Network Administration: SharePoint Document Libraries

In many ways, document libraries are the heart of SharePoint. They’re often the most important and most frequently used pages in a SharePoint site. In fact, the purpose of many SharePoint sites is to enable a team of people to collaborate on the creation of the documents stored in a document library.

The figure below shows as an example a document library named Networking All-In-One For Dummies, which has three Word documents in the library so far.

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As a network administrator, the single most important thing to know about SharePoint document libraries (and maybe about SharePoint in general) is this: Documents stored in a SharePoint library are not stored as separate files on the server computer’s file system. Instead, they are stored in a SQL database.

The bottom-line result of this fact is this: After you (or a user) have created a document in a SharePoint library, that document can be accessed and managed only from SharePoint. You can’t open Windows Explorer and navigate to the file via the Windows folder structure.

The following paragraphs describe some things you can do with documents in SharePoint document libraries:

  • To add an existing file to a document library, click the Upload button, and then choose the Upload Document. This brings up the page shown below, from which you can upload an existing file. Just type in the complete path and filename for the file, or click the Browse button to browse for the file. Then, click OK to upload the file.

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  • To open a file, just click the filename in the Document Library. This launches the application associated with the file and opens the document.

  • You can display a shortcut menu with useful commands by hovering the mouse over a document name. In a moment, a border appears around the filename, with a drop-down arrow at the right. Click this arrow to reveal the shortcut menu.

  • You can check out a document by choosing Check Out from the document’s shortcut menu. This prevents other users from changing the file until you check the file back in by choosing Check In from the shortcut menu.

  • You can organize documents in document libraries by creating folders. To create a folder, click the New button and then choose the New Folder command.