Newsletter Digest in SharePoint Online

One of the new features rolled out recently to SharePoint Online is the ability to create a newsletter digest. It’s possible this has not rolled out to all tenants yet. If you do not see the option, you may get it before long.

How to use the newsletter digest

Add your News web part to a modern page. If you have a few news items added you should see a “See All” link.

 Modern News Web Part
Modern News Web Part

On the All News page you should see a list of all of your news items. In the toolbar there will be a “Manage Posts” button and an “Email a news digest” button. Obviously, click on the Email a news digest button.

 Modern All News Page
Modern All News Page

After clicking the “Email a news digest” button, you’ll be able to select the news items you want to send and then click “Next”.

 SharePoint Online Newsletter Digest
SharePoint Online Newsletter Digest

Next, you are given an option to name your news digest, enter the recipients, and any additional text you want to include. Click the Send News Digest

 Name your news digest
Name your news digest

The recipients you entered will receive a nicely formatted email with a digest of all of the news you selected.

 SharePoint Online Newsletter Digest Email
SharePoint Online Newsletter Digest Email

Of course, this is a very manual process. Somebody would need to routinely select and send out the news items they want to share. There could also potentially be some limitations that wouldn’t be obvious initially. Some of the questions I have are: How many recipients can be included? How many news items can be selected?

How to quickly navigate, execute commands, and search using Microsoft Teams

If you have many teams and channels that you frequently access, rather than using the sidebar to browse items manually, you can quickly navigate to them using the search bar.

Using the search bar for navigation

You can navigate to several different things using the search bar including:

  • Teams
  • Channels
  • People
  • Apps, such as Planner or OneNote

How does it work?

  • Click on the search bar, or use the Alt-E keyboard shortcut.
  • Start typing the name of a team, channel, person, or app. You don’t have to type the entire thing.
  • Once you see what you want in the list, click on it or use your arrow keys to select it and click enter.
 Start typing a team or channel name and it will instantly appear
Start typing a team or channel name and it will instantly appear

Using the search bar for commands

In addition to navigation, you can use the search bar to execute some commands in teams. Commands are executed by starting with a slash “/” and then typing or selecting a command.

Here are some example commands and their uses:

  • Change your status by typing /away, /busy, /dnd, or /available.
  • Spy on your colleagues by looking at their recent activity by typing /activity followed by the person you want to see. You will be taken to a page where you can see the recent things they posted, which you also have access to view.
  • Type /files to see a list of the most recent documents you have been working on. And then quickly reopen that file.
  • Type /unread to immediately see all of the activity that you have not read yet.
  • Type /who, followed a question like “who is Joes’s manager?” or “Who knows about Nintex?” and you will be presented with the information you requested.
  • Quickly start a chat with someone by typing @ immediately followed by the person’s name, click enter, then directly type a short message and click enter again to send it.
 Type @ followed by the persons name and start typing
Type @ followed by the persons name and start typing

Here is a list of currently available commands:

 Current commands available in Microsoft Teams
Current commands available in Microsoft Teams

Using the search bar to search!

And if you wanted to, you can even use the search bar to search for content. How about that? Just type anything into the search bar and hit enter. You’ll see the results in the sidebar grouped under either messages, people, or files.

If you have many results, you can narrow your search by clicking the filter icon in the search results. You’ll be able to refine your search by date, specific teams or channels, or even specific people.

 Search filters
Search filters

How to use JSON to add a clickable button to a modern SharePoint list view

In the SharePoint modern list and libraries views, you can pretty easily add custom formatting and even custom buttons that, when clicked, take the user to other places or trigger other actions.

You can find all of the details about how to do this here. Here is a quick breakdown.

  1. Create a column or choose a column that will be used for your button.
  2. Open the button properties in the list settings or content type settings.
  3. Enter the JSON in the Custom Formatting box.

Here is an example snippet that you can start with.

   "elmType": "a",
   "txtContent": "",
   "attributes": {
      "target": "_blank",
    "iconName": "OpenInNewWindow",
        "class": "sp-field-quickAction",
        "href": {
         "operator": "+",
         "operands": [
            "{enter your site here}/Lists/{list name}/DispForm.aspx?ID=",

Of course, the URL can be anything you want. In the above example, I’m linking to the item display form of another list and passing in the ID of the item I want to view. In this case, the item in the field I am using contains the ID of the list item I want open. This can be helpful if you have multiple lists that reference each other or use a lookup. You can also use this approach to trigger Microsoft Flow or other workflows.

The “OpenInNewWindow” is the name of the icon I’m using. You can add your own icon or choose from any predefined icons from the Office UI Fabric site.

Again, you can find some great documentation with many examples provided by Microsoft here

How to check for empty or null SharePoint field values in Microsoft Flow

If you are using Microsoft Flow with SharePoint list or library data and need to check if a field is empty or null, then you can use the @empty function.

Here is an example

First, add a Condition and add the field you want to check.

Next, click on the “Edit in advanced mode” link.

Next, you will replace the content in the box with the empty() function. 

Note the following:

  • The “triggerbody()’, in this case, is what triggered the flow. This may be different depending on where in your Flow your field is coming from.
  • The “Title” is the name of the field.
  • The function returns true if the field is empty.

Additional details about functions can be found here.

4 new updates to Microsoft Planner – Making Due Dates more useful

Microsoft Planner has a few new updates that make it much more useful for daily task tracking and planning.

1. Group by Date

Before this update, assigning a due date in planner wasn’t very useful. There was no way to see which tasks were due unless you looked at each card individually. Now you can group your tasks by date, allowing you to see what is past due, due today, due this week, due in the future, or has no date assigned.

This allows us to plan out our projects more efficiently if we like to use dates as a driver for when things need to be done.

You can also group by date from your My Tasks page so you can organize your own tasks across all of your projects in Planner.

2. Receive an email when a task is late, due or upcoming

Now that Due Dates are more useful while in Planner, we now have another bonus. If you are assigned a task that is late, due today, or upcoming, you will receive an email in your inbox stating what is due. This can serve as helpful reminders that we have tasks scheduled.

3. Group by Label

In addition to grouping by date, we can also group by Label. You can make your labels anything you want in Planner. This gives you another great way to organize the tasks for your project.

4. Filter Tasks

Do you need to quickly find a specific task in Planner? Now you can filter your tasks in the project by keyword, due date, or assignment. You can even select multiple values.

What’s next?

I assume the mobile Planner app will soon be updated to allow some of these features. I also believe a calendar feed is coming soon. I’m hopeful that more integration with other servers is on the near-term roadmap.

6 Tips to get the most out of Microsoft Teams

Many organizations have started to use Microsoft Teams as their tool for office communication. The idea is to help get conversations out of email and into a place where the knowledge can be shared and discovered. However, Teams can be a bit daunting at first. It takes some time to transition from the old way of working to this new way of doing things. Here are a few tips to get the most out of your Teams experience.

Tip #1 Know when to use Teams

One of the first questions when introducing teams to an organization is “When do I use Teams?”. While the answer could be very different for your organization, here are some key uses of Teams.

  • Replace internal email to distribution groups and create a Team instead.
  • Create a company-wide Team (for smaller organizations) and have a channel for company announcements.
  • Create a “Water Cooler” channel where anyone can post fun things, or ask general questions.
  • Create a team for your company knowledge base, where you can post FAQ, Industry News, company documents, templates, scripts, etc.
  • Use teams to collaborate on projects.

Tip #2: Use your Activity Feed

The activity feed is a great place to start as it can show you recent activity all in one place. The activity feed is analogous to an email inbox in that you can process new activity from one location.

  • The default feed shows all content that is relevant to you. This would include updates to conversations you are a part of or when you are mentioned.
  • The Team Activity feed shows all activity across your favorite channels. This lets you see what people are talking about, even if you are not a part of the conversation.
  • The My Activity feed shows all of the new posts, replies, and other activity that you created. This is a great place to jump back into a conversation or to find something you posted recently.

Tip #3: Ask T-Bot

If you have a question about how to use something in Microsoft Teams, just ask T-Bot! T-Bot is a chat bot that is built into the Teams product. Go to your chat and search for T-Bot, or click on T-Bot from your recent chats.

  •  Ask T-Bot any question about Microsoft Teams just like you would a real person. The bot will respond with the suggested answer. This is a great way to get familiar with interacting with a bot. Microsoft Teams has several other bots that you connect to.
  • You can also use the Tabs in the T-Bot chat to go straight to FAQ and see what is new in Microsoft Teams.

Tip #4: Use Search

If your organization uses Teams, after a short while there will be an overwhelming amount of content. Browsing to find anything will be continuously more difficult. Try to get familiar with the search functionality early on.

  • Use the search box to quickly find a specific Team or Channel that you are a member of. Click on the result to quickly jump to that location. This is a great shortcut for navigating to various teams and channels without browsing.
  • Use the search box to quickly find a person. Just enter their name and you’ll see the matching results. Clicking on the result will take you directly to the latest conversation you had with that person. From that page, you can use the tabs to see recent activity.
  • Enter any keyword or phrase and let search work it’s magic. The results will return all of messages, people, and files related to what you entered. You can then quickly filter the results to narrow your search.

Tip #5: Use Connectors

Connectors allow you to connect to external services and bring relevant content into your Teams conversations. You can add a connector to any channel.

  • Connect to your source control repository and have it post recent check-ins to your channel.
  • Connect your social media accounts and have posts from specific people or topics automatically added to the channel conversation. This lets everyone see recent activity without the need to hit all of your social media sites throughout the day.
  • Connect to news sources to bring in the latest relevant news.
  • Connect to your other favorite services. There are hundreds to choose from!


Tip #6 Save conversations

Teams will let you save conversations so you can quickly access them for later reference.

  • You may want to think about how you want to use this feature. If you want to be able to find all of your favorite conversations, you may want to “Like” the post instead. Then you can easily filter your activity feed to see all of the posts you liked.
  • The way I use the Save feature is to mark things that I need to come back to and finish later. It would be similar to flagging an email. You flag it (save it) and come back to it later and complete it. Removing the bookmark when you are complete will remove the item from your Saved list.
  • You can access your Saved conversations from your profile menu.

Wrap Up

I hope these tips help you enjoy your Microsoft Teams experience! Let me know if you have any questions or if you have any additional tips you would like to share.