Opening Microsoft SharePoint document libraries in Outlook 2007

Some Exchange administrators find the Microsoft Outlook SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 Web interface a bit cumbersome. Luckily, you're not restricted to using it when accessing SharePoint document libraries. In this tip from Exchange Server expert Brien Posey, you'll learn how to link to a SharePoint document library from Microsoft Outlook 2007.

If you've worked with Microsoft SharePoint document libraries, you know that even though the SharePoint Web interface works well, it can be difficult to use. In my own environment, I tend to lose the SharePoint window among other open browser windows or I accidentally close the browser window in which the SharePoint interface is running.

You don't have to access a SharePoint document library only through SharePoint's Web interface since Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 has a high degree of integration with Microsoft Office 2007. For example, you can access SharePoint document libraries directly through Microsoft Outlook.

Although there are no obvious mechanisms within Outlook 2007 to link it to a SharePoint document library, the process is simple. First, go to the SharePoint document library and click on the Actions menu (not on the Site Actions menu).

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Figure 1. Choose Connect to Outlook  from the Actions menu.

When Outlook opens, a dialog box will ask if you want to connect the SharePoint document library to Outlook (Figure 2). You can choose between Yes, No and Advanced.

Figure 2. Confirm that you want to connect Outlook to your SharePoint document library.

Clicking Advanced gives you the option to change the name of the new folder that you've created in Outlook and provide a description of the folder (optional).

Related information on Microsoft SharePoint:
Accessing SharePoint calendars through Microsoft Outlook 2007

How to access SharePoint sites through Microsoft Outlook

Enable incoming and outgoing email in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007

By default, the new folder is named after the document library being attached to Outlook. I decided to attach a document library named Documents to Outlook. This document library is located within SharePoint's Document Center. Therefore, the folder in Outlook is called Document Center – Documents.

The Advanced dialog box also contains a check box you can use if you want to prevent the new folder from being displayed on other computers you use.

Lastly, you'll see a check box that indicates that the subscription should be updated according to the publisher's recommendations. This setting, which is selected by default, doesn't do much in a corporate environment. Its original intention was to prevent content providers from canceling the subscriptions of users who choose to download updated content too frequently.

Click Yes and Outlook will create a new folder named SharePoint Lists that it will place in the Document Center folder beneath it (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Outlook creates a new folder that is linked to a SharePoint document library.

At first glance, this figure looks like a typical Outlook screen. But you're actually looking at a list of documents within your selected document library. The various metadata columns show you who changed the document, who has a document checked out, when the document was most recently modified and its size.

You can now open a document by double-clicking on it. When you do, Outlook will ask if you want to open it, or if you want to save a copy of it to your computer.

About the author: Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a five-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his work with Exchange Server, Windows Server, Internet Information Services (IIS), and File Systems and Storage. Brien has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once responsible for the Department of Information Management at Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer, Brien has written for Microsoft, TechTarget, CNET, ZDNet, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies. You can visit Brien's personal website at www.brienposey.com.

Do you have comments on this tip?  Let us know.

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This was first published in March 2009

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