Connect to Office

When you view the Library ribbon of a library, there is a button in the Connect & Export group with the name: Connect to Office.  The tool tip description says that this options ‘adds to your shortcuts that appear when creating, opening and saving documents in Microsoft Office applications such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint’.  On the surface, this description, while lengthy, does not really tell most of us anything useful about what this option does.  So what does it really do?

When you select the lower half of this button, you get three options:

Add to SharePoint Sites – Add a shortcut to this library in Microsoft Office.

Remove from SharePoint Sites – Remove this library from your list of shortcuts in Microsoft Office.

Manage SharePoint Sites – Modify your list of Microsoft Office shortcuts.

To find out what this really did, I started from several different libraries and selected the option to add a shortcut to this library in Microsoft Office.

Note: When I first did this, I got the following message:

Click ‘Yes’ to create your user profile site.  If you have already done this, the above message dialog will not appear.

After you have added several sites, open Microsoft, Word, Excel, or PowerPoint (2010 version) and from the File menu, select Open.  In the left navigation area, notice under favorites the entry named SharePoint Sites.  Click on this link and you will see in the detail area on the right a list of all the libraries for which you have created shortcuts.  Double click on any of these links and you will see a listing of the contents of these libraries that the current Office application can open.  To clarify, if I open a link to a library from Microsoft Word, only the Word compatible files appear in the list when I click on the shortcut to that library.  Of course, if you double-click on any of the file names, you will open that particular file.

Back in SharePoint, you can use the second option in the Connect to Office button to remove the current SharePoint library from the list of shortcuts.  If the current library is not in the list of shortcuts, a message appears briefly in the upper right corner of the screen to tell you that the library was not found.

If you are not sure which libraries you have defined as shortcuts, you should use the Manage SharePoint Sites option in the Connect to Office button.  This option shows all the current libraries included in the Office shortcuts list even if the current library is not included in the list.  The following image shows this dialog.

You can select any of the shortcuts by selecting the checkbox to the left of the shortcut name.  To delete that shortcut, click Delete from the actions across the top of the page.  To edit the link, click Edit Links.  This actions shows the following dialog that lets you not only edit the link, but to also define which group the link should be included in and even create a new group.  Unfortunately, it seems that these groupings only appear when you display the links in your My site and not in the Office tools.

Since SharePoint stores this information in your My site, you also can determine who besides yourself can view these links when they visit your profile.   How do you display these links in your profile?  Edit one of your profile pages and add the My Links web part from the Recommended Items group.

Note: In the previous figure, I’ve moved one of the links to a new group.

Finally, from this dialog, you can also add a link.  This option does not require you to first select one of the links already defined, but it does use a similar dialog to prompt for information like we saw for editing a link.

Why is this important?

Linking directly to your most commonly used libraries directly from within your Microsoft Office tool of choice can save you time from having to first open SharePoint, navigate to the site containing the library, opening the library, and then opening the file.  With these shortcuts you can open the file directly from within Microsoft Office tools.

That’s all for today.

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