The SharePoint Basics: Navigating, Searching, Permissions, Views and Profiles

There are some basic principles of SharePoint such as navigating, and searching that every user of SharePoint should know, below I’ll quickly cover some of the basics.

SharePoint Navigation

​There are two main ways of navigating SharePoint as described below:

  • Left-hand Navigation – From the homepage and all libraries the left-hand navigation links to other top-level pages, making this the best way to get around the website. From any page which isn’t top-level the left-hand navigation generally links to relevant pages to that specific page.
  • Search – Search is by far the easiest way to find specific documents or pages providing you know either the name of the document or relevant metadata for the document.


The search can be accessed several different ways, the main way to access the search function is the Search bar located in the upper-right hand corner of most SharePoint pages, the Search can also be accessed directly at Sharepoint-Address/​Search.

You can type any search criteria into the field and then click the spyglass. This search works like a normal web browser, so if you type ‘Marketing Budget’, you’ll get lots of hits containing those two words. But if you search “Marketing Budget” in quotes, your search returns just a handful of hits referencing exactly marketing Budget.

​There are four search options, called Everything,  People,  Conversations, and Videos.

  • Everything presents an unrestricted view of everything on SharePoint that your account has permission to view.
  • People restricts your search to looking for your fellow users.​
  • Conversations restricts your search to conversations, discussions and threads on SharePoint. a Majority of which are located on subsites.
  • Videos restricts the search to displaying only video results

SharePoint Permissions

When you sign on to SharePoint, your User Name and Password grant you a certain set of Permissions. Permissions control what you can and cannot do in SharePoint.

Limited Permissions show themselves in two ways:

  • Others can see parts of the SharePoint structure which are hidden from you. If someone sends you a screenshot or email referring to something in SharePoint you can’t see – they probably have different permissions to you.
  • The message “This Control is Currently Disabled” will appear more often to someone with limited Permission. (For example, you can Create a Document as a Draft with Low Level permissions, but you need High Level permissions to Approve the document).

Creating and Modifying Views

Rather than creating Folders, which can and generally will cause several issues in SharePoint, to organize your documents, it’s far more useful to create Views. A View is simply a filtered and ordered listing of a Library.

Modify Views

Next to the Create View Icon there’s a Modify View icon. This allows you to select an existing View and change it in some way. It uses the same Wizard as Create View.​​​​

​​​​Profiles (About Me)

​​​​Your own personal About Me page can be found by clicking your name at the top-right of and SharePoint page which will open a drop-down menu and then clicking ​About Me. Your ‘About Me’ page is what fellow SharePoint Members to see what your job entails, what you’re currently working on and almost anything else you wish to share, It can be customized in several different ways including –

  • ​Adding personalised links to the left-hand navigation.
  • Adding information including contact details, projects past and present and several other descriptive pieces.
  • Newsfeed Settings.
  • Language and Regional Settings – Including changing the default language of SharePoint.​

By default your personal profile will also come with several widget pages, including –

  • ​Newsfeed​ which will show updates of what people, pages, discussions etc. you are following have done recently.
  • About Me – About me is the public section of your profile, this is where your details and what you’ve been doing recently will show up.
  • Documents – ​This is a library of shared documents, you can upload into this section any documents you would like to display on your profile, or again you can remove the link and use it as a private document storage.
  • Blog – The Blog allows you to share posts and within reason whatever you please with the world, this is accessible by anybody on SharePoint unless you hide it by removing the link.
  • Apps – Apps allows you to add extended functionality to your profile.

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