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Jaime López
Jaime López

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Returning to Fundamentals: A Step-by-Step Guide for Structuring Company Departments with Folders in SharePoint Online

In this article, I'm going to teach you how to effectively manage list items or documents in SharePoint Online using folders within a document library. I'll provide you with a step-by-step guide to ensure you grasp the process thoroughly and can apply it confidently.

The example

Our goal here is straightforward: we want to establish a list that organizes company departments into separate folders and then allocate specific permissions to employees, ensuring they can only contribute information to their respective department's folder. This setup will effectively prevent any unauthorized access or information mishandling across departments.

The steps

You can start by either going to your SharePoint site or using Microsoft Lists. The steps we're about to list are based on using Microsoft Lists, but they will work for both options.

Feel free to explore the video available on my YouTube Channel, where I provide a detailed walkthrough of each of the steps listed below. In this video, I'll take you through the process, ensuring that you have a clear understanding of how to accomplish the tasks mentioned.

List Setup

These steps show how to create and configure a list to enable folder creation.

  1. To kick things off, start by creating a list with the name Expenses Tracker. Think of it as setting up a digital space where you'll organize your financial records or any other data you need to manage.
  2. Once you've created your list, it's time to fine-tune its settings. Start by clicking on the Gear menu, which is typically found in the top-right corner of your screen. This menu will give you access to various customization options.
  3. Within the list settings, you'll see different columns or categories. Locate the one labeled General Settings. Inside this column, you'll find an option called Advanced settings. This is where you can dig deeper into configuring your list.
  4. Inside the advanced settings, you'll encounter various configuration options. One of them is the Folders category. It's crucial to ensure that the setting for folder creation is set to Yes. This will enable you to create folders within your list, making it easier to organize your data.
  5. Once you've made the necessary adjustments in the advanced settings, don't forget to save your configurations. Scroll down to the bottom of the settings page, and you'll spot an OK button. Clicking this button will ensure that your changes are applied and saved.
  6. After configuring your list settings, you'll want to return to the main view of your list. To do this, simply click on the name of your list, Expenses Tracker, which is usually located at the top of your screen. This action will take you back to your list's main page where you can start working with it.

Folder Organization

These steps demonstrate how to establish folders for individual departments or categories.

  1. When it's time to organize your information, the first step is to create a new folder. You can do this by clicking on the New button, usually found at the top or within your list, and then selecting Folder. Think of this as creating a digital container to hold related files or data.
  2. Once you've initiated the folder creation process, give your new folder a meaningful name. For example, if you're creating a folder to store sales-related documents, you can name it Sales. This name helps you and others quickly identify the folder's content or purpose.
  3. If you need to organize different types of information or create folders for various categories, you can repeat the process. Simply go back to step 2, where you name your folder, and then continue by naming and creating additional folders as needed. This way, you can create an organized structure within your list or library.

Permission Management

These steps illustrate the process of granting separate permissions for each folder.

  1. When you want to control who can access and work with the content in a particular folder, start by locating the folder's name, such as Sales. Hover your mouse to the right of this folder name, and you'll see a small menu represented by three dots (often referred to as an ellipsis). Click on these dots to access folder-specific options.
  2. Among the options presented in the menu, look for Manage Access. This choice allows you to fine-tune the permissions associated with the selected folder. Permissions determine who can view, edit, or manage the content within the folder.
  3. To grant access to specific individuals or groups responsible for working within this folder, click on the Person icon. This icon represents the ability to add users or groups who will have the necessary permissions to interact with the folder's contents.
  4. Once you've clicked on the Person icon, a dialogue box or field will appear. In this field, input the names or identifiers of the individuals or groups you want to grant access to. Ensure that you specify the correct names to grant them the appropriate access rights.
  5. If you have multiple folders that require distinct access permissions, you can replicate these steps for each folder individually. Simply follow steps 1 to 4 for each folder you create, tailoring the permissions to match the responsibilities and access requirements of each folder. This way, you can establish a controlled and organized environment for your documents or data.

The result

Following this step-by-step process, we've successfully created a folder structure within a single list or library, allowing each department to contribute their specific information to their designated folders without impacting the content of others.

This setup ensures that administrators have access to information from all departments, facilitating efficient tracking and management.


SharePoint Online and My Lists serve as valuable tools for establishing dedicated repositories to effectively manage information and documentation across various departments and domains. This article demonstrates the process of configuring a list or library for this purpose.

I trust you'll find this information beneficial, enabling you to effortlessly create your own designated repos. I welcome your feedback and comments.


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