Inside the Teams Wiki

Where’s My Wiki?

A couple of day ago, I was asked where Teams Wiki data was stored. The question came about because the Wiki wasn’t searchable in Teams, which seemed odd for an Office 365 component. The idea behind the Wiki is that it’s a place where team members can share notes in a somewhat more structured way than exists in channel conversations. You can discuss Wiki contents in conversations by either including @ mentions in the body of its text or by starting a conversation linked to the Wiki.

The Wiki is a default tab that’s added to every channel after it is created. You can rename or remove the tab if you don’t want it, which often happens when an organization uses OneNote for note-taking.

Teams Wiki Data

Some quick investigation revealed that Teams stores wiki content in a document library of the SharePoint team site belonging to the team where the content is created. Although each channel in a team gets a wiki tab,  Teams doesn’t create anything in SharePoint until the first time that someone opens the wiki. At this point, Teams creates a folder named after the channel in the Teams Wiki Data document library in the team site, which you can see through Site Contents (Figure 1).

Figure 1: The Teams Wiki Data document library in Site Contents

If you open Teams Wiki Data, you’ll see the folders for the channels in the team where wiki content has been created.

Wiki Sections and Pages

Within the channel, a Teams Wiki is composed of sections and pages, just like OneNote. You can insert text (with a limited set of styles, images (from Teams, OneDrive, one of the cloud storage locations configured for the team, or your workstation), hyperlinks, or a table. You can also create bulleted and numbered lists and highlight text.

Editing the Teams Wiki
Figure 2: Editing Wiki content in Teams

Overall, text formatting for wiki content is limited too and is like the editor used to compose messages in Teams. You won’t write War and Peace in the wiki, but the editor is perfectly adequate for simple composition.

Wiki Files in SharePoint

Each page in the wiki is represented as an MHT file stored in the document library. The saving mechanism for the wiki is interesting because the files stored in SharePoint don’t report updates. At least, their modified date doesn’t change and the reported timestamp is when the page is created. All of the sections in a page are in the same MHT file.

Figure 3: Wiki files in SharePoint document library

It’s possible to add multiple Wiki tabs to a channel (to confuse users). All the pages for all the wiki tabs end up in the same folder for the channel.

Error opening Wiki Files

If you try to open a Wiki MHT from SharePoint, Word Online is the suggested application. But if you proceed, you see the error:

This page is automatically updated from the Wiki in Microsoft Teams. Any changes made here will be overwritten. To edit this page, open it in Microsoft Teams.

The reason why this block on edit exists is that the MHT files are just pointers to items in a hidden SharePoint list (Figure 4) where the actual content is stored. You can find this list through Site Contents. When the wiki opens a page or section it fetches the content from the list (you can see the HTML formatted text in the wikicontent field shown in Figure 3).

Figure 4: Wiki content in a hidden list

No Search

To come back to the original question, any content you enter into a Teams Wiki is invisible for search purposes. You can’t find it in Teams or by using Microsoft 365 Search or Delve. This is rather a mystery because Microsoft makes a big thing of being able to search for content across Office 365, but perhaps it’s a feature that’s “coming soon.”

To learn more about Teams and the tabs you can create for channels, read the chapter covering Teams architecture in the Office 365 for IT Pros ebook.

24 Replies to “Inside the Teams Wiki”

  1. Excellent writeup Tony. For enterprise orgs like mine that are married to MS and Office365 solutions, this is the very kind of sleuthing we have to do, almost daily, to make the tools usable with any sort of modern expectations. I’m at wits end with MS for continuing to prioritize inane features like adding status interface to windows task bar, over things like making wiki content searchable. Why do you think this is happening? I figure you must have some insight since your last name is Redmond. 😉

  2. Thanks Tony. Yes, I make sure to vote on the issues plaguing my team, and encourage them to do so as well.

  3. Tony, in the meantime, how would/do you use Teams as a knowledge base tool? I am deciding on a current best practice in an Engineering org that has adopted Teams. I read someone’s idea for a workaround would be to not use the Wiki, but to consolidate all of a Team’s Wikis into a channel therein called “Wiki”, and use subject headers, markup, and edit capability to author your now-searchable content in every top post in the channel. I’m inclined to use this approach for now instead of proliferating content in such dark corners as Teams Wikis.

    Do you have thoughts on this approach, or have any other suggestions for workarounds _using Teams today_?

    1. Most people I speak to about this topic recommend the use of OneNote instead of the Teams Wiki. They like synchronization and the other features in OneNote…

  4. Excellent article. I have one question. I cannot see what is shown in figure 4. How can it be reached from SharePoint main UI?

  5. This one I see, but I don’t see the hidden list where the actual wiki pages are stored in like you show in Figure 4.

    1. Looks like Microsoft might have hidden some of the more interesting data since that article was written. Sixteen months is a long time in cloud terms…

  6. Hello – thank you for this great write up. As I was looking for information around, syncing up the MHT files back over to Teams Wiki, I stumbled into this content. We had a situation where we had to migrate from one internal domain to another due to our organization being acquired. In this process, the Teams Wiki content got lost. We can see the MHT files in the Sharepoint website but Teams does not show this info any more. Is there any way to restore the links back again with the top level channel in Teams?

    1. I don’t have a good answer for you, but maybe Microsoft support might be able to help. They tend to have tools that can do things that normal mortals can’t do.

  7. Hi Tony,

    I’m hoping you can help me. We have several teams created, and are moving to a new standard, and when trying to move over files from the old wiki to the new wiki, the file moves. I can see it in sharepoint. However I can not get it to show in the wiki. Can you please point me in the direction of where I can look to get this resolved?

    1. I’d file a support call with Microsoft. Their support people have different tools they can employ to resolve issues and might have something that can help here.

    2. Wiki pages/content can’t be migrated. That is something what i’m learning too. It has its limitations. Whatever Tony has in this article, partially is not available anymore. MHT files are available, but not the content where these files point to. Recommendation is to Create OneNote tab, and to remove Wiki Tab (for future). Currently, there is no solution. If i’m able to find it, i will post it here.

      1. It’s an old article now. I haven’t looked at this topic for quite a while. But I would always take OneNote over the Wiki.

      2. In regards to this, found this list (hidden one). To navigate to this hidden list, first navigate to “Teams Wiki Data” –> Library settings, in the quick launch “Recent” -> you will find a list with GUID in there. [This appears only when you do the above]. Click on it, and you will be taken to this hidden list. You will find Wiki, Pages, Sections, associations… everything here.

  8. “any content you enter into a Teams Wiki is invisible for search purposes” – this was in 2018. It still does not work in 2022.

  9. Well, now they have announced you can soon no longer create new wiki in Teams, how long until it gets shut down, which leaves us admins scrabbling to identify sites that have wiki in use and prepare to probably have to move to an alternative wiki solution, I have not yet found a way to identify teams that have made use of the wiki function, short of opening each site one at a time…

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