What is SharePoint and how to use it

SharePoint is a web-based platform that allows you to create websites, store and share content, and collaborate with others. SharePoint is developed by Microsoft and can be used by organizations of any size and industry. In this post, we will explain what SharePoint is, what it can do, and how you can use it effectively.

What is SharePoint?

SharePoint is a web-based platform that allows you to create websites, store and share content, and collaborate with others. SharePoint is developed by Microsoft and can be used by organizations of any size and industry. SharePoint has several features and benefits, such as:

  • Document management: You can upload, organize, edit, and access documents from any device using a web browser. You can also co-author documents with other people in real time, track versions and changes, and apply permissions and policies.
  • Team sites: You can create sites for your teams, projects, departments, or clients. You can customize the look and feel of your sites, add web parts such as lists, libraries, calendars, news, tasks, and more. You can also connect your sites to Microsoft 365 groups, which give you access to other apps like Outlook, Teams, Planner, and Yammer.
  • Communication sites: You can create sites to broadcast information to a large audience, such as your company or organization. You can use communication sites to publish news, events, reports, videos, images, and more. You can also enable comments and likes to get feedback from your viewers.
  • Intranet: You can use SharePoint to build an intranet for your organization. An intranet is a private network that only authorized users can access. You can use an intranet to communicate your vision, values, policies, and news to your employees. You can also use an intranet to provide resources, services, and support to your staff.
  • Workflow automation: You can use SharePoint to automate business processes and workflows. For example, you can create approval workflows for documents or requests, or notification workflows for events or changes. You can use Power Automate (formerly Flow) to create workflows that connect SharePoint with other apps and services.

How to use SharePoint

To use SharePoint, you need a web browser and an internet connection. Depending on your organization’s settings, you may also need a Microsoft 365 account or a SharePoint Server account.

To access SharePoint in Microsoft 365:

  1. Sign in to Microsoft 365 with your work or school account.
  2. Click the app launcher icon in the upper left corner of the screen.
  3. Click SharePoint or Sites.

To access SharePoint Server:

  1. Open your web browser and enter the URL of your organization’s SharePoint site.
  2. Sign in with your username and password.

Once you are in SharePoint, you can:

  • Create a site: Click Create site on the SharePoint start page or on the top right corner of any site. Choose whether you want a team site or a communication site. Give your site a name, description, and URL. Add owners and members if you are creating a team site. Click Finish.
  • Upload files: Go to the document library where you want to upload files. Click Upload on the command bar and select Files or Folder. Browse your computer and select the files or folder you want to upload. Click Open.
  • Share files or sites: Select the file or site you want to share. Click Share on the command bar or on the menu that appears when you hover over the item. Enter the name or email address of the person you want to share with. Choose whether you want them to edit or view the item. Add a message if you want. Click Send.
  • Edit files: Click the file you want to edit. It will open in Microsoft 365 for the web. Make your changes and save them automatically. If you want to edit the file in the desktop app (if installed), click Edit Document > Edit in .
  • Co-author files: Open the file you want to co-author in Microsoft 365 for the web. Invite others to edit the file by clicking Share on the top right corner of the screen. See who else is editing the file by looking at the icons on the top right corner of the screen. See their changes as they happen by looking at the colored flags next to their cursor.
  • Add web parts: Go to the site where you want to add web parts. Click Edit on the top right corner of the screen. Hover over a section of the page and click the plus sign (+) that appears. Choose a web part from the list that appears. Configure the web part as needed by clicking the edit icon (pencil) on its top left corner.

These are just some of the basic things you can do with SharePoint. To learn more about SharePoint features and capabilities, check out these resources:

How much does it cost to use SharePoint?

The cost of using SharePoint depends on the plan and edition you choose. There are three main options:

  • SharePoint Online: This is a cloud-based service hosted by Microsoft that you can access through a web browser. You can subscribe to SharePoint Online as a standalone service or as part of a Microsoft 365 plan. The pricing for SharePoint Online starts at $5.00 per user per month for Plan 1, which includes basic features for small-to-mid-sized businesses. Plan 2 costs $10.00 per user per month and includes advanced features for enterprise capabilities, such as customization, security, and compliance¹².
  • SharePoint Server: This is an on-premises solution that you can install and manage on your own servers. You can purchase SharePoint Server as a standalone product or as part of an Office 365 Enterprise plan. The pricing for SharePoint Server depends on the number of servers, cores, and users you have, as well as the licensing model you choose. You can use the SharePoint Server 2019 Calculator to estimate the cost of SharePoint Server.
  • Office 365 E3: This is a Microsoft 365 plan that includes SharePoint Online, along with other apps and services such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams, OneDrive, and more. The pricing for Office 365 E3 is $23.00 per user per month with an annual commitment. This option gives you access to the full range of SharePoint features, as well as desktop and mobile apps, email and calendar, social networking, automation, and security.

You can compare the features and benefits of each option on the Microsoft website. You can also try SharePoint for free for 30 days by signing up for a trial account.

Can I use SharePoint on my mobile device?

Yes, you can use SharePoint on your mobile device by downloading the SharePoint mobile app for Android or iOS. The SharePoint mobile app lets you access your team’s news, sites, and important links from anywhere. You can also search for people, files, and content across your organization. The SharePoint mobile app requires an active Microsoft 365 subscription or a SharePoint Server user account¹².

To get the SharePoint mobile app, you can:

To learn more about the SharePoint mobile app and how to use it, you can check out these resources:

How do I customize my SharePoint site on mobile?

There are different ways to customize your SharePoint site on mobile, depending on the level of complexity and functionality you want. Here are some options:

  • Mobile Browser View: This is a feature that you can activate or deactivate for your SharePoint site. When activated, it checks the device’s browser to determine whether it supports HTML5. If so, the site is displayed using a mobile view that adapts to the screen size and orientation. If not, the site is displayed using a classic view that resembles what users would see on a computer. You can activate or deactivate Mobile Browser View in Site Settings under Site Actions and Manage Site Features.
  • Device Channels: This is a feature that allows you to create different master pages and style sheets for different devices or groups of devices. For example, you can create a device channel for smartphones, another one for tablets, and another one for desktops. You can then map the content of your site to use the appropriate device channel based on the device’s user agent string. This way, you can customize the look and feel of your site for each device without creating multiple sites. You can create and manage device channels in Site Settings under Look and Feel and Device Channels.
  • SharePoint Mobile App: This is an app that you can download and use to connect to your SharePoint site, rather than your browser. The SharePoint mobile app lets you access your team’s news, sites, and important links from anywhere. You can also search for people, files, and content across your organization. The SharePoint mobile app requires an active Microsoft 365 subscription or a SharePoint Server user account. You can download the SharePoint mobile app from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. You can also scan the QR code on the Microsoft website using your device’s camera.

How do I use web parts on my mobile device?

Web parts are reusable components that you can add to your SharePoint site pages to display content, data, or functionality. You can use web parts on your mobile device by following these steps:

  • Go to the site where you want to add web parts.
  • Click Edit on the top right corner of the screen.
  • Hover over a section of the page and click the plus sign (+) that appears.
  • Choose a web part from the list that appears. You can scroll down to see more web parts or use the search box to find one by name.
  • Configure the web part as needed by clicking the edit icon (pencil) on its top left corner.

Some web parts may not be available or may have limited functionality on mobile devices. For example, the Image Gallery web part does not support swipe gestures on mobile devices. You can check the web part documentation for more details on each web part and its mobile behavior.

What are some alternatives to SharePoint?

Some alternatives to SharePoint are:

  • Google Workspace: A cloud-based suite of productivity applications that includes file sharing, document collaboration, and knowledge management.
  • Huddle: A cloud-based collaboration software that focuses on external collaboration with clients and partners.
  • Igloo: A digital workplace platform that supports deskless workers with mobile access and social features.
  • Confluence: A wiki-based platform that integrates with other Atlassian products.
  • ClickUp: A one-stop solution that handles project management, team meetings, file sharing, and more.
  • Bitrix24: A free CRM and collaboration platform that includes social intranet, task management, and chat.
  • Process Street: A workflow management tool that helps teams create and automate checklists and processes.
  • ONLYOFFICE Workspace: A self-hosted or cloud-based platform that combines online editors, document management, mail, CRM, and projects.
  • Jostle: An employee engagement platform that helps create a connected and vibrant work culture.
  • Monday: A visual and intuitive work management platform that helps teams collaborate and track progress.

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