your content in SharePoint, especially in a collaborative setting.
As we said before, your OneDrive for Business is just a personal SharePoint Document, and that SharePoint Libraries are containers inside SharePoint Sites. So in this case, your personal site (or sometimes MySite) can offer a way to learn more about what is possible with sites in SharePoint.
You can always get back to your OneDrive for Business by clicking the link at the very top of the screen or in the waffle in Office 365. Another great way to understand what information a site contains is by navigating to Site Contents from the settings menu (sometimes Gear Menu or cog).
In Site Contents you will see all of the Libraries, Lists, and other Apps that live on this site. You will recognize the Documents library if you click on it, because it is your OneDrive for Business.
An important link in Site Contents is the Recycle Bin on the right-hand side.
If you ever choose to delete a document from a SharePoint library, it will not be completely deleted right away. First, it will be moved to this Recycle Bin for a period of time; then it will be moved to a second Recycle Bin that the SharePoint Administrators have access to for another period of time. Eventually it will be fully deleted, but this allows you two chances to change your mind and restore a deleted document you actually need.
Edit your profile in SharePoint 2013
There are a few features of your personal site (or MySite) that are unique: you won’t find them on other kinds of sites, but they help to enrich your experience in SharePoint.
Click About Me under your name in the navigation.
This will bring you to the homepage of your personal site. You will see your picture on the left with navigation links below it. On the right, you will see the search bar and some information about yourself. In the middle, you will see a link to edit your profile, and below it a likely empty newsfeed.
You can see that your personal site has a lot of features similar to any profile-based social media site you may belong to in your personal life. By editing your profile, you can help people find you by filling out the About Me section with your expertise, professional history and even personal interests.
Profiles work a little differently in Office 365, since it applies to more products than just SharePoint. When you go to the About Me section, you will see an Activity tab and a Profile tab.
The activity tab is run by Delve. You can make changes to your profile by selecting Edit Profile link directly to the right of the Profile tab.
The left-hand navigation and options are similar to those of the MySite in SharePoint 2013.
Going back to About Me, you will see a link to Blog in the left-hand navigation (or the Edit Profile screen in Office 365).
The first time you click this link, SharePoint will create a special blogging-specific sub-site to host your personal blog (you can see it as a sub-site in Site Contents). This may take a minute the first time, since SharePoint is provisioning it in the background. It will eventually bring you to your blog homepage, where you can find all the tools you need to start publishing, managing and customizing your blog in the right-hand navigation.
You may also notice, on your About Me page, that the more you do in SharePoint, the more activities are being added to your Activity feed. To make this feed truly useful for you, be sure to follow documents, sites and people that are relevant to your work and interests.
You can always find your newsfeed by clicking the Newsfeed link at the top right of the screen.
You can also see here that Diane has started to post updates to her newsfeed. These will show up in the activity feeds of those who follow her. These features are often called the Social aspects of SharePoint. Right away, she is asking questions related to the projects she is working on and asking for links to documents rather than email attachments.
We have seen now how to manage documents, your personal site and even manage your professional branding with a personal blog and social in SharePoint. We are also starting to see how information is stored in SharePoint and that as a user, you can have different roles, depending on your tasks. Initially, we had a read-only role when a document link was shared with us through email. Then we saw how on your personal site, you have a lot of control over creating libraries, views, and blogs. This is because in your personal site, you have more privileges and permissions to make changes to your site.
As you begin to collaborate with others in SharePoint, you will find permissions taking on a larger importance. For example, if we copy and paste a link to a document in our OneDrive for Business into an email to a colleague, rather than Sharing that document with them:
When they try to access it in SharePoint, they may get an Access Denied screen.
The good news is, SharePoint allows your colleague to request access to this document directly from the Access Denied screen. You will receive an email like this:
Clicking the link brings you to a screen that allows you to grant the proper permissions to your colleague.
TIP: If you lose the email, you can get to the Access Requests screen by going to Site Settings -> Access requests and invitations.
This process is time-consuming and frustrating. The best way to avoid this is to set up sites specifically for working on projects with your colleagues rather than working directly out of your OneDrive for Business and emailing links.
There are many types of sites in SharePoint; we have already seen the personal site, which can be quite common since all of your colleagues can have one. Another common type of site is a collaboration site, often called a Team Site. These are sites that are meant to be used by teams working in the same department or working on the same project. The content may not be appropriate for the whole company to see, as it may be a work in progress or project-specific, but it also has more people involved than the personal documents you stored in your OneDrive for Business document library.
As a side note, another common type of site is a departmental site or publishing site. These are often full of documents and information that are appropriate for the whole company to see. For example, your HR department might publish an organizational chart and upcoming company events to their departmental site. On the other hand, the recruiters may store potential candidates’ resumes and coordinate job fairs on a more private collaboration Team site.
To have a new site collection created for your project, you will need to contact your SharePoint Farm Administrator or IT department. Depending on your company, they may have a form for you to fill out or automated process for your request.
Once you receive your new Team Site, much of what you know already about Libraries and Sites will apply right away to using your Team Site.
The top and left-hand navigations will look familiar, and by default, there are tiles front and center to get you started.
You already know how to use that new “Documents” library to store and share content, and that the link to the Site Contents will show you all the containers in this site. The first change you are going to want to make on your new site is to invite your team to the whole site so that you no longer have to share each individual document, like we have seen up to this point.
Simply by clicking the “Share you site” tile, you can begin. TIP: Once you remove the “Get started with your site” web part, you can access the same functionality by clicking Share in the upper right of the page.
Site Collections come with three groups by default. The groups are there to make it easier to understand who has what access to your site collection. The names of the groups are <Site Collection Name> Owners, <Site Collection Name> Members, and <Site Collection Name> Visitors. Here are some of the differences in the permissions:
• Visitors Group has “Read” permissions level
o View and Open items
o Find items in search
• Members Group has “Edit” permissions level
o Everything “Read” can do, plus:
o Add, edit and delete items
o Change settings on Libraries and Lists, including security
• Owners Group has “Full Control” permissions level
o Everything “Edit” can do, plus:
o Change the look and feel of the whole site
o Manage all the permissions for the whole site
o Create sub-sites
Considering it is quite a powerful role, you will want to limit the number of full control users of your site. They even have the power to remove you from your own site. Most of your colleagues will easily be able to accomplish their work with Read or Edit permissions.
TIP: There is another way to view, add and modify permissions in your site collection. You can navigate to Settings Menu (gear) -> Site Settings -> People and Groups to get access.
The settings or gear menu has many options for customizing your site collection to meet your work needs.
You are familiar with the Site Contents option and the Site Settings option and even the Getting Started option, which will show you the five tiles from your homepage any time you would like.
The Site Settings page has two important areas for us when getting started: Users and Permissions, which we have looked at, and Look and Feel. Configuring the Look and Feel of your site will allow you to change the Logo, the Navigation and the Theme of your site (found in Change the look).
For Diane, we uploaded a new site icon and “Changed the Look” to a gray theme.
There are a few more things to learn about Libraries that will help you collaborate with your colleagues. If we go to the Documents library, we can use the Sync button in the upper right to keep this library synced with our computer like we did for our OneDrive for Business to help us load in some documents.
Another less permanent option is that you can use the Open with Explorer option from the Library tab in the ribbon.
This way, you can use the SharePoint library files locally on your computer while they are still stored in SharePoint, but not synced.
Another feature you may want to use is to set up an Alert on your library. This can be useful if you are waiting for content to be added to the library by colleagues, or want to get an email if any documents get deleted or updated in the case of work with sensitive data.
Once you set the alert, you can receive emails of relevant changes to your documents. In this case, Diane would like to know when new documents she has been waiting for are added to this Document Library.
To take this concept one step further, you can add a workflow to your library directly from the ribbon. This is going to require a slight change to our Library, which we can make in the Library Settings.
The goal here is that every time a document is added to the library, a workflow is started that will track the progress of that document until it is deemed done or accepted by the site owner, Diane. We will be using what comes with SharePoint and will not have to create anything customized to get this functionality.
First, we need a new column in our library to track the stages of our workflow. We saw the available columns before when we added the version column to a new view we created called Diane’s View. Now, we need to create a new one called “Workflow Stage”. We will go first to the Library Settings in the ribbon.
Next, we will scroll down to where it says Columns and select Create Column. Here, we will name the column and select Choice type.
As our choices we will put Draft, Pending, and Accepted, each on their own line, and then click OK. Back in the Documents library, we now see our new column.
Now for the workflow. From the Library tab in the ribbon, we can now select the Add a Workflow option to configure the workflow itself.
Select the Three-state workflow template (or the Approval workflow template in Office 365), and name the workflow. Also, select the Start Option “Creating a new item will start the workflow”.
On the next screen, scroll to the last section that specifies what happens in the middle state of the workflow. Change the “Task Assigned To” field to Diane Tibbot.
Now we can see the workflow in action. When Dan uploads a new document to the library, it shows the status of Draft and a workflow is kicked off.
Dan also gets a workflow task assigned to him and an email reminder.
Dan can now work on the document until it is done. Then he will mark his task as complete.
At this point, a new task will be created for Diane and an email sent. Once she has reviewed the document, she will go to Site Contents -> Tasks and edit the task assigned to her so the status is Completed.
Now in the Document Library, the new document shows as Accepted and our workflow “Document Approval” is Completed.
This is an example of how SharePoint can be used to do somewhat complex automations in a way that is easy and fast to configure.
Now that we are becoming more familiar with SharePoint and its potential, let’s return to the Site Contents page and explore some additional possibilities there.
We have been primarily working with Document Libraries in SharePoint thus far. There are many more choices of templates if we click “add an app” in Site Contents. Some are libraries for storing pictures and reports, while others are lists for storing structured data like tasks (which we saw with our workflow), calendar events, and links. There may even be apps available that your organization developed in house or purchased from a third-party vendor to do specific tasks such as track expenses, track time off, take notes in meetings, or handle requisitions.
The work you are doing with your colleagues on your team site will dictate the type and quantity of apps you will need to add. Task and calendar apps can be quite useful as well as discussion boards for communication.
One App in particular that is helpful for collaborative documentation is the Wiki Page Library app.
I added one to Diane’s site and called it Documentation. If you are familiar with wikis, you can get started right away because the syntax is common. If not, it is easy to learn. By default, it even creates a page for you with instructions on “How To Use This Library”.
The premise is simple: you edit a page from the ribbon and if you want to create a new page, you simply make a link on the page you are editing by using this syntax: [[New Documentation Page]]. When you save the page and click on the link, the software will create a brand-new page called “New Documentation Page” that you can start editing and adding content to – and more links, of course. It is collaborative, so all of your team can update these pages and link to new ones. This is how your wiki grows into a documentation knowledge base. TIP: Wikipedia is built on the same principles.
Back in Site Contents, you will notice an App called Site Pages.
You will find the homepage stored there. If you click on Home, it will bring you to the page you see when you first land on the site.
The good news is that this Page is completely editable and you can create more pages if you need them. This type of page is called a Web Part page. The other type of page is a Wiki Page.
You will see on the Home link in the upper left that there is a page tab in the ribbon that allows you to edit the page.
When you click this, you will be able to change what displays on your homepage when people come to your site. For example, let’s remove the “Getting started with your site” web part by deleting it. TIP: We can find this information again in the settings menu -> Getting started.
Let’s also change our text layout to one column with a sidebar.
There are a few of different ways you can add content to a page. You can type directly into the boxes, adding text, links, pictures and tables. Alternatively, you can use web parts to surface information from other areas of the site. For example, the Documents box is a web part showing a basic view of the Documents library, where we have the workflow enabled.
To add a web part, go to Insert in the ribbon and click on Web Part. There are many built-in web parts to choose from, so it is worth looking through all the categories to get a sense for what is available. I decided to add a little welcome text typed directly on the page, and web parts for the tasks list from the workflow and the new Documentation wiki.
After you save the page in the ribbon, the new homepage for the site will conveniently have all three lists available to them.
If you decide you would like to have more web part pages to display more information, you can create them in the Site Pages library or directly from the gear menu. If I want to change a new page to be the default homepage, you can do that from its ribbon.
Pages are also great to add to the top navigation and left (sometimes called Quick) navigation.
Many subjects covered above are just the tip of the iceberg in SharePoint. Web parts themselves are highly configurable and customizable; workflows can truly support important business processes, and sub-sites add further complexity, depth and functionality to your sites.
There are always things to learn with SharePoint. In this tutorial, we covered Content Ownership and began Site Collection Administration. There are more technical roles common in SharePoint, such as Farm Administrators who work with the complexities of managing many site collections, documents and users, as well as SharePoint Developers who use the software SharePoint is built on to create custom solutions, apps, workflows and supporting software for SharePoint.
Office 365 has many other exciting features that may be available easily through the waffle menu, such as Delve for search, OneNote Online for notes and collaboration, and the Video portal. Microsoft’s vision for how all the products will interact with each other is most apparent and at the cutting edge in Office 365.
What we have been able to accomplish is to get you from a complete novice to a competent SharePoint Site Owner able to author and collaborate with your team on SharePoint, taking advantage of the features that make it such a great place to get work done. The more you use SharePoint, the more you will ask yourself what is possible, and I encourage you to follow this curiosity as it can lead to rewarding experiences and valuable solutions.
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