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How to Batch-Edit or Bulk-Update Item Properties in SharePoint Lists and Libraries

 

When working in SharePoint, you may come across the need to perform mass updates or batch update of properties on many items in a list at once. Let's say for instance you have a SharePoint list where you manage tasks. You have your weekly review meeting and need to perform updates on those tasks. You find that there are 30 tasks that need to be updated to 'completed'. How do you do that quickly?

 

Of course you can open each one and edit it's properties using the Edit properties option, but SharePoint has a number of shortcuts that can help with this.

 

In this article we will explore the different options we have to update many SharePoint items or document properties / meta-data / columns at once.

 

Option 1 - The Quick Edit View (formerly the Data Sheet View)

The Quick Edit is type of SharePoint view that changes the current of files to a grid or data sheet view very similar to excel. This then allows the user to click on any area in a cell on any item and update. Making the update in a cell is quick because once you make the update and click on a different row, the change is automatically saved. And with big numbers of changes you are able to edit quickly without changing screens or click on a save button every time.

 

A very cool trick to know about the Quick Edit is that you can drag a cells content to other cells by dragging the corner of that cell down. Just like Excel. This can come in very handy when you want to update items adjacent to each other in bulk.

 

 

 

What if

 

  1. The Bulk Edit option does not allow you to change the content of a folder all at once. Or nested folder. Say for example you have a project folder, under which you have 100 documents. Each document may have property called "project title" if the project title was to be renamed,  many steps may be needed to go into each sub-folder and update.
  2. What if the column /property you are trying to change is not in the view? End Users don't have the right or the savvyness to change a view to add that column in order to edit it in Quick Edit. How can those files be edited?

 

 

Option 2 - Using a Third Party (Tru Copy with Batch Edit)

 

Tru Copy with Batch edit is a third party add-in you can install in your SharePoint Online (Office 365) to enhance the Batch Edit option. If you try to click on Edit Properties on a single item in SharePoint it works, but when you try to select multiple items in the list the "Edit Properties" becomes grayed out. Batch Edit is a great tool added to the ribbon that can help overcome this and also some of the challenges mentioned about in the Quick Edit grid view.

 

Simply you would select the files, click on Batch Edit and a pop up will show all the properties available to edit. Any control is supported. Then you check the properties you wish to update, set their new value and click "Update." All the items that were previously selected will be updated with the new column value. See the screen shot below.

 

 

 

Special Scenarios:

 

If you have selected multiple files with a different mix of content types then there is a little challenge. Here's why: Let's say you have 2 different content types supported by your document library. "Proposal" and "Policy" content types. Each of those content types may have their own set of fields/properties/columns  if you select a Proposal Document and a Policy type document then click on Batch Edit,  Tru Batch Edit will notify you that you selected different types of files and will require you to select files of the same content type. That is because if it will not make sense to show you a field of one but not the other. Also updating that field doesn't apply to the other type so it just doesn't make sense.

 

The nice thing about the Tru Batch Edit is that it lets you select a whole folder and if all the file content types under that folder are matching then it will show you the list of fields that you may want to batch update. Of course, once you make a change to a field value all the files inside that folder and nested files will update as well.

 

The Tru Batch Edit will also let you modify the properties in batch of folder properties. So just like files or items in a list, folders can have their own properties. Batch Edit allows you batch edit the properties of multiple folders.

 

Option 3 - Batch Edit Properties Programmatically with PowerShell

 

Now if you have a very strange requirement to update properties of items in a list based on say a strange condition or need to insert a value that 'calculated'. This is probably going to be harder with the traditional tools above. You may need to learn how to do this in PowerShell. PowerShell is essentially a command line tool that allows you to write scripts with programming logic that can do just about anything in SharePoint. PowerShell work with Office 365 and SharePoint on-premises. This is a bit beyond the scope of this article..

 

Conclusion

Batch and bulk edits in SharePoint is something your users will come across especially as SharePoint becomes more standard for file storage. The data sheet view or Quick Edit option in the Ribbon is an excellent place for your users to start doing edits quickly. In certain situations, you may need a traditional edit interface and it is great with the Tru Batch Edit add-in for SharePoint. This option is great when users don't have the edit column available to them or quick edit is not an option, or when folder updates are required.

 

 

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