Teams Files Channel Tab Keeps Improving

Grid View and Details Now Available

One of the things people often forget about Teams is that the app is built from other apps. Some apps, like the Activity Feed and Chat, feature in the navigation rail. Others are limited to a channel, like the Wiki and Files channel tabs. The Wiki tab is losing its default status, meaning that Teams will no longer install it automatically for new channels, but the Files channel tab is going nowhere. In fact, Microsoft is steadily improving its functionality. Given that it’s one of the two default tabs added to all channels, this is a good thing.

The last overhaul was in early 2020, and recently the Files channel tab received another useful upgrade. Microsoft didn’t post an announcement in the Microsoft 365 message center, but the changes are clear and obvious. The possibility might exist that I totally missed the changes when they first appeared, but I thought I’d discuss them anyway.

The Role and Functionality of the Files Tab

The role of the Files channel tab (aka the FileBrowser app) is simple. It allows team members to view the files in the channel folder of the default document library in the SharePoint site belonging to the team. Each channel has its own folder used to store files shared in channel conversations.

The view presented by the Files tab has always lagged the range of options available to users in the SharePoint Online browser interface. In some respects, this didn’t matter. Although SharePoint aficionados know about the missing options, people using Teams might not know that SharePoint manages team files and often didn’t notice. The options available in the Files tab are enough to get the job done, and that’s all that mattered.

But the lack of some features like check-in/check-out bothered some people. The last overhaul addressed many issues, but some remained, like the inability to see the version history and apply retention labels. The latest version of the Files tab (Figure 1) brings some notable enhancements, two of which are particularly worthwhile.

Teams Files channel tab and its options
Figure 1: Teams Files channel tab and its options

Document Details Pane

First, the details pane is now available for a selected document. This allows you to update metadata for the document and assign a retention label. Apparently, the SharePoint browser interface might soon get the ability to assign a sensitivity label to a document. Today, this can only be done by the Office online and desktop apps (and according to MC395209, soon in the paid-for version of Adobe Acrobat), but when SharePoint gets sensitivity label support, it will probably appear in the details pane and so turn up in the Files tab.

Grid View

SharePoint’s Grid View used to be called Quick Edit. In February 2021, Microsoft renamed the capability to bulk edit items in lists and document libraries. Grid View appeared in the SharePoint browser interface, but not in the Teams Files tab. Now it has turned up, and it works very nicely.

One of the nice things you can do with Grid View is to add a new column easily. For example, the document view we use to organize the chapter files for the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook shows the person who last edited a file but doesn’t show the author responsible for the chapter. Using Grid View (Figure 2), I added a new text column called Author and populated it with the names. The nice thing was that the new column shows up with the populated values in the SharePoint browser interface too.

Using Grid View in the Teams Files channel tab
Figure 2: Using Grid View in the Teams Files channel tab

Not Much Else to Do

I typically use the SharePoint browser interface to work with files. However, the updates to the Files channel tab have made me reconsider whether I should use it. The only thing I use regularly that’s missing is version history, but I only use that feature very occasionally. There’s no sharing option in the view and you can’t add a link to OneDrive. Sharing can be managed through the Details pane (not as easily, but possible) and I seldom create a OneDrive link. So, It seems like Microsoft has not much else to do for the Files tab – except sensitivity labels, of course.

So much change, all the time. It’s a challenge to stay abreast of all the updates Microsoft makes across Office 365. Subscribe to the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook to receive monthly insights into what happens, why it happens, and what new features and capabilities mean for your tenant.

3 Replies to “Teams Files Channel Tab Keeps Improving”

  1. When are we going to see SharePoint document libraries added (or the ability to add them) to the Files button on the left side navigation rail?

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