The SharePoint Online Learning Portal





SharePoint Online is big.  Very big.

So big, that learning even its basic elements can be intimidating for end-users. So, to help organize my thoughts and provide a compendium of useful information, here is a good old fashioned link farm, devoted to SPO.

Here are the topics…(click the headings to see the instructional videos from Microsoft and other SharePoint experts)


  • Introduction to lists
  • How to create a List
  • Edit or delete items in a list
  • Load Excel Data Into a SharePoint Online List
  • Introduction to Libraries
  • Renaming, deleting and adding files within a library
  • Adding documents to a library
  • Understanding permissions in SharePoint
  • Managing Large Lists in SharePoint Online (greater than 5000 items)
  • Understanding the SharePoint Online Recycle Bin


Introduction to lists


“Learn what a SharePoint list is and see some examples of different types of lists, such as calendars, contacts, tasks, and custom lists.”


How to create a List

“This video-based training course teaches you how to create SharePoint lists using built-in apps, create and edit views of the lists, share lists with others, and set alerts so you can be notified automatically when lists change. ”


Edit or delete items in a list

“Learn how to edit or delete items in a list quickly in Quick Edit mode or edit the full details by opening an individual item. The video uses a Contacts list as an example, but the process is similar for most lists.”


Load Excel Data Into a SharePoint Online List

The easy way to turn your spreadsheet into a SharePoint Online list


Introduction to Libraries

“This video introduces you to SharePoint libraries and how they can help you organize documents and other files.”


Renaming, deleting and adding files within a library

“Working with files in a SharePoint library is easy. This short video shows you how to quickly rename, delete, and add files within a library.”


Adding documents to a library

“There are several ways that you can add documents to a SharePoint library. You can create a new document right inside the library, or you can upload an existing document from another location. You can also drag and drop multiple documents into a library.”


Understanding permissions in SharePoint

“Are you confused about how permissions work in SharePoint? Controlling access to sites, libraries and items in those libraries is an important part of using SharePoint in your organization. This conceptual video explains the basic guidelines to follow when working with SharePoint permissions. You’ll get an overview of these guidelines, including how to creating unique permissions for sites, sub-sites, and libraries by breaking permissions inheritance.”


Managing Large Lists in SharePoint Online (greater than 5000 items)

“No matter how big or small, lists and libraries are vital to you in many ways. But when a list or library is growing in size and might exceed 5000 items, it’s time to carefully plan and organize how the data is accessed. Why is 5,000 such a magic number? Because this is the List View Threshold, which blocks most list and library operations when this limit is exceeded. This blocking operation can be frustrating, but prevents adversely affecting the service performance of other users. Here’s some guidance for ensuring that you are not blocked, can fix the problem if you are blocked, and can stay on track. ”


Understanding the SharePoint Online Recycle Bin

“Unlike PC’s Recycle Bin, SharePoint Recycle Bin can store not just files and folders. It is a catch-all place for any user-created content that was deleted. That includes documents, folders, whole document libraries, SharePoint lists and even complete sites! So in other words, whether you delete a document from a document library, an event from a calendar, task from a task list, contact from a contacts list or even the whole SharePoint Site – they will all end up in SharePoint Recycle Bin.”

SharePoint Online: Copying Files to the Cloud with SPFileZilla



Cloud technologies offer many advantages but also pose quite a few logistical challenges.

For example, how do you move local data you’ve accumulated from your computer or on-premise network to a OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online site collection?

(And yes, we’re all familiar with the OneDrive for Business sync client but, on the Windows side,  that can get a bit wonky if you need to upload hundreds of megabytes in the beginning and the OS X client is often practically useless…although new clients are reportedly on the way.)

There are quite a few answers to that question; here’s Microsoft’s guidance.

That’s all good but I’ve had great success with an open source tool named SPFileZilla.

Here’s a quote from the project’s page:

Inspired by FileZilla, the fantastic free FTP client, SPFileZilla allows you to navigate and manage SharePoint as if it were an FTP Server. Browse site lists, document libraries, folders, and files. Download and upload files and folders, including support for nested folders hierarchies. Create new folders, rename existing files and folders, and delete files and folders. Also, you can copy paths to files and folders to your clipboard. Drag and drop folders/files into the application to upload to SharePoint.


Full at the SPFileZilla homepage.

The key to this project’s success is its FileZilla, FTP-esque style of presentation which makes file transfer and management very simple.

Take a look at the main screen to see what I mean (and by the way, you should be a site collection owner or admin to effectively use this tool):


At the top of the interface, you enter the URL of your SharePoint Online site collection –  for example, https://your-domain-sharepoint .com/sites/your-site-here.

Your username and password are, of course, the same that you use to authenticate to the Office 365 portal and other cloud-linked services (such as Outlook).  To make sure the application ‘knows’ you’re trying to connect to an online site and not one within your on premise domain, check the “Is SharePoint Online?” button.


By clicking the “Quickconnect” button, you’re logged into your site collection:


Notice the right-hand side of the interface which shows the folder structure of your site collection.  By selecting files and/or folders on the left-hand side of the window, and clicking the rightward facing arrow button (after browsing to your target folder within SharePoint) you can copy files from your local drive to SharePoint Online.

That’s it; remarkably simple.

And simplicity equals elegance.

Office 365 Outages: A Clash of Expectations (and the importance of the portal service overview)


Everyone who works in the information technology field is familiar with what are generally called service outages.

It could be a file server, or an application exception or a misbehaving database or any one of at least a million different things people depend upon to accomplish their work and communicate; if the magic black box behind the curtain is slow, or,  worse yet, offline, a quiet day can become hectic as frustrations mount.

When outages occur with cloud services such as Office 365, the IT professional is placed in an interesting situation.

Consider the Office 365 Service Overview page:

Office 365 Portal Service Overview

As you can see, Exchange Online’s status is “service degraded“.

When we click on the link to get more detail we see this:

Exchange Online Error-2

We can see that Exchange Online is experiencing problems and can read a bit more about the cause.

A few hours after this was posted, we received an update:

Exchange Online Error-3

And so we can see that Microsoft’s engineers have addressed the issue and provided a fairly detailed explanation of its origin.

All good stuff and Microsoft’s transparency (or near enough) when it comes to service issues inspires confidence.

But what about your internal organizational dynamics?  This can be more difficult to manage.  Traditionally, service slowdowns or interruptions are reason to gather responsible teams together to pool knowledge and resources so the problem will (it’s hoped) be more quickly resolved.

If the misbehaving system is on premise, this makes sense; but the rules change when the software /service is provided from the cloud.

In these cases, you – as the technical point of contact or subject matter expert – will be called upon to provide answers and perhaps even a fix.  But of course,  if the service isn’t hosted on your computers or provided via your infrastructure (at least, not entirely) your level of interaction is limited.

This is when your interpersonal skills take precedence over your technical abilities; the key is managing expectations by:

1.) Explaining the problem as it’s currently understood

2.) Emphasizing what can and cannot be done by internal IT staff

3.) Providing regular updates to impacted groups

4.) Verifying and backing up your statements with information and bulletins from the vendor

Which brings me to the Office 365 Service Overview (or dashboard).

Here is where you keep track of the health of your tenant (and as I mentioned in an earlier post, there’s even a handy mobile version).

This is a very important tool which I recommend consulting often.  Viewing it should become part of your daily routine to stay abreast of developments and the system’s state.