Improving Your Productivity in Microsoft 365

Most librarians use Microsoft 365 programs on a daily basis, but are you getting the most out of them?

Libraries widely adopted cloud-hosted and web-based applications during the pandemic, allowing librarians to work remotely while indoor gathering remained a public health risk. The rush to this work model in spring 2020 forced many libraries to adopt newer technologies, which had otherwise been ignored. (I remember going to an all-staff meeting in 2019 about Teams, thinking it would never take off.) While most of us have a handle on the basics of video conferencing and teleworking, not everyone is up to date on some of the big changes to common software, like the Microsoft 365 program suite.

This article starts with basic features in Microsoft 365 and touches on more complicated ones. Organizations can commit to different tiers or permission levels for staff, which may affect your ability to access all of these features. If you are having difficulties, try talking to your IT department. 

Managing your files in Microsoft 365

An obvious change from managing files in network drives to using OneDrive, Teams, and SharePoint is the interface. Something that can help those more accustomed to the old File Explorer is to map your Microsoft 365 drives to Windows Explorer. This might help improve productivity if you do not want to use all of your office apps in the browser and would prefer the desktop versions. 

You can do this by adding a shortcut to your OneDrive, and then logging into OneDrive from the chevron in the Windows taskbar (usually in the bottom right corner). 

A screenshot of Microsoft Teams, showing the dropdown menu where "Add shortcut to OneDrive" is located
On a Teams channel, look for “Add shortcut to OneDrive” in the ribbon next to “New” or by clicking the three dots.
A screenshot of Microsoft SharePoint, showing where "Add shortcut to OneDrive" is located.
On a SharePoint page, the “Add shortcut to OneDrive” button is the same.

Before you can manage Teams or SharePoint files in OneDrive, you need to make sure you are logged into OneDrive. The highlighted icon should be blue.

Image shows where to log into OneDrive
If the cloud icon is gray, click on it to sign into Microsoft OneDrive.

Once mapped and logged into OneDrive on your computer, you can see your SharePoint and Teams files in a familiar setting:

Screenshot of SharePoint and Teams files in the Microsoft File Explorer
The result!

Sharing files and using Microsoft 365’s cloud-hosted storage

While the first point was to make new technologies more manageable with familiar interfaces, this point is to help you leverage those new technologies to your advantage.  

Most people working on files together will email them back and forth. This creates a lot of copies and can lead to confusion about who has contributed, which version is the most relevant, and so on.  

With Microsoft 365 we can improve upon this issue by sharing a link to the file instead of sending attachments. For everyone familiar with Google Docs, Microsoft Word now lets users work together on documents at the same time and send comments and chats. This can be very useful for gathering signatures, collaborating, and managing projects.  

In order to share a file, you can find the Share button in multiple locations. It is located in the ribbon of Word Online and the desktop version of Word, in the File menu, and in the list of files in Word Online, OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams.

Screenshot highlighting the location of the Share button in Microsoft Word
The location of the Share button on the Microsoft Word ribbon
A screenshot highlighting the location of the Share button in the File menu
The location of the Share button in the File menu
A screenshot highlighting the location of the Share button in Word Online
The location of the Share button in the list of files in Microsoft Word Online

With the menu open, you can choose which email address(es) you want to send the file to, including groups, and choose whether you want them to edit, review, or view the file. You can add a message from this window, or copy the link and paste it into an email:

A screenshot of the "Share" screen.
This menu lets you set who can access the file and what changes (if any) they can make to it.

Here, once you have shared the file, you will see a “Shared with” menu, which you can click on to get to the “Manage access” screen. This will let you remove users if you do not want them to be able to make any more changes.

Once you have shared the file, the Manage access menu lets you make changes to who has access.

Using version history and tracking changes to documents in Microsoft 365

Another feature of Microsoft 365’s ecosystem that can improve your productivity is the version history. Version history keeps multiple versions of a file together, with timestamps and records of the changes made. If you are sharing files with coworkers, or if you are working on a single file over a long period of time, this will help you keep track of your changes. If you make a mistake, like making changes to the wrong document, you can review its version history and restore the previous version.

To access version history in a Word document, open the File tab, click Info, then Version History: 

A screenshot of the Info section of Microsoft Word, where Version History can be found.
Version History can be located in the “Info” section under the File menu.

Here, you can click on the timestamps to compare versions, download copies of them, or restore them.

A screenshot of Version History in Microsoft Word
Version History shows all versions of the document in the right-hand panel.

With these tips, hopefully you can feel more accomplished in your cloud-based office environment!  

Choice and LibTech Insights gratefully acknowledge our launch sponsor, Dimensions, a part of Digital Science.  Dimensions, is the largest linked research database available and provides a unique view across the whole research ecosystem from idea to impact.

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