Using Open With Explorer in SharePoint

Many new SharePoint users lament the loss of their network or shared drive.


The comfort and familiarity of storing files in a folder structure is hard to let go of… especially for those who don’t have the benefits of drag-and-drop that comes with SharePoint 2013 (as they are either on an old version of SharePoint or stuck on an out-of-date version of Internet Explorer that doesn’t support HTML5).

People get STOKED when they discover that they:

1. Can obtain the drag and drop functionality on SharePoint 2010 and other older versions

2. Can regain the Windows/File Explorer interface they are familiar with to work with their SharePoint files

The “Open with Explorer” button opens the SharePoint Library as a folder in the Windows File Explorer. Click the Open with Explorer button located in the Library Tab in the SharePoint Ribbon:


…to allow you to see theses folders and files stored in a SharePoint Library:


… in the Windows Explorer or File Explorer:


But be warned before you go on a drag and dump spree – keep the following in mind:

1. Dumping piles of stale, old, outdated files into SharePoint will recreate the unsightly, cluttered, disaster your shared drive was (likely) in.

Yes, you gain the glorious super-powered search and access-anywhere-with-internet-access, but why not consider a few alternative suggestions that align with the best practices employed by itgroove

2. Wave farewell to version history and metadata if you drag and drop files between SharePoint libraries – if you want to retain that history/data, consider a migration tool like ShareGate… and make sure the metadata columns in both libraries match!

3. Moving multiple files into a SharePoint Library can be problematic if you want users to enter desired or required metadata about the files. Avoid teaching this trick to every end user without proper training and a scout’s honour promise to always enter the correct metadata. (Quick Tip – Quick Edit View Format is where it’s at for a bulk update!)

And please don’t freak out if you end up with some “check out” errors – depending on the Library settings and Column configuration, Library items may end up locked in Check Out until the necessary information is entered. (I’ll share some Library settings pointers in a future post).

Happy drag-and-dropping!