Accessing SharePoint documents without internet connectivity (part two)

In my previous post, Accessing SharePoint documents without internet connectivity – part one, I demonstrated how to sync a SharePoint document library and make files available on-demand from your hard drive.

This means you can have copies of SharePoint document libraries at your fingertips. Any changes made to online documents will be reflected in the documents stored on your computer and vice-versa.

*Note: this functionality is currently being rolled out for Mac users.

What are the different options for offline and online access?

Documents in a synced library can have one of three statuses:

  1. Online only files – documents that are only available online.
  2. Locally available files – documents that are currently open on your computer and are available offline.
  3. Always available files – documents you choose to make available offline (regardless of whether the document is open).

If you’re about to go offline (say jumping on plane) and need to access multiple documents, it’s important to make sure that you have made them ‘always available’.

How do I make a document always available?

To make a document or documents available offline:

  1. In File Explorer, select the document, folder or even whole library and right-click.

Selecting the items you want to make available offline from SharePoint

  1. Select ‘always keep on this device’.

Right-click options with 'Always keep on this device' highlighted

  1. Your document, folder or whole library will start to download to your computer.

Green ticks show when a document has been downloaded from SharePoint

  1. When a green icon appears next to your document or folder, it has completed downloading (for a library, you’ll need to wait for a green icon for each folder).

Green ticks show when a document has been downloaded from SharePoint

From now on you can open a document directly from your computer. When you save the document your changes are synced to SharePoint.

Any offline edits are synced with SharePoint when you next access the internet.

How do I free up space on my hard drive without losing access to documents?

To make a document or documents only available online:

  1. Select the documents, folders or even the whole library.

Selecting relevant files

  1. Right-click and then select ‘Free up space’.

Right click option with 'Free up space' highlighted

  1. This will remove the document or folder from your computer but, importantly, not from the SharePoint document library.

Green ticks show when a document has been downloaded from SharePoint

  1. The ‘online only’ icon is displayed next to items that are no longer stored on your computer.

 Some of the ways I use this are:

  1. When I have no internet connection and need to access documents.
  2. When I want access to lots of folders but not use up too much space on my hard drive.
  3. When I want to be able to access documents from multiple site collections in my Office 365 tenant.