One of the biggest challenges when working with files and folders stored in SharePoint Online is doing the day to day things that you take for granted when your files were either stored on the C drive on your PC or a local file server. What we’ve tried to achieve with this article is to show you how to complete some of these tasks when your files are stored in Office 365.

Performing a simple edit to a file stored in SharePoint Online in Office 365

When working with files and folders in SharePoint Online as part of Office 365 it is fairly straightforward if all you want to do is create, open, edit and save files in a SharePoint Library:

To open a file just click on the file name:

Select a file to upload in Office 365



The file will open in your browser and you then have a choice of being able to edit in the browser using Office Online or open in the desktop version of your application, in this case Word:

Edit file in Word or Word Online


If all you want to do is a few simple edits then the Office Online apps are fine. Once you’ve made any changes you don’t need to ‘Save’ as this will be done automatically as you make changes. If you open in Office on your desktop, once changes have been made the default ‘Save as’ location will be back at the file’s original location:

Saving a file in Word Online


Uploading a file stored on your PC to SharePoint Online

Uploading files from your desktop machine to a SharePoint Library can be done by either using the ‘Upload’ link or dragging and dropping files from Windows Explorer:

Uploading files to SharePoint Online


Attaching a file to an Outlook email

This is all fine for the basic tasks but in the real world you need to be able to carry out tasks such as attaching a file to an email in Outlook and having files stored in SharePoint and accessed via your browser isn’t quite as simple. If you need to do this on an occasional basis for a particular library you can temporarily open a library in Windows Explorer by clicking on the ‘Library’ tab at the top of the page then the ‘Open with Explorer’ link:

Open a SharePoint file in Explorer

The Library will open in an Explorer window and you can drag and drop files in to an email:

Attach a SharePpoint file to an email


Adding a SharePoint Online Library to appear as a Network Location in Windows Explorer on your PC

If you use a Library on a regular basis it would be useful to be able to access files and folders as if they were part of your file system on your local machine. This can be setup by carrying out the following.

Click on ‘Library’ then ‘Library Settings’:

Library Setttings

From the web address of the ‘Library’ copy all up to the point where it says ‘Forms’ to your clipboard by pressing ‘Ctrl-C’:

Get URL from web address of library

In Windows Explorer click on ‘This PC’ or ‘Computer’ (depending on version of Windows) and ‘right-click’ in the right hand pane to add a Network Location:

Adding a library as a network location

The ‘Add Network Location’ wizard should now start:

Add Network Location Wizard

Click ‘Next’:

Add Network Location

Click ‘Choose a custom network location’ then ‘Next’:

Choose a custom location

Paste the address you copied to the clipboard in to the address bar then ‘Next’ again:

Paste the Library URL

Enter a suitable name for the library and click ‘Next’ for the final time:

Enter a name for the library

The Library should now display as a network location on your PC

Library as it appears in windows explorer

Important: You will need to be signed in to Office 365 for this shortcut link to continue to work. If you get an error message when you click on the folder you will need to login to Office 365 in Internet Explorer, browse to the SharePoint Library and use the ‘Open with Explorer’ link (just once) to authenticate from a security perspective.