How attachments are changing in Outlook and Sharepoint 2016

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By    -   Help Desk Analyst

If you’ve recently upgraded to Outlook 2016 you may have noticed attachments are handled a little differently. Referred to as “Modern Attachments”, this new and improved way of dealing with attachments adds extra functionality that not only makes it easier to share your files but also allows you to collaborate and set permissions. Also with the addition of cloud integration, within Outlook 2016 you will be able to utilise service such as OneDrive and SharePoint.

The first major change to Outlook 2016 is the addition of “Recent Items”. You’ll notice this straight away when attaching files. Instead of being presented with a prompt box to search for and insert your chosen file, you’ll see a list of the most recent files you’ve been working on. Obviously this is not a ground-breaking new feature but if you’d like to share a file with someone, the chances are that it’s one you’ve recently been working on. This intuitive feature removes the hassle of having to needlessly look through your files every time you want to attach a document, especially if it’s a file you’ve recently saved.

The standard way to attach files that everyone has become accustomed to within older versions of Outlook still exists – just tucked away under the “Browse This PC” option. However the main feature and probably the most beneficial addition to Outlook is the new “Browse Web Locations” option, utilising cloud storage, this allows you to “attach” files from OneDrive, OneDrive for Business and SharePoint. This not only opens up how you can share your files but also how you can control the permissions of any given file and limit what type of access you’d like the recipient to have– either View only or Edit permissions.

Outlook Browse web Locations

This may seem like a simple addition however the main benefit this feature provides is the fact that it allows you to send a link to any file you have stored on OneDrive, OneDrive for Business or SharePoint. This makes it much easier to maintain version control over your files – you will no longer have to repeatedly send the same document back and forth after every addition or change made to a file, therefore improving workflow and allowing you to efficiently collaborate with others. Not only does this feature make collaborating easier, it also prevents recipients from making unwanted changes to important documents.

Now as I’ve already stated, instead of attaching files to an email, cloud integration within Outlook 2016 works by allowing you to send a link to the file (stored on OneDrive or SharePoint) rather than attaching an actual copy of the file to the email. It is this feature that allows you to change and maintain control of the permissions on your files, therefore making version control so much easier – numerous people will be able to view or edit just one instance of the file as opposed to sending different re-iterations of the same file back and forth. This doesn’t mean that you can’t send actual copies of your files anymore, as there is also an option to “Attach as copy”, just in case someone needs a local copy of the file.

Overall the changes to attachments within Outlook 2016 provide users with more options when sharing their files, allowing them to not only have greater control but also improve workflow and efficiency.


  • Al says:

    Jon, is the functionality you describe only in a share point instance that you are running locally on an internal server or is it in sharepoint in the cloud office 365 cloud version? The reason I ask is that the recent documents is not enormously useful when it appears you are working on a collaboration that may require five or six documents from a variety of locations on the share point server . Secondly I have not been able to get my share point server entire listing to show up in my outlook 2016 since we have installed the cloud version. I don’t understand why this is happening as my business one Drive files show up with no problem. My share. Folders that are recent also show up, not sure what’s going wrong here, or is it just not possible ? You seem to say that it should be possible . We have hundreds of documents now on our share point, and don’t seem to be able to attach them or even a link to them from inside Outlook 2016 . I’m not sure what’s wrong or even if it’s possible . We certainly can create a link from inside share point and send that link but not from inside outlook. Thoughts?

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