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SharePoint Document Sharing 
Audience: Faculty;Staff;Full-Time;Part-Time;EMBA

Operating System: All
Article Number: 68 .4.0

Updated: 4/27/2011 4:58 PM
Discover what you can do when using Microsoft SharePoint,  such as creating, uploading, and sharing documents with other people.

Internet Explorer & SharePoint

Internet Explorer is the only browser that SharePoint fully supports. While you can access SharePoint with other browsers, such as FireFox and Safari, some features will be unavailable such as: uploading multiple files at once, drag-and-drop copying, and online editing. The instructions below are written, based on the SharePoint experience when using Internet Explorer. Some differences when using other browsers are noted in the footnotes to the right.

Uploading Documents

To upload a single file:

  1. Click on the Upload > Upload Document.
  2. Click Browse (or Choose File if using Safari). A window opens.
  3. Navigate to the folder and file you wish to upload, select it, and click Open. The window closes.
  4. Click OK to return to the document library, where the file will now appear.

To upload multiple files (Internet Explorer only):

  1. Click on the Upload drop-down menu and select Upload Multiple Documents. A list of files and your computer folder hierarchy will appear.
  2. Select any number of files within a single folder and click OK. 1
  3. When prompted, click Yes to continue. Once the files are uploaded you will be returned to the document library, where the uploaded files will now appear.


  • Files uploaded to SharePoint must be no larger than 50 megabytes.
  • SharePoint URLs are limited to 255 characters, including the name of the file and the path to the file. Therefore, keep document names reasonably short and keep a simple/flat folder structure within your document library. 

Editing Documents

Making changes to a document is a 3-step process: Check Out, Edit, and Check In. Checking files In and Out are very important steps in the editing process; they ensure that only one person edits the file at a time, and that saved changes are not lost or overwritten.

Check Out

  1. Hover over the name of a file; a border will appear with a down arrow to the right. Click the arrow and select Check Out. A window will appear; click OK.2
  2. If you plan on making moderately quick changes and will remain online while editing, click OK. Otherwise,
  3. If you want to edit the file offline and save it to SharePoint later, check "Use my local drafts folder". Note: if a window appears, indicating that you cannot use your local drafts folder, see instructions to the right.3
  4. Once a document is checked out, a small green square with an arrow will appear on top of the document icon.


  1. To open the document for editing, click on the file name.
  2. If prompted, enter your NetID and password. You may need to enter this information a second or third time before the document opens.
  3. After editing the document, save your changes and close the document. 4

Check In

If you are online (and using Internet Explorer) when closing a Microsoft Office document:

  1. A window will appear, asking you to Check In the document. Click OK.5
  2. Enter a brief description of the changes you made, and make sure "Keep the document checked out..." is NOT checked. Then click OK.

If you are offline when closing the document, or if you are working with a document type other than Microsoft Office:

  1. Return to the SharePoint document library after saving and closing the document.
  2. Hover over the document you edited, click the down arrow, and select Check In.6
  3. Enter a brief description of the changes you made, and select No for "Keep the document checked out after checking in this version?"

Important: If you select Discard Check Out, all changes to the document, even if saved in the editing application, will be lost. Only select this option if you wish to cancel all changes made to the document since check out.

Sharing Document Locations

Using SharePoint for document collaboration allows you to avoid emailing files back and forth among participants, taking up valuable email storage. Sending files via email can also produce multiple competing versions of a document, without a clear indication of which is most definitive. To avoid these pitfalls, store a document on SharePoint and send a link to the document.

To share the location of a document in SharePoint, hover over the document, click the down arrow, and click Send To > Email a Link. This will create a new email message and insert a link to your document within the message body. Anyone with permission to access the SharePoint site can open the email, click on the link, enter their NetID and password 7, and view the document.

Important: Recipients who open the linked document can click "Edit Document" within Microsoft Office and then save changes to SharePoint; however, this is not recommended, because documents opened from a link are not checked out for editing. To edit the document, recipients should follow the Editing Documents instructions above.

1 If you want to upload an entire folder or files from multiple folders, do not use the Upload feature; instead, click Actions > Open with Windows Explorer.

Please see Related Articles for information on checking in multiple documents at once.

2 If you check out a non-Microsoft Office document, or if you use a non-Internet Explorer browser, once you click Check Out, no other windows or options will appear.

3 To use your local drafts folder on a Windows Vista computer, you must first add your SharePoint site as a Trusted Site in Internet Explorer. To do this:

  1. In Internet Explorer, click the Tools icon in the upper-right corner, and select Internet Options. A window appears.
  2. Select the Security tab and click Trusted sites. Click the Sites button. A window appears.
  3. Enter the site you wish to add to your trusted sites; e.g., Click Add, then Close, then OK.

Note: Opening a Trusted Site in Internet Explorer will prompt you to open a new Internet Explorer Window. You may also receive additional prompts when copying information into SharePoint lists, pages, or other items within the Trusted Site location.

4 If you originally opened the document from a non-Internet Explorer browser, you will be asked to save the document to your local hard drive. To upload your changes, you must re-upload the document. If you choose to overwrite the original document on SharePoint, there is no need to follow the Check In instructions, as the Checked Out document will be overwritten.

5 You may also check in Microsoft Office documents (while online) from within the Office application by clicking Office Button and selecting Server > Check In, prior to closing the document.

6 Some applications, including Adobe products, automatically check in the document to SharePoint when you are online and save the file.

7 Depending on your browser settings, you may be asked to enter your NetID and password up to three times.