SharePoint 2013 is available in the cloud and on premises. My team is running a cloud version as a sandbox for testing things out without needing a full development environment. One of the things that is different between the two is the Shared with Me function. Without it, the on premises document following feature is pretty useless.
When you share a document in SharePoint, it (can) send an e-mail to the person with whom you are sharing. The e-mail has a link and the option to follow the document. Clicking the link will open the document in your browser. Clicking the follow option will add the document to a list of things that you want to track, similar to social networking.
Using Shared with Me
In the cloud, you can see all of the documents that are shared with you by selecting the menu option Documents Shared with Me. Pretty straight forward.
I went hunting for this in our on premises implementation and it isn’t there on the surface. However, there is a SharedWithMe.aspx file lurking in a forms folder.
Using SharePoint Designer, you can navigate the folder structure of your SharePoint account. If you go into the Documents folder of a site, then into the Forms folder, you can see the SharedWithMe.aspx file.
If you fire up that file (http://your_sharepoint_server/your_account/documents/forms/sharedwithme.aspx), you should get some results. In my case, I saw a random smattering of files that had been placed in the Shared with Everyone folders of people around the organization. But not files that were shared with just me, from within another person’s document library.
Why Follow Doesn’t Cut It
If you do not have the ability to see the files shared with you, the fall back is to follow each document. Unfortunately, the result is a mess if you are following more than a few files. You get an unmanageable (in the literal sense) of documents you’re following. You can’t filter and sort them like a normal document library. From my perspective, at some point the number of followed documents will be unwieldy as they accumulate.
There appears to be some way to get the SharedWithMe to work on premises. In fact, it looks like someone who administers our site has been tweaking it because I’m now seeing results that reflect both the documents in any given Shared with Everyone folder as well as those that remain in private document libraries but that have been shared with me specifically.
Or it may be that I need to start from scratch because I’ve been playing with a Search Query Web part to see if I can mimic the functionality of the Shared with Me page and lost track of my progress!! The idea occurred to me after tumbling to the notion that the page was really just aggregating documents based on a specific set of metadata – that it was shared with me – and so a search should really be able to see the same results.
If you add a Search Result Web part, you can add a custom search criteria for the box so that when you display the Web part, it auto-populates with results that match your criteria. After fiddling around on the Web for awhile and reading posts that I can no longer find, I came up with the following:
I can’t honestly say I understand this but the first piece is to filter out my documents and the second piece is to show documents shared with me. I’m afraid the last portion is a cut and paste from somewhere.
As an aside, this ability to use a Search Result page would seem to be a nice option, using the other tabs here, to create some interesting custom landing pages out of the box. You could group resources in ways that might not be easy to do using either document library filters or the regular search.
When I first added this Web part, my results were peculiar. They were still the documents that were Shared with Everyone but there was some other stuff as well. It’s been a few weeks since I last worked on this and the list seems to now show those documents that have been shared with me. I’m wondering (again, going back to search) if this is a function of something changing on the server or just the impact of some lag in search indexing.
In any event, I’m going to attempt to avoid using the document Follow function. The better solution appears to find out how to hit the Shared With metadata. Otherwise you’ll end up with an unfilterable, unorderable set of objects you are following that can’t be managed like a library.