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:

but of course replace 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.

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.

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.

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.

Need to Know podcast–Episode 59

In this episode I speak with Clayton Moulynox from Microsoft Australia about the art of the demo. Clayton provides insight based on his experience with doing great demos for customers and resellers about how to generate the most interest in the technology products you are highlighting.

We also speak about Clayton’s new ‘Demo Army’ initiative and why, if you are an SMB IT reseller you should get involved.

You can listen to the complete episode at:

and find out more about the Demo Army at:

You can also subscribe via your favourite app like iTunes:

Remember, if you have a suggestion or want to appear on an episode simply get in contact with me.

Ask Us webinars are back


As part of the Cloud Business Blueprint I’m running a regular free ‘Ask Us’ webinar. This is where you’ll get some updates on what’ happening in the cloud along with the ability to ask any question about Office 365.

We’ll also be demonstrating the features and functionality of Office 365 and helping you understand how it can benefit your business. These sessions are aimed at business owners and IT Professionals and allows attendees to ask any question they want about the Office 365 service. If we don’t know the answer then we’ll commit to finding one and getting back to you with the right answer as soon as possible.

You can register for this event at:

and we hope to see you there on the day.

Don’t worry if you miss this one as they’ll be running every month.