How to Require Users to Check Out Files Before Editing

Topics: SharePoint Tips, Document Management, Document Library

Written by Alex K Joseph

Microsoft 365 offers a bundle of collaboration tools and applications that businesses need most in these modern times. We all have heard of or experienced concepts such as document collaboration, cloud storage, and remote working in today's digitally dominant work environment. With Microsoft 365, users will certainly have the best experiences to share regarding these popular productivity concepts.

At Dock, we have used Microsoft 365 solutions for many years. We have no doubt that Microsoft is superior for providing productivity and collaboration solutions for businesses. Moreover, Microsoft's security features are impeccable, virtually unmatched by any other in the industry. This is one key reason why we develop contract management and intranet solutions that are powered by Microsoft services like SharePoint and Office 365.

We will discuss in further detail how you can require users to check out files from a library prior to editing. To avoid inconveniences for your colleagues, we recommend leveraging the SharePoint check out/check in feature for your documents. Now, let's take a look at some of the advantages of gaining control over document collaboration.

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The Advantages of Controlling Document Collaboration

By saving your documents in cloud storage, you can ensure that everyone in your team accesses required files whenever they need to on any device, in any location. This revolutionary change in document access and management has improved business productivity on a broad scale, helping make remote work possible. To increase the security, practicality, and efficiency of document collaboration, Microsoft has introduced several configurable features for businesses to utilize.

The document check out/check in feature is one such option. With this feature, you can make changes to a document without any conflicts that might occur due to another user accessing the file simultaneously. Checking out files makes the document available for editing only for one user at a time. To make the file available for others, you must check in the file after making completing an edit. This gives you more control over document collaboration in your organization, which will increase the accuracy of your documents while reducing user error. You can make this feature a requirement for users in any document library you desire. To do so, complete the following steps below.

How to Require Users to Check Out Files From a Document Library

  • Go to the desired SharePoint site and enter your document library by clicking the Document library option on the left navigation bar
    Document library
  • You will be taken to the document library
  • Click the Settings icon from the top bar in the right corner and choose Library settings from the side panel that appears
    library settings
  • From the Settings page, click on Versioning settings under General settings
    versioning settings
  • From the Versioning settings page, scroll down to the bottom and choose Yes from the option Require check out
    Require check out
  • Click Ok to save changes

What changes occur once the check out feature is enabled?

The first thing you will notice after enabling the Require check out feature is that you will be prompted to check out a given file when attempting to edit it. Once checked out, no one will be able to change the file or see the changes you have made until you check the file back in. To make the file accessible to others once again, you must check the file back in.

Best Practices for The Require Check Out Feature

  • If your colleagues wish to co-author documents, we suggest disabling the Require check out feature.
  • If you wish to access to a file that is currently checked out, hover over the Check out icon on the file to see which user is making changes to it. Communicate with the user to check the file in if you need to access it immediately.
  • When checking in a file, there is an option to leave a comment. We suggest describing changes made so you create clear communication with your colleagues.
  • Communicate with you colleagues to see if they need a checked out file at a given time. Oftentimes, they may need a file you have currently checked out to complete their tasks, so be sure to discuss when you should have the file checked back in. 
  • Check files in in a timely manner as soon as you have completed your editing process on a given file. In this manner, you make the file accessible to other users.

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We hope you gained some key insights regarding how to check out and edit documents in SharePoint. SharePoint check in and check out are very useful features and we highly recommend leveraging them for continued success.

Have a good day!

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