One of the most important things when you implement adoption is to have a positive initial experience. This typically means ‘easing’ a user’s transition during the adoption process. If too many things are different, then there is much more likely to be a negative impression of the new processes. This slows adoption and at worst, can actually halt it in its tracks.
When moving to Microsoft 365, one of the most common things that a user needs to accomplish to be able to save and add attachments to emails. They have been performing this seamlessly using on premises file servers for years. They simply select to attach and then navigate to the file, attach it, then send. Easy.
Unfortunately, as I have documented before:
Saving attachments to SharePoint
it isn’t easily done with SharePoint Online. This is really strange, given that SharePoint Online is the place where users should save and access common files in the Microsoft Cloud. Let’s take a look at the issues I’m taking about.
So an email arrives in my inbox on Outlook on the desktop, as shown above.
I want to upload this directly into an existing SharePoint stand alone Team Site, but as you can see the only option I have is my own personal OneDrive for Business or a range of Office 365 Groups and Teams that already exist.
Just to make sure I haven’t missed anything, I’ll select the More option at the bottom of the list.
Now I only have the option to save to a Group (which includes Microsoft Teams). So, let’s say I select the Sales Group (which is actually a Microsoft Team).
I’m now returned to Outlook. Where did that attachment actually go?
So, if I call up my Sales Team and rifle through all the file locations in Teams interface, I can’t find the file as you see above!
Turns out that the attachment I saved is placed into the root of the default Document Library in the Microsoft Team as you see above. But guess what? There is no way to actually see that unless I navigate to that location via SharePoint. I actually can’t see that attachment I just saved if I’m using the Microsoft Teams app! They all end up in the root of the Documents location, which isn’t accessible in the Teams app!
This means, that the only REAL solution for users to save the document to other locations in various SharePoint Document Libraries, is to firstly sync those destination locations to their desktop and then save the attachments the old fashioned way to the sync location so they will end up in SharePoint.
That means, to save or add attachments I firstly have to sync EVERY location I might want to save a file too!
Outlook Web Access is actually worse than the desktop client as the only options you have are to download or save to OneDrive for Business as seen above.
Interestingly, if I want to attach a file from a SharePoint site I can navigate to Browse Web Locations, select the Team Site I want
and I see a Windows Explorer pane where I can navigate to locate the file I wish to attach, just like on premises days. However, the look and feel here is pretty dated and requires Windows Explorer to be working and may pop up warning dialogs which will freak most users out.
When I use Outlook Web Access I can Browse cloud locations for an attachment
I effectively only see my OneDrive for Business as shown above.
These experiences leave a bad taste in the mouth for users, especially first time users grasping with the ‘modern’ way of working. They need to have an experience which is pretty much identical to the one they had on premises. Why can’t we simply save and add attachments directly from SharePoint Online Team Sites like we have always been able to do from on premises network file shares?
I’m seeing this end user frustration more and more in the field and was prompted to write the article to hopefully rally the masses to get a change enacted. So the best thing you can do is visit this UserVoice request:
and vote it up.
Next, tweet about getting this enabled to the following accounts:
I will be!
Perhaps I’m missing something obvious here and if I am please let me know but I don’t think I am. Help me raise awareness and improve Outlook so it is easier for users to adopt Microsoft 365!