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Find Office 365 content quicker using Windows 10 search

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Designing solutions on the SharePoint and Office 365 platforms.

Find Office 365 content quicker using Windows 10 search

Eric Gregorich

With the launch of Windows 10, I thought it could be useful to show some interesting ways to use both Office 365 and Windows 10 together. You will need Office 365 or SharePoint 2013, and the OneDrive for Business sync client, which is installed automatically the first time you sync. Some of this also works in Windows 8 and Windows 7, but I’m demonstrating on Windows 10, which seems to have a bigger focus on search and finding content in general.

OneDrive for Business Personal Folders

After you first setup OneDrive for Business, you’ll have a place for your personal documents. You will be the only person with access to these documents, by default. Browse to your OneDrive for Business page and click on the Sync button to synchronize with your local machine. If the OneDrive for Business client is not installed, the installation will occur automatically. Once synchronized, you will have the same documents in your local OneDrive for Business folder as you do in your OneDrive for Business Office 365 site.

 Once you have setup the initial sync, you will find the OneDrive for Business link in the left pane in Windows Explorer. This folder can be expanded to show all of the folders and documents in your account. You can then add, edit, and delete folders and documents as you normally would in Windows. All changes are immediately synchronized with your OneDrive for business Account.

You can now use Windows 10 search to find documents in your OneDrive for Business account. Just type into the search box located in your task bar and any matching files will appear. For additional details, click on “My Stuff” and the search will show all matching content available on your machine. From there you can change how the results are sorted and filtered. An interesting thing to note is that Windows 10 will also show content from your Personal OneDrive account (if you are using it) regardless of whether the content is synchronized locally or not.

Example Windows 10 search to find content stored in OneDrive for Business

Example Windows 10 search to find content stored in OneDrive for Business

Office 365 Groups

In addition to storing your own documents in OneDrive for Business, you can utilize Office 365 groups to easily share documents with your teams. Once you have a group created, the group will be available in your OneDrive for Business account. Open the group and click on Sync to synchronize the group files to your local machine. This is the same process that you would follow for your personal document folders.

After syncing an Office 365 Group OneDrive folder, you will see a SharePoint folder in the left pane in Windows Explorer. This SharePoint folder contains all of the synchronized Office 365 groups as well as any SharePoint document libraries that you have synchronized.

SharePoint folder in Windows 10

SharePoint folder in Windows 10

Just like with your personal folders, your Office 365 Groups and SharePoint folders are now local. Any new or updated documents added by your team will also be available offline and now searchable directly from Windows.

Example Windows 10 search to find content stored in an Office 365 Group folder

Example Windows 10 search to find content stored in an Office 365 Group folder

Cortana integration with Office 365

In addition to the expected file search capabilities, Windows 10 also provides integration with Office 365 through Cortana. Within your Cortana settings, click on Connected Accounts. From there you can connect Cortana to your Office 365 account. You will need to be a First Release customer in Office 365 and also have the Windows 10 Outlook Universal Mail and Calendar apps setup with Office 365 in order to see this work.

Example of Office 365 connected account in Cortana settings.

Example of Office 365 connected account in Cortana settings.

Once connected, Cortana becomes a bit smarter. She can proactively give you information about your upcoming meetings. This may include information about who you are meeting with, any recent documents they worked on, and reminders to leave in time for your next event. This is still an early preview. So far, there is not too much to see. But the concept is promising.

Smarter Searches

I have been a user of Windows 10 Preview for a while now and I’ve started to rely on the OneDrive integration and Windows 10 search capabilities for my day to day activities. It has become easier to share documents with the team since I can just manage files locally. I’m also finding content quicker, whether it is stored in Office 365, SharePoint on premise, or my personal OneDrive account.

I have been exploring new ways to search for content and have had some surprising results. For example:

  • "Show all documents I edited yesterday" returns only files I modified yesterday.
  • "Shows documents authored by Kevin" returns only files edited or created by Kevin.
  • "When is my next meeting?" returns the next meeting on my calendar for today.
  • "When is my next dentist appointment?" returns my next dentist appointment from my calendar.
  • "Show my recent slides" returns my recent Power Point files.

Search in Windows 10 is far from perfect, but with smarter search capabilities as well as integration with Office 365, that little search box in the task bar comes a powerful ally for getting things done.