SharePoint Online document libraries new & improved – My two cents

Last week a new look & feel became available for our beloved SharePoint Online document libraries.  As an MVP I was aware of this upcoming change, but I can imagine this was pretty sudden for most people. In this blog post I would like to share my two cents about the new look & feel with it’s new features and options.

Let’s start by taking a look at the before look & feel:


This is the look & feel we have been using for a long time. WAIT! What does the check it out button do?



Holy ####! That’s a big change. Is it though? Let’s look at OneDrive for Business:



Looks very familiar right? Not so long ago, Office 365 Groups document libraries received the same look & feel. Funny to read how many people were shocked by this change looking at the fact it’s basically been around for so long in OneDrive for Business. Don’t be afraid though, there are some really cool and useful features available. Let’s quickly take a look!

New features

New action bar


After selecting a document, the new action bar presents itself. All your primary actions in one place! Only one click away. Awesome.

Pin documents

Select a document and click on pin:



Your documents are now highlighted for the visitors of the library. A really nice, and modern, way of addressing important documents for your team. For example, a final version of a marketing presentation or a calculation sheet. You can only pin three items and have to select one document a time to pin.

Move & Copy

This has always been a huge pain within document libraries, moving or copying files. You really had to use the Explorer view or the content and structure feature. This has become a lot easier:

SPDocLibLF_5Nice! Only I really miss the option to move or copy documents between sites, Groups or OneDrive for Business. I am positive this feature will become available soon. That will be a KILLER feature in my eyes and is going to make so many end users happy.

Details overview

A new feature which provides you with an overview of the activities of the library:

SPDocLibLF_7This is really useful information because you are now able to stay up-to-date about the latest changes and actions within your document library. The detail view gets even better for a selected document:


Next to being able to browse through the document in a preview screen, you can see the properties of the document. This new experience makes it A LOT easier to apply changes to the metadata of the document. You can also see who created or modified the document. Let’s look at the last part of the details view:



You can easily share the document, get a link and even e-mail all the contacts related to the document. I really like the path (at the end) field! Finally an easy way to retrieve the URL of a document. The copy link option disappeared a long time ago and this is a worthy replacement.

Creating a link

Sometimes documents are related to your project or team but don’t belong in your library. Traditionally we had to use the link to document content type. There is now an easier way to do this:


You see a list of recently used documents. Nice! Hopefully this is added with a screen where you can browse to documents within your OneDrive, Group or other team site.


Last but not least! You don’t have to leave the main page of the document library to change the view:


These changes aren’t displayed to other users until you save the view.

Room for improvement

Although I am very positive and happy with the new look & feel, there is always room for improvement.

Portal branding

You probably noticed the absence of your company branding. In my eyes an issue for many customers. They have spent a lot of money and time on the branding of their portal and by activating the new document library look & feel, the branding is gone. Definitely an issue that has to be addressed by Microsoft.

Multiple documents

I love metadata but after uploading multiple documents you have to use the quick edit view or manually edit every document to assign the metadata. This is still the case with the new look & feel. The quick edit view isn’t available. That being said, adding metadata to one document at the time goes pretty fast with the new details view.


I can imagine that not all of you are ready for the look & feel. Features are missing, your branding is gone or your end-user aren’t ready for such a change. The administrator of a document library can decide which look & feel to use. Your SharePoint Online administrator can also disable to feature for the whole tenant. My advise would be to check your requirements and apply a phased roll-out.


7 thoughts on “SharePoint Online document libraries new & improved – My two cents”

  1. How do you do a phased rollout though? The setting to enable or disable the new look libraries is on Admin Centre level on SharePoint. Otherwise it’s on library level – which means manually going through every library in the site collection? Not a great alternative. Is there another way you would approach it?

    1. Thanks for the comments V! 🙂

      The phased rollout is very difficult at the moment. You can disable it at tenant and library level. There isn’t a site option yet. I heard rumors it’s coming though. That would make it easier. I actually turned everything off at a customer because it was causing way to much confusion. When the site level option is available we can really do a phased out rollout.

  2. Great overview, Jasper. I just shared this on Twitter. It’d be really helpful for end users who are confused by changes to their document libraries, but it’d also be great for admins who are trying to decide whether or not to roll out the update. I’m writing a blog post right now about folders vs. metadata, so I was really interested to hear that the quick edit view for editing metadata is gone in this update.

    You mention that branding is gone in the update–does that mean it just doesn’t transfer over in the update, or that there’s no way to add branding in the update?

    1. Thank you Sarabeth!

      There are plenty of new updates after writing this blog post. You should check out the video’s from Ignite about SharePoint and Document Libraries. The Quick Edit view is back for example 🙂 For a month or so.

      Branding through custom master pages isn’t support. I believe only through themes.

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