I attended the New Zealand SharePoint Conference on the 28th & 29th of March.  I’m “an infrastructure guy” but I didn’t attend any of the IT Pro or Developer workshops.  I wanted to find out tips, tricks and concepts that I could pass onto our Office 365 customers.

One valuable point I took away from the conference is that if SharePoint and Office aren’t easy to use our customers are not going to use them to their fullest potential. Dr Nitin Paranjape encouraged his audience to exploit the integration features of Office and SharePoint.

Here is one feature – use shortcuts in Office to your favourite SharePoint folders.

Basic rule of website design – if your audience has to scroll lots or click many times to get to the content they want, they wont. Application to SharePoint – If you use lots of folders and levels of folders to organize your files, it will annoy your users.  Click, load, click, load, click, load…. finally the file I was after.

Shortcut One – Office File menu’s Recent Places

Office 2010 has a very useful “Recent” menu.  It displays recent Files and recent Places. In the example below I have pinned my SharePoint online Shared Documents to Recent Places.

Shortcut Two – SharePoint folders in Windows Explorer Favourites

Add commonly used SharePoint folders to your Windows Explorer favourites.

Now that you have a SharePoint Online folder saved in your Recent Places, you can add it to your Windows Explorer favourites.  Here is one way to do so.

  1. Open the SharePoint Online folder from Recent Places in your Office 2010 application. The example below is from Excel.
  2. Right-click on the Favourites menu in the Open dialogue box and choose Add current location to Favourites
  3. To easily recognize the folder as SharePoint Online folder, I recommend renaming it.  (Right-click and Rename.)

Your favourite SharePoint folders are now accessible in Windows Explorer and the File Open / Save dialogue box in your office applications.

This may seem trivial to some readers. But this simple tip will make SharePoint life easier for a number of your colleagues who are still using shortcuts on the desktops to get to libraries and sub-folders in libraries.

This method was based on using Windows 7 and Office 2010.  I welcome comments and corrections.  Additionally, if you have a method for other Windows versions and Office 2007, feel free to comment.