Accessing SharePoint documents without internet connectivity (part one)

SharePoint document libraries are a great way to access documents – if you’re online and have the time to visit different libraries and different sites to find the document you are after.

However, if you’re not connected to the internet or need to find a document on the fly, using the browser or Microsoft Teams may not be an option.

What if I could access online documents directly from my computer?

Diagram of computer connected to cloudIn this post, I will show you how to sync a document library to your computer, so that you can view and edit documents from either SharePoint or from a folder on your computer. We’ll show that when a document is opened from Windows Explorer and saved, it will automatically save the document to SharePoint.

Office 365 users have long been able to download an offline copy of a document library to create, delete and modify documents. Through syncing, documents are kept updated in both SharePoint and on the user’s computer.

Although convenient, in the past, syncing lots of libraries meant you needed lots of space on your hard drive.

Now, though, with OneDrive Files On-Demand, you can sync multiple document libraries without using up precious hard drive space that can be used for other files and programs.

How do I sync a SharePoint library?

To sync a copy of a document library:

1. Select sync.
SharePoint documents library containing 2 folders, General and Governance

2. A OneDrive popup window will open.
OneDrive getting ready to sync warning

3. This popup will ask you if you want to open OneDrive for Business.
Internet explorer pop up window - Do you want to allow this website to open a program on your computer?
Select Yes/Open or Allow Microsoft OneDrive (depending on your browser).

4. If this is the first time you have synced a library from a site collection, you’ll be prompted to log into your O365 account.

5. Enter your email address and select ‘Sign in’.

6. If prompted, enter your password and select ‘Sign in’.
Office 365 sign in screen

7. At this point you can change the location or simply select ‘Next’.
OneDrive folder

8. Your list of folders will start to load.
OneDrive - next step in process - 'Sync your files to this PC'

9. Select ‘Next’.

10. A ‘Welcome to OneDrive’ animation may appear if this is the first time you have synced. Skip through the animation.
OneDrie welcome screen

11. Select ‘Open my OneDrive folder’
OneDrive sucess screen - 'You're all set'

12. Your SharePoint document library is now synced and available to view in Windows Explorer.
File explorer showing file path

13. An extra status column now indicates that this folder is now synced
New column, named status and shows cloud icons

In part two we’ll show you how to manage the local copies of documents and make them available online and offline.

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