Teams Real Simple with Pictures: Block Folder Creation and File Sync in a team

This blog is part of a series on Teams. For more articles, check back often

Written: 10/04/2022 | Updated: N/A

I’m back. It’s been two months. And maybe one day I’ll tell you all about it. But today isn’t that day and I have about two hours to write this from start to finish given I like to be in and out on a Sunday night. So today I am going to return to files: and two requests I had last week which were reminiscent of my time on the Microsoft Tech Community. These are the ability to block the creation of folders in a Teams Files Tab and the ability to block the option to sync the document library – and to be fair these are both legit asks from one admin to another. First, the org admin asked to block folder creation as they only wanted to have one layer of files and didn’t want the folder structure becoming too complex, with too many click throughs for their users. Secondly, they asked to block offline sync as they didn’t want users to sync the files in the document library to their local machines. So, all things given, quite reasonable. Of course, like many things I have written about on this blog over the years this isn’t a socratic exposition of why, or because we can it doesn’t mean that we should. Here I am simply concerned with – can we do it? and if so then the ethics I’ll leave to you. So as I return to blogging this isn’t going to be the biggest blog you’ve ever seen, but I kinda need something to get going again after having a long break. Ok?

Let’s go.

This blog will cover

  • How to block folder creation in a Teams Files Tab
  • How to block sync in a Teams Files Tab
  • Testing to see it has applied
  • FAQ

Prerequisites

  • Teams and SharePoint Licence (Within Microsoft 365 Licence)
  • Owner permissions of the Team

HOW TO BLOCK FOLDER CREATION IN A TEAMS FILES TAB

1.) In Teams, select the Team, the Channel and then go to the Files Tab

2.) Select Open in SharePoint

3.) In the underlying SharePoint site select Cog and then Library Settings

4.) Select Advanced Settings

5.) Scroll down to Folders, set to No then scroll to the bottom and select Ok

6.) Whilst there is no validation it has been applied, the setting should be applied automatically and return to the settings page

HOW TO BLOCK SYNC IN A TEAMS FILES TAB

1.) In Teams, select the Team, the Channel and then go to the Files Tab

2.) Select Open in SharePoint

3.) In the underlying SharePoint site select Cog and then Library Settings

4.) Select Advanced Settings

5.) Scroll down to Offline Client Availability, set to No then scroll to the bottom and select Ok

6.) Whilst there is no validation it has been applied, the setting should be applied automatically and return to the settings page

TESTING TO SEE IT HAS APPLIED

Return to the Files Tab in the Channel of the Team

Our job here is done. No Sync. No New Folder under New

FAQ

Q. Does this block apply to all channels in the Team?
A. It applies to the underlying SPO site of the team so applies to standard channels. it will not apply to SPO sites created by Private/Shared Channels so will need to be applied there on the SPO site related to that channel.

Q. Can it be applied on a channel by channel basis?
A. Not on standard channels, as in I have a team of standard channels and can granulate that, but if you had a team full of private and shared channels you could do it on a channel by channel basis assuming these settings are applied to the general channel via the SPO site linked to the team, and on every other private and shared channel thereafter

Q. Is there any visibility in the admin centres?
A. No, and that is the reason many decide not to use it as there is no real visibility of it. Being buried in the advanced settings of the library, this isn’t in any admin panels – and if you have several hundred teams, hence several hundred SharePoint sites it would be easy to forget about: much like PowerShell settings, if it isn’t noted and tracked. Best intentions and all that.

Q. What about the Offline Client Availability setting in Site Settings as opposed to the library settings?
A. As the name suggests the offline settings in the site settings stops sync with any document library which is created in the site, not just the specific library which Teams uses. So if you have multiple libraries within the same site, this will turn off sync for all of them

Q. Is there a way to get around blocking new folders?
A. Yes, if you add the document library as a link via the document library app (so add it as a new tab, it will still allow you to create folders even though you have turned this off in the advanced settings.

However, opening the link on the SharePoint App shows it correctly

So solution: block the Document Library App in the Teams App Permissions Policy and only use the SharePoint app if opening multiple document libraries in Teams

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