For the past 20 years, SharePoint has had a list building capability (think Access and Excel) and in 2016, Modern SharePoint Lists was officially launched as the default list. Building upon this legacy, Microsoft evolved and re-branded the Modern SharePoint List as the new Microsoft List in Microsoft 365. Microsoft List is a smart information tracking app, not your typical to-do list app (do not confuse this with Microsoft To-Do).
Building upon SharePoint Lists, Microsoft List is all about tracking and sharing information such issues (software, hardware, facility), inventory, teams, reporting, daily routines, pending actions, projects, event and speaker schedules, contacts, vacations, travel, and computer upgrades or anything that you want to track. This is all done in Microsoft 365 on your desktop or within Microsoft Teams. In the future, a mobile version for on the go will be released. Microsoft List will help organize your work by tracking information in a simple, flexible, and smart way across locations and geographies so everyone at your organization can be on the same page.
How does Microsoft List work?
The Microsoft List experience will be launched from within the Microsoft 365 desktop application. Once Microsoft List is launched, you will be brought to the List Home page. On the List Home page, your lists will be divided into two sections: Favorites at the top (pinned) and Recent Lists on the lower section of the page.
For Lists that are used frequently or if you want to pin a List to the top in the Favorites area, you can easily add your List by clicking the star on the top right of the icon on the List that you want to easily access. If you want to remove a List from the Favorites List, simply click on the star on the icon and it will disappear as it is “unfavored”. Navigating to the list is simple – just click on the List icon and you will be taken to the list.
The List Home page has three options for customization. On the icon of the List that you want to customize, click on the three ellipses located at the bottom of the icon. A pop up will appear and allow you the options to change the name, color, and icon picture.
Creating Microsoft Lists
Creating Microsoft Lists is simple, and two types of Lists can be created – a shared List and a personal List. As Microsoft List is a collaboration tool, a shared List is exactly that – it is shared with team members who are provided access by the List creator. Shared Lists live in SharePoint Teams sites. Sometimes, you might want to create the List before sharing or perhaps you want to have a private and personal List that is only accessible and seen by you. Though created as a personal List, this List is shareable when you are ready to grant permission to other team members. A personal List will have your name on the List title while a shared List will have the Team name or project name on it.
To create a new List, click the + Create New List located at the top. From here, you can now choose one of four options to create your new Microsoft List:
1. Blank: this is a blank canvas and you can create any type of list that you want;
2. Excel File: with your Excel file located in OneDrive or on your desktop, you can upload the file and extract one of the data tables from the file to create a new List;
3. Existing List: working smart, you can copy a List that you or another Team member has created and modify it to your needs; and
4. Template: out of the box tracking templates will be available and these can be used as starting points. Each template is purpose-driven and includes tracking for issues, assets, teams, inventory, contacts, reporting requirements, pending actions, vacations, department/division travel, projects, events and speaker schedule, computer upgrades.
The default view for Lists is grid view, but there are two other options including a gallery view and a calendar view. Each view provides ease of access to perform tasks.
The grid view is the best view for editing as it gives you rows and columns to reorder. However, it does not have point and click capabilities as it is very much like a database with rows and columns (like a spreadsheet, so if you’re accustomed to Excel spreadsheets, this will be familiar to use). A worthwhile feature to note is the ability to change the default autofit height to the fixed height of the rows which allows you to change the row height that results in the ability to see more rows on the screen at one time. This is super handy when you have long lists.
The third view is the calendar view. This is an extremely handy way to see your Lists that have dates associated with it and you can easily see the higher priority and ones coming up due that requires action. Using the Format View, List creators will have the ability to determine how cards will look for everyone upon loading the List.
Conditional formatting is available in Lists and these rules are based on if this, then that scenarios. With conditional formatting, notifications and reminders can be sent to the Team. Leveraging conditional formatting, program values can be updated in Lists based on value changes. Additionally, the background colour fill of an item can be changed to show conditions such as approved, review, and more. The font will not need to be changed as it will adjust automatically with the background colour fill.
Microsoft List and Microsoft Teams
Microsoft List and Microsoft Teams continue to support, enhance, and encourage collaboration in your organization. In Microsoft Teams, by navigating to a Teams channel, you can create a Microsoft List without having to leave the app. Visually, Microsoft Lists that are created in Teams will look like Lists created on the web. There will be options for creating and saving views (grid, gallery, or calendar) for each List, adding new columns, defining choices in drop-down menus, setting up custom filters, editing share links, and changing the pill shape of the buttons to the classic rectangular shape.
Coupling Microsoft Teams and Microsoft List produces a process for smooth, open, and accurate communication. Lists are the product of many people working together, and the goals of Lists is to fulfill the fundamental goal of collaboration.
Microsoft Lists can easily be shared with Team members by granting access to that person. When you share a List, there will be two options available: edit or read-only permissions. Like OneDrive and SharePoint, individual items in a Microsoft List can be shared with the team or individuals. There are options to allow or disable editing abilities, entry of a required password before granting access or setting an expiration date. Once a List is shared, there will be an expandable comment feed and the indicator that there are comments in the feed is indicated by a chat bubble. By clicking on the chat bubble, it will bring up the form and the comments related to the List item. You can converse on the List for better collaboration. Later, there will be an @mention so you can pull them in to collaborate.
Easily configure simple business behaviours inside a List and efficiently keep your team updated when things happen in the List by specifying conditions and the actions in response to the conditions by applying and modifying rules and notifications. Several types of rules, including sending of notifications, can be created in a response to specific actions. For example, if any of these conditions occur – deletion of an item, changes to a session type, creation of a new itinerary, and changes or additions to a duration of an event – then a notification is sent to the Team members and/or to the List creator.
Microsoft Lists, either combined with Teams or on its own, is a smart and flexible app that tracks, shares, and conveys information in Microsoft 365. Undoubtedly, Lists are simple and the most efficient way to organize important details while communicating what needs to be done to your Team. Using SharePoint Lists and Libraries, Microsoft Lists collects, manages, and distributes content and data with native efficiency. Microsoft Lists empowers the business process on its web application through Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams. Soon, Microsoft Lists will be launched and ready for on‑the‑go creation, editing, and collaboration.
About the Author:
I am a Microsoft Office 365 MVP with 25 years to Information Technology consulting; 20 years working with Microsoft 365, SharePoint and Microsoft Content Management System.
I am an active member in the SharePoint community and have spoken in many SharePoint conferences, local events, and corporate functions.
I am a Cloud Solution Architect and I have been providing Office 365 services surrounding architecture, planning, migration and governance for medium to large-scale organizations. During the past few years, I have designed, architected, and implemented hundreds of SharePoint solutions for ECM, collaborations, Business Processes, and Search. Some of these solutions were winners of Global Awards or top Canadian SharePoint ECM implementations.
This has giving me the opportunity to work with great talented colleagues and
people who I have a lot of respect for their passion and dedication.
Maadarani, M. (2021). Microsoft List: The Evolved SharePoint List. Available at: https://www.maadarani.com/microsoft-list-the-evolved-sharepoint-list/ [Accessed: 30th August 2021].