How to Use SharePoint

SharePoint is more versatile than you think

SharePoint is a platform for collaborating with other members of a team or group. In this article, we'll walk you through creating functional and collaborative sites for colleagues and friends, uploading and sharing documents, and adding widgets to the SharePoint site pages.

How to Create a SharePoint Site

You'll need a couple of things before you're able to create your site:

  • Access to a Microsoft 365 business account, as SharePoint isn't included in consumer accounts.
  • An admin to create your site. If you're not an admin, ask your admin to create a site for you.

To create a SharePoint site:

  1. Log in to Microsoft 365 as an administrator, then select SharePoint from the Apps menu.

    Selecting SharePoint app in Microsoft Word 365
  2. Select Page in the left-vertical pane, then select Create Site.

  3. Choose Team Site in the dialog box.

    Communication Sites are used primarily for publishing announcements and other content.

  4. Choose a starting design for your site that matches your other content. Don't worry: you can always adjust the starter content later.

  5. Enter the details of your site, including its name and description.

  6. Select Finish to complete the setup. SharePoint works in the background to create the site, and you'll see its progress throughout.

After setting up your space, you'll have some available functionality right out of the box, including:

  • Conversations: Private message boards for your group.
  • Documents: This is where you share files, and check files in and out.
  • OneNote Notebook: Your teammates can collaborate with this OneNote Notebook by creating and adding content to pages.
  • Site Pages: Custom web pages for your team or group.

How to Use SharePoint Document Libraries

File sharing using a Document Library is common on SharePoint sites. Document Libraries contain folders and files that you can view and edit. To use the Document Library:

  1. Select Documents in the left-vertical pane.

    In SharePoint Site window, selecting "Documents" in left pane.
  2. Select New to add new items, such as folders or Microsoft Office files. Alternately, drag and drop other files into the current library folder; they don't have to be Office files.

    In SharePoint Site window, selecting "New" in Documents section.
  3. Select a Microsoft Office file to open it in the appropriate app. Selecting a non-Office file does one of three things:

    • Opens it for preview if it's in a web-friendly format (for example, an image or PDF).
    • Opens in a relevant app if you're using Windows (Windows knows how to talk to SharePoint).
    • Downloads it to your computer so you can open it with the relevant program.
    Choosing a document to upload in SharePoint Site window.
  4. While modern web apps allow you to simultaneously edit a file with a colleague, you still have the ability to "check out" a file in SharePoint to stop others from working on the file while you're working on it.

    Choose the file to check out, then select Check out in the drop-down list. Checking out a file prevents anyone from saving a new version of the file while you're working on it. Other users can still download a copy and work on it, but they can't create a new version until you save it and check it back in.

    In SharePoint Site window, selecting "Check out."

How to Create SharePoint Site Pages

SharePoint's site pages allow you to create web pages that include text and graphic information. The difference between SharePoint site pages and regular website pages is that only logged in members of your SharePoint team can view them. Site pages are your own private internet.

To create new pages on your SharePoint site:

  1. Select Pages in the left-vertical pane.

    In SharePoint Site window, selecting "Pages" in left pane.
  2. Select New, then select from among the page types:

    • Wiki Page: Pages that include team ideas, policies, guidelines, best practices, and more. A SharePoint team can use Wiki pages to access links to all types of company info.
    • Web Part Page: Pre-defined layouts designed to let you insert all sorts of gadgets, dashboard-style, on your site pages.
    • Site Page: Blank pages that you build, starting with a title.
    • Link: Add a link to a website.
    In SharePoint Site window, selecting "New" and a kind of page.
  3. Once created, the page opens for you to edit. Start by giving it a name. Additional content comes in the form of Web Parts, which we cover in the next section.

    Entering a site name in SharePoint Site window.
  4. Select Publish in the upper-right portion of the screen to make your changes available to colleagues.

    Selecting "Publish" in SharePoint Site window.
  5. Select Pages in the left-vertical pane to view your pages.

  6. To edit existing pages, open the page and select Edit in the left pane.

    In SharePoint Site window, select "Edit" in left vertical pane.

How to Add Web Parts to SharePoint Pages

One of the best SharePoint features is the "Web Part," or widget(s) feature. Even if you only want to add text and graphics, you'll first need to add a web part to hold the content. Web parts can include things like Newsfeeds, a directory of team members, or lists of recent activity on the site.

If you created a page, here's how to add web parts to it:

  1. Select Pages in the left-vertical pane, then choose a page to edit, and select Edit.

  2. Select the plus (+) sign to add web parts to a page.

    Adding a Web Part to a SharePoint Page
  3. A pop-up menu displays a list of available web parts. Browse the entire list, or search by keyword. Once you select a web part, it's added to the page.

    Adding Web Parts to SharePoint site.
  4. Configure the web part. For example, if you add an Image Gallery web part, select Add Images to choose the pictures to display.

    Selecting "Add images" to add image to Image Gallery web part.
  5. Select Publish to make your changes available to colleagues.

While the home page is automatically created for you, it's still a page that you can fill with web parts.

Installing and Using the Tasks App

Things get interesting when you add apps to your site. Apps go beyond the functionality of web parts and they include things like blogs or a custom list, which can be a small database.

We'll take a look at the Tasks app, which allows you to set up to-dos for your team members, assign the to-dos, and then track their completion.

To add the Tasks app to your SharePoint site:

  1. On the home page of the SharePoint site, select New, then select App.

  2. Select Tasks.

    Adding "Tasks" app to SharePoint site contents.
  3. In the left menu, select Site Contents to view the Tasks app and start delegating.

    Select Site Contents > Tasks.

Who Should Use SharePoint?

Most of the time, corporate teams use SharePoint. But, there are plenty of non-business-related scenarios where SharePoint comes in handy, such as:

  • Sports teams can use the calendar to post a game schedule, and they can use a Document Library to store game videos.
  • Book clubs can post links to the next week's book, while writing groups can host critiques, submissions, and comments.
  • Volunteer groups planning a restoration project can create a plan with tasks and a timeline.
  • A neighborhood running a yard sale can post announcements on new participants, or list items and prices in a shared Excel file in a Document Library.

The above scenarios are possible with other apps and services, but SharePoint brings everything together in a single place, with an interface that's supported across Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Where to Download SharePoint

Download the SharePoint app for Android from Google Play or get the SharePoint app for iOS from the App Store. Plus, you can use Microsoft Office apps such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to open files directly from SharePoint, making downloading and uploading a snap.

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