SharePoint Lists: How to use them to be more efficient

SharePoint ListGet the most out of your SharePoint Lists.

If your organization has deployed and uses SharePoint, chances are you’ve seen your fair share of lists. Lists are all over SharePoint… contact lists, client lists, employee lists, order lists, invoice lists, etc… SharePoint does lists.

There are many articles on how to create and manipulate lists. Hundreds of blogs will provide instruction to SharePoint administrators on the proper way to configure large lists for optimal performance, but very few articles are directed to the end user on how to use SharePoint lists for optimal efficiency.

Add this post to the small pile.

This blog will show you how to get the very most out of your SharePoint lists and how to use them in the most efficient manner, and what better example to use to get my point across than music.  (Because I’m not going to miss a chance to combine my two loves: SharePoint and music!)

SharePoint List Views

When you navigate to a SharePoint list, you’re provided with the default view of the list. The default view displays the list items (each row is considered a list item) according to a configuration more than likely determined by an administrator. The view dictates the following:

  1. What columns are displayed.
  2. What groupings exist.
  3. What is the sort order.

Here is default view for a Must Hear Albums list:

SharePoint List Default View

There are only two columns displayed in this list: Artist and Album Title. The Edit column provides a way to edit the individual item.

When you click on the Edit button, you are directed to the edit form. At this point you can modify the information for that particular list item.

SharePoint list item edit form

Notice the edit form has more columns than the default view displays. For example, Category, Rolling Stone Rank and Genre are all not part of the default view.

This is a common scenario. Because the view was most likely configured by someone other than yourself, it may not be the most efficient way for you to view the data.

Fortunately, this can easily be overcome by creating a personal view. A personal view is a view available only to you. So it’s possible to create a view that works for whatever task you’re trying to perform. Let’s first look at creating a personal view.

How to create a Personal View:

  1. On the Ribbon bar, click the List tab.
  2. Click the Create View button.SharePoint create a view
  3. You can start a view from scratch, or create a new one based off an existing one. Usually, the default view has some components you want to keep, so it’s more often than not easiest to choose an existing view. So in this case, we’re going to click create our view based off the default view (called All Items), so click All Items.SharePoint Start from an existing View
  4. Assign the View Name. Ensure that Create a Personal View is selected for audience. If you do not have a choice between creating a public or personal view, it’s because you do not have permissions to create a public view.SharePoint mark new view as a personal view
  5. In the Columns section, simply select the columns you want displayed. You can change the order of the columns (from left to right) by adjusting the number in the drop-down box. In our example, I’m going to select some additional columns I want displayed.SharePoint select columns to display
  6. The Sort section is pretty self-explanatory. I’m going to choose to sort by Album Title.SharePoint determine sort order
  7. The rest of the options are pretty advanced and beyond the scope of this particular blog post. For now, I’m just going to click OK and check out my new view.

Here’s my new Listened To view:

SharePoint List personal view

Notice I can now choose between All Items (the default view) and the Listened To view I created by clicking the links at the top of the list.

SharePoint List view options

A personal view is just what it says: it’s a view that’s only for you. Creating a personal view does not affect the data, it’s merely a way of looking at data that best fits your need.

Finding Data with SharePoint Lists

Ultimately, we navigate to a list to obtain some information. You can use Site Search (it’s the text box that says Search this site usually in the top right-hand corner) but that returns something like this:

SharePoint site search

This really isn’t that helpful, is it? The better option is to use the List Search. It’s the text box labeled “Find an item” on the lists page.

SharePoint list search box

So, after searching for Rolling Stones, I get these results:

SharePoint list search results

Much more helpful. It’s basically displaying a subset of the list based off the Search criteria.

Now I can get even more granular by applying a filter. Using this search subset, I can apply a filter to display only the Rolling Stones album I listened to.

Hover over the column name to display the filter menu.

SharePoint filter options

Now select what filter you want to use. Selecting one will display list items that contain the selected in the column. So, if I select Yes in the Listened To column, it will only display those albums I’ve marked as listened to.

SharePoint filtered list

Notice the filter icon next to the Listened To column. This lets me know I’ve applied a filter to the list. To remove the filter, access the Filter menu as before and select the Clear Filters option.

Using personal views and filters will allow you to find information more efficiently. When utilized correctly, SharePoint really can make your life a lot easier. And don’t be afraid to create personal views. They don’t affect any other users. The worst they can do is help you retrieve information more efficiently, which in turn frees you up to be assigned more work!

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About Matt Milsark

At Fpweb.net, Matt builds many of our clients' environments as well as supports and maintains them. These range from a simple dedicated single server to large multi-server SharePoint farms. Because of the sheer number of clients we have and the myriad of ways they use SharePoint, Matt has become intimately familiar with many aspects of SharePoint. Matt warns, "SharePoint is a beast. You may think you’re an expert at SharePoint, only to find out later you’re an expert at merely a small aspect of the beast's capabilities." Matt is also passionate about vinyl records. Check out his music site at lplives.com.
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2 Responses to SharePoint Lists: How to use them to be more efficient

  1. Pingback: Permissions Management for SharePoint 2007, 2010 & 2013

  2. Sherwin says:

    Hi,how about a single search box that can search from 2 custom lists? I have an inventory that contains more than 8000 items so I distributed it in 2 lists to comply with the sharepoint online limitation.
    Thanks in advance.

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