Description column in SharePoint libraries – how to use

In this post we take a look at the description column that is available within SharePoint Online document libraries and how to make use of it.


There is a description column available in modern SharePoint document libraries. This description column comes out of the box when you create a new document library, or when you add/remove columns from the existing Shared Documents library that comes with every Team/ SharePoint site.

The problem

The description column exhibits some very strange behaviour. First of all, when you try add it to a library view it does not appear within the properties pane, nor is it a column you can add via edit “columns”.

When adding the properties column to document library views you are not able to edit the column.

If you add the column into a document library view and switch to edit in grid view mode, the column becomes read only meaning you can’t add anything into any of the cells within the library.

If you try to edit the column via edit in grid view the cells within the library are read-only.

The solution

This is more of a workaround than a solution as this appears to be a bug rather than desired behaviour. If you make the column mandatory, then optional it seems to do the trick! To do this:

  • Left-click on the Description column heading > column settings > edit
  • Press more options > set require that this column contains information to yes
  • Press save
Set the Description column to required, then optional to enable editing.
  • With this setting changed, when you edit your document library in grid view now you are able to enter data into the Description field
Once you have made the Description column required, you are able to add data via grid view.
  • Go back to edit the Description column settings and switch off require that this column contains information to make it optional

Add Description column to properties pane

Although the above will allow you to add data to the Description column, it will not add the Description column into the properties pane. You can get the Description column to appear by adding it to the default content type in the document library. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Press the cog > library settings
  • Under general settings > advanced settings
  • Set allow management of content types to yes
  • Press OK
Set allow management of content types to yes in the document library.
  • Scroll down to content types > select the document content type
  • Press add from existing site or list columns
Press add from existing site or list columns to add the Description column to the Document content type.
  • Ensure the Description column is selected > press add
  • Press OK
Add the Description column into the Document content type.

Go back to your document library, select a document and open the properties pane. You will now see the Description column is displayed in the properties pane, as well as being an editable field when you press edit all.

Bonus! History lesson and give your feedback

This description column appears to be a rather recent addition to all tenants, making it’s appearance in summer 2021 with the advent of Microsoft Lists. I went back to SharePoint 2010 just to double-check and sure enough the Description column was not present!

Out of the box SharePoint 2010 document library with no description column.

I’ve added a new item to the Microsoft feedback portal (UserVoice replacement) in the hope this gets addressed by the SharePoint product team so if you could upvote it that would be great!


Microsoft 365 roadmap roundup – 10th January 2022

The Microsoft roadmap roundup is a weekly summary of all the newly added items and changes within the Microsoft 365 roadmap, covering SharePoint, Teams, OneDrive and Microsoft Information Protection and Compliance. Here’s all the new and updated Microsoft roadmap items from the past week:

Please make sure to subscribe to get early access to new posts straight to your inbox!


Use these buttons to switch between each product’s roadmap updates.

SharePoint

Includes updates for SharePoint, SharePoint Syntex and Microsoft Viva.

  • Launched (6)
  • Rolling out (4)
  • In development (11)

🍾 LAUNCHED

  • Microsoft Viva: Viva Connections – Microsoft Viva Connections is your gateway to a modern engagement experience designed to keep everyone engaged and informed. This release will include features such as the dashboard authoring capability, setting a home site via the SharePoint admin center, dashboard and feed web parts for your home site and the Viva Connections app in Teams. Feature ID:86542
  • SharePoint: Microsoft Lists – column settings in Grid view – The capabilities when in Lists “Grid” view (previously Quick Edit) will now allow people to pin a column to the filter’s pane, format the column, show/hide columns, and hide their column(s). You used to have to exit out of Grid edit to accomplish these common tasks. Feature ID:68714
  • SharePoint: Microsoft Lists – Support for thousands separator in Number column – When Lists owners and members leverage the Number column, they can now choose if the comma should appear or not. Feature ID:68716
  • SharePoint: New vertical site templates – Nonprofit, Retail and Healthcare – New vertical site templates coming to SharePoint including nonprofit volunteer center, retail management, store collaboration and healthcare hospital collaboration.  Feature ID:85659
  • Microsoft Viva: Manager insights in Microsoft Viva Insights app, Outlook and Office.com – To empower managers to foster productivity and wellbeing for teams – large or small – new insights and tools are being introduced in the “My team” tab of the Microsoft Viva Insights app in Teams, as well as in manager cards in the daily briefing and monthly digest emails from Microsoft Viva. Roadmap ID: 85622
  • Microsoft Viva and Outlook: Briefing email support for French, German, Italian, and Portuguese – This personalized, actionable briefing email from Microsoft Viva, automatically delivered to your Outlook inbox to help you start the day on track and stay on top of tasks, will support Italian, and Portuguese. Roadmap ID: 81999

🚂 ROLLING OUT

  •  SharePoint: MSFT Editor Spellcheck and Grammar in SharePoint Pages – We are adding the Microsoft Editor service to SharePoint Pages and News and enabling their spellcheck and grammar capabilities. This will allow proofreading to take place in SharePoint without relying on the Editor browser extension. This feature changes the suggestions colors to monochrome when they’re shown on a themed background to increase visibility. Feature ID:88534
  • SharePoint Syntex: Metadata search – Find content with precision using automatic forms to query any metadata fields on the library. Roadmap ID: 88714
  • SharePoint: Improvements to the authoring experience in SharePoint Pages – This change will make it easier for users to understand where they are in a page by adding labels to each content area. These changes also reduce clutter by consolidating web part editing actions into a single toolbar and placing authors into focus mode by default to remove visual distractions while editing. Roadmap ID: 82177
  • SharePoint: Improvements to the Text Web Part toolbar for SharePoint Pages and News – Authors of SharePoint Pages and News will be able to access all simple text editing tools from the Text toolbar. Feature ID:82180

⌛ IN DEVELOPMENT

Release – January 2022

  • 🆕 SharePoint: Section Templates for SharePoint Pages – When you add a new section to a page, you can select a blank template with popular image and text combinations for a quick start. Roadmap ID: 88838
  • 🆕 OneDrive and SharePoint: Edit High Value Control (HVC) – High Efficiency Image Format (HEIC) File Support – Users can edit (Crop or rotate, adjust, filter and markup) the High Efficiency Image Format (HEIC) files through the Edit HVC. After editing the image, if the user wishes to save the changes, the file would be copied as a new jpg file. Roadmap ID: 88841
  • Microsoft Lists: Board View – View your list items in a board with swimlanes that represent their current progress. Roadmap ID: 85634
  • SharePoint: New content scenarios for My Feed Web Part on SharePoint – The New content types are added to My Feed Web Part on SharePoint. The new contents are Suggested Tasks, People Highlights, Meetings out of routine and files shared in groups. Roadmap ID: 82172

Release – February 2022

  • 🆕 Microsoft Viva: Briefing Email support for Japanese and Simplified Chinese – This personalized, actionable briefing email from Microsoft Viva, automatically delivered to your Outlook inbox to help you start the day on track and stay on top of tasks, will support Japanese and Simplified Chinese. Roadmap ID: 88832
  • 🆕 Microsoft Viva: Shared focus plan in Viva Insights – The shared focus plan enables managers and team leads to foster mutual productivity norms and drive a positive team culture by inviting teams to book focus time for uninterrupted work. Roadmap ID: 88839
  • Microsoft Viva: Exclude content from topic discovery based off applied sensitivity labels – Use Microsoft Information Protection (MIP) sensitivity labels to control which files should not be included in topic discovery. Roadmap ID: 82047

Release – March 2022

  • Microsoft Viva: Topics in Microsoft Search in Bing – Display topic cards in search results when Microsoft Search is invoked from a Bing search. Feature ID:72180
  • Microsoft Viva: Discover experts and answers from Topics – Questions on topics will receive automated answers or get referred to subject matter experts. Feature ID: 72188

Release – June 2022

  • Microsoft Viva: Select sensitivity label to exclude sites from topic discovery – Use Microsoft Information Protection (MIP) sensitivity labels to control which sites should not be included in topic discovery. Feature ID:82048

Release – June 2023?

  • Microsoft Viva: Manager insights in Microsoft Viva Insights app, Outlook and Office.com for GCC – To empower managers to foster productivity and wellbeing for teams – large or small – new insights and tools are being introduced in the “My team” tab of the Microsoft Viva Insights app in Teams for GCC, as well as in manager cards in the daily briefing and monthly digest emails from Microsoft Viva.  Roadmap ID: 88843

Microsoft 365 roadmap roundup – 3rd January 2022

The Microsoft roadmap roundup is a weekly summary of all the newly added items and changes within the Microsoft 365 roadmap, covering SharePoint, Teams, OneDrive and Microsoft Information Protection and Compliance. Here’s all the new and updated Microsoft roadmap items from the past week:

Please make sure to subscribe to get early access to new posts straight to your inbox!


Use these buttons to switch between each product’s roadmap updates.

SharePoint

Includes updates for SharePoint, SharePoint Syntex and Microsoft Viva.

  • Launched (3)
  • Rolling out (1)
  • In development (2)

🍾 LAUNCHED

  • SharePoint: Page Analytics – View rich page analytics on SharePoint Pages, including page views, page viewers and page traffic. Feature ID:70635
  • Microsoft Stream: Updated Web player for video & audio files in SharePoint, Teams, Yammer, and OneDrive for Government Clouds – The web player for audio and video files that are stored in OneDrive and SharePoint (including when those files are embedded in Teams, Yammer, and SharePoint), is updated with a new user look and feel, and adheres to greater levels of accessibility for keyboard navigation and screen readers. Roadmap ID: 87204
  • SharePoint: SharePoint admin center – updated homepage dashboard for sovereign clouds – When you first land in the SharePoint admin center, we want it to be both familiar and useful at a glance. The idea is to provide a familiar experience, taking a similar design approach as the Microsoft admin center. You’ll see more and more cards and graphs appear over time so you can see insights on files, usage security, recommendations, training and so on. Better see what’s happening, and then take the appropriate action. Roadmap ID: 82179

🚂 ROLLING OUT

  • Microsoft Viva and Outlook: Briefing email support for French, German, Italian, and Portuguese – This personalized, actionable briefing email from Microsoft Viva, automatically delivered to your Outlook inbox to help you start the day on track and stay on top of tasks, will support Italian, and Portuguese. Roadmap ID: 81999

⌛ IN DEVELOPMENT

Release – January 2022

  • SharePoint: Microsoft 365 Lists entry point in the SharePoint app bar – An entry point to Microsoft 365 Lists will appear in the SharePoint app bar after the files icon. Content in the Microsoft 365 lists panel is driven by Microsoft Graph and is personalized to user activity. Feature ID:85641

Release – February 2022

  • 🆕 SharePoint Syntex and SharePoint: Add taxonomy columns from modern library views – Allows users to add taxonomy columns directly to library views in modern SharePoint and Syntex libraries. Roadmap ID: 88828