SharePoint is a great document repository, but surprisingly working with documents in SharePoint may not always be intuitive. In the end, its interface is different from the standard Windows explorer view. Specifically in this article we are talking about the challenges faced when trying to copy or move files around in SharePoint. How do we move files and documents between folders, document libraries or between sites. There is no out of the box easy capability to do so.
Common copy move tasks that this article address:
In our example below we have a document library called 'Customers." Inside, we have a folder for each customer. One folder is called '_Customer Template.' This folder is used to provision new customers. Inside that folders are invoices, projects, communications folders and other templates. How do we clone the template folder to provision a new customer? That is just an example of something you might want to do in SharePoint. We'll see the challenges we come across to perform copy/move/clone tasks.
Source: The folder is in located in a templates folder.
Destination: We want to copy this file to the same folder.
Below: Our example document library of customers and a _Customer Template folder which is used to create new customers.
The explorer view allows you to Open the document library as a standard Windows Explorer folder. You can drag and drop files into this library, create folders, move and copy files, and delete multiple files at once.
- Only works in Windows Operating Systems. This means that if a user is using a Mac they don't have this option.
- Only works with IE. If a user prefer a different browser this option will be grayed out.
- Only works with IE 32 bit. If a user does not have IE 32 bit this option will be grayed out.
- Only works if Office components are installed on the machine.
1. Navigate to the library, click on the library tab -> then the Open in Explorer button.
-Below: Example of how Open with Explorer is grayed out in Chrome, Safari and Firefox
In SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 SharePoint Online, you have the option of dragging a file into a folder. This is a great enhancement in usability in the browser. You may even select multiple files and drag them at once.
- Does not work with folders. You cannot drag and drop a folder
- Cannot copy files between libraries
- Cannot clone a copy of a file in the same location.
The 'Send File' option allows you to copy one file from one location to another. You basically select a file, click send, "other Location", and you are provided with a form to complete asking for the destination location and the destination file name. This works great if you have just one file to copy, however is not very user friendly as it asks the user for a complete URL with no browsing option. Users have to be advanced enough to open a new browser, navigate to the destination, right clicking and copying the exact path of the URL without any extra URL parameters. A bit nonuser-friendly but works.
below: Select Other Location to send a SharePoint file to another library or folder
Below: The Send File Option in SharePoint asking for a destination URL.
Below: Send File Option in SharePoint is grayed out when a folder is selected. Folders are not supported.
The Tru Copy & Paste add on is a very good option to copy, move and work with files in SharePoint. It allows any end user to intuitively copy a file to clipboard, just like a standard windows copy file feature and then navigating to a destination folder or library and pasting it there. It support copying multiple files and folders across libraries, sites and site collections. You may copy multiple times to gather all the files needed as well. Not to mention it comes with very handy tools such as Converting files to PDF, Zipping, Unzipping compressed folder, batch edit, copying the metadata with the files, and file template gallery etc.
- Only available SharePoint Online Office 365
- Is an add on and does not come out of the box.
Below: You select the files or folders or combination that you want to copy or move.
Below: Select the destination where you want to copy/move the files/folders. This could be on same library, different folder, site or site collection.
Once you click on COPY the files are transferred over to the destination.
You also have the option of copying to the Tru Clipboard and pasting those files elsewhere using the Paste Option.
Below: Click on Paste in the SharePoint ribbon and the clipboard content shows. Select the files to paste and click paste. You have the option of deleting source files once the files are pasted (effectively acting as a 'move'). You also have the option of overwriting existing files.
Below: Once you paste a copy of say a folder with the same name, "copy of.." is prefixed to to the folder name to indicate the copied folder.
Many of the options discussed above focus on the end user needing to copy and move a small number of files to do their daily file work. However you may have the need relocate or migrate a huge number of files from one library to another or reorganize you content all over SharePoint. You may have 100 GB of data and hundreds of thousands of files that you need to move. Many of the options above are not applicable and may timeout, break in the middle or no even offer this level of power.
Your best options in this case is
There are a number of options available that help in copying, moving and cloning documents and files in SharePoint each with its tradeoffs. The Explorer View presents a pretty good option that is familiar to many, however falls short on working on many platforms and browsers. Tru Copy presented a great add-in option in SharePoint that supports all browsers, is easy to use and is completely an in-browser experience.
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