Checking out documents = no one else can see them!

“I can see the April TPS Report but my boss can’t!” 

Guess what? Documents in a checked-out state are hidden from other users.

This simple solution is often overlooked.  You may not even realize they are checked out.  Rather than notice that the April TPS Report is checked out, you assume a permissions problem or other drastic reason. Trouble can come when well-meant efforts to “fix” the issue result in much more serious problems.  

As a rule, the first thing end users should do in this situation is to determine whether the items in question are checked out. Check them back in, and voilà! Visible again.

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“Where’s my document?”

Scenario: User reported, “Document X in Folder Y in Library Z should be visible to all users! I can see it but no one else can… What’s going on?”

There are several places to check in a situation like this. Many may assume a permissions issue, especially when folders are involved. Broken permission inheritance, perhaps? I checked the library permissions, folder permissions and document-level permissions. Everything was fine.

Next I wondered if the document was checked out. Nope!

Lastly I looked at versioning settings. Bingo! The library had major/minor versioning enabled, with the most restrictive drafts option selected. The document in question was in draft status, therefore the only people who could see it were its creator and those with Approver permissions. No one else would be able to see it until it’s published to a major version.

To help prevent situations like this, make sure those using the library understand what settings are in place. Versioning applies to the entire library, so only use it when it’s appropriate and logical for all documents in the library. It’s overkill and undue complexity to impose on users when the library doesn’t truly call for it across the board. Make sure all users understand such advanced features.

It’s also a good idea to include something in the library’s description referencing the use of versioning, so it’s not necessary to delve into the settings to discover what’s been put in place. Since permissions can prevent many from accessing the settings, users as well as troubleshooters will benefit from the heads-up.

Also, I would have made sure that the default library view displays both the “Version” column and the “Status” column, so it’s always clear what’s what. If those columns had been in place in this library, it would have been immediately apparent to me that the file was in Draft status and that the version number was indicative of that- it would have been something like 1.3 or 2.2, not the ends-in-zero number indicating a major version (such as 3.0).

Bottom line- if you’ve gone through the trouble of configuring major/minor versioning (including the strictest option for hiding viewing drafts), you should have a good reason. You should also have prepared your users for how that affects their ability to share documents. The command to publish to a major version isn’t glaringly obvious so get that training out there.