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Connecting SharePoint 2010 Content to Outlook 2010

3/24/2011 11:31:21 AM
Another option for taking content offline for mobile users is to synchronize with Outlook 2010 or 2007. This section reviews the process for syncing with Outlook 2010 initially for document libraries and then for task lists and calendars. The SharePoint administrator should understand the differences between SharePoint Workspace 2010 and connecting content to Outlook, and the example shown here will help make these differences clear. For example, files downloaded to Outlook 2007 or 2010 are “read-only,” but can still be edited by following the steps listed here. New files can’t be added to Outlook folders synchronized with SharePoint document libraries, although tasks and calendar items can be added from Outlook.

To begin with, follow these steps to take a library offline in Outlook 2010:

Navigate to a document library in SharePoint 2010 that contains one or more Word documents using an account with at least contributor-level permissions and access the Library tab.

Click the Connect to Outlook button.

A message appears, asking “Do you want to allow this website to open a program on your computer?” Click Allow.

Outlook 2010 opens (if not open already), and a message appears, asking for confirmation to Connect This SharePoint Document Library to Outlook. Click Yes.


There is an Advanced button available from the confirmation window. If clicked, it allows the user to change the folder name or add a description to the folder. Another option is to not display this list on other computers I use, and there is an option to update this subscription with the publisher’s recommendation. Typically, these settings are left on their defaults.

The folder is then created in Outlook 2010 under the SharePoint lists node, and the content will synchronize. Assuming the documents are standard Office documents, previews will be available in the preview pane, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Results of using the Connect to Outlook tool from a document library in Outlook 2010.


Outlook 2007 provides similar functionality with document library synchronization to SharePoint 2010.

Double-click one of the Word documents, and a message appears, asking “Would you like to open the file or save it to your computer?” Click Open.

The document opens in read-only mode. Click Edit Offline.

A window opens, informing the user that the document will be stored in the SharePoint Drafts folder. Click OK.

Make some edits to the document, and then click Save.

Next, access the File menu and click Exit. A message opens, stating “You are currently offline. Would you like to try to update the server with your offline changes?” Click Update.

Return to the document library in SharePoint 2010 and verify that the changes were saved to the document edited by clicking the document and viewing the document. Close the document.

Return to Outlook 2010, and with the SharePoint folder still active, click an item, and click Delete. A message appears, stating “This SharePoint list is read-only in Outlook.”

Right-click the same document and select Remove Offline Copy. The document will then appear in a group titled Available for Download. After the next synchronization, the documents will be synchronized, so this is a temporary setting.

Next, try to drag and drop a document from a local folder to the Outlook 2010 folder, and note that it does not complete.

Try right-clicking the item on the local computer and clicking Copy, and then try right-clicking in the SharePoint connected folder, and note that the option to Paste is not provided. This illustrates that even if the account in use has owner-level privileges in the document library, items cannot be created in the connected Outlook folder.

Connecting Task Lists to Outlook 2010

Assuming that the user has completed the previous section, the process of taking content offline from a SharePoint document library should be clear. It is encouraged that the administrator or end user also test taking a Tasks list offline by following the previous steps, but on a Tasks list that has items in it. As shown in Figure 2, the list will show up along with other Tasks lists, not under the SharePoint Lists section from the Mail view. The user can interact with tasks, whether to Mark Complete, Remove from List, or change the data associated with the tasks. Tasks can also be dragged from the SharePoint Tasks list to the individual’s Tasks list in Outlook and vice versa, which will make a copy of the task in the other task folder, and result in the task being added to the SharePoint Tasks list if a personal task is dragged to the SharePoint Tasks list in Outlook 2010.

Figure 2. Results of opening a Tasks list in Outlook 2010.


Outlook 2007 provides similar functionality with task synchronization to SharePoint 2010 Tasks lists.

Connecting Calendars to Outlook 2010

Assuming that the user has completed the previous sections, the process of taking content offline from a SharePoint list should be clear, and as with Tasks lists, the administrator or end user should also gain experience with the process of connecting Calendar lists to Outlook 2010. The steps are similar to a Tasks list, and the ability of end users to drag a SharePoint calendar item to their personal calendar is the same, and to drag a personal event to the SharePoint calendar. This is an extremely useful capability because it enables end users to connect to SharePoint calendars and drag and drop their personal events, such as vacations, to a shared SharePoint calendar so the whole team will know about it. Likewise, the users can drag events from the SharePoint calendar to their personal calendar so that they can set reminders on those events and have them show up on personal calendars and mobile devices.


An important difference to point out between Outlook 2007 integration with SharePoint 2010 calendars and Outlook 2010 is the “glitch” in Outlook 2007, where an event can be dragged from one date to a different date. For example, an event scheduled for 7/19 could be dragged from a connected SharePoint 2010 calendar to an individual’s personal calendar to a different date, such as 7/18, resulting in scheduling nightmares! Outlook 2010 has fixed this issue, but administrators and power users should be aware of it in Outlook 2007.

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