How to find the internal name of list or library columns

This post is a guide on how to find the internal name of columns within Microsoft lists or document libraries in SharePoint.


In this post:

Intro
Option 1: list/ library settings
Option 2: sort or group by the column
Option 3: REST API request
Option 4: Microsoft Graph Explorer

Intro

Columns in Microsoft Lists/ SharePoint lists & libraries have two main names – their display name that you can see within the list or library and their internal name. Sometimes you may be required to use a column’s internal name (for example: when creating column/list view formatting). There are several ways to do this, depending on the column so take a look below for more:

NOTE: In the examples below I will be focusing on lists, but the same applies for document libraries.

Option 1: list/ library settings

This is by far the easiest way to get the internal name of a column. All internal custom columns, plus several of the out-the-box column names within lists or libraries can be found by heading to list settings and clicking on the column itself:

  • Press the cog > list/ library settings
Press list settings from the cog menu.
  • Scroll down until you see columns > select the column
  • The Field= end part of the URL in the browser will show you the internal name of your column (Modified By in my example)
Editing the column will show you the internal name of the column from the Field= part at the end of the URL .

Option 2: sort or group by the column

Some out-the-box columns don’t appear within list settings, but you can still get their internal name by either grouping or sorting based on the particular column. For example, the file size column is an out-the-box column that isn’t you won’t find in list settings. If you add this column to your list/ library view and sort you can get access to the internal name:

  • Click on the drop-down and press show/ hide columns
  • Select the column you wish to add > tick it > press apply
  • Select the drop-down next to your newly added column > either sort by or group by depending on what is available
    • For sorted columns – look for the sortField part of the URL to get the internal name of your column
URL example to find the internal name of sorted columns
  • For grouped columns – look for the groupBy part of the URL to get the internal name of your column
URL example to find the internal name of grouped columns.

Option 3: REST API requests

SharePoint has a REST API service that allows you to perform CRUD operations by using REST HTTP requests. There is much more information about the SharePoint REST service here, but you can use GET requests via the browser to return information as per your requirements.

In our example, we want to return all the internal column names from a given list. To do this we simply need to send a REST request to SharePoint as follows:

https://[YOUR SITE].sharepoint.com/_api/Web/Lists(guid'[YOUR GUID]')/Fields

This will return a huge wall of text, but if you CTRL+F and search for the name of your column or use a code editor you will find the internal name and display name:

Option 4: Microsoft Graph

You can also use the MS Graph Explorer to do something similar to a REST API request. The graph explorer allows you to create a run requests via an easy to use interface that also shows you the results. In our example I ran the following GET request via graph explorer:

https://graph.microsoft.com/v1.0/sites/[YOUR TENANT].sharepoint.com/sites/[YOUR SITE]/lists/[YOUR LIST]/Columns
Entering the above request in Graph Explorer will return you all the internal column names in your list.

Which allowed me to look through the response preview to find my file size column’s internal name:


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!


Edit in grid view button missing – how to resolve

In this post we take a look at the common causes for the edit in grid view button to not be visible in SharePoint Online & Microsoft Lists.

The problem

Edit in grid view was made generally available to all Microsoft customers in February 2021 and is available for lists and document libraries in SharePoint Online or Microsoft Lists. I recently had an issue reported to me that the edit in grid view button was missing from the ribbon in a SharePoint Online document library.

After taking a look myself, sure enough this was the case and the option wasn’t present. The first thing to note about this particular document library was that the default view had grouping enabled on a particular column. In trying to replicate the issue, at first when I created a new document library the edit in grid view button was present:

I noticed that when I applied the same grouping to the view the edit in grid view button disappeared!

Applying a grouping to a library view causes the edit in grid view button to disappear.

The solution

The solution for this is more of a workaround as this appears to be a Microsoft bug. I decided the best way to get around this was to create a specific view that defaults into grid view mode when selected. To do this:

  • With your library open > press the cog > library settings
  • Scroll down to views > press create view
  • Select datasheet view
  • Give the view a name > select the columns you wish to display > press OK

Now you have a view that defaults to grid view without users having to select it!

Other ways around this issue would be to:

  • Remove the grouping for the view in question to allow edit in grid view
  • Create a new view with the grouping removed and show users how to find it to edit in grid view

Unfortunately this seems to be an bug that although it has been raised with Microsoft, the SharePoint UserVoice has since been shut down so it’s unclear if it is being worked on or not. You can raise feature requests through the Microsoft feedback portal.

Bonus – free history lesson!

Out of curiosity I wanted to see if this was an issue in SharePoint 2010 as I was sure I would have come across it by now. As expected, it wasn’t and datasheet view works fine when views have groupings within them.


How to create a custom ID for lists and libraries

In this example I demonstrate how to create a simple solution that allows users to submit a request to a list, then a workflow fires that updates the request ID field with our custom ID number.

ID numbers, reference numbers, ticket numbers…this is something that regularly gets asked to be a part of any SharePoint solution or request based system. My first thought when this is required is “easy, we can just use the SharePoint item ID column and use that”. However, creating a simple calculated column that leverages the in-built ID column is not as easy as it seems.

My first attempt at creating a custom ID column involved creating a new calculated column, and appending some text before the ID and then inserting the ID column into the formula, like this:

="REQ-00"&[ID]

The problem with this approach is that when new items are added, the ID appears to “slip” resulting in the custom ID column having no ID number being pulled from the SharePoint ID.

Custom ID column – modern SharePoint

1. Pre-requisites

Before you begin you will naturally need to create either a list or library in SharePoint, and the relevant apps checked as part of your O365 license.

2. The setup

  • Create a new column, with the type Number – I called this ‘solIncrementNum
  • Create a new column, with the type Calculated – I called this ‘solReqNum‘, later renamed ‘Request Number’
    • In the formula field, add the following: ="SOL-00"&[SolIncrementNum]
    • For the Data Type, select Single line of text
Setting the formula for the solReqNum column in list settings

NOTE: for the Request Number formula if you want to prefix your custom ID with something else just replace what’s between the ” “ in the formula field above.

3. Build the Flow

Flow action: when a new item is created

  • Create a new flow from the template “when a new item is created, complete a custom action”
  • Give your Flow a name, I called mine “Populate Solution Request Number”
  • In the “when a new item is added” step, make sure the site address and list name are the same as the list you built the custom ID column for earlier
Step 1 of the Populate Solution Request Flow

Flow: update item

  • Press + New step, start typing “update item”, select the update item action from the selection
  • Select the site in question, then copy and paste the List Name from the previous action
  • Make sure this action has the following fields set:
    • Id: ID
    • Title: Title
    • solIncrementNum: ID

NOTE: make sure that when you set these fields, that the values you use are coming from the “when a new item is created” action.

Step 2 of the Populate Solution Request Flow

Now when new items are created within the list or library, the flow will fire and create a new request number.

Modern SharePoint list with Flow that populates Request Number

How to set the default value of a lookup field

(this post was written using a SharePoint 2010 environment)

If you are using lookup columns in your SharePoint environment, one thing you may want to do is set the column that appears first, or is the default value in the lookup list when a document is uploaded into a library.

Now this solution is not a no code solution, but it requires very little code and is really straight forward to read and understand…

Step one – prerequisites

My setup to achieve this contained the following:

  • A custom list with each lookup value as a seperate list item (name stored in Title column)
  • A document library with a lookup column looking at the title in the custom list

Step two – configure the edit form

  • Open the list which is using the lookup column, make a note of the display name of the column

NOTE
This caught me out while configuring, I naturally took the field name of the column from the URL string as opposed to the column name displayed in the edit form, make sure you use the latter as the field name won’t work.

  • Navigate to the lookup list where the lookup column is pointed to
  • Open the item in this list that you wish to be the default value
  • Open an item in a new window, in the address bar look for ID= and make a note of the number value as this is used for later
  • Navigate to the libraries edit form (just add /Forms/EditForm.aspx after the name of your list or library)
  • Press Site Actions > Edit Page
  • Add a web part > add a content editor web part to the page
  • Click inside the content editor web part > Under Editing Tools > Format Text press the HTML, Edit HTML Source button

Step three – add the code

  • In the HTML Source window, paste in the following:
<script src="https://code.jquery.com/jquery-1.11.0.min.js"> </script>

<script type="text/javascript">

$(document).ready(function() {

$("select[Title='lookup']").val('1');

});

</script>
  • You will need to change the [Title=’lookup’] to be the name of the lookup column as described earlier
  • You will also need to edit the number after .val to be the ID number of the lookup list item we made a note of earlier
  • Under the Page Tab > Press Stop Editing, make sure to save your changes

Test your changes!

Now when you upload a new document, your lookup column will default to the value we have specified!



How to group by date chronologically for library views

(this post was written using a SharePoint 2010 environment)

So here’s the scenario, we have a document library that contains agendas, minutes, reports and other files related to meetings. The document library has a custom column called ‘Meeting Date’, a date column that is mandatory for all files that are uploaded.

We are required to create a view that is grouped by meeting date, sorted chronologically. Let’s give it a go!

Step one – prerequisites

My setup to achieve this was as follows:

  • A document library
  • An additional date column ‘Meeting Date’

Step two – configure the library

  • Navigate to the document library
  • Create a new calculated column called ‘Month of Meeting’
  • In the Formula section, add the following:
=IF([Meeting Date]="","Empty",("0"&MONTH([Meeting Date])&"/"&RIGHT(YEAR([Meeting Date]),4)))

NOTE
This formula basically states that if Meeting Date is blank, show Empty, if the meeting date has a value format it as MONTH (0 in front of the month number) / YEAR (yyyy).

  • Make sure the data type returned is ‘single line of text’
  • Press OK

Test your changes!

Now we have created a calculated column, we can test our changes by adding the column to a view and checking the Month of Meeting column has values.

Step two – create the view

Now we have verified our formula is working, we can start building out our view based on the requirements.

  • Navigate to the document library
  • Under Library Tools > Library > Create View
  • Scroll down to Group By, then group by Month of Meeting in ascending order
  • Press OK

NOTE
In the Group By section, you can set whether the groups are open or closed by default by choosing either collapsed (closed), or expanded (open).

You can also change the default number of groups to display from 30, but beware of slower page loading if you set it too high.

Now our view is configured we can take a look at it in all its chronological glory!

If you want to find out more about using group views, take a look at another post I wrote on ways around the 10 item limit in choice columns.

Configure a default view for Document Sets

(This post was written using a SharePoint 2010 environment)

Document sets are a pretty awesome way to convert people from traditional folders to using metadata in SharePoint, but retaining the ‘feel’ of a nice folder structure.

When you start using document sets you might want to play with the default view of your files, this isnt as straight forward as just setting a new default view. Here’s how to do it

Create and configure the view

  • Create your view
  • Under Folders > ensure show this view is set to In folders of content type: document set
  • Press OK
Select the document set content type in the view settings

Select the view for the Document Set Content Type

  • Navigate to the Library Settings
  • Under Content Types Select the Document Set
  • In Settings > Select Document Set settings
Document Set settings
  • Under Welcome Page View > select your view
  • Press OK

Now the changes made to your custom view will be present inside each document set!

Bonus

For more on document sets, check out my write up of the quirks of document set routing.

How to show the folder path of a file in library views

Introduction

This post looks at ways in which you can show the folder path of a file as a standalone column within a SharePoint document library view.

UPDATE: I’ve updated this post after some comments asking how to do this for modern SharePoint libraries. Click here for more.

Classic SharePoint

The scenario

A common request I get is:

How do I see what folders/ sub-folders my files are in at a glance

– all users everywhere

Out of the box, there aren’t any columns available that you could potentially leverage to display this information in a standard SharePoint 2010 library.

The solution

So, just by adding one value in SharePoint Designer, here’s how you do it:

  • Navigate to the library you wish to change, create a new view under Library Tools > Library > Create View
  • Choose the relevant format of your view, give your view a name and press OK
  • Open SharePoint Designer > Open the site > open the library you were just working in
  • In the Views pane > click to open the view you just created
In SharePoint Designer, clicking on the view name will open the view in edit mode
  • In the code editor window, scroll down until you see something like the following:
<ViewFields>
	<FieldRef Name="DocIcon"/>
	<FieldRef Name="LinkFilename"/>
	<FieldRef Name="Modified"/>
	<FieldRef Name="Editor"/>
</ViewFields>
  • Add the following field reference in between the opening <ViewFields> and closing </ViewFields>
  • Add the field reference in the display order you would like it to appear in the view
Add the field reference to the View Fields list
  • Press the Save icon to save your changes
  • Press the Preview button to see your view in action in the browser

Now you will notice there is a new column being displayed “Path”, that is showing us the full location of the file or folder in the libary. You’ll also notice that this path will display data when at the library root, or in any folders or sub-folders in the library.

Library root displaying a files path
File in sub-folder displaying relative location

Bonus

Taking this one step further, what if we wanted to show files of a certain type, then create a view that groups these files by their folder location? Guess what, that’s exactly what I did!

  • Navigate to your library > create a new view as before, this time base your new view off the one you just created
  • If you wish to only show files of a particular type, use the filter by settings (for example below is filtered to only shows Word documents)
  • Make sure “show all items without folders” is selected
  • Press OK
Filtering to only show word documents, also showing items without folders
  • Back in SharePoint Designer > Open up the view you just created
  • Scroll down until you see the opening <Query> tag and add the following beneath it:
<GroupBy Collapse="FALSE" GroupLimit="30">
	<FieldRef Name="FileDirRef"/>
</GroupBy>

Save and preview your view, it should now be grouping by the Path field:

I know this has proven really useful for my company, so hopefully this helps out someone else too 🙂


Modern SharePoint

The scenario

With Microsoft retiring SharePoint 2010 designer workflows, plus the movement away from SharePoint Designer in general, a few readers have asked for a solution that works with modern SharePoint.

When researching this I considered whether suggesting to use SharePoint Designer 2013, as the above solution would still work in SharePoint Online using SPD 2013. But, as Microsoft say themselves although SPD 2013 remains supported, it’s depreciated – so I decided to go in a different direction.

The below example walks you through how you can create a flow in Power Automate to update a file after it’s been created to have the folder path shown in the document library view:

The solution

For this solution you will need to have access to create Flows in Power Automate, as well as an existing Document Library created in SharePoint Online:

  • Navigate to the document library you wish to show the folder path for
  • Add a single line of text column to the document library > give it a name (I called mine FolderPath)
  • Under the ellipsis, press Automate > Power Automate > Create a flow
  • In Power Automate, either use an existing, relevant template or start from blank
  • The trigger action should be When a file is created (properties only)
  • Set the Site Address and Library Name where you want to add the folder path
  • Insert a new step > select Update file properties.
  • Set the following values for the update file properties step:
    • Site Address: same as previous step
    • Library Name: same as previous step
    • Id: ID
    • FolderPath: Folder path

NOTE: The FolderPath within the Update file properties step is the custom column we created earlier. The Folder path (highlighted in red) is dynamic content available within the step in the flow. The folder path dynamic content is the path to the folder the item is in, relative to the site address.

Ensure you select the system Folder path dynamic content to pull the right data into the custom FolderPath column.

Here’s the flow in it’s entirety:

At this point test and save your flow to make sure it is working as expected 🙂

Bonus #1 – turn your folder path column into a hyperlink column

So if like me you want to take this one step further, wouldn’t it be good if we could easily make our newly showing folder paths, actual hyperlinks to the folders? Well the good news is you can!

  • Navigate back to your document library > click on the FolderPath column > Format this column
  • Under Apply formatting to make sure FolderPath is selected
  • Paste the following JSON into the custom formatting box:
{
  "$schema": "https://developer.microsoft.com/json-schemas/sp/column-formatting.schema.json",
  "elmType": "a",
  "style": {
    "color": "blue",
    "font-weight": "bold"
  },
  "attributes": {
    "target": "_blank",
    "href": "='YOUR SHAREPOINT SITE URL' + @currentField"
  },
  "txtContent": "@currentField"
}

NOTE: for more information on turning field values into hyperlinks, check out this awesome sample from sp-dev-list-formatting.

  • Press Save
  • Your FolderPath column values should now be legitimate hyperlinks that click through to the relevant folders

Bonus #2 – update existing files in the document library

This was another suggestion from a reader with regards to how to update files that existed in the document library before the flow was created.

Running a flow manually for individual files

When I began to consider how to do this I started by looking at ways to manually start the flow.

It appears the only real way to do this is to create a new column that adds a button next to each file, that allows you to run the flow. I’m not really enamoured by this approach as it doesn’t seem ideal to have an extra column to run a flow showing on every file in your library. If this is something you would like to pursue then I would recommend this great article by WonderLaura who has the process of creating a button to trigger a flow covered!

Update our flow to update all files if folder path is empty

My solution to this problem was to update the flow we created earlier to get the properties for all files in the library, then add a condition that checks if the FolderPath column is empty, then if yes runs our flow as before.

  • First, I added a Get files (properties only) action which gets all the files from the source library
  • Then I added a new Condition action, which simply checks if the FolderPath column we created is equal to null. You will also notice a new Apply to each action will be created
  • I then moved the previous Apply to each action into the “If yes” condition
  • I left “If no” blank, as it is ok to leave a condition blank if you don’t want it to do anything

Here’s the updated flow in full, which changes highlighted in red:


Problems creating list or library views based on created date

The situation

Data retention and deletion…I’m sure this is a something that anyone involved in Office 365, SharePoint on information management in general gets fed up of saying since the recent GDPR legislation!

Recently we have been rationalising and cleaning up our data in preparation for moving to Office 365. We are starting with SharePoint as the first target repository or silo of content.

The general consensus is to delete files and folders over 7 years old unless there is a pre-existing data retention policy to adhere to. So the next task is to identify those files that fall within our threshold, and ultimately delete.

Luckily, we have Tree Size Pro and ShareGate so I was able to relatively easily identify the files in question (there were a lot!).

The setup

As our SharePoint environment is a) rather full; and b) rather old, I made the decision to incrementally delete files rather than en-masse to mitigate risk, targeting the lists/libraries containing the most out of date content. I started by creating a view in the first library – library A with the following parameters:

  • Standard library view
  • Filtered by Created Date if less than or equal to 01/01/2011
  • Folders or Flat: Show items inside folders
    Show this view: In all folders

(all other settings are left default)

Results this returned looked good, I could see folders and files in this view that matched the criteria – brilliant! Based on my previous statement I decided to delete in batches out of working hours, again to mitigate risk. I deleted first from library A, then from the first stage and finally from the second stage recycle bin all in this fashion.

The problem

I had permanently deleted around 50% of the total volume of content to be deleted from library A when we started to receive reports of current files being ‘missing’ from library A…not a good day.

After these reports were investigated they were indeed true. It turns out that when folders are included within a library view, folders that match the filter will be shown in the view, regardless of whether the files inside match.

We tested the view exluding folders and all the files returned matched the filter criteria. The same results were demonstrated from a SharGate report of the same nature. The report of all files over 7 years old brought back folders over 7 years old, but they also contained files that were newer.

Conclusion

At present, we are not entirely sure as to why these filters are not able to drill down past a top-level folder. It appears to be difficult to specify via view settings to only show files within folders, including the folder itself that matches the criteria.

We have decided to omitt folders from our reports and views going forward and to solely focus on files as this is the most reliable way we can delete files.

Bonus: for those of you with ShareGate, heres an example of my report we created to bring back all files over 7 years old, excluding folders. I ran this report across the entire intranet application over a weekend and it worked a treat 🙂

SG-report

Fix pages with no publishing options in SharePoint

(This post was written using a SharePoint 2010 environment)

So you’ve got a SharePoint site, it all looks good (well, as good as it can!) but you notice that the Publish tab isn’t available in the ribbon.

First things first you check the site settings to see if SharePoint Server Publishing is turned on.

SP2010-publishing-feature.png

If you get to this point and your still no further forward it’s likely that your site wasn’t set up as a publishing site, but if you follow the steps below and your pages will be able to be published in no time.

  1. Open the site in question, then go to Site Actions > View All Site Content
  2. Open the SitePages library
  3. Under Library Tools > Library, select Library Settings

    SP2010-librarysettings
  4. Under General Settings > Versioning Settings, turn on Create major and minor (draft) versions > press OK
    SP2010-versioning

  5. Go back to the original page, you will now see the publishing tab has appeared!