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Microsoft Refreshes Teams Files Channel Tab to Expose More SharePoint Features


Files Tab Now Close to Functionality Available in SharePoint Browser UI

On May 20, Microsoft posted Office 365 notification MC180213 to let tenants know that a refreshed version of the Files channel tab is now rolling out. Commercial Office 365 tenants should see the new functionality in June, but there’s no news when it might be available for GCC tenants. Meeting the commitment in Office 365 Roadmap item 51234, Microsoft says that the Files tab has a new look and “many new features,” which might assuage those who didn’t like the simplified version previously used by Teams (I thought that the design of Files had advantages and disadvantages).

Using the New Files Tab

You don’t have to do anything to see the new UI as it is enabled automatically. When you open Files, you’ll see that new views are available, including any customized view created for a document library. The set of options available are more extensive and now include the ability to check-out documents (Figure 1). You can also pin documents to the top of the library, just like you can do inside SharePoint.

Using the new Files channel tab in Teams
Figure 1: Using the new Files channel tab in Teams

You can now set up the synchronization of libraries (with the OneDrive client) from within Teams. and use custom filters and views, all of which makes the Files channel tab more useful.

What’s Missing

Although more functional than the last iteration, the new Files channel tab does omit some options available in SharePoint. For instance, you can’t access the version history of a document, so you can’t restore back to a previous version. You can’t attach a Flow to a document or create an alert. Finally, you can’t access and update document properties. This means that users can’t select retention labels (or sensitivity labels, when Microsoft supports these in the SharePoint user interface), or custom properties such as the “publication date” and “publication” shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Editing properties for a SharePoint Online document

Although an easy workaround for the issue exists (coach users to open the library with SharePoint Online when they want to perform these actions), it does seem strange that Microsoft didn’t include document properties in the new Files channel tab. Perhaps they’ll do so in the next iteration.

One final point. If you create a SharePoint Document Library tab in a channel, it uses the old Files view rather than the new. This is a little confusing (or at least, it was to me…).

For more information about Teams, read Chapter 13 in the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook. You can find out lots of tips and techniques for SharePoint Online too; it’s in Chapter 8.

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