Boom! Showing a list of recently modified documents in a library with more than 5000 items without grouping or filtering

Colin and I have been talking about list and library limits for a while and I’ve been getting a much better grip on techniques for showing many items in a large list. Here are the facts in SharePoint 2010:

  • Lists and libraries can have up to 60 million items (reference:
  • However, unless you override the throttles in Central Admin (and really, you shouldn’t unless you are going to replace that setting with more hardware and IO), you are going to have to employ techniques to show the items properly and that includes:
      • Using folders (ick, usually)
      • Using grouping with an indexed column
      • Using a filter with an indexed column
      • To learn more about managing large lists, go here

Today’s Business Problem

The problem for me today was, we have a library with more than 5000 documents in it (5329 to be exact)…


And I wanted to continue to do my favourite trick of showing the “5 most recently modified documents” on a dashboard, so folks can see what their peers have been up to. But I didn’t want anything other than a nice, flat list. I didn’t want to introduce folders, I didn’t want to introduce grouping and there really was no filtering. If the list was less than 5000 in fact, all I would do in my view is choose sort by modified date (descending) and set the item limit to display to 5 (or 10 depending on the client desire).


Figure 1 : this is what my view does when it can’t filter the values properly due to being over the limit – Mr. Ick says “ew…”

The Solution

This was pretty simple really. I needed to filter on something and that thing I was filtering on, needed to be indexed. So, I did the following:

I indexed the title column (seemed like a good choice to me, being that I wanted it in my view)



And then I modified my view to include a filter on the title. But as I didn’t want to filter on any particular data, I just chose to Filter on the Title field as not being blank (we try to be good girls and boys and have titles in all of our documents metadata).


Yep, that was it, it was that simple…

The Result

Who’s my Nerfherder? My view works again, on my big ass library


2 responses to “Boom! Showing a list of recently modified documents in a library with more than 5000 items without grouping or filtering

  1. Great tip as always Sean. We have multiple people uploading many documents per week that come in via email and this will work as a quick way to see if say I wanted to quickly check the last 20 documents uploaded so that I don’t have to check each document is in the library first. 

  2. Hi, I am unable to get the same thing done. need your assistance to get top 10 recently modified documents across folders and sub folders.


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