How can I access my documents using the File Explorer?

There are different methods to access a workspace’s documents from the File Explorer.

The easiest method is by synchronizing a workspace’s documents to Microsoft OneDrive for Business, described in the first method below, something that each user needs to do individually. This method also makes it possible for you to access the documents even when you do not have a network connection, if the documents have been synchronized to your disk.

The other methods are to add a network location, using the WebDAV protocol, or to map a network drive to the workspace’s document library. This can be done centrally, through a group policy, minimizing training and support. These methods require a network connection, as the documents will not be synchronized to your disk.

Which method to use depends on what applications you use. When reading or editing most types of documents method 1 is simplest but based on tested applications, these are the recommendations:

  1. When multiple users need to edit Adobe InDesign and Adobe Premiere documents, method 2 is recommended.
  2. If you edit Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop documents and want to keep your version history intact, method 1 is recommended.

Method 1 – synchronizing a workspace’s documents to OneDrive

This is how you synchronize a workspace’s documents to Microsoft OneDrive for Business:

  1. Open the MetaShare workspace.
  2. Open the workspace’s SharePoint site and navigate to the site’s document library where the documents are stored.
  3. In the document library’s function bar, click on the “Sync” function:
    Click on the "Sync" function
  4. You will get a notification that the library is getting ready to synchronize:
    Notification that a library is getting ready to synchronize
  5. If you open File Explorer, you will on the left zone find a folder with your organization’s name. Under this folder you will see a folder for each and one of the document libraries that you have decided to synchronize, including the one that you just synchronized. The symbol under the “Status” column gives an indication that these documents are stored in the cloud:
    Document libraries that you have synchronized
  6. If you open one of the folders, you will, for each and one of the workspace’s documents, get an indication whether the documents are only stored in the cloud (in this case just the file-name is synchronized) or if the document is synchronized to your disk (the document will have a check-mark in the status column):
    OneDrive's synchronization status
    A document is automatically synchronized as soon as you open it in its desktop app.

When you access documents from Microsoft OneDrive, the documents’ path will actually have this syntax:

C:\Users\[logged-in-user's-alias]\[tenant's-name]\[workspace's-name] - [Documents]\[document-name.extension]

So for a document with this URL in SharePoint:

https://contoso.sharepoint.com/sites/Marketing-site/Shared documents/report.docx

The address, when accessing the document through OneDrive, for “John” as a user, will be:

C:\Users\john\Contoso\Marketing site - Documents\report.docx

Through OneDrive’s synchronization engine, the documents will be synchronized to SharePoint, as soon as you have an internet connection.

How to synchronize/free up disk space in OneDrive and how to stop synchronizing a document library

  1. Always keep files on this device/free up disk space:
    • By selecting a synchronized library (the workspace’s folder) or one/several documents, you can right-click it/them and select the “Free up space” option (if the documents should only accessible when you’re online) or the “Always keep on this device” option (if you want to sync them and have then accessible also when you are offline):
      OneDrive's "Free up space" and "Always keep on this device" options
  2. Stop a synchronization:
    1. By selecting a synchronized library (the workspace’s folder), you can right-click it and select the “Settings” option to cancel the synchronization of one or several document libraries:
      Right-click a synchronized OneDrive folder
    2. Click on the “Stop sync” link:
      Click on the "Stop sync" link
    3. You need to confirm the choice:
      Confirm the stopped synchronization
    4. The folder’s status column in File Explorer will now also indicate that the folder no longer is synchronized:
      OneDrive's status indicates that the folder no longer is synchronized
    5. Note that the earlier synchronized folder will now just have the documents that were synchronized and deleting the folder and any of the files in the folder will not delete the files in SharePoint/MetaShare.

Method 2 – accessing a workspace’s documents through a network location (WebDAV protocol)

This method uses a communication protocol called WebDAV (Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning), which is explained further down in this section. This is how you add a network location to a workspace’s documents:

  1. Open the MetaShare workspace.
  2. Open the workspace’s SharePoint site and navigate to the site’s document library where the documents are stored.
  3. Copy the Web address to the site’s document library, e.g. “https://contoso.sharepoint.com/sites/Marketing-Material/Shared documents”.
  4. Open your “File Explorer” and add a connection to the library by right-clicking “This PC” and selecting the “Add a network connection” option:
    Add a network connection
  5. Click on the “Next” button, on the first window:
    The Add a network connection wizard
  6. Click on the “Next” button again, on the next window:
    Where do you want to create this network location?
  7. Paste the address to the document library in the “Internet or network address” field and click on the “Next” button:
    Paste the address to the document library in the "Internet or network address" field and click on the "Next" button
  8. Give the network location a meaningful name and click on the “Next” button:
    Give the network location a meaningful name and click on the "Next" button
  9. Your network location is now created and you can just click on the “Finish” button:
    Your network location is now created and you can just click on the "Finish" button
  10. You will now be able to access the library directly from the File Explorer, by navigating to the “My InDesign files” network location:
    A network location in File Explorer
  11. Users will unfortunately not be prompted for authentication when using a WebDAV interface. To enforce SSO to WebDAV you have to modify the computer’s registry by following the instructions on this page.

When you access documents from a network location, the documents’ WebDAV address will actually have this syntax:

\\[tenant's-name][email protected]\DavWWWRoot\sites\[site's-address]\[library's-address]\[document-name.extension]

So for a document with this URL in SharePoint:

https://contoso.sharepoint.com/sites/Marketing-site/Shared documents/report.docx

The address, when accessing the document through a network location will be:

\\[email protected]\DavWWWRoot\sites\Marketing site\Shared documents\report.docx

Method 3 – accessing a workspace’s documents through a mapped drive

This is how you map a network drive to a workspace’s documents:

  1. Open the MetaShare workspace.
  2. Open the workspace’s SharePoint site and navigate to the site’s document library where the documents are stored.
  3. Copy the Web address to the site’s document library, e.g. “https://contoso.sharepoint.com/sites/Marketing-Material/Shared documents”.
  4. Open your “File Explorer” and add a connection to the library by right-clicking “This PC” and selecting the “Map network drive…” option:
    Map a network drive
  5. Select a suitable “Drive” and paste the address to the document library in the “Folder” field and click on the “Finish” button:
    Select a Drive and paste the address to the document library
    You will now be able to access the library directly from the File Explorer, by navigating to F:
    Access the network drive from File Explorer

When you access documents from a mapped drive, the documents’ address will actually have this syntax:

[Mapped-drive]\[document-name.extension]

So for a document with this URL in SharePoint:

https://contoso.sharepoint.com/sites/Marketing-site/Shared documents/report.docx

The address, when accessing the document through a mapped drive will be:

F:\report.docx

Note

  1. MetaShare documents that you access through the File Explorer cannot be filtered/sorted using any metadata columns. You can only filter them using any of the standard columns (name, Status, Date modified, Type and Size).
  2. In your File Explorer you can search for file-names and also for content within documents (free-text search). This is however a time-consuming operation, as the documents will most likely not be indexed.
  3. If you remove a document from the File Explorer it will also remove it from SharePoint/MetaShare.