Microsoft Microsoft 365 Microsoft Office Microsoft Teams OneDrive SharePoint

Why can’t I Sync my Teams Files tab / SharePoint library?

Beware using both library ‘Sync’ and ‘Add a shortcut to OneDrive’ in SharePoint or Teams. It gets messy and things break.

Thankfully, it’s fairly easy to fix once you know what’s going on.

For several weeks I have been meaning to work out why a bunch of my synchronised libraries from Teams/SharePoint had stopped sync’ing.

Return to Old Kent Road, do not pass Go

In Windows’ File Explorer the reassuring little cloud Status icons had disappeared for some libraries. The files were still there, but synchronisation wasn’t happening at all.

There were no errors showing in the sync client and everything worked fine in the browser. It was a bit of a mystery, but one I didn’t find time to look at until today.

There wasn’t any hint online that I could find. The only lead I had to go on was a semi-helpful message when I tried to sync. It would be nice if these messages told you which shortcut, folder or whatever.

Nevertheless, I was able to track it down to a training session I had been preparing, where I introduced content managers to the handy ‘Add shortcut to OneDrive’ that now appears in libraries. I explained this feature as being useful for staff who struggle with the SharePoint thing and are happier with the simple OneDrive experience. Instead of adding the synchronised folder to the SharePoint cluster in File Manager it adds it to OneDrive for Business

As you can see, there is a handy icon indicating that it’s a link and this was the final clue.

It would appear (though I have yet to find it documented) that this is an either / or scenario. Once you have synchronised a folder anywhere in a library you can no longer sync that library, though you can still add further OneDrive shortcuts.

If you do need to do a standard Sync then you need to remove the OneDrive shortcuts. That’s pretty easy, fortunately. Just find the shortcut in the OneDrive cluster in File Manager, right click and choose ‘Remove Shortcut’, or use the Remove button in OneDrive in the browser. Note that you need to remove every shortcut before sync will work again.

The bottom line is, Either use ‘Sync’ Or ‘Add shortcut to OneDrive’, not both; that’s true for any given library, but it’s probably wise to apply it at a user level to avoid confusion.

Either use ‘Sync’ Or ‘Add shortcut to OneDrive’, not both

Also note that, under some circumstances, SharePoint will allow you to add a onedrive shortcut, even if the library is already synchronised (I think it’s because the sync client has had a hiccup), in which case it will then cancel the library sync – “Return to Old Kent Road, do not pass Go”

By Simon Hudson

Simon Hudson is an entrepreneur, health sector specialist and founder of Cloud2 Ltd. and Kinata Ltd. and, most recently, Novia Works Ltd. He has an abiding, evangelical interest in information, knowledge management and has a lot to say on best practice use of Microsoft Teams, SharePoint and cloud technologies, the health sector, sustainability and more. He has had articles and editorials published in a variety of knowledge management, clinical benchmarking and health journals. He is a co-facilitator of the M365 North User Group Leeds and is Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Hull.

Simon is passionate about rather too many things, including science, music (he writes and plays guitar & mandola), skiing, classic cars, technology and, by no means least, his family.


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