Monthly Archives: December 2015

Getting Open In Explorer for a Picture library

Another one of those “I never noticed that before” questions today…

One of my customers wanted to get their pictures out of a Picture library, and said that they couldn’t find the Open In Explorer option in the Ribbon Bar. My first guess is that they were having a problem with the Internet Explorer SharePoint add-ons, but no… there’s basically NOTHING in the Ribbon Bar for a Picture library!

We have Sharegate, and I know I could have exported the Picture library to a file share, and it would have been fine. But still… how could I allow the customer to do that themselves?

A little digging around found an answer in the form of a nice little hack (elegant solution to a problem).

Open a Windows File Explorer window, click in the address bar at the top of the screen, and enter the SharePoint site address in the following format:

For example: \\\sites\MyTestTeamsite

That opens up the site in Windows File Explorer, and you can drill down into any library that’s out there… including Picture libraries.

I passed along the information, the customer tried it, it worked, and everyone was happy.

Changing an imported Excel number field to text in SharePoint

On a recent “Open Office Hours” call we do in our SharePoint group, we had a customer with an Excel/SharePoint issue. They had an Excel spreadsheet they needed to copy/paste into a datasheet view several times a day, and one of the fields was a “numeric text” field. In other words, the field should be treated as a text value, but it was basically a 12 character field with all numbers. The problem is that when they would import that field, it would change the value to something like 1543E+12, regardless of whether you defined the SharePoint column as text or numeric.

I’ve looked into this in the past, and all the material I found online said basically the same thing… importing a number column from Excel will always have the field being treated as numeric in the translation, even if you define the column in Excel as text. Normally I’d suggest that they pad the field with some text character to get the translation to work as text, but the group that gives them the data from Access were unwilling to make any changes. Basically, we had to do something on the SharePoint side to help them.

Fortunately, I found a workaround that took care of the condition in this particular situation. It’s not perfect for all cases, but perhaps you’ll find this useful if your situation is similar.

In the SharePoint list, define the incoming field as a number, and make sure it’s set for zero decimal places:



Next, create a calculated field in the list where the text transformation will occur:


In the calculated field, set the formula to append a non-numeric value onto the original imported field. In this example, I’m just using &”” so that it thinks there’s a text character at the end, which then makes the whole field a text value:


Here’s what the view looks like when I use the original number field (note the comma separators):


And here’s what the new calculated text version of the field looks like:


This worked great for my site. The customer tried it out, and they were ecstatic with how much time and effort it saved them.

The only two drawbacks that I can see are:

  • Leading zeroes – It would likely trim off leading zeroes during the import, so converting it to a text field would likely do so without those zeroes. In my case, that wasn’t an issue.
  • Editing – If you had a reason to edit that text-based value, you’d have to have them edit the numeric field as you can’t edit the calculated text field. That might confuse some people, but again… not an issue in either case here.

Hopefully this technique will be helpful if you find yourself in the same situation. All the Google searching I saw says there’s no way to “fix” an Excel import to treat it properly as a text value coming in. This approach at least gets you almost all of the way there, especially if you have no control over the spreadsheet data you’re receiving.

One of those “I never noticed that” on the Check Permission dialog box…

In one of my help desk calls, someone asked why a user who only had Contribute permission seemingly had a ton of other higher level permissions associated with their account. Being the cynical IT person that I am, my first thought was “OK, what did they misunderstand?” However, looking at the following, I had to agree that they had a lot more than Contribute:


In 99% of the times I’ve used Check Permissions, I don’t see “The following factors also affect this level of access for” section. What’s worse, I didn’t know right off WHY this person was getting that additional information. It certainly wasn’t as part of their SharePoint permission group settings.

It took me a bit of time to finally figure out what the difference was. This particular person was originally put in the Site Administrators area for this site, as they were one of the original business owners. Roles shifted and their permissions were altered to only have Contribute, but no one removed him from the Site Administrators group. Once I did that, all the “following factors” disappeared.


“InfoPath cannot connect to the server” – that sucks…

The other day, I was trying to customize a list form using InfoPath, and I started receiving this error:

InfoPath cannot connect to the server. The server may be offline, your computer might not be connected to the network, or InfoPath Forms Services 2010 might not be enabled on the server. To fix this problem, start by checking your network connection, and then trying again.”

Um… no, the server is up, I’m connected to the network, and InfoPath Forms Services is working just fine on every other site out there, thank you very much.

So… off to Google (or Bing) that error message, hoping for something fairly quick and simple. After a little digging, I came up with this blog post that pointed me down the right path:

To quote the meat of his post:

Since this was not an issue with other site collections we can narrow it down further that it is only with the InfoPath Site Features (IPFSSiteFeatures). This is a hidden feature in all site collections and can only be viewed through PowerShell. I found by simply disabling and re-enabling this feature fixed the problem.

Using PowerShell, you have to run the two commands:

PS C:\> Disable-SPFeature "IPFSSiteFeatures" -url "http://Server/Sites/SiteCollection"
PS C:\> Enable-SPFeature "IPFSSiteFeatures" -url "http://Server/Sites/SiteCollection"

Once I did that, everything went back to normal. I wish I knew a bit more behind the *why* of that happening, but I’m more into triage and keep moving… and this worked.

Did you know that Visio can check your site for broken links?

This is one of those features I stumbled across a number of years ago, and it still seems to be a very well-kept secret. You can use the Web Site Map diagram to tell Visio what site to map out. Visio will also X-out every page image where the link is broken.

For more information, check out

I know there are probably site crawlers and link checkers that are more comprehensive and have more whistles and bells to play with. But it’s hard to argue with a tool you may well already have sitting on your desktop.