In an earlier post, I covered how SharePoint views work. Views, as a refresher, are an extremely powerful way to display a crap ton of document library files in a structured way making use of the ability to sort, filter, and group library files and list items based on certain categories (categories being metadata in this case).
They’re like folders on crack, except you’re not stuck with an arbitrary folder structure that dates back to the early 2000s, amirite?
One exceptionally useful view that many Site Owners create is a “My Documents” view, which basically gives you the ability to filter out all content that isn’t relevant to whoever is looking at the library. Any site owner can (and should!) create this view in all of their libraries. And you use the metadata that’s already built into the library!
The reason My Documents is so useful is it clears out all extraneous files that you as the viewer don’t care about. And what defines “I don’t care about this file”? Basically, if you didn’t create the file nor have you edited it last, you likely don’t have that much of a need to see it. So let’s filter those out. And while we’re at it, let’s sort the files by last modified date, most recent at the top.
In the end, that means your library will only display files created or last modified by you (the viewer), with the most recently edited at the top. Almost definitionally, these are the most relevant files to you in a library.
Let’s create the view
You need to be a Site Owner to create this public view. Everyday users can also create a personal view that does the same thing, but nobody else will be able to see that view. Or you could just poke your Site Owner, show them this post, and say “let’s get to it!”
Anyway, here’s what to do:
1. From the library, go to Library Settings.
2. Scroll down to the Views section and click “Create a view”.
3. On the View Type page, select “All Documents” near the bottom. This will create a view based on the default view your library already has. It gives you a starting point with a view that you’re probably already used to. You can of course always select “Standard View” and create a view from scratch if you’d like (more work, but more freedom).
4. On the Create View page, enter “My Documents” in the “View Name” box.
5. To sort the files in order of most recently edited/modified, update the section under “Sort” so the “first sort by column” drop-down menu is changed to “Modified” and it’s in descending order. If you want to leave the default (alphanumeric order by file name), feel free to ignore this step.
6. Now you have to make the changes to the “Filter” section. This is the critical step to get rid of any files the viewer isn’t associated with. If it’s not already selected, click the button for “Show items only when the following is true”. Under “Show the items when column”, choose “Created By” from the drop-down menu, “is equal to” in the next drop-down, then type “[Me]” in the text box below that. (“[Me]” is a variable that SharePoint recognizes to mean “whoever is looking at this library”.)
Select the “Or” button, then, under “When column”, select “Modified By” from the first drop-down, “is equal to” under the second drop-down, and enter “[Me]” in the text box again. Press OK.
Using OR instead of AND means that any file associated with you will display. If you had chosen AND, only files that were both created and last modified by you would show up, which could be pretty restrictive. You may have a need for that. But that’s not the prescription discussed in this post.
Now you have a “My Documents” view that you can tell your users and colleagues about. You can create this in all of your document libraries so they have a better experience everywhere they go.
There are tweaks you can make depending on your needs. The sort is up to you; maybe you have different preferences regarding that. You can also only show files created by the viewer; one could argue those are that much more mine than even a file that one edits. You could also make it the default view so it’s the first thing your colleagues see when they open the library; the view could very well be more useful than the default All Documents view.
That said, if you decide to create this, you need to tell your colleagues so they know what it is, how it filters the content, and why it can be useful for them. It’s not obvious at first glance by someone who wasn’t involved with making the view.