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Mar 31

How to: Synchronize content between SharePoint 2013 and Outlook

How to: Synchronize content between SharePoint 2013 and Outlook

One of the great features of SharePoint 2013 is its ability to synchronize a variety of information with Outlook. You can connect a SharePoint calendar, library, contact list, or other type of list with Outlook. I think by far the calendar and contact list are the most used ones and we have taken this approach for all our shared contacts and calendars. The big advantage here is the web interface anyone can access and the portal features of SP. In order to add any SharePoint list on to your Outlook follow these simple steps: (all the information below was obtained from the Microsoft site, if you are having issues having the Connect to Outlook button not be grayed out consult the related article on how to resolve this.)

  1. Go to the calendar, library, or list that you want to connect to Outlook.
  2. Click Calendar, Library, or List. (The name of the tab varies depending on which type of list or library you are connecting to Outlook.)
  3. Click Connect to Outlook.
     Connect to Outlook button on SharePoint 2013 Note    In a tasks list, the name of the command appears as Sync to Outlook, and does additional synchronization of your tasks between SharePoint and Outlook.
  4. In the dialog boxes that appear click Allow or Yes as appropriate. If your site is a part of an Office365 subscription, you may be required to use your subscription user name and password.

When you’re finished, your calendar will appear in Outlook under Other Calendars. Contacts will appear under Other Contacts. Libraries, such as document libraries or picture libraries, appear under SharePoint Lists. The files in the library behave similar to e-mail messages. For Office files, click to preview the file in the Reading Pane or double-click the file to open it. Right-click the file for more options.

Working with a synchronized document library

You can synchronize an entire SharePoint library with Outlook, or particular folders of documents within the library. If the library has subfolders and you want to have access to all of the files in Outlook, go to the library at its top level and then connect it to Outlook. If you are in a subfolder of a library, and then connect the library to Outlook, only the contents of that subfolder are connected.

To connect only the contents of a single folder in Outlook, there are two options. If the folder is not open, click the folder to open it, and then click Connect to Outlook. If the folder that you want to connect is already open, follow the steps to connect a library.

After you synchronize a library, the library appears as a folder in the Outlook Navigation Pane under SharePoint Lists. You can invite other team members to connect to the library. Right-click the library name in Outlook, and then click Share This Folder.

When you use Instant Search, Outlook searches all the synchronized SharePoint documents. Document previews in the Outlook Reading Pane enable you to easily browse through search results. You may find opening and saving changes to SharePoint documents from Outlook faster and more convenient than opening the files from the library. You can then preview, edit, and manage documents in the library from within Outlook. You can also take the libraries offline, work with the Office files in the library, bring them back online, and then synchronize the changes.

This synchronization is one-way or unidirectional for Office files. Changes made to files in the SharePoint library can be downloaded to Outlook, but you cannot make changes to non-Office files in Outlook and upload them back to the library. If you work with Outlook offline, you can edit Office files, such as Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations. When you come back online, you can upload your changes to the SharePoint library. However, Outlook does not track changes made to these Office files from the SharePoint library. For best results, check out these files first, if you intend to make offline changes to them in Outlook.

Working with a synchronized contact list

You can synchronize a SharePoint contact list between Outlook and SharePoint. This enables you to store, share, and manage SharePoint contacts more efficiently in Outlook. You can also take the contact list offline, work with the contacts, bring them back online, and then synchronize them either from Outlook or SharePoint.

From Outlook, the synchronized SharePoint contact list works just like other Outlook contact folders. You can view, edit, print, and even call these contacts by using Microsoft Lync. You can send them e-mail messages and meeting requests, use color categories, store multiple phone numbers and e-mail addresses, and include contact photos, Electronic Business Cards, as well as birthday and anniversary information.

This contact list synchronization is two-way or bi-directional. Changes made in Outlook to these contacts are automatically synchronized with the SharePoint contact list. Changes made to the SharePoint contact list are automatically synchronized with the contacts in Outlook.

When you open a SharePoint contact in Outlook or open the contact list in SharePoint, you see the latest changes.  If changes are made to the contact in Outlook while the SharePoint contact list is opened, you need to refresh the browser to see the latest changes in the SharePoint list. If changes are made to the SharePoint contact list while the contact is opened in Outlook, you may need to use the Send/Receive command in Outlook to see the latest changes to the Outlook contact.

Working with a synchronized task list

You can work with your tasks from your SharePoint site similar to the way you work with your Outlook tasks. You can drag or copy tasks back and forth between the folders for Outlook and the SharePoint site. However, recurring tasks and task requests from Outlook are converted to regular tasks on the SharePoint site. You can also take a task list offline, work with the tasks in the list, bring them back online, and then synchronize them from Outlook.

 Tip    After you connect a task list to Outlook, you can send a sharing message to other team members that invite them to connect to the tasks. Right-click the list name in Outlook, and then click Share tasks list name. This creates an e-mail message that contains a link and a command to connect to the list.

The contents of the synchronized task list appear under Other Tasks in the Navigation Pane and are consolidated in the To-Do Bar. To track the status, progress, and history of your projects, you and team members can create, assign, update, respond to, and delete tasks when working in your respective Outlook folders.

You can also apply flags and categories to your synchronized tasks as you do with your Outlook tasks. The flags and categories do not appear on the SharePoint site, but the flags and categories are available when you work with your synchronized tasks in Outlook. SharePoint task notifications are also fully integrated with tasks and calendars, and you can choose settings to automatically generate notification e-mail messages and reminders.

This task list synchronization is two-way or bi-directional. Changes made in Outlook to these tasks are automatically synchronized with the SharePoint task list. Changes made to the SharePoint task list are automatically synchronized with the tasks in Outlook. When you open the task in Outlook, or open the task list in SharePoint, you see the latest changes.

If changes are made to the task in Outlook while the SharePoint task list is opened, you need to refresh the browser to see the latest changes in the list. If changes are made to the SharePoint task list while the task is opened in Outlook, you may need to use the Send/Receive command to see the latest changes in the Outlook task.

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