Changes in ‘Modern Lists’ in Office 365

Blog written by:  
Chris Ang
SharePoint Architect


With a focus on improving user experience, Microsoft has, since August 2016, brought in what’s called ‘Modern Lists’ in Office 365. This update also featured the much-talked about single-click integration of PowerApps and Microsoft Flow. The modern lists will help SharePoint users create folders more easily, review metadata for a document using a new information panel, add links to files in other libraries, carry out metadata editing more conveniently and also enable a more responsive design for mobile devices.

Microsoft’s ‘Cloud-First’ Approach

By developing a new code base, Microsoft is trying to converge it’s online and on premises products and in a more focused ‘cloud-first’ approach. Office 365’s successful large-scale cloud operations provided a lot of learning lessons that Microsoft implemented in SharePoint 2016 on premise. So we should expect to see these ‘Modern List’ changes in an upcoming patch to SharePoint on-premise environments, most likely only for SharePoint 2016.


It appears Microsoft has put the priority and advancements in their SharePoint technology into the cloud first, and these updates will then get pushed to on premise SharePoint as patch updates. Microsoft is working towards more seamless hybrid integrations – so this approach seems to make sense.

Modern List Features

Let’s take a look at the features in modern SharePoint Lists that are set to wow the end-users: (NOTE: These features only seem to apply to Document Libraries, I did not see these in Lists)

  1. (More) User Friendly & Improved UI– users can easily add columns to lists and perform actions like sort, filter, group data and other day-to-day operations with less clicks.
  2. Tiled View – There is a new Tiled view for your documents now! (See screenshot below)
  3. Pin to Top – This option allows users to pin a document or folder to the top of the list, above ll the items (see screenshot below)
  4. Get Link – Now has an option to decide the type of link you want to share! I believe this used to be called Copy Link and is now labelled “Get Link”. This also uses the ‘Durable Link’ technology (that work for certain files types) to help the links from breaking.
  5. Information Panel – You can now view and edit item details in the information panel (see below) without leaving the list.
  6. Recent Activity – From the Information Panel area, you can click the “i” icon and now view all activity related to the item or for the entire list, including changes, and sharing/permission changes, a great auditing improvement – much easier to read, but I could not find a way to easily export this or print it.
  7. Ribbon Improvements – The Item and Library ribbon tabs look to be gone! The ribbon menu is now always visible and built above the list and does not auto-hide, I like that! I did notice that the List Settings and other administrative links (like Permissions/Shared With and Workflows link buttons) are gone, but can still be accessible from the Site Contents page. (See screenshot below)
  8. Improve Productivity with Quick Edit – the Quick Edit feature is easier to reach now, and this helps in bulk editing list items and this saves a lot of time for the users, improving overall productivity.
  9. More Column View Options – You can now, more easily move columns, show or hide columns and save the view from the column header
  10. Automate Easily – with features like versions, approvals and alerts, users can automate simple business processes to reduce errors, save time and take quick decisions.
  11. Enrich Static Information – users can enrich static information by including people, images, managed metadata tags and other such rich data types.
  12. Responsive Design for Mobile Devices – the Modern SharePoint Lists renders a great look and feel on the SharePoint mobile app, enriching the user experience on-the-go.
  13. Build Business Applications Easily with PowerApps – with the integration of PowerApps in modern lists, you can create, connect and share business apps efficiently on any device. Forms and apps can be created directly from SharePoint list, without having to write a single line of code.
  14. Integration of Microsoft Flow with SharePoint – users can easily exchange data between SharePoint lists and other systems by creating and launching a new Flow from SharePoint lists directly. The data can be stored and modified within SharePoint therefore allowing customers to work easily between a variety of Microsoft and third-party services, whether on premises or in the cloud.
  15. Copying Folders – you can now copy folders to the library using the Modern Lists view. Previously, in Classic View, this was not possible and you would get an error ‘Sorry, that didn’t workFolders and invalid files can’t be dragged to upload.’ if you tried to drag and drop a folder into the SharePoint document library window. The workaround in Classic View and older versions of SharePoint on-premise is to use Windows Explorer view. Now, Microsoft has done away with this limitation and so now copying documents by dragging a folder works! This should be supported in SharePoint 2016 by a patch.
  16. Copying more than 100 Files – you can now copy more than 100 files using Modern Lists view. Previously this was a limitation and you would get an error ‘“Please select fewer than 100 files to upload’, however this limit has now been increased and you can upload more than 100 files and folders at once!


Tiled View


And here it s below – cool!

SharePoint Modern List Changes

More Column Options, easier to change the view!

SharePoint Modern List Changes

Now I can easily Show/Hide Columns

SharePoint Modern List Changes

Ribbon changes, less clicks! I like it.

SharePoint Modern List Changes

New Information Panel

SharePoint Modern List Changes

New feature to Pin to Top

Here, I pinned the document to Top

SharePoint Modern List Changes

Recent Activity

SharePoint Modern List Changes

Get Link Options

SharePoint Modern List Changes

Get Link gives you simple options to choose from to share the file

SharePoint Modern List Changes


I noticed however that I could not ‘Check-In’ multiple files at one time. Only one at a time, this seems to be a feature I used to have and could not find a way to do this in the latest SharePoint ‘Modern Lists’. I will update this blog if I find a way around this.


Overall I really like these improvements. They look great and worked as expected from my testing. I tried IE 11 and Google Chrome browsers and did not find issues with either of them.

Improvements in Office 365 lists are being rolled out to First Release customers as we speak, and once the PowerApps and Flow are added to the command bar, things are going to get more exciting for the end-users. While PowerApps brings a set of tools and templates to build applications, Flow which is similar to a workflow or services mashup utility can be directly created and launched from SharePoint lists. I’m looking forward to the next set of updates and will write about those again once they are available!


Do you use SharePoint? Try our toolkit
Download SharePoint Essentials Toolkit Now
Download the SharePoint Essentials Toolkit
Chris Ang

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.