Friday, May 30, 2014

Add attachment from OneDrive for Business

I’ve just been watching the latest Microsoft Garage series video from Microsoft. This one focused on one of my favourite topics, OneDrive for Business. If you haven’t seen it yet you can watch it here:
about 9 minutes we see in Outlook Web Access the ability to add an attachment directly from OneDrive for Business as you can see in the screen shot above.
Hold the phone! When are we getting this?
I checked my Office 365 tenant and unfortunately as yet I don’t have it.
If I go into my Outlook Web Access and select New email, Insert and then attachment from the menu that appears, as shown above, I get prompted to select a file from my local machine only.
Clearly, the ability to allow attachments directly from OneDrive for Business is coming (faster, faster please) and that is fantastic news because it is a key element that has been missing and makes so much sense.
Roll on Office 365 updates.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Determining SharePoint Online storage usage

Another really popular question I see is “How much space is my SharePoint site using?”. Here’s how you find out for a complete Site Collection (unfortunately, you can’t easily do just do single sub-site, you need to do the whole Site Collection).


Navigate to the top site in the Site Collection in question as an administrator.


Select the cog in the top right of the window just to the right of your name.

From the menu that appears select Site Settings.


In the Site Settings page locate the Storage Metrics option.


You’ll find it at the bottom right under the Site Collection Administration section.


That will take you to a summary page as shown above. In there you can see this size of things like Document Libraries, Lists, etc but you can also see the size of sub sites.


The listed items are hyperlinked so if I click on the Document Library ‘Documents’ you’ll be shown the storage report for that element as shown above (i.e. all the documents stored inside it).


If you select a sub site you will be shown a storage report for this area.

Thus, it is easy to look at the storage usage for a Site Collection and then start drilling down into specific areas.

You can do this for any SharePoint Online Site Collection you have INCLUDING OneDrive for Business.

Monday, May 26, 2014

New Office 365 top menu bar options


I was poking around in SharePoint Online and came across a number of new top menu bar navigation options as shown above.

How do you get here? You login to your Office 365 console as an administrator and then select the Admin option in the top right. From the menu that appears select SharePoint. Once here select the settings options at the bottom of the menu on the left as shown above.


At the top on the right hand side you will see that you can show or hide the following top menu bar options:

- OneDrive for Business

- Yammer / Newsfeed

- Sites

You’ll find more information about these options at:

SharePoint Help

Thus, your top menu bar for users can now go from:




if you want.

I’ll have to go back and see whether you can hide any of the other menu options in something like the Exchange admin center.

However, this addresses a common complaint I see out there about not being able to customize the top Office 365 menu. Well now you can!

What’s new in Windows Phone 8.1

Here’s a video of what new features to expect with Windows Phone 8.1 coming soon.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Protecting your information with Office 365

I’m beginning to see a major differentiator in the security offerings between what Microsoft provides and what other cloud vendors do.

For an overview, have a look at the latest Garage Series video.

I didn’t know that Office 365 now allows you to do compliance around document finger printing. This basically means you upload a template document and Office 365 will check outbound attachments to see whether they are similar.

If a match occurs then you can use rules to determine what happens. You may for example force that message and attachment to be sent via Office 365 encrypted email.

For more information on this document fingerprinting in Office 365 have a look at:

Protect Your IP Using Document Fiingerprints

and if you want even more nitty gritty detail check out:

Data loss prevention in Exchange just got better

It is really impressive stuff and with Office 365 already configured and enabled.

Imagine what it will be like when document fingerprinting comes to SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business (which it will). You’ll be able to probably prevent sensitive information being copied or sent anywhere outside your organization. You’ll be able to control all of this via policies.

If you want security (even better than on premise in many cases) Office 365 I reckon is fast becoming the leader.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Why can’t I sync Picture libraries?

I wrote a post about how to manipulate SharePoint Online images stored in Pictures libraries. However, after some more thought, it would surely be easier to sync a Picture Library to your desktop (as you can with Document Libraries). Change the images there and then let them sync back up.

That way you would have a copy of the images locally. You would work with them locally and they automatically sync in the background back to Office 365. Also given that Picture Libraries are basically ‘special’ Document Libraries would seem easy right?


So here’s my Document Library with the sync option available.


But in my Picture Library sync isn’t available.


Changing the view for the Picture Library doesn’t work either.

Puzzling. Surely, there is no technical reason why you can sync a Picture Library when you can a Document Library or have I missed something here?

Seems to me that easiest way to allow people to manipulate images would be to allow them to sync a Picture Library to the desktop where they can manipulate it like they can any local file.

Please add to you list of things to update when you get a chance Microsoft. I think it would benefit a lot of people!

Office Graph and Project Oslo

As I have eluded to in many of the posts I have made on this blog about SharePoint, I strongly believe that we are moving away from traditional files and folders into the realm of collaboration. Collaboration means it is more about who you know than what you know, in essence bringing social networking inside a business.

Microsoft has begun that process with the integration of Yammer into Office 365 and I am a big fan of Yammer however it is clear they are going beyond this with Office Graph and Project Oslo.

If you don’t know what these are then you should look at this video:

and read this blog post:

Introducing codename Oslo and the Office Graph.

In essence, this technology is about information finding you based on what you and your interactions with others. This to me is how people will be working more and more as we move forward in business. Doing things any other way will simply be too slow and cumbersome.

The Office Graph and Oslo technology is being rolled into Office 365 before year’s end and I can’t wait to get my hands on it to see how it works. However, if you still back in the days of files and folders then I would suggest to you that you should be looking at Yammer right now, because chances are if you don’t your customers will and then you’ll have real problems.

Put files and folders behind you and embrace social for the enterprise is what I say.

Manipulating images in SharePoint Online picture libraries

Unfortunately, one of the things that Microsoft removed from Office 2013 was the Microsoft Picture Manager that allowed you to easily manipulate images.

You can still install it by following the information in this blog post:

How to install and get “Microsoft Office Picture Manager” back in Office 2013

However here is another way to solve this issue.

The first step is to create a “mapping” from the SharePoint Online Picture Library to your desktop.


Start by navigating to your Picture Library in SharePoint Online. Once there, select the Library tab in the top left of the page to reveal the Ribbon menu.


Towards the right hand side of the Ribbon Menu in the Connect & Export section you find a Open with Explorer button.


Press this.


You’ll then see Windows Explorer open and in there you will see the files in the Picture Library as shown above. You have now effectively ‘mapped’ a drive on your local desktop directly to the SharePoint Online Picture Library.

You can now manipulate those files as though they were on your local desktop. Beware however, that are still working with the files directly from Office 365. This means they will typically have to transferred down locally, updated and then saved back to Office 365 all across your broadband connection. If you have very large images (many megabytes for example) this may mean things work slower than expected. Yet another case for better bandwidth.


If you select the Manage tab in Windows Explorer you will see that there is some basic manipulations that you can perform such as rotating the images.


If you need more functionality when working with images you can now use just about any program and simply point it to the newly ‘mapped’ SharePoint Online Picture Library on your desktop.

In the case above I’m using the free Windows Live Photo Gallery product from Microsoft.


Now I select the image that I want to rotate and then the Rotate Left button from the Ribbon Menu.


You will then see the program working on the file. In this case there is clock icon next to the image and the status bar at the bottom says it is updating the file.

Remember, this may take longer than you expect, depending on the size of the image, because it needs to be downloaded to the local desktop, manipulated and the saved back to Office 365. That’s why you should really ensure your images are only as large as they need to be.


The process will complete and the updated image will appear in your application.


If you now refresh the browser page that also displays the SharePoint Online Picture Library you also now see that it has updated with the changes made to the image as shown above.

“Mapping” a drive like this to SharePoint Online is not a prefect solution. It can have challenges at times, typically do to the desktop and broadband connection. A far better option would be if Microsoft incorporated even some basic image editing features (re-sizing, crop, rotation, etc) directly into Office 365 so you could do all this in a browser and without the need for the image to be brought down and saved back.

Hopefully, they have that on their ‘to-do’ this but hopefully the information provided here will let you get the job done.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Accessing Exchange admin center in Office 365 Small Business Plans

I’m never an advocate of Office 365 Small Business (P1 and P2) plans. They are just too limiting I find for customers. However, they certainly represent very good value a few dollars per user per month for people whoo are still using ISP POP3 email accounts.

One of the major limitations faced as an administrator of such Small Business plans is the inability to get to the Exchange admin center from the web console.


When you login as an administrator you’ll see the above screen.


If you scroll down you will see there are no options to manage Exchange. So how do you do some of the more advanced things that need doing?

The most obvious answer I will give you is to use PowerShell, but if you REALLY must use the web console here’s how.

Firstly, navigate to:<tenant-name>

but of course replace <tenant-name> with the actual name of your tenant. In my case that is ciaops365p3.


You’ll be asked to login to Office 365 as normal and you should do that using an administrator account. After that, you should be greeted with the above Exchange admin center screen where you can now go in an work with the protection filters as shown for example.


You should be aware that there are functionality limits with P plans. For example, as you can see above, there is no option for Mail Flow rules.

My preference would always be to do administration via PowerShell but you can certainly use the web console if you have to using the above method. However, always beware of the limits around P plans. They are cheaper for a reason!

Adding a site collection Administrator to SharePoint Online

A site collection administrator in SharePoint Online has full admin rights to a SharePoint site no matter what rights are set within the site. They do not show within the permissions for that site. If you need full control of a site collection this is an excellent way to achieve this.


For an M or E plan


From the menu bar, in the top right select Admin, the SharePoint from the drop down menu that appears.


This will take you to the SharePoint admin centre as shown above.


Select the site collection you wish to assign a new site collection administrator as shown above.


Then from the buttons at the top select Owners. From the menu that appears select Manage Administrators.


Now add the new user into the Site Collection Administrators box in the lower part of the screen.

You can also replace the Primary Site Collection User if you want but remember there can only be one of those.

Once you have added the new user press OK to save the changes and any new Site Collection Administrator will have full rights to every site and subsite with that Site Collection independent of what rights are set actually inside the site.

Finally, remember that this only assigns rights to the Site Collection you selected. You will need to repeat this process for other Site Collections you have if you also need to assign rights there.

Friday, May 16, 2014

SharePoint Online interface upgrade

The most frustrating thing about all the stuff that comes out with Office 365 is that if you already have Office 365 you have to wait until the changes get rolled out to your tenant. The time that you need to wait is getting shorter and shorter but I now most happy the upgrades to the SharePoint Online have hit my tenant.


The first change you note is the new menu bar for items in SharePoint. As you can see above upload, sync, edit, manage and share are now surfaced at the top. This really makes the most common tasks easier.


I especially like the fact that you can select a file and press manage, you get the list of options that you used to have dig through the ellipses to get to. Nice!


What I also discovered was that if you select the ellipse to view the properties and preview of the file you see the usual direct link for the file.


But, if you look at the end of the URL field you will notice a little mobile phone icon.


If you select that icon you are taken to a new page that provides you a QR code that contains the URL to the file. Nice!


The menu at the top has also changed slightly. You can see that the Office 365 to the left is now a darker colour from the user menu settings on the right. Nice!

Small things perhaps but they all make the service better. The new navigation bar will certainly make things easier for users in my book.

The best thing? There are even more improvements on the way. I can’t wait.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Click to run install on RDS server

*** Please see this update - ***

A while back I wrote an updated post on using Office 365 Pro Plus on an RDS server. You can find that post at:

Installing Office 365 Pro Plus on an RDS server

One of the issues I highlighted is that currently the Office 365 Pro Plus with its click to run functionality doesn’t allow the ability to install on an RDS server. This means you need to purchase an addition Office Pro Plus VL media and key set to actually do the install of the software into that environment.

That is all about to change as Microsoft announced in this blog post:

Updates to Office 365 ProPlus for admins and first look at upcoming shared computer support

Now you will be able to use the click to run Office Pro Plus to install on a RDS server. This means you’ll no longer to purchase that one additional license.

The blog post also highlights a number of significant improvements in the ability for IT Professionals to deploy Office 365 Pro Plus, including the ability to de-select certain applications from the package during installation.

If you are an IT Professional working with Office 365 Pro Plus I’d suggest you have a read of the blog post and watch the new Garage Series video that demonstrates all this new stuff.

It is clear that Microsoft is listening to people’s needs and acting quickly to bring these to market. This simply makes Office 365 an even better option for customers.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

SharePoint Online document check out

A major difference between traditional file system and SharePoint is the ability to check a file ‘out’. This means a user can ‘reserve’ a file for their editing use only. Others can still view the file but they can’t make changes until the file is checked back in.

Why is this important? Imagine you are in a team of people all working on a proposal. You have agreed to some changes and you all go in and try and makes these changes. If two people attempt these at the same time, the second user will get a message saying that the file is in use and they can open a ‘read only’ copy. Out of frustration they do this. They then upload this edited copied back to the original location and in the process over write any changes.

SharePoint Online allows co-authoring, which allows multiple people to work on the file at the same time but in most cases in a business this is not generally a good idea.

A better approach is for a single party to check the file out, make any changes and then check the file back in. While the file is checked out, other people can still view the file but they can’t make changes. By checking the file out the editing user is safe in the knowledge that no one can update or overwrite the file until it is check back in.

So what’s the process of checking a file out using SharePoint Online?


Visit your favourite Document Library with the document you wish to check out.


Select that document by clicking with the left mouse in the very first column on the left of the document name under ‘tick’ heading. This should highlight the whole document line as shown above.

With the document highlighted, select the Files tab at the top of the page to view the Ribbon Menu.

Towards the centre of the Ribbon Menu, under the Open & Check out section you’ll see a Check Out button. Select this.


After a few moments you will see that the type icon for the document changes to display a small box with a white arrow in the bottom right indicating that the file is now checked out.


The person who checked the file out can now makes changes to that document as required (here highlighting the word Term at the top of the page).


However, if another user (in this case Lewis Collins, noted in top right of page) opens the document they can view the last version of the document prior to it being checked out as shown above (i.e. the word Term at the top of the page is not highlighted).


But if they try and edit that document they receive a warning like that above indicating that file is checked out.


If they tried to upload a file of the same name (after say taking a local copy and changing it), they are greeted with a similar message (as shown above) and they are prevented from overwriting the checked out file.

When the editing user is ready they simply check the file back in.


To do this is again select the checked out document by clicking on the cell at the very left, then selecting the Files tab to display the Ribbon menu.

Again, in the Open & Check Out section there is a Check In button that they should select.


They will then be prompted to select whether to keep the file checked out and whether they want to add comments.

Why would you want to retain check out? Doing so will save a copy of the editing changes made so they can be worked on again but not make those changes available to others. For example, you maybe waiting on further information to go into this document so you retain check out so SharePoint has the latest version that you can pick up editing again when you have that information but others won’t see those changes (because the edits are not yet complete).


Once the file is checked in other users will see all the updates as you can see above with Lewis Collins.

I hope you can now see the benefits SharePoint check in provides and how to go about the process. You can configure document libraries to always require check out if you want. An administrator can also over write any document that are checked out if need be as well. Those are topics for future posts.